my roommate doesn’t understand what it means to have a job

It’s the Thursday “ask the readers” post. A reader writes:

I am sure that you aren’t the right person to ask about this, but my new roommate recently graduated from college and began her first full-time job. Every night, she comes home and complains about her work and her bosses and their unreasonable expectations. The reasons for her complaints are primarily that her boss asked her to stop using her phone/texting people while at work and that it is mostly grunt work.

She is now starting to look for a new job after only two weeks in this position. When she asked for advice, I told her that if I were the one hiring (and I have hired/fired people at my job), someone who has only been in a position for two weeks before looking for something else is a huge red flag for any potential employer and that I would probably not be interested in any candidate who is changing careers that fast. When she said that her boss was upset that she was always texting at work, instead of putting her phone down, she just ignored them and continued texting, to which I responded that it probably wasn’t a good move and that she should not be checking her phone so often at work.

I am not that much older than her, only by a year, but I really want to help her understand that her actions at work are less than exemplary and that she will probably end up getting fired. I own the home that we both live in and obviously this makes me a bit worried when it comes to paying rent and bills. I am not sure how to go about this conversation so that she doesn’t get upset but I don’t want to sit through her complaining about her boss not wanting her to text on company time for the next six months and pretend like that is acceptable workplace behavior.

Readers, what’s your advice?

{ 644 comments… read them below }

  1. Jabes

    If it was my roommate asking me for advice, I’d say “Quit before your boss fires you!” She can leave this job off her resume altogether.

    1. Clorinda

      Or, she could put her phone away, because the expectations at he next job aren’t going to be any different.

          1. Jadelyn

            I probably wouldn’t mind call center work so much if it meant I could be on *my* phone rather than conducting business via an employer’s phone. Where did you find this call center that employs people to play on their phones all day? I might want to apply.

            1. Rainy

              There are definitely inbound support allocation call centres where most of the job is just being there waiting for a P1 ticket to come in. But as with many specific unusual instances of broad types of work, it’s impossible to tell how bullshit your job is until you’re most of the way through training.

          2. Courageous cat

            I’m confused – is this comment implying that being on the phone with customers at your place of employment is the same as looking at social media and texts on your smartphone all day?

          3. Ego Chamber

            “Ever heard of call centres?”

            So, this isn’t the worst idea, but for another reason besides an easy joke: every call center I’ve worked at has not allowed employees to have mobile phones on the calling floor, punishable by immediate termination. It could break her of the habit to work somewhere for a while where playing on her phone is definitely, completely, inarguably NOT ALLOWED.

            The call centers I’ve worked at have been for national banks, credit cards, and business phone/internet services. All considered it a security risk for employees to have mobile phones on them while taking calls (don’t want your underpaid, underemployed, dissatisfied workers snapping pics of client banking information, you know?). One dude who sat across from me got a text and looked at his phone while he was talking to a client (his wife was pregnant and expected to go into labor at any time), and dude was fired on the spot.

            1. Nox

              Yeah i’m a call center person too – I’ve not encountered a call center that permits cell phones due to PCI reasons. Its immediate grounds for serious disciplinary action because of the security risk.

      1. JokeyJules

        I’m with you on that but i feel like “put your phone away” isn’t going to resonate at all with her. If she doesn’t listen to her employer tell her that, she won’t listen to a roommate

        1. Lance

          The thing with that is, though, she’s asking said roommate for advice; out of anything, that’s one of the best pieces of advice she can be given right now. Whether she listens to it is a different story, but she should at least hear it, from multiple sources if necessary.

          1. Alternative Person

            This. You might not get through to them immediately, or even within the space of time you have a connection with them (or ever) but sometimes the best thing you can do is give them the truth/good advice and hope it gets through to them eventually.

          2. Falling Diphthong

            I’m not sure she’s asking for advice, though–it seems like she’s griping about work and how totally unreasonable her boss is. And is mildly annoyed that rather than say “Your office if full of bees!” OP instead says “that is totally normal, any job will expect that.”

            It’s a sort of meta example of only giving advice to the person who asked. OP is qualified as an outside neutral third party to instruct her in workplace norms that she will only blow up her own career by fighting–but OP doesn’t seem to be someone the roommate is inclined to listen to on this.

            1. No Mas Pantalones

              I just want to go on record and say that if my office is full of bees, you’re going to hear a lot of noise from me, and key-clicks of texting are NOT the kind of noise I will be making!

              (That was just an awesome visual. Plus, the affiliation with a great Eddie Izzard skit.)

              1. Khlovia

                The “House of Evil Bees” imagery comes from here:
                https://captainawkward.com/2012/01/09/question-169-my-dad-hit-me/#comment-6082
                which is about escaping from abusive relationships. If you are going “Ow, TLDR,” skip the LW’s post and the Captain’s reply and scroll down to the comments. Read all the comments by commenter Marie and you’ll find the original House of Evil Bees image. This phrase has now become so famous that it is A Thing on the Internet and even IRL. Falling Diphthong means (I am assuming) that OP’s roomie wanted OP to say “Your boss is *toxic and abusive* to expect you to put your phone down and actually do the work they’re paying you to do!”

                And if this is your first introduction to Captain Awkward–you’re welcome. ;-D

              2. Khlovia

                The “House of Evil Bees” derives from a comment on Captain Awkward’s question number 169. If you’re going “Nope, TLDR” now, scroll down and read all comments from Marie to find the very first iteration of the Bees imagery. This comment has now become so famous it is a A Thing on the Internet and IRL too. Falling Diphthong means (I assume) that OP’s roomie childishly wanted OP to say “Your boss is toxic and abusive!”

                And if this is your first introduction to Captain Awkward–you’re welcome! ;-D

                1. Khlovia

                  Oh, rowrbazzle, it double-posted. Sorries. The first one disappeared into the void for a while and I assumed it was because of the URL. Shoulda sat on my hands for a few minutes.

          3. Sketchee

            After she’s answered with some advice “I care about you and I want you to know that I believe this behavior might get you fired…” she can stop and let them live with their choices.

            Sometimes friends need to live with their choices and it’s hard to watch. LW, you don’t have to save them. Switch the script to “I’ve given my advice on this. I hope it all works out.”

            And you know what, we all have coworkers who get away with all kinds of stuff. So there might be consequences or not. It’s up to the friend to live with anything that happens. Sometimes friends need to learn on their own. Sometimes they never learn. It’s okay!

            1. Encourage your friend to make choices. Remind them to focus on what they want from their boss and their job: a paycheck, career experience, mentorship.

            2. Ask for what you’d like to happen. Support that they get to make a choic even if it’s not what you’d want.

            3. Accept your role is as a supportive and empathetic friend. If it’s negative for you, it’s okay to remember this is your friend’s problem to solve. Not yours. Focus and oing other things together and exiting workplace talks.

            1. Hey Nonnie

              However, I would also be sure to be explicit with the roommate about what OP’s expectations / roomie’s responsibilities are regarding rent (and any other shared expenses). Maybe roomie is unmotivated by the potential for getting fired, but she should be crystal clear that she’ll still need to come up with rent every month, one way or another.

              And also seek legal advice regarding landlord/tenant law in your locality. Since OP owns the house, I presume that they are also the landlord and would have the responsibility of evicting roomie for non-payment of rent, should it come to that. There’s going to be a legally required process, so get familiar with it now.

        2. Hills to Die on

          Sometimes people just have to learn the hard way. Experience is a great teacher. Make sure she understands that she is still responsible for her share of the bills —on time—regardless of what happens with her employment.

          1. BookishMiss

            Yes, this. Is there some way for you to create a backup plan for if (when) she gets fired/quits, so that your finances aren’t seriously impacted? If you don’t have Plan B in place, think about creating one.

            Also, check out Captain Awkward’s advice on redirecting conversation and setting boundaries. I’d personally be making it clear that I Do Not Want To Hear It, but ymmv.

            As far as advice for her, if she has a legitimate need to have her phone available (not texting constantly), she should tell her boss proactively. My spouse has a progressive, chronic, debilitating illness, which I told my boss immediately upon starting. I have it on my desk, on silent, and if I see it blink from getting a text I will check quickly between tasks to see if it needs my immediate Omg Hair On Fire attention. If not, I go back to happily ignoring it, and check in with Spouse on my next break. (Spouse also has the business emergency line for when this method Won’t Do.) Again, ymmv. I doubt your roommate’s current boss will be all that accommodating at this point, regardless of circumstances.

            1. Les G

              Agreed. If the OP hasn’t told her roomie she needs her to cut back on the complaints, that’s step numero zero.

        3. Yorick

          I don’t know, maybe telling her that your boss wouldn’t want you to be texting a lot either will help her see what’s normal work behavior.

        4. aebhel

          Possibly, but having someone who is (a) not her boss and (b) a peer whose advice she seems to want say that might have more resonance. It sounds like she’s framing normal business expectations as an imposition due to her terrible boss, and having it confirmed by someone outside the situation might (MIGHT) be the wake-up call she needs.

        5. Emmie

          She might not, but advice from your peers and trusted friends resonates more in some situations. Have any of you complained to friends only to have them lovingly tell you that you were wrong? I have, and it was helpful.

      2. Quill

        Yeah, like… what is the phone use issue here? Most places I’ve worked they don’t care if you quick check your texts on break / between tasks / on lunch, and some places are fine with you listening to stuff on your phone with headphones while you file, but if you’re playing games or watching netflix on your phone, ESPECIALLY if the volume is on… I can see how that would give the impression that you weren’t actually working.

        1. JokeyJules

          i’ve worked in places that run the gamut with phone usage. Anywhere from “i’m not even going to bother just keep it quiet” to “if i see your cell phone in your hand and it isn’t a serious emergency, I will write you up” with the exception of breaks, of course.
          i’m curious what the job is, just to get a better picture of perhaps why she thought it would be okay to have her phone out.

          1. Ego Chamber

            “why she thought it would be okay to have her phone out.”

            She just got out of college and this is her first job. I thought playing on the phone was standard MO for kids in class these days?

        2. Lance

          The phone issue here, from the sound of things, is that it’s constant, plus she’s being insubordinate by ignoring her boss, plus she may very well not be doing her work. All of that is a combination that can (and probably will) get her fired very quickly.

          1. Artemesia

            A lot of people bristle at the indignity of being ‘bossed around’ and unemployed friends tell them ‘they can’t do you like that’. etc etc. It is sometimes helpful to point out that the very meaning of the world ‘boss’ is that they can tell you what to do.

            1. Observer

              Yeah, even kids know that. That’s the reason for the common rejoinder from kids “you’re not the boss of me.”

        3. Allison

          I’ve definitely had leeway with phone and internet use in previous jobs, people are generally okay with you doing whatever as long as you’re doing good work, getting stuff done and not bothering anyone. However, if someone is new at their first job out of college, constant cell phone use us understandably a major red flag. You need to establish yourself as a responsible, productive employee before you can act the way OP’s roommate is acting now, and my guess is she hasn’t done anything to even start building that reputation.

          Also, since she comes home venting every day, I wouldn’t be surprised if her extreme dislike of this job was apparent in the office, which can really hurt her as well.

          1. Alton

            Plus, you want to use common sense. There’s a difference between using your phone occasionally during a quiet time when your boss isn’t right in front of you and blatantly texting in front of your boss even after they’ve told you to stop.

          2. ErinW

            I manage student workers, and I gave them two rules:
            1. Using your phone is OK if there’s no work right now.
            2. If someone comes in and asks a question or needs something, you a. put down the phone immediately and b. look them in the eye while you interact with them.

            Number 2 is the important part. People aren’t automatically offended by the presence of phones, but rather by feeling ignored in favor of the phone.

            1. Where’s my coffee?

              This is exactly the sort of clear and explicit direction that new workers need. I do the same.

          3. Falling Diphthong

            It’s like coming in late–what might be totally fine in a great employee who clearly delivers isn’t going to fly with someone who hasn’t established this reputation yet, no matter how glowing their self-confidence.

            Also, it’s normal for new jobs to have a lot of downtime as they get integrated into the flow of work, but you need to fill it with something that looks more like reviewing manuals than reading a comic book. (In this analogy, the job has nothing whatsoever to do with comic books and reading them can in no way be framed as performing valuable industry research.)

        4. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock

          It sounds like she’s treating her boss like her parent and being a “rebellious” teenager. It’s not a great approach to staying employed.

          1. RUKiddingMe

            Rebelling is exactly how I read it as well. To be honest if I’d told. her to put it away and she ignored me and kept using it, I’m leaning towards firing her on the spot. I tend to give all kinds of (reasonable) time/leeway/learning curve for stuff…but that’s just disrespectful.

            1. RUKiddingMe

              “Spoiled brat” is a term that generally rubs me the wrong way **, even when applied to an actual child. I don’t know why. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

              However…in this case, it seems just oh so appropriate.

              **Not that I am calling (or call) anyone out on using it. No word policing here for the most part. Plus, “moist” doesn’t even register on my ‘ick’ meter the way it seems to do with the majority of people. Go figure. :)

              1. Anna

                It could be because it’s so often used to describe a young person who isn’t doing what someone wants them to do and is frequently used in frustration. Sometimes it’s appropriate; more often it’s a futile attempt at controlling someone’s behavior.

                When I was 16 and my dad was frustrated with me, he called me a spoiled brat. My immediate response was to ask him whose fault that was.

              2. Ego Chamber

                SciShow did a thing about how many people are disgusted by the word “moist.” Turns out it’s not the majority, it’s not even a large minority, it’s just a very vocal minority that led to a meme (original definition of “meme”).

                1. Cate

                  The word moist never bothered me until my watercolour teacher in uni said he wanted our paper to be ‘as moist as your lover’s throat’ and just NOPE. He forever ruined a perfectly fine word.

        5. Brandy

          I got a great show with lunch last Saturday at the McDonalds. The manager was having to tell her employee to keep his phone in his pocket and stay off it and he wouldnt. Yelling match was the result then he was fired and stayed inside behind the counter as he was waiting on his mom to come pick him up (late teens) and he was talking to friends on the phone oh how this B just fired him, etc… It was a mess.

        6. Sandman

          This phone use issue has been the biggest issue my husband has been having with his younger hires – they are on their phones so much that it’s impacting their focus and productivity, but they don’t see it (these are engineers in this context, btw – it’s pretty self-directed work with a lot of leeway).

          1. Cochrane

            I find it to be a generational thing.

            Youngsters who are plugged in to the information superhighway multitasking like a boss vs the old fogeys who see the younger set on their phones like work shirkers playing their Atari gamemen while on the clock.

            1. Ego Chamber

              Disagree. I have yet to encounter anyone who can truly multitask (as opposed to switching tasks quickly), especially if their phone is part of it. I’ve had people my own age whip out their phones while we’re having a conversation, tell me to keep talking, it’s fine, they can do 2 things, then I end up having to repeat everything I said because they got distracted.

              No issues with using phones at work as long as the work is getting done, but have some awareness about when it’s phone time and when it isn’t. Also empathy is pretty cool: younglings can listen to why their elders feel disrespected by the younglings using phones in a meeting and elders can listen to why the younglings think it’s fine to use their phones when their total focus isn’t required by the specific task they’re doing (not when in a meeting though: that’s rude).

              (For demographic purposes: I am an older millennial, late adopter of tech, and I love my phone.)

              1. MM

                There are specific times when playing a game on my phone will help me concentrate (mostly if I’m listening to other people talking at length–as in a lecture, a podcast, or a long, not one-on-one meeting), because I have ADHD. Doodling serves the same purpose. Unfortunately, though understandably, most people will interpret both those behaviors as signs I’m not listening. The reality is that if I can’t do one of these things to take up the extra attention/energy not being used by listening, I am far more likely to go off into my own head and be much less able to pay attention.

                This isn’t to excuse OP’s friend’s behavior. Anything I do for this purpose on my phone cannot involve text of any kind, for example–if I’m reading words, I’m not hearing the words being spoken–so social media and messaging are out. And I’m well aware that there are times when the optics supersede what’s best for me, and I suck it up and do my best. Just musing about simultaneous phone use and listening.

                1. clunker

                  I think the game thing is true for me too, but I didn’t realize it until recently. I was mindlessly playing a game while listening to someone tell a longer anecdote and I realized when he laughed at me a little bit that I had been playing the game the whole time– I immediately apologized and said that the game required literally no thought and I *was* paying attention– he reassured me that he could tell because apparently I exaggerate my “yikes” face a lot more when I’m not making eye contact with someone (and the story in question had a lot of yikes moments).

                  Also, I absolutely can’t listen to any type of podcast and keep my attention on it if I’m not busy with something that doesn’t really involve words (driving, cooking, cleaning, eating, etc). The same isn’t true of conversations usually, because those are engaging and expect a response but longer stories and explanations where I can’t really respond usually mean I need something else to occupy myself. (Taking notes/being ready to take notes is a useful way to handle this in meetings which are more ‘presentation’ than ‘conversation’)

                2. Gadget Hackwrench

                  I also have ADHD, and often concentrate better when doing two things at once, but as you said, they have to operate on completely different channels. I’m not going to hear you if I’m reading. One uses hearing and the other uses vision, but they’re conflicting on the linguistic channel. I AM going to hear you while I’m working out this rubix cube. Because then you are using Audio and Linguistic, and This Cube is Visual and Tactile, and now all my bases are covered so I don’t have any perceptual channels left over to wander off like unattended toddlers… well unless there’s a smell or a taste trying to take me off someplace, but that’s what gum is for.

              1. Mr. Bob Dobalina

                Absolutely, I was going to post the same thing. Fictional. Humans do one thing at a time. Constantly switching tasks and having one’s attention diverted frequently is detrimental to efficiency and quality.

              2. Ice and Indigo

                Yep. Or at least, you can’t do two similar tasks at once. You can wash dishes and listen to a podcast, say, because your motor functions and your listening and language processing use different parts of your brain, but you can’t listen to a podcast and write a report at the same time without losing some function. There’s research on this: what actually happens is that your brain switches back and forth, and every switch loses microseconds that really add up. Under research conditions, even highly accomplished professionals perform worse when they’re required to multi-task.

                The trouble with using your phone is that it’s likely to involve motor functions and social communications processing and visual attention all together, so it really doesn’t leave much of your brain’s functions out. It is not a task you can multi, in short.

                I don’t know if the roommate would be open to that, but it might help to tell her that if she thinks she can multi-task working and phone use, research says she’s wrong. And since entry-level positions usually involve assisting someone, letting your social-communication processing centres get absorbed in non-work tasks is going to impede your performance – probably a lot worse than you realise, precisely because you weren’t keeping the social-communication parts of your attention focused on your work environment!

            2. Susana

              But… it’s not about generations, because they are NOT EQUAL. One isa boss, and one is an employee of two weeks. Boss says stop texting at work so much (and really – you think the texting was work-related?), and she petulantly ignores him and keeps texting?! I’d fire her on the spot, and make sure I found out where else she might be applying so I could warn them.
              Honestly I’ve heard this “generational” thing before, and am stunned that anyone thinks their views as low-level employees should be given the same weight as that of the boss. And yes – I fully understood this when I was the new employee.

            3. Nanani

              I think age might affect your ability to multitask? I’m a millenial. I used to be able to read comics in class and still come out with full marks. Now, multitasking while I work definitely costs me in brain power.

              If not age, then gaining experience and moving to harder, more in-depth work often means more brain cycles need to be on the work. It gets much harder to multitask when you are doing higher level “deep focus” work.
              When you skimmed through low-level jobs that really didn’t need 100% focus 100% of the time, it can be a bit of an adjustment.

      3. JM60

        While she should definitely put her phone away, it still might be best to look for another job anyways. With being only two weeks into this job, it sounds very likely that she’s already made a bad enough impression that she may soon be fired, even if she quits using her phone. If she does get a new job, she will have a chance to make a better initial impression.

      4. Someone Else

        Right, but the advice the roommate needs isn’t “put your phone away”. The roommate apparently needs to hear “If it’s worth changing jobs over this, that’s your prerogative, but most employers expect staff to limit personal phone use during business hours. If this is high priority for you, you may have difficulty finding a new job where the boss won’t tell you the same thing your current one did.”
        Although even as I write that I’m gobsmacked an adult human needs this spelled out.

        1. Nanani

          Eh, adult humans have all sorts of backgrounds.
          Maybe friend’s adult role models growing up were constantly on cell phones – even before smartphones were a thing, there’s a pop-culture image of a certain set of business people being constantly on the phone for a reason. Or maybe the adults in their life were self employed or didn’t have a boss for some other reason.

          Assuming everybody automatically has knowledge of these norms is… faulty.

    2. JMH

      But maybe she needs the slap in the face of getting fired to make her wake up to the fact that she has horrible work ethic and disrespect for her boss?!?!!

      1. Ego Chamber

        Nah, she already thinks her boss is an asshole for trying to hold her to this totally normal workplace expectation. If she gets fired, it’s not going to inspire a newfound self-awareness or anythings, she’s just going to be like “I can’t believe that asshole fired me for doing something I was explicitly, repeatedly told not to do!”

        (Source: this happened to me in high school, except it was for consistently being about 5 minutes late due to travel time from school to the job that scheduled me right after school was out.)

    3. epi

      I wouldn’t go quite that far, but I don’t think there is anything wrong with validating the roommate’s annoyance while giving her advice. It’s probably more likely to get through to her. Part of getting used to working is developing the ability to *internally* roll your eyes and then do what you need to do anyway. (It can even be kind of empowering to know you found something silly but did a great job and got paid anyway.) It’s also way easier than changing your mind overnight about whether your own behavior is OK. For most people, that takes some time.

      1. Susana

        The thing is, I don’t think LW needs to validate roomie’s feelings because they are not valid. It is entirely reasonable to expect an employee to NOT be on the phone texting all the time (which is how LW explained it). I really am amazed roomie was not fired on the spot. Roommate needs to hear – this isn’t your sorority meeting. This is your job. You work for someone and you don’t get to do personal things on company time OR set the rules.

    4. Observer

      Bad advice. Because there is no indication that any other job is going to be any better.

      It’s not just that she’s texting and on her phone too much. It’s also that she thinks that ignoring her boss is a reasonable response, and that in general, she has utterly ridiculous expectations for any reasonable job.

      1. LavaLamp

        I’d ask her if there’s some kind of need for her phone she hasn’t communicated to her boss. Not just flat out tell her “GET OFF YOUR PHONE MORON” but lead her through the thought processes if you think she’ll come to the correct conclusion. Some people don’t do well unless they think the idea was theirs originally.

        The way technology is these days, diabetes trackers are apps and hearing aids look like wireless headphones. I don’t know if I’d be comfortable as a boss telling someone to not use a phone until I knew there was no legit reason behind it.

  2. MuseumChick

    Send her a link to AAM. Other than that when she complains simply respond “hmm, yeah, that how it is in most jobs.” In a neutral tone.

    1. Liz

      I second this. I think your roommate will have to learn from experience here. But you can at least not validate her incorrect perception of how workplaces function.

      I know you are worried about how her financial situation will affect your own financial situation. I think you should focus on things you can control and influence around that – increasing your safety net savings, possibly finding a new roommate who is more financially stable, things like that. The dynamic of a landlord trying to coach a tenet on their financials sounds like a bad and unproductive path to go down.

      1. OhGeez

        I definitely agree with this. Also, I have a roommate who sounds similar. But she’s 28 and it doesn’t appear to be something she’s learned through experience. She’s never quit with notice, only ever rage quit or been fired. She gets fired, usually, for being rude or bullying to coworkers or her boss. And for being consistently very late. It’s extremely stressful living with someone who has no savings and cannot keep a job. Since you own the house, I would start looking for a new roommate immediately, and give her notice if she doesn’t seem to pick up on reasonable advice/feedback. For example, no matter how much kind and useful feedback my roommate gets, she remains the victim in her own mind.

      2. Cathy Gale

        Just wanted to chime in on that point. I once had a self-destructive roommate. Unfortunately, she was the named leaseholder on our apartment, then stopped paying her share of the rent when her nonprofit didn’t get the funding she expected. I came home to an eviction notice on our door.

        Protect yourself. It might not be a bad idea to go ahead and start looking for another roommate, independent of any conversation you might have about this.

    2. Doug Judy

      Maybe frame it as “Hey, I know you are new to the working world, and AAM has been such a great resource for me to learn to navigate challenges, issues with coworkers/bosses! You should check it out!”

      1. Amber T

        Yeah, even ease into it with the more extreme stories like the Duck Club or the witch who put curses on all of her coworkers (wait, what did I just write?). Get her entertained with over the top stories, and hopefully she’ll stick around for the stories that will really help her.

        1. Gadget Hackwrench

          That’s how I got here… I mean not that someone told me I needed to be or something, but I’m pretty sure a friend shared an article of Duck Club level hilarity and that’s what drew me here in the first place.

      2. Ego Chamber

        That would be more helpful if she wasn’t going to read this letter about herself, written by her roommate who then recommends the site to her (whut? just… why?), and a lot of the comments on this letter are phrased in a way that I would not expect people to phrase things if they knew the person they were talking about was going to read the things they were saying—this is advice for the LW, most of the hypothetical advice directed at the roommate has been along the lines of “stop being such a deluded baby.”

        I would not want to have to have the conversation I’d end up having with that person if she were my roommate and I sent her here, knowing she would read all of this.

    3. Ama

      Yeah, I think a neutral “you know it’s pretty standard expectation at most jobs that you not spend too much time at work on your phone” is about all you can do — if she’s actually interested it might resonate but I suspect it might not sink in until she gets fired.

      I have a direct report that is in her first job out of college and while she is nowhere near as bad about her phone use as Roommate sounds, she did have a tendency to finish a work thing and go get so zoned in on looking at a non-work website or checking her phone that people would walk up to her desk and she wouldn’t notice for a few seconds, which wasn’t creating a great impression. In her case it just took talking through that it’s fine to take a break now and then but you need to be aware that people could pop by at any moment and you need to be able to move right into work mode.

      But I’ll note that my report has also been a really receptive learner (she even jumped in and noted some examples of where it might have looked like she wasn’t working on her own once I brought it up), and it kind of sounds like OP’s Roommate isn’t interested in hearing ways she might need to improve.

      1. MuseumChick

        It’s amazing what people think is “unreasonable” at a job. I have a Not Great co-worker who battled his direct supervisor for months about showing up on time. Real things I heard him say:” “I just role out of bed and come to work.” “I guess I’ll have to get up ten minuets earlier.” (said in a sarcastic tone) “I don’t understand WHY I have to be here at 9am. I don’t miss anything if I come in at 9:15” “I can’t predict the traffic!”

        Guy is in his late 20s, has his own care, and lives a 30 minuet drive from where we work.

        1. Mimi Me

          I once worked with a person who would spend most of the shift on his phone. Our company had a pretty strict “no phones while working” policy as we were a call center and dealt with PHI. He would literally sit there and tell anyone who would listen, including the supervisor, that he paid the bill for the phone and would use it any damn time he wanted to. It wasn’t surprising to anyone when he was fired.

        2. Danger: Gumption Ahead

          I work with someone who pushed back on our boss because she spends a good 5-6 hours a day on personal calls. On speaker phone. In a cube farm. And hasn’t modified her behavior at all. I’m not even sure what is going on in her head and may not have to much longer. We are giving her until Nov max before she is fired.

    4. SierraSkiing

      Or be generally surprised/puzzled. “Sure, my boss wants us to keep our phones away while we’re working, too. Haven’t you seen that at work before?” Just don’t normalize the behavior!

    5. Annonymouse

      I’d start by asking her what she thinks her job is and what tasks it entails. Then I’d ask how constant personal phone use fits into that.

      I’d also tactfully point out that yes, new people often get grunt work. Especially when you are new or early in your career and don’t have a reputation yet. The only exceptions are people hired to higher level jobs who’ve already put in the hard yards.

      I.e you. You have to do lots of boring work in your job. Or anyone else sucessful. It’s the foundation of your career you have to build before you go around trying to set up the penthouse.

      1. Ice and Indigo

        As I have to tell myself sometimes: If this stuff was stuff I’d do for fun, nobody would pay me for it.

  3. Not a Real Giraffe

    I’m inclined to think there is nothing you can say that will get through to your roommate. She’s mad that her boss asked her to stop texting and actually do work… while at work? She sounds like someone who might need to be fired (maybe more than once) before the message resonates. Let her learn from her own mistakes.

    In the meantime, come up with a plan in case you need to replace her if she cannot continue to afford her rent.

    1. MissGirl

      This is my thought. This is something she’ll have to learn the hard way. And if she doesn’t learn it, she’ll go through life as one of those people job hopping, who always blame someone else for their woes. Either way you can’t fix her.

      1. Escapee from Corporate Management

        Which reminds me of the old maxim: experience is learning from your own mistakes. Wisdom is learning from other people’s mistakes. Unfortunately, your roommate will probably not have the wisdom to listen to you and her boss is likely to provide the experience of being fired.

    2. Doug Judy

      This is what I was going to say. If her boss telling her to stop texting wasn’t enough to get her to stop, she’s probably not going to learn until she actually gets fired. It might even take her more than one firing to “get” it.

      I’d be looking for a new roommate.

      1. Nea

        I’d also be looking for a new roommate – and I’d be really open about why. “I need to be able to manage the bills when you inevitably get fired for Not. Doing. Your. Job.” Maybe understanding that it’s not just this “boring” job with this “unreasonable” boss on the line might make her think.

        1. LawBee

          yes, this. Make sure she realizes that not only is this completely normal and expected, but that there are real world ramifications if (when) she gets fired.

          Reason 5234750298347 why high school kids should have a part-time job if at all possible.

          1. Less Bread More Taxes

            I completely agree. I was shocked when I started my first college internship with people who’d never worked before. Never babysat, never worked in retail or food service, nothing. And it showed. If you can get the basics right, like showing up on time and not checking your phone constantly, people are more willing to go out of their way to teach you things and have patience when you don’t get the other stuff right.

            1. The Mouse

              I wonder if the issue is that she just had expectations of a “professional” job than she didn’t have of a retail/food service job, because I know I sure did. I had the idea that once I got out of food service that I’d get an office job and all the draconian laws would relax – I could screw around if my work was getting done, etc. No one I knew worked an office job – everyone was very blue collar with very strict rules, and I got it in my head somehow that an office job would be very lax.

              1. SimonTheGreyWarden

                Or conversely if she had a parent with a very senior job, she may have distorted norms of what things are like when you are entry level. My spouse’s mother held a senior position at Acme Chocolate Teapots, Inc.; she traveled, gave presentations, and no one would ever have told her not to be on her phone at work. She could come and go as she needed as long as the work was done. First Job was hard on Spouse because it was a call center. Spouse did not feel things like attendance and dress code adherence should apply to them, since they did not apply to MIL. Spouse learned quickly this was, in fact, Not The Case.

              2. emmelemm

                Well, I’ve only ever worked in offices, and some are very lax, and some are very strict. But even in a very lax office, you definitely have to start out being very dedicated and showing that you can get things done and genuinely contribute something valuable, and then you get the leeway to do your thing when work is slow, etc.

                And even in a lax office, if a boss says to your face, “Cut it out,” you cut it out.

            2. Indoor Cat

              I think it kinda has to do with SES, in many cases (although there are definitely exceptions). The people I knew who had working class or lower-to-middle middle class families seemed to have a lot of incentive to work in high school and college, because in high school their parents couldn’t just hand them spending money and in college their parents couldn’t contribute as much to their food / rent, etc.

              Whereas a lot of middle class and higher parents seemed so competitive re: getting their kid into the best college possible, free time could only be spent on schoolwork or things that’d stand out on college apps. My sister has a friend whose parents insisted that she NOT get a job in college, and just ask them for money instead, because jobs would take away from her focus and studies.

              I was in an unusual boat in that I had upper-middle-class parents, but they didn’t expect me to attend a competitive school. Actually, for reasons of medical debt (and other debt I’m still not exactly sure about?) I could only afford to attend the university where my Dad worked, which was free for dependents of employees. It also has a seriously low bar to entry.

              So, knowing that, I ended up focusing on what I enjoyed in high school (art and writing), which ended up becoming a paying gig when I was about 17. Which gave me odd expectations I suppose; freelance writing and art isn’t collaborative and you don’t have a certain time you’re scheduled to be there. But, I worked a more conventional job in college and it worked out.

          2. Observer

            Agreed, somewhat, on#1. Although, it’s important to understand that the OP can’t actually make her understand anything. They can only present the information.

            #2 – I don’t agree. Even kids generally understand the concept of “boss”. And while a first job can always be a shock, plenty of folks go into their first job understanding the very basics, which is where this young woman is messing up. On the other hand, many of the jobs that young people have set up some false expectations of the workplace. For instance, baby sitting is often a job where requiring people to not use their phones is stupid. On the other hand, jobs like food service often come with assurances from friends and family that an office job is going to look VERY different. That’s generally true, but not necessarily in the way that people expect.

          3. PlainJane

            And why parents should talk with their kids about work. My mother was an office manager. I’d hang out with her after work while she cooked (yes, I should have helped more) and listen to her vent about work stuff (employees who made too many personal phone calls or showed up late repeatedly, co-workers who were rude, etc.). From that I learned a lot about how supervisors perceive employee behavior and what was expected in a work environment.

      2. fposte

        I think there’s the possibility for a slender opening if she can absorb the fact that this isn’t a particular boss being a jackass but a work expectation. I’m sure I’m not the only one who in my early years made the occasional complaint about work or life to a friend who, more worldly wise, said, “Um, that’s actually SOP.”

      1. Doug Judy

        If she ever figures it out. We all probably know someone who just never figured it out but got lucky enough to have enablers who would support them.

        Don’t be an enabler OP. Take care of you and if that means telling her you are finding a new roommate if she gets fired, then that is what you have to do.

    3. Kes

      I have to agree, she doesn’t seem ready to listen, and in fact I’m not even convinced getting fired would get through to her.

      It is tempting to ask, though, “Why do you think the company should pay you to sit around texting and not doing any work?”

      As others have commented, all OP can really do is make it clear that her roommate is expected to pay her share, and be ready to be looking for a new roommate if she doesn’t.

    4. Countess Boochie Flagrante

      This is a lot easier said than done, but I agree.

      Having her be a roommate makes the whole thing harder than if she were just a friend, because you can’t shrug and write it off as neither your circus nor your monkeys; her ability to bring in a steady income is very relevant to you. Start your disaster planning now, on the assumption that she will lose her job and will be unemployed for a not-insignificant time.

      1. RabbitRabbit

        And, OP: look into your state/county/city requirements for the legal time notifications around non-renewal of a lease (pleeeaaaase tell me she’s month-to-month only) and – hopefully it won’t come to this – how to deal with evictions.

      2. Not a Real Giraffe

        Absolutely. I’m a pretty direct person, so the next time Roommate complained to me, I’d probably say something like, “I agree with your boss and FYI if you get fired and can’t pay your rent, I’ll need to find a new roommate.”

        But, you know, soften it up as you need in order to fit your communication style – just so long as the same message is conveyed!

        1. Countess Boochie Flagrante

          I think the OP should be pretty cautious around threats of getting a new roommate; as the owner of the residence, she’s technically the landlord, not a roommate; the relationship is unequal and there are legal obligations the OP has to be mindful of around hinting at an eviction.

          1. Dweali

            OP can still be direct and go through any legal steps necessary when the time comes, one does not preclude the other.

            1. Not a Real Giraffe

              Right, it’s not a threat. It’s letting the roommate know that there’s an expectation of living up to the obligations outlined in the lease. It’s not saying, “I’m going to evict you the day you get fired,” but letting the roommate know that if she can’t pay rent, there are ramifications down the road.

            1. Observer

              That’s totally not true. A lot depends on the jurisdiction, how she’d been living there, etc. In some jurisdictions, even failure to pay rent on a month to month situation can require months and court processes to enforce.

              1. Dot

                I don’t understand this comment. If it’s a month to month lease, either party can serve a 30-day notice to move out. (The tenant to say they’re vacating, the landlord asking the tenant to vacate.)

                That’s what a month to month lease is by definition.

                If you’re talking about a lease, I agree it’s a more complicated situation if the tenant stops paying rent and involves an eviction process.

                In any case, the OP clarified that she has a lease that ends in January.

                1. Me (I think)

                  Well, that wasn’t our experience with tenants. Our last set of tenants didn’t pay their rent for months at a time. We would go to court to get an eviction notice 90 days after rent was due, they would pay that day in court. Judge would allow them to stay — even though they hadn’t paid any of the succeeding months’ rent either. Those months aren’t the issue, we have to wait for the 90- days to be up each time. So they pay Sept rent in December, and they can stay in the house, even though they haven’t paid Oct, Nov, or Dec yet. Then they would pay big chunks at a time to catch up, mostly. Once in a while. Then, if you do get an eviction, in Virginia it cost a lot of money to “raise a posse” to carry it out.

                  In the OP’s case, I would probably let her tenant/roommate know that her lease is not being renewed. Do it all as legal as possible, in writing, etc. Out of the house by Dec 31.

                2. JSPA

                  That’s not actually necessarily true. You can’t sign certain rights away. In cities where there are tenant protections, simply stating that a lease is month-to-month does not remove those protections (which often require “just cause” for removal).

                  see https://www.nolo.com/legal-encyclopedia/evictions-landlord-rules-29740.html

                  This can even apply to a person (friend of a friend, someone you take pity on, whatever…) who’s staying with you for a certain number of days, even if they’ve paid no rent.

                3. Observer

                  That’s what a month to month lease is by definition.

                  Nope. Not in all jurisdictions. In NYC, for instance, if someone has been renting for a certain amount of time (I don’t know how long), you can’t just give them 30 days. In our case, it was a long drawn process, and then the court gave them 5 months to find a new place, with the proviso that they pay PART of ONE month’s rent partway through search time. The only reason they were not able to get an extension is that they didn’t even pay that – our lawyer told us that otherwise, they probably would have gotten an extension, because that’s the standard. By the time we got them out, we were out a year of rent (at below market rates.)

                4. Anononon

                  Just adding to the choir, this is very dangerous “advice”. For example, in Philly, you need proof that you provided them with certain paperwork or you can’t collect rent for every month you can’t. And, if you don’t have certain certifications, the tenant can counter claim against you for the rent amount.

          2. aebhel

            Was just gonna say that. I’m not that up on tenant law, but I’m pretty sure that most landlords can’t pre-emptively evict a tenant because they’re making stupid financial decisions. This is something OP should definitely look into and possibly get legal advice on, though, because it’s a situation that can get really thorny when everything is just operating on goodwill.

          3. Cathy Gale

            This is why I would suggest saying, “I’m thinking about getting another roommate to share the house with us.”

          1. Techworker

            This is definitely true in the U.K. too (though I think depends on the exact type of contract) – there’s generally an awareness that if you own the property you get to choose who to live with..

        2. Allison

          Roommate may still be able to pay rent for a little while if she gets fired, she might still have some graduation money or savings to fall back on, or parents who are willing to help out.

    5. Snickerdoodle

      Yeah. I think it’s time for a new roommate; if she doesn’t get that it’s not okay to text all day at work, she probably won’t get that she’s expected to pay her bills, either.

    6. BRR

      I think this as well. I would say it’s very common for people to complain about normal work things like unnecessary meetings but this person just does not get it. The only thing I might suggest is if the LW hasn’t directly told her how wrong she is and feels comfortable doing so, to do it. But other than that, I have serious doubts about someone who continues to text after their boss asks them to stop understanding these things without a hard lesson (and honestly I’m a little surprised someone two weeks into a role who did this hasn’t already been fired).

      My other possible advice to the LW if it applies is to let your roommate knows that if she can’t pay rent/bills, she can’t stay for free. LW can couple that with a milder statement about what it’s like to have a job.

    7. Little Bean

      Since you are essentially her landlord, you have a more vested interest than if you were just her roommate. Some places that I have lived asked for proof of income, because they wouldn’t rent to me if I couldn’t show that I’d be able to afford it. You could approach it from that angle, that if she’s not sufficiently committed to this job, she should start looking for a new place to live because you won’t be able to let her stay if she gets fired and can’t afford the rent. Not saying you have to actually evict her, but it might help make her aware of the seriousness of her situation.

      Also, if you’re depending on her contributions to pay your mortgage each month, you may want to make sure you know what your legal options are. I’m no expert but I understand that the eviction process is not that quick, and you could end up with someone living in your house and not paying rent for months.

      1. michelenyc

        In NYC you have to provide tax returns, pay check stubs and/or proof of employment. It can be really annoying!

    8. Lumen

      OP: one non-threatening way to communicate with your tenant (which she technically is, since it sounds like you own the place) what is going to happen if she loses her job and cannot get another one is to ask questions, rather than make statements.

      Basically: “If you become unemployed and it takes time to find another source of income, what is your plan for paying rent and other bills on time in the interim?”

      Make her tell you, if this is the case, that she expects you to cover her for the weeks/months it takes her to scrape money for her obligations together. I strongly suspect she has this expectation but neither one of you is articulating it clearly.

      Then tell her: “I won’t be able to do that. What is your backup plan?”

      Most likely, she has no backup plan. It’s probable that YOU are her backup plan for when she doesn’t want to do her job, or any job. Keep it simple: no explanations, no waffling. Just say over and over “I won’t be able to do that.”

      Examples:
      “But you have so much money!”
      “Not as much as you think. I won’t be able to cover your rent.”

      “But you’re my friend!”
      “That’s not related to my ability to cover your bills or not. Which I can’t.”

      “But you’re a bad mean person who is mean and bad!”
      “Sorry you feel that way, but I still won’t be able to cover you.”

      You’re not threatening her with what you’ll do – eviction, finding a new tenant, etc. You’re not trying to change her personality (which you can’t do anyway). You’re just stating, over and over no matter what approach she takes, that this is the reality she has to contend with: whatever happens with her job, whether she quits or gets fired, she cannot expect that you will cover her for her lack of income.

      And hey: maybe she’ll find a job where her boss really doesn’t care if she texts all day. It’s unlikely, but plenty of people who kinda deserve to suffer the consequences of their laziness/entitlement/whatever end up doing just fine somehow, and never learn their lessons, and it just sets my hair on fire to see it happen.

      But point being: you can’t fix her, and you’re not responsible for fixing her. Just protect your own self FROM her as best you can.

      1. Observer

        “But you have so much money!”
        “Not as much as you think. I won’t be able to cover your rent.”

        Nope – strike out the first part of that response. It’s just not relevant, nor is it in Roommate’s purview.

      2. AC

        Hello, thank you for the advice. You are definitely correct in that I can’t afford to cover her share of rent. I bought my home with the intention of renting the spare room for additional income/so that I can afford the home. I live in a major city, at least major by Midwest standards, and with property values increasing at 2-3% per year, I wanted to get in while I could. It is luckily already paying off, a condo in my building that is the exact same size and mostly the same features is on the market for $13,000 more than I paid for mine.

        1. Lumen

          I’m glad it’s helpful! We’re so geared towards giving as much explanation as possible to ‘justify’ ourselves, but sometimes that just gives people the idea that ‘no’ is the beginning of a negotiation, not the end.

          Hence: Observer is correct in their reply to me, by the way. Your budget is your business. Not hers.

    9. beth

      This is my thought as well. She’s decided that she should be allowed to do these behaviors; if her boss telling her it isn’t allowed doesn’t convince her, you telling her is unlikely to make an impact.

      If the talk is bothering you, you can change the subject when it comes up. You can even say, “This sounds like really normal stuff that would be true at any job I’ve ever had. I don’t want to hear about it anymore.” You can go in another room if she keeps talking about it–you don’t have to sit and listen to her forever just because she’s talking.

      And you can definitely make preparations for in case she gets fired and can’t pay rent. Make sure you know the details of eviction law for your state, just in case you need it. If you can, channel more of your own income into savings, so you have a buffer in place to cover your bills. Preparing for the worst case scenario is probably the best thing you can do to manage your own stress levels in this situation, and will almost definitely go further than trying to convince her of something she’s actively choosing to ignore.

    10. LilyP

      Yeah, if you don’t already have something on paper you should nail down at very least a written agreement around rent and maybe even a formal lease — don’t present it as related to the job stuff, just say it’s something you need to get nailed down for your records. Also read up on any relevant laws for your area. And get clear in your head about how much free help you’re willing to give her as a friend and be prepared to stick to that limit. Remember, you’re not somehow ruining her life if you end up needing to kick her out — getting evicted is a predictable consequence of not paying your rent and she brought that on herself

    1. Traffic_Spiral

      And also was at some sort of school that let her text constantly? Because if she’s been in school she’d still be familiar with the concept of “put your phone down.”

      1. Alldogsarepuppies

        If you go to a big enough college, its easy to sit in the back and be on your comp the whole time “taking notes” and if you have all mac devices you can text from your computer. Like its not a smart thing to do because you won’t do well on the exams if you don’t pay attention to class and you are wasting your tuition money – but people do do it.

        1. Natalie

          Eh, every class I had at a large university would literally double in size on exam days, so plenty of people seem to get by without even attending a class, much less paying attention. It’s entirely possible this has never posed a problem for her before.

      2. Snickerdoodle

        Lots of other places ask you to put your phone down: Movie theatres, doctors’ waiting rooms; hell, recently I went to to Rob Zombie show, and Rob Zombie himself asked people to put their damn phones down for at least one song (to many cheers, mine included!). I don’t think it’s an inexperience thing; I think it’s a just plain tacky thing.

        1. Just Employed Here

          Wait, why do you have to put your phone down in a doctors’ waiting room?

          Isn’t that pretty much the definition of a place where you might need to distract yourself but you don’t know whether it’ll be for 5 minutes or an hour = perfect for mindless surfing, chatting or news reading?

          (With the sound off, of course, and not in a part of hospital where you aren’t allowed to even have your phone on.)

          1. Snickerdoodle

            Some offices have signs up asking that people turn off or silence their cel phones, but without saying why. There are magazines, a TV on the wall, etc. available for entertainment.

            1. Just Employed Here

              Oh wow, I’ve never seen that here in Europe.

              We’re more likely to see posters there advertising health information or services available … you guessed it, online.

              But yeah, obviously you wouldn’t keep making noise with your phone or any other way either.

            2. SarahTheEntwife

              Wow, I’ve never seen that. That would drive me up the wall; I bring my phone specifically so that I have lots of options for things to do while I wait that *aren’t* the tv and magazines in the waiting room.

            3. DataGirl

              Most doctors offices I’ve been in (and I’ve been in a lot) in the States ask you not to use your cellphone. But I always assume that is meant for talking, as that can be loud and disruptive. I still use my phone for texting, surfing the net, whatever, and no one has ever said anything about it being a problem. I would not touch the magazines in a doctor’s office- ew, so many germs.

          2. EmmaBird

            They might have had one too many issues with LOUD/rude phone conversations so it’s just easier to ban phones or ask people to go outside to have conversations. Reminds me of how certain hospital waiting areas put a ban on food to be more considerate to people who are fasting for procedures.

          3. Jessi

            Sensitive information happens there? So you can’t take pictures? Thats why customs/ boarder entry/ TSA won’t let have your phone out

              1. Ralkana

                I had a post-surgical appointment with a specialist where the doctor came into the waiting room to see a patient who was waiting for a ride, and discussed his treatment and diagnosis. In the waiting room. I’m so glad that was my last appointment with that doctor.

              2. kc89

                it happens at the counter next to the waiting room, I often hear things that I feel weird about hearing about

          4. Jennifer Juniper

            So people don’t yell on their cell phones and stress out the sick people. We have a lot of yellers where I live.

              1. Indoor Cat

                I mean, some lecture classes are just so…I dunno, remedial? Slow-paced, as if you need things repeated a million times?

                The first poem I ever sold professionally, I wrote during a 101- level Sociology course. I wrote very few notes on the actual lecture, because the material was bizarrely easy. A whole hour-and-a-half lecture would have, like, three key points that would be on the exam, and it was always pretty clear what the points were. So, I’d look up three times for the five-minute segments where the professor explained the points, wrote them down, and then tuned out the twenty-five minutes they spent “illustrating” and “expanding on” the points.

                I got 100% on the exams and 100% attendance. Never even unwrapped the textbook.

                Obviously, #notallprofs, but, especially my first two years of college, I had more boring professors who padded basic and, frankly, easy to grasp material into egregious lectures filled with analogies, tangents, definitions of words I already knew, and diagrams to help us “visualize” an already intuitive thing.

                In some cases their explanations actually needlessly complicated a concept, but re-reading about it online, usually in a more competent professor’s writing in the same field, generally clarified it.

                But, yeah, if I didn’t “clock in” I would’ve dropped a letter grade or two. Waste of everybody’s time.

                1. Snark

                  No, I should have unpacked that a bit – I think it’s bonkers that it’s possible to pass classes and graduate with honors without being forced to deeply engage with the class material and demonstrate true mastery. It was a criticism of the school, the classes, and the textbooks, not Zip Silver. Swiping in should not be the bar.

      3. ErinW

        Have you been in a college classroom in the last five years? The phone war has been fought and the professors lost. I finished a professional degree in 2014 and (since I was in my thirties) I thought it was common courtesy not to be checking my texts or my Twitter timeline while the prof was talking. But even in the smallest seminars people would be head down, scrolling, scrolling. Actually (grown) people at my current workplace are also really bad about paying attention during meetings too, at this point. So no need to shame just the younger generation.

        1. PhyllisB

          1+Erin. My husband is an instructor at our community college Work Force Center. He is teaching (mostly) men from 18 to 40+. He’s teaching them things that, if they don’t learn correctly could cause serious injury or death (industrial electrician.) And they are always on their phones. He would give THE LECTURE about appropriate phone use the first day of class and by day 3 he would take a large industrial size bucket and put it by his desk and make them all drop their phones in it until break or lunch. They would complain about being treated like a child, and he would respond; “Well, if you act like a child, I’m going to treat you like one.” They started complaining to TPTB and he was told to loosen up.
          About year 3 he threw up the white flag, and now the rule is no phones out on the shop floor. I don’t know the consequence, but I think he throws them out of class for the rest of the day. And they receive a zero for their daily grade. He also reminds them if they don’t pay attention during lecture and fail the tests, they will be washed out of the program. Obviously there are exceptions. If anyone has a wife about to go into labor or sick child or family member he takes that into account. But just playing with your phone is a no no. All this is to say it’s everywhere and knows no age limits.

    2. EmmaBird

      There’s a fairly strong possibility that even if she’s had an internship/job before she got away with it somehow. My first job allowed me to watch TV during the day because my entire job was answering the phone– so if it wasn’t ringing I wasn’t working!

      My advice to OP is to let her learn her own lessons. If you give any advice I’d merely offer up what your experience has been “In my office, we’re only allowed to use our phones at lunch” or whatever it may be. Telling her what to do will have no effect since she already doesn’t care about what her boss is telling her!

      I had a similar situation with a friend in the same field that graduated the year after me, she had really unreasonable expectations about workload. I’d gently counter her complaining with something like “Wow, I’d love to only be assigned 5 projects a week, I have 10 here!” That pretty quickly stopped her from complaining to me and she eventually quit that job and has been struggling ever since.

  4. Dust Bunny

    It was your roommate’s parents’ job to raise her to be a functional human, not yours. That ship has sailed. And she’s now old enough to learn this on her own (although how you get through college without figuring all this out, I have no idea).

    If she ends up unemployed and can’t pay her rent, then you have to evict her and find another roommate.

    1. SwingingAxeWolfie

      My thoughts too. I think commenting bluntly on her attitude is a good approach, but I think if it’s going to change, it will be a long process which will involve her facing the consequences of her actions.

      1. JokeyJules

        in respects to the parenting oversight happening here, i’d only point out to her that this is a very normal expectation for any job one time. don’t even discuss the consequences, just tell her “not being on your phone is a very minimum expectation at many, many places of work. they are paying you to be there working, and nothing else, that’s how it is.”

    2. Kay

      This, this, a million times this.

      As someone who has a maternal streak in her and has a habit of picking up “strays”, please keep what Dust bunny said in mind so that you can avoid a lot of unnecessary stress in your life.

      It’s not your responsibility to parent this person nor is it your duty to counsel her on what are some really common sense matters. You told her what you think on the subject, but she disregarded it. Her behavior will put her job at jeopardy, but that’s on her.

    3. Mike C.

      You really don’t need to go so far as to say that she’s not a functional human being. She’s inexperienced and has unreasonable expectations, that’s all.

      1. Ask a Manager Post author

        I agree that’s an excessively harsh way of putting it, but it’s also true that right now the roommate is not functioning well as an adult. That doesn’t mean she never will (it’s very likely that she will, in fact), but it’s okay to note that right now she’s not doing that well.

    4. Archaeopteryx

      + 1, Just let her learn the hard way. She’s already rejected the easy way, i.e. listening to her boss.

    5. cncx

      the “if she can’t pay her rent” part is the only reason i would even talk to her about it as a roommate. I agree, it was her parents’ job

  5. SamuraiJac

    There’s a lot here you COULD do…but if it were me, I’d be posted ads for new roommates ASAP. If she didn’t hear you the first time this is almost guaranteed to go down in flames and you should try to avoid getting burned.

    1. Yojo

      Yeah, anyone who thinks “I didn’t want to do that thing I was told to do, so I didn’t do that thing” is going to be an absolutely miserable roommate.

      If her bar for “unreasonable” is set so low that “don’t text constantly at work” counts, then I can imagine “clean up after yourself” and “pay your rent on time” can easily fall into that category as well.

      I’m really curious what this girl is like, and how she managed to get this far in life if she has so little understanding of how authority figures work.

      1. Batty Twerp

        This makes me curious too – How does OP handle things like emptying the trash, or doing the dishes? Is this something that crops up as part of the room mate agreement? How does she handle being asked/told to do things she may not like doing as part of just living with OP? Is it just work where she has a problem with authority figures?
        If she just has little respect for her boss but behaves perfectly reasonably with all other authority figures and is a respectful room mate, there may be other things going on.
        None of which is actuallly your concern, OP. Bump up your savings, advise your room mate that her rent still needs to be paid, regardless of whether she has this job or a different one, and that’s pretty much all you can do.

    2. Tardigrade

      This is probably what I would do. I’d like to think I’d also be up front and tell her I’ve posted the ad due to concerns about her future employment and your own need to keep the lights on.

    3. CTT

      I don’t think advertising for a new roommate is a good idea. OP can’t just get a new roommate unless the current roommate has done something in violation of the lease (i.e. not paying rent) that would trigger eviction or they mutually agree to terminate it early. I think the better advice is for OP to look at what the options are under the lease and know how to protect herself the moment her roommate does something to violate it.

        1. Not So NewReader

          I think OP owns the house. If she has the space for a third person, then she might as well get the third person. It could be a bit before this roommate actually leaves if she is fired.

      1. Dot

        That’s usually only true if there’s a lease and she’s on it. My guess is that’s not the case if the OP owns her place and is renting the room. At most, a thirty day notice would probably be enough. It’s hard to say without knowing the details but a blanket statement that she would have to go through a lengthy eviction process is not reflective of reality.

        1. fposte

          There’s a lease legally whether there’s a written lease or not; usually it defaults to month-by-month. As you say, though, eviction isn’t inherently lengthy, especially if the evictee doesn’t fight it.

          If the roommate is smart, though–and it wouldn’t hurt to clue her in on this–she’ll want to avoid an eviction because it hurts your future record. Much better if she just leaves after being given the notice to quit.

          1. Dot

            Right, month to month means you can serve a 30-day notice. No need for an eviction. That would only come into play if the roommate in turn refused to honor the 30-day notice. But that would be something the roommate would be doing that’s in violation of the law, not the landlord.

    4. RabbitRabbit

      OP needs to make sure she’s doing this legally – you can’t just kick out the roommate at whim. At a minimum, she’s on a month-to-month basis.

      1. Doug Judy

        Right, but she can still put her roommate on notice that if she gets fired she will begin the eviction process. I wouldn’t even say “you can stay as long as you can pay the rent” Make it clear that having a job is a requirement to remain in the house.

        1. CTT

          But if there’s a written lease, having a job as a condition would need to be in there. If there’s not and this is a condition she would want to enforce, she should look at her state’s (and county’s, that depends in some places) laws to see if that’s legal.

        2. Natalie

          Dictating whether or not your tenant has a job seems pretty inappropriate IMO. Your only concern as the landlord is whether or not the rent is paid timely and the property isn’t abused. If roomie is pulling from her savings or parents or whatever, that’s her business.

          1. Doug Judy

            Lots of places require proof of income to rent. If Roommate is going to constantly be on the verge of being fired (which does’t sound like a stretch) OP should’t have to constantly be worried about her roommate making rent. Savings will run out, parents might get tired of supporting her. It is drama the OP does not need.

            I would just look into her rights to evict where she lives regardless and be done with her.

              1. Landlord-tenant issues

                Furthermore, the proof of income is generally provided as a condition of signing the lease. It is generally not an ongoing requirement.

          2. Ender

            Lots of landlords want people with jobs in part because if you’re not working you’re in the house most of the day almost every day. Using the heat, the power, and the WiFi. And quite often making more of a mess than someone who’s out working all day

      2. Techworker

        Depends on location – in the U.K. you have few rights living with a live in landlord, and notice just has to be ‘reasonable’ – usually 28days but can be less.

        1. blackcat

          Yep, true in almost every US state, too. “Lodger” (someone who rents a room) is sometimes even a different category with fewer legal protections.

    5. AC

      Thanks everyone for the suggestions! I do own the home like I said in the post and I rent one of the spare bedrooms to her. I did draft a lease and it was signed. The lease runs through January and luckily I did include some protections for myself in there in the event that she doesn’t pay rent. There is no job condition in the lease however, but she did quit and her parents will be paying her rent for the remainder of the lease.

        1. Wishing You Well

          Good advice from RabbitRabbit. I’d also suggest as some others did to look for a replacement or overlapping roommate now. With time on your side, you can be picky about who rents a bedroom. Make sure the new roommate lease agreement is favorable to you and legal in your state.
          Best of Luck

      1. Dot

        If I were you, I’d serve her a move-out notice exactly 30 days before the end of the lease, even if she gets another job. It’s just too tiring to deal with this kind of thing.

      2. EPLawyer

        Aaaand there’s the answer — her parents have probably bailed her out of every situation (yes I am WAGGING here) so she never suffered the consequences of her answer.

        I still stand by what I said below. You need to decide if this person is worth being a friend even. You already know the roommate part is not workable.

        Good luck in the future. Let us know how it works out in the long run for YOU.

      3. Observer

        Ouch.

        I hope your lease language allows you to get her out as soon as he lease is up. And to whatever you need to make that happen, whether it’s giving her notice, etc.

        Do it even if she finds another job. You simply cannot depend on her parents picking up the slack each time.

        I’ll keep my mouth shut about my opinion of her parents.

  6. AK

    WOW. Has she paid attention to the office culture, and how often other people are on their phones (more specifically, are NOT on their phones)? I wonder if showing her that within that office she’s sticking out in a bad way might help her see a little more about what the real world is like.

    In a little bit of her defense, it’s possible that there’s other things that make this a bad fit for her and she’d ultimately end up finding a new job anyway. The key if she’s job searching now would be to not include this one on her resume. If she’s only recently graduated, as a hiring manager I could overlook that she hasn’t been employed since graduating (I assume) in May/June, but OP you’re right that including a job you’ve been at for 2 weeks would be a huge red flag.

    1. EddieSherbert

      +100 to leaving this job *off* her resume completely if she insists on applying elsewhere right now. She also shouldn’t mention it in interviews.

      Mentioning it only has the capacity to hurt her, not help… especially because the first question they’d have is “why the heck are you looking to leave already?!” and her reason is extremely childish.

      1. Essess

        Oh no, she should leave it on for a while so that she hears from MULTIPLE people how bad her behavior is. If she hears it from multiple potential employers, maybe it will sink in more.

    2. ella

      To pay attention to office culture, she would probably have to put down her phone, so I’m gonna go with no on that one.

      1. Not So NewReader

        I do like the peer pressure strategy for the OP.
        OP, you can tell her that she should be doing as she sees most of the others doing. If they are heads down, nose to the grindstone, then she needs to get there.

    3. Excel Slayer

      I wonder if there’s one or two people in the office that do use their phone a lot – either for work emails, or because they’re really good at their job so they get a little slack? I think when people start in the workforce they don’t always understand that sometimes different rules apply to different people.

      +1 for not including on resume

      1. epi

        I agree, I remember finding it hard in my first job because most everyone was at least somewhat senior to me. Those who weren’t, were often in some other role where I couldn’t use their behavior as a guide. And that is just with reference to the roles and parts of the hierarchy I understood– there was way more I hadn’t even picked up on yet.

        With phones in particular, it’s hard for office policies to keep up with how much most of us use our phones, for a mixture of work and personal stuff, and how quickly that has changed. The roommate sounds like she really is rude– you can’t just ignore your boss– but I think this is a legitimate area that can be confusing to people who are starting out.

        1. Susana

          I disagree. Many of us managed just fine before cell phones were ubiquitous. ZERO reason to be constantly texting, as OP describes it. The addiction makes me feel a tad sympathetic. But her attitude means she has to go.

          1. SarahTheEntwife

            People managed fine before cell phones, yes, but now they are everywhere and are frequently used for work. The roommate in this case sounds more than just confused, certainly, but in many offices it may be legitimately unclear if someone is texting their friend or is asking their coworker where the TPS reports are or is checking their calendar to see where the llama groomers’ meeting is. Plenty of people use their phones frequently for completely legitimate work matters that look identical from the outside to goofing off.

            1. Pommette!

              Exactly.

              My boss checks her phone intermittently throughout the day, including during meetings. She’s does it so that she can see and respond to time sensitive question. I found it disconcerting at first, but understand why it’s necessary.

              I’m also on my phone a lot these days. Some of that time is actually spent looking at personal texts (to make sure that I haven’t received any urgent news from a close relative with a serious health problem. This doesn’t take up much time, and I make up for it by showing up a bit earlier. My boss is aware of the situation and does not think that it’s a problem). By far, most of that time is spent doing work-related tasks (I use my phone’s calculator a lot, and I use the phone’s calendar to organize my work day).
              To a new employee, both of of us could seem to be goofing off.

    4. Kramerica Industries

      I get the sense that she thinks that the office culture is dumb/outdated and not worth respecting. The route I’d try is something along the lines of “I know it can be annoying, but you do the job for the money. I personally found that following the rules made things a lot easier instead of fighting them.”

      Or some kind of a personal anecdote that will get through to her.

  7. Murphy

    There are very few jobs that would allow you to be on your phone all day. Has she never had a job at any point? I would think most people would know that this kind of behavior is not OK.

    I’m honestly not sure that there’s much OP can do here…it’s going to sound like scolding, even though OP is 100% right. If she’s complaining like a broken record, I’d probably just respond like a broken record. *complaint about texting* “That’s actually really normal that a boss would want you focused on work.” Unfortunately no matter how many times you say it, you won’t be able to force her to hear and understand it.

    1. Lisa Babs

      I agree! You don’t just have to listen to her complain. If she is being a broken record, you can be a broken record and keep repeating “that’s pretty normal office behavior”. NOW that doesn’t mean she’ll change but you don’t have to “pretend like that is acceptable workplace behavior.”

      BUT OP wants a way she “doesn’t get upset”. Now that’s not the OP’s to control. She’s not being reasonable in her actions so she might not be reasonable with her response. BUT you don’t have to listen to her complain for 6 months.

  8. Quickbeam

    I’ve run across this orienting new nurses. “Hey you can’t text to your friends while you are in a patient room!”. If they get it, they have a chance for a career. If not, they are out the door.

    Somewhere, there needs to be a Work 101 class for new grads about connectivity, social media and work expectations. I’m too old to be the one to make that happen so I think it needs to be a peer to peer thing. Some people have to learn the hard way.

    1. The Original K.

      I know when my best friend was a summer associate at a law firm, part of their orientation was a lesson in professionalism from HR. I can’t remember all the details but she said a big part of it was focusing on appropriate office attire. It wouldn’t surprise me if that session has evolved to talk about cell phone use!

      1. EPLawyer

        We had to take an ethics course before we could be admitted to the MD bar. Now mind you, these are not not even baby lawyers yet, we weren’t sworn in. We were told right at the beginning of the class — put your phones down, no texting. The amount of texting that continued was amazing. Folks, you ain’t that important at your jobs yet, you can’t do anything important because you don’t know anything. So put the damn phone down and pay attention.

        Unfortunately, OP has a double complicated situation. 1) this is a friend and 2) this is a roommate. I agree that the friend is NOT going to listen to anything you have to say. She has decided the work world is sooooooo unfair that she can’t text all day and is expected to work at boring things instead of running the company already.

        So OP you have to decide 1) is this person worth keeping as a friend. Because when this all goes south and she complains YOU didn’t warn her bad things would happen (even if you actually did), it will not be pretty. The friendship will probably be over anyway. Any friend who puts you in this position is not really a friend. Especially because of 2. A real friend would understand that you depend on her paying rent to pay your bills. She would ensure she has the ability to pay the rent by DOING. HER. JOB. no matter how annoying it is. But also for 2) you have to review your local laws on evicting a roommate. Because you need someone who gets the concept of responsibility and where money comes from. This roommate does not.

        There is probably nothing you can so to help this person. You need to take care of yourself. Even if it means ending a friendship.

    2. Birch

      I agree that Work 101 would be a good idea for maybe high schoolers, but IMO really this is not about being young or new to the workforce, it’s about being willfully ignorant. I knew to keep my phone away at work when I was 16, and not because I was taught it, because work is for work. This phenomenon isn’t new, either–people have been slacking off in creative ways forever, it’s just that now people tend to all do it in the same way so it becomes more visible.

      OP, when she complains, tell her flatly “Well, yeah, work is for work. That’s how it is for everybody.” And then tell her that you’re concerned that this attitude is going to get her fired and thus be unable to pay rent, and inform her in no uncertain terms how long you’re willing to wait for rent until you replace her. Get copies of all the necessary paperwork so she can’t complain later that she didn’t know any of this (because if she’s complaining that she doesn’t understand why she has to do work at work, she’s DEFINITELY going to try that BS when she can’t come up with rent).

      1. Rusty Shackelford

        I agree that Work 101 would be a good idea for maybe high schoolers, but IMO really this is not about being young or new to the workforce, it’s about being willfully ignorant.

        It is kind of hard to believe that she’s never had any kind of authority figure at all. I mean, maybe her parents were the type who would tell her to put her phone down and empty the dishwasher, and do nothing when she cheerfully ignored them, but also every single teacher she’s ever had? There’s no way she doesn’t already know, consciously or subconsciously, what’s supposed to happen.

        1. fposte

          Overall, sure, but the specifics? Not necessarily. Think interns and the dress code petition, or various questions to AAM about food and drink limitations. You can get that the boss gets to tell you what to do without knowing exactly where that stops.

        2. Double A

          A lot of teachers have given up the phone battle. We don’t have the authority to do much about it, and parents will often side with their kids in a phone battle. If the parent isn’t willing to enforce the use of the phone during school and will in fact undermine the teacher about it, why should the teacher spend the energy on that battle? The bad grades are the consequence. Of course then you have those same parents freaking out at you about a bad grade…

          1. Rusty Shackelford

            Yeah, but it’s not just the phone. It’s the idea that no one is allowed to tell you what to do. The idea that you can ignore authority figures and suffer no consequences whatsoever. Not because you’re super powerful (hello, Harvey Weinstein) but just because this is how things work – your boss tells you to do something, and you ignore it to his face. The phone is just one example.

    3. Seacalliope

      There doesn’t need to be a class. This is already the norm of all student environments. You are not to be texting your friends in class. If you are and you don’t get caught, you are fully aware you got away with something, rather than that you were doing something acceptable.

      She just needs to come down from the high of new adulthood and realize that you face a lot of restrictions on your behavior, even if you are an adult!, and especially in the sphere of work. It’s a realization process for a lot of people.

      1. Properlike

        It is the norm, and something I (as a college instructor) spend the first full week of class explaining, enforcing, reminding about, and I still always have at least one person who thinks it doesn’t apply to them because They’re Grown and Can Do What They Want. Always funny when they double down and then they get upset when they’re kicked out of the class for violating course policy (I mark people absent who text, because I certainly don’t have their attention.)

        1. MJ

          Why do you do this, though? It’s not your responsibility to ensure they hear or absorb the material, just that the material is available to them.

    4. HS Teacher

      The juniors and seniors I teach are the worst I’ve seen with that. I spend more time enforcing phone policies than I’d care to admit. We can’t confiscate them, so it’s a constant stream of write-ups until they finally get themselves suspended. It’s an epidemic.

  9. Stormfeather

    I’d lean toward sitting her down and giving her a talk, throwing the “she doesn’t get upset” part out the window and just telling her flat-out that she’s being completely unrealistic as far as living in the real adult world, and why. Since she’s your tenant you at least have some ground to do so, and honestly it sounds like she really needs it.

    That being said, she is an adult and presumably should be able to make her own mistakes, so AS LONG AS you can just boot her out and replace her with a paying tenant (and shouldn’t have trouble finding one), you could just let her crash and burn, if you don’t really think being her landlord so-to-speak gives you a right to try to teach her workplace norms. But if you’re stuck with her for whatever reason, and have to worry about making your own payments with her help, then yeah, she needs to have some harsh realities laid out.

    1. Snark

      Yeah, I think making it really clear that if she does get herself fired, she needs to figure out a way to make rent or she’s evicted – protect yourself, OP, and she’ll learn her lessons as she will.

      1. Curious Cat

        Yeeeep 100% agreed. Just be super upfront and blunt about it one time and then never engage in this conversation again. “Dude, if you keep doing that you’re going to get fired.” Her feelings are not yours to manage and worry about! She is an adult. She will make her own adult mistakes. Just make sure you can make your own payments/bills and she doesn’t drag you down with her forthcoming unemployment.

    2. Camellia

      I second Stormfeather. I would tell her, ONE TIME, very clearly, that she’s being completely unrealistic as far as living in the real adult world, and why, and not care if she gets upset. Also tell her that if she gets fired or leaves this job without another lined up, she still has to meet rent/whatever financial obligations. Then it is up to her.

      1. Anonym

        Good point. She’s being unrealistic about work expectations and consequences; she may also be unrealistic about tenancy expectations and consequences.

        It takes us all varying amounts of time to separate the [self-serving] idea of how things “should” be from the reality of how things are. Hopefully she gets it right quick.

      2. Not So NewReader

        Put it in a text message and save the conversation. You can show the judge, OP. And you can show the judge her response to this statement.

    3. PB

      Yes. And, since OP has hiring and firing experience, she can back the talk up with actual life experience. This isn’t a hypothetical “This could get you fired” kind of thing.

      And yeah, she’ll probably get upset. I mean, we’re talking about someone who ignored her boss for making a very reasonable request. But this is an important talk. It’s better that she gets it from you, rather than having to maybe figure it out after a string of short-term jobs and possible firings.

      I’m also curious what she plans to tell prospective employers if they ask why she’s looking again so quickly. “My boss wouldn’t let me text all day and wanted me to do my job!!!” Yeah, that’s going to go well…

      1. Len F

        Absolutely agreed.

        The only thing you can do is tell her that that’s how normal work is, and her boss will have the same expectations of her at any other job too. At that point, there’s nothing else you can do to help her, and your responsibility ends. If she ends up getting fired, it’s on her. If she puts “worked for two weeks at X” on her resume and can’t get another job after that, it’s on her. If she can’t pay rent, it’s up to you whether you’re ok with that but other than that it’s on her.

        As a separate matter, if her complaining about work is getting to you, it’s ok to tell her that you really don’t want to discuss it, perhaps that you’ve already said all you can on the matter.

  10. Time for financial plan b

    Assume your roommate is going to get fired and will be unable to pay her bills. Figure out how to cover that financially: can you reduce your expenses, find another roommate, find a side job, etc.

    You are much more likely to be able to figure out how to do this than to figure out how to get your roommate to understand basic professional norms and adjust her attitude. I would be surprised if she wasn’t fired soon.

    1. KHB

      I’d assume also that she’ll find a way to make you out to be the bad guy for not wanting to live with a non-paying roommate after she gets fired and can’t pay her bills. People who take the “it’s everyone’s fault but mine” attitude rarely confine it to one area of their lives.

      1. irene adler

        Exactly.
        The issue becomes: how long is the OP willing to let the tenant freeload?
        To the OP: might find out what the landlord -tenant laws are where you reside. Specifically the eviction process. Make sure you understand the eviction process to minimize the time you go without a paying tenant.

    2. Detective Amy Santiago

      Yup. It’s nice that you want to try to help her and I think that introducing her to AAM might be a good idea, but you have to protect yourself and let her learn her own life lessons.

    3. Bea

      Since she owns the house, I’m praying she can afford it and the roommate is to lessen expenses but not required. Otherwise OMG what a nightmare.

    4. Ehhhh

      Hopefully she’s on a real lease that has terms and an end date. You’re going to have to stick with them to the letter — if she’s five days late on the rent (or whatever), start eviction proceedings because it’ll take years.

    5. Miss H

      +1 to this
      You may have time, as her parents could keep supporting her for a while. But at the end of the current lease, tell her she needs to move out because your cousin/sibling/grandparent is moving in, and you couldn’t turn down family. The time to get her out is now when she won’t have as much trouble finding another place.

      Once she is out you can find someone who will be a better tenant.

  11. Loopy

    I’m skeptical you can get through to someone like this. I’ve known someone with a similar mindset and they chalked it up to not wanting to work for the Man and decuded that they should be working for themselves, even though all the expectations were reasonable. Basically, it was never them that needed to change I think it’ll take getting fired or going through many jobs for her to realize, if she does. I know that’s not helpful but I’d brace yourself and mentally prepare to find another roommate.

    For practical advice, linking here might be worth it if you think she’d be okay with you writing in.

    1. IntelligentAmoeba

      This person sounds like the type who will join an MLM and brag that they are “working from their phone all day!”. I work whenever I want! I am my own CEO! while hounding friends to buy their overpriced garbage instead of “contributing to an overpaid CEO’s 5th vacation home”

    2. Anonym

      Not a nitpick, just appreciation: it looks kinda like you combined decided with deluded, and I thought, “Yes, very accurate word combination! Highly appropriate!”

  12. Snark

    Your roommate strikes me as the sort of person who learns experientially, and I encourage you to honor that! :D

    In all seriousness, I dunno. You could say stuff. “Well, Roomie, you’re there to work, not text. If you’re not getting work done, your boss is 100% correct to tell you not to text.” “Well, yeah, of course it’s grunt work, you’re not experienced enough for high-level stuff.” “Roomie, the next job you get is going to tell you the exact same thing, this is how workplaces work.”

    But really, this person strikes me as a special, precious kind of oblivious, and I think only real, natural consequences will punch through that armor.

    1. EddieSherbert

      Agreed.

      If you really want to, you could be nice and have one more big advice-giving talk…. but then you really should just disengage from the conversation with her, Captain-Awkward-style. Make it boring or difficult for her to discuss it with you and/or tell her to stop talking to you about it (you’ve asked my advice, I’ve given it, you’ve ignored it, nothing has changed – including my advice!, and I don’t want to hear about it anymore).

  13. Not a Blossom

    If she asks, I would say something like, “Actually, it’s pretty standard to not be able to text all day at work. You’ll probably have a hard time finding a job that doesn’t have the same rule.”

    After that, let it be. This is something that is so obvious that I doubt you’ll really be able to get through to her, and it may not be worth damaging the relationship while she lives in your house. I’d just get all my ducks in a row for when she inevitably quits or gets fired and can’t pay her rent.

  14. Celeste

    It would be interesting to know what she thought it would be like to work in her field. Clearly things aren’t matching up for her.

    I wonder if anyone has ever talked with her about work ethic, and more specifically about what she can give to work, rather than what she can receive from it. Some employers will take a new hire aside and have a private talk with them, and others won’t. I’m not sure if she would accept the information from you.

    I think that all you can do is be straight with her that if she can’t pay rent because of not keeping a job or not finding a new job, she can’t live with you. It might be nicer for you to find a roomate who is more mature, if she needs to move out.

  15. Nita

    OP – you should probably warn her that if she cannot contribute to whatever bills you’re splitting now, you’ll be looking for a new roommate. And then let her figure out the rest for herself. If she wants to job-hop for a while and it keeps her afloat, great – though it will probably keep her stuck in entry-level minimum-wage work for a long time. If she wants some kind of career progress and just doesn’t get workplace behavior, she’ll learn pretty fast, the hard way, that very few bosses won’t push back on sitting around texting, and that she won’t be getting promoted just for showing up.

    If she hasn’t figured this stuff out before, now’s the time, and there’s no better way to learn than from one’s own experience.

    1. EddieSherbert

      I agree that you should give her a heads up *now* if your plan is to evict her if (once?) she can’t pay her share of the rent/utilities, so she has time to make alternative plans (whether that means finding a new place to live or making the job work!).

      1. Blue Anne

        Yes. This is a good thing to do. Kind, and also more likely to result in her having an actual plan to execute.

      2. fposte

        In most states you first have to give notice (usually 30 days, though it varies) and then file for eviction, so that’s baked in to the schedule.

        1. Susana

          Just curious though – are rules different if owner lives in the residence? What if a roommate was abusive/whatever? Different rules for fiction than if ll were just renting out an apartment?

    2. Hey Karma, Over here.

      Definitely this. Because if her boss telling her to put the phone down is resulting in her doubling down on her phone use, you’re going to have a problem. If listening to her complain every day (!) and telling her that you are on her boss’s side doesn’t get through to her, you need to be blunt.
      As in, “Look, maybe the job is a bad fit. Maybe you suck at it. I don’t know and it doesn’t matter. What does matter is that you are committed to paying your part of the rent and expenses we’ve agreed on. You can quit if you want, but if you can’t pay your share, I can’t and won’t carry you.”

    3. Countess Boochie Flagrante

      IANAL, but making threats of eviction without starting the formal process is something that could potentially get the OP in hot water. Technically, they aren’t a roommate — they’re the landlord. That’s a very different relationship, and they’ll want to make sure their Is are dotted and their Ts are crossed before they even suggest terminating the tenancy.

      1. Blue Anne

        I don’t see how that could happen?

        I’m a landlord, I’ve done two evictions and terminated multiple month to month tenancies. Of course you want to avoid any “self-help eviction” stuff like turning off the water or power, not just because it’s the law but because those are jerk moves. But that’s all I can think of that could get OP in trouble. I pretty routinely let problem tenants know that I’ll start the eviction process the next time the rent is late.

        1. fposte

          It doesn’t have to be scary formal, but you want to make sure you’re doing it right by your state in terms of presenting in writing and getting the notice period correct.

          1. Blue Anne

            Well right, but that stuff is starting the formal process. I don’t see how OP could get in hot water for anything before then, if they then followed the process correctly.

            Like, I have a tenant who likes to give me her rent on a check dated for the 10th, but claim that her rent is in on time because I’m holding the check on the 5th. I let her know that the next time she tries to pull that I’ll start the eviction process. That’s just a good warning to give. It’s not starting the eviction.

            I’m in Ohio though. I think most states have similar rental laws but I know a couple places are more strict.

            1. Dot

              I’m in California and the rent laws here are pretty strict, and I’m surprised reading some of these comments. It’s as though people think renters have more rights than owners. It’s simply not the case. You’re correct in your assessment that a landlord won’t get in “hot water” for asking a tenant to move out as long they’re not breaking leases or doing anything illegal, like you mentioned.

              1. Blue Anne

                To be honest, my experience with my tenants is generally that they always think they have more rights than the owner. :)

              1. Andraste's Knicker Weasels

                Correct. Postdating is not enforceable at all. If you give a signed check to someone, you are saying you have the funds to cover the check right at that moment; neither the payee nor the bank has any obligation to wait until the date written.

        2. Hey Karma, Over here.

          If OP is not as experienced a you, and is unfortunately (from my standpoint) too invested in her friend’s career/professional life by being a sounding board every day (No thank you. Tell it to your therapist. I worked all day, too.) and caring enough to write for professional help from someone oblivious to her own faults, then this could blow up in OP’s face.
          OP has already said she doesn’t know how to speak to roommate with roommate getting upset. This foreshadows, “I don’t know how to tell her to leave, but I can’t afford to keep supporting her till she finds a job.” “And I don’t want to do a formal eviction because she’s upset enough about losing her job…”

            1. Hey Karma, Over here.

              It’s an awkward social situation that could result in legal problems if OP asks roommate to leave and roommate says no. Then OP will have to start eviction proceedings and victim roommate could waste all kinds of time and money not leaving.

              1. Blue Anne

                Okay, I’m just going to go ahead and disengage from the thread after this. The comment was “IANAL (I am not a lawyer), but making threats of eviction without starting the formal process is something that could potentially get the OP in hot water.” Yes, OP could have to deal with legal stuff to get the roommate out. Yes, OP could botch eviction procedures. No, warning the roommate that OP will need her to leave if she can’t pay her rent is not going to get OP into legal problems.

  16. KarenT

    Your roommate sounds unready for the working world! I have to admit my mouth dropped open when I read she’d been texting so much at work after having been there for a grand total of two weeks.

    It would be worth pointing out to her that two weeks is way too early to decide whether or not she likes a job, and that after two weeks she should still be settling in. And most entry level jobs will involve some form of grunt work. This might be a lesson she has to learn on her own, but I can certainly understand your concern given how your finances are a bit linked. If nothing else, try and get her to give it more time. I do think your fear that she may be fired is actually reasonable, given that she’s been there for two weeks and her boss has already had to speak to her about texting. She needs to smarten up, but seeing the consequences of her actions might be the only way that gets her there.

    1. AdminX2

      Yeah and all indications supportroommate not having reasonable standards and a hard learning curve ahead. But there was this one job I got in DC for an underwriting company. It was 2004 and they were still using amber screen monitors and IT freaking about “no more space to code.” The training was fairly non existent and for weeks they kept myself and a coworker who started the same time doing hamster level work. I was utterly bored to death, finished work quickly, and when asked for more said to wait. So…I surfed online in between, and got called on it. I was looking for another job frantically.

      Happily a great opportunity came up and I grabbed it. Hilariously I found out the OTHER new co worker also got out at exactly the same time I did because they had us do our exit interview simultaneously. They were very concerned we both were leaving so fast!

      That job is not and never has been on my resume. They also weren’t unreasonable to tell me not to surf online during work hours. They were just a mess of a place to work in general. Sometimes that happens!

  17. otterbaby

    I mean, the bright side is that if she leaves this job, her stint there has been so short that she doesn’t need to list it on her resume.

    However – I fear that your advice is probably going to be disregarded. Someone with a recent college degree who still doesn’t understand that you shouldn’t text during work time (let alone ignoring her boss when he tells her to stop!!) is going to have to learn some hard truths, and that’s probably going to come from future employers.

  18. Dog Person

    On my first day at my job, my supervisor (who now has joined the ranks of retired people) gave me a piece of advice that I try to remember. He said, “I am an adult so I am to act like one.” When I go speak to my supervisor I do not bring my phone with me. Any time off request I make, either for doctor appointments or just that I am taking the day off, I put in the form of a question, not a declarative sentence.

    1. Lynn

      When it comes to medical appointments that can’t be moved or I have to book months in advance, I don’t ask permission, I tell my boss I need that time off. After a bad experience following emergency surgery, I refuse to put my health on the back burner to work when it’s not necessary.

      1. Dog Person

        I have a rolling doctor’s appointment every four or so months. So I emailed the boss and say “hey my next doctor’s appointment is x. When it gets closer let me know if the date becomes a problem.” I had to go to the cardiologist. It turned out to be nothing. When I made that appointment, I walked to the boss’s office and said I made a cardiologist appointment and her reply was are you ok? I just ask in the form of a question so it does not seem like I am demanding or I am giving the impression that it will automatically be approved. Plus I can usually word it better.

    2. Ask a Manager Post author

      This really varies by workplaces, but in a lot of jobs, it’s completely fine (and will come off as more normal) if you just let your manager know about your time off rather than asking for it, particularly if it’s just an afternoon or a day.

    3. MJ

      Adults don’t ask permission to go to the doctor, though. It seems like the adult thing to do is make the statement and work around it if it’s a problem, not ask if it’s alright. You’re not a supplicant asking a favor.

  19. CR

    I have so little patience for adults who won’t act like adults. It’s really not up to you to help her out. You’re not responsible for her bad decisions. If she can’t pay the rent, she can face the consequences.

    1. Nervous Nellie

      I’m with CR. Her work performance is not your problem, but her rent payment performance sure is. Don’t waste your time counselling her on the realities of the working world, just focus on doing what is necessary (including changing roommates) to pay your bills.

  20. sheworkshardforthemoney

    It sounds like your roommate needs to be fired a few times before she learns. In the meantime I would absolutely make sure she pays her rent every month and evict her if she is late or missing rent. It seems like this is the only way she may learn a few life lessons.

  21. Lana Kane

    Your roommate’s attitude is so…out there, that I don’t think there is any way to have her understand how off-base she is. What might wake her up is telling her that if she can’t pay rent, she can’t live there anymore.

  22. CupcakeCounter

    Yeah……..
    Next time she says something I would go with “No shit Sherlock – they are paying you to work no play on your phone”. Her getting upset is not your problem. Better you give her a reality check now about office norms (I second a previous comment to said send her to AAM) so she can try turning things around before getting fired. If she gets upset that is her problem, not yours.
    Her reaction should also give you some idea about whether or not you need to start looking for another roommate. If she sees the ad or whatever and asks why you can tell her she’ll most likely be fired soon and you need someone who can pay their share of the rent.

    Again – the goal here should not be to avoid her being upset. At this point blunt is required.

    1. EddieSherbert

      +100 for “the goal here should not be to avoid her being upset.” Let her be upset – whether that’s with her job, you not being sympathetic, you being blunt about professional norms, or even you refusing to talk about this with her anymore.

  23. Rey

    I’m struggling to decide if your roommate really wants advice, or if she wants you to agree with her that her boss is unreasonable. If you think that she wants advice, then I would phrase it like “these are normal expectations for employees, and you are likely to find this at most jobs you work for”. It sounds like you know what to tell her in that way. If after that, she continues to complain about being expected to work (and that seems like it really grinds on your nerves), I would let her know that you can’t keep talking about this. I really liked this Captain Awkward post about telling the truth to friends, and not just telling them what they want to hear: https://captainawkward.com/2018/09/10/1144-my-best-friend-is-having-ex-sex-and-i-dont-know-how-to-support-her/#more-45842. And if she quits her job without another one lined up, and it affects the rent payments, you need to decide now what you would do about it, you need to tell her what that is, and you need to be willing to actually go through with it. (In fact, if you rely on her rent to pay your mortgage, and you’re questioning her future reliability and wish you had a different renter, maybe it’s time to start that process. Only you can decide if you’re willing to live with whatever level of financial risk this represents, and how long you’re willing to do it.) To be sure, letting her freeload on you is not going to teach her any lessons; its still your choice, but don’t kid yourself that she will realize your sacrifices for her and improve for the better.

  24. Justin

    Advice?

    Be ready to have to find a new roommate when they come up short on bills….

    You can’t make people have common sense. I’ve tried to “help” my friends with jobs over the years and I always end up wondering why I bothered (aside from the fact that I cared about them). Show her some of the posts here, gently give her the wisdom you have, and don’t be surprised she never listens.

    1. irene adler

      I had a lab tech who spent hours each day texting.
      I asked him to restrict it to break times. He didn’t change his behavior one bit.

      My management did not want to back me up in regards to enforcing this rule (“He’s young, he’ll learn.” Um, he’s over 30. ). They told me to assign more work to him instead. So I did. Didn’t change his behavior one bit. And I had to take care of the extra work myself.

      Eventually he gave his notice. So it became a non-issue. Some places just don’t want to fight the battle.

  25. Zip Silver

    Honestly, if she’s only a roommate then it’s not your problem. Evict if she stops paying rent.

    If she’s also a friend, then you’ve got more standing to mention something to her. Personally I’d go with something encouraging like “you can make it through this, it’s only the first month”.

  26. Marty

    Advice?

    Let this one learn from the school of hard knocks. Arrogant people need to be knocked down a few pegs before they’re willing to open their minds.

    Oh, and start protecting yourself financially because I have a feeling your roommate’s income is going to dip pretty soon. I wouldn’t let my living situation hinge on someone this irresponsible.

    1. Erika

      >Oh, and start protecting yourself financially because I have a feeling your roommate’s income is going to dip pretty soon. I wouldn’t let my living situation hinge on someone this irresponsible.

      This x1,000

  27. Erika

    Unfortunately, this isn’t something that just people new to the work world seem to have problems with. I recently had to write up a 45 year-old woman who not only wouldn’t put her phone away during work but continually argued with me about it – including in front of other employees.

    I’d like to say there’s something you can do, but…I honestly don’t know there is.

  28. Red Reader

    Hope to heaven you have a lease that covers you when she gets fired, can’t pay her rent and you have to evict her. Because that’s what’s going to happen.

  29. 5 Leaf Clover

    I think this is a case where actual bluntness would be good. It seems like you might be afraid of upsetting her, but this is a situation where that’s better than the alternative. Let your shock show! “Holy s***, you’re on your phone at work? That’s a huge deal! Oh my god you could totally get fired!”

  30. CatCat

    I don’t think there’s much you CAN do here. Sometimes people need to experience the consequences of their actions. Since this DOES impact you though, I’d focus on that piece of it (that may indeed flow from the consequences). “Hey, roommate, are you going to be able to keep paying your rent and your part of the utilities if you lose your job?” If she won’t answer yes, I’d start looking for a new roommate and give her proper notice that she’s out.

    As for the continuous bitching about her job, “Hey roommate, I really need my time after work to unwind and prefer not to talk about any work-related issues. Thanks for understanding!” If you do want to keep helping here, clamp down on a time period you are going to do that, “I have given you work advice before and if you genuinely are interested in additional advice, let’s set aside an hour on X day to talk about what’s going on and possible strategies for dealing with it.”

  31. The Cardinal

    One time only I’d say to her “Roomie, I like you a lot – otherwise you wouldn’t be my housemate. But please, please understand that if you are unable to pay rent because you lost or quit your job simply because you wouldn’t put down that damn phone, you’re gonna be homeless and I’m gonna be looking for a new renter!”

  32. Naomi

    You can point out to her that other jobs will have similar views about phone use on work time; finding a new job isn’t likely to change that. But I think you can make this point once, and after that it’s on her to learn from it or not.

    Also, if she’s this inexperienced with work, most entry-level jobs open to her will be “grunt work”. But I don’t know if there’s a tactful way to make that point.

  33. Environmental Compliance

    There are individuals that no matter what do not understand that there are norms in place & that actions have consequences. My sister is one of them. She’s pretty similar. I have told her (rather bluntly) that no, no work will allow her to be on her phone constantly. Put it away. If the temptation is that great, leave it in your car. No, no work will allow your boyfriend to just hang out for several hours. No, no work will allow you to skip days of work upon end with no notice nor reason. Yes, you actually have to be at work on time. That’s the point of scheduling work.

    At some point, Sister will learn, just like your Roomie. But you can’t force them to understand it. They’ll learn through a hard kick in the pants of being fired & not being able to afford a place to live. All you can do is remind Roomie when she complains that her experiences are normal, and that’s how workplaces function. In the meantime, remind her that she still will need to contribute her share, and if she can’t, she will need to leave, and start putting little feelers out for new roommates. Don’t let someone who is willfully ignorant of what a job entails drag you down too.

  34. Maiu

    This got me thinking about my first job and how poorly I performed in it. I was reading the post about how internships are supposed to be learning experiences for first time employees to understand how the working world operated, and I scoffed at what I assumed to be common sense overlooked by new employees. But then I stopped to think about how I acted in my first job. While I personally didn’t spend all day on my phone, I constantly called out, showed up late or left early. I understood how to speak and write professionally, but was still in the college mindset of “not feeling well? skip!” I had no idea how poorly that looked, and no one in my office ever once pointed that out to me. It was complete obliviousness. Everyone is always clueless about some things other people understand immediately. Sometimes you have to learn the hard way, by getting fired or put on a PiP, or, in my case, not having a contract extended. But other times you can learn when something so obvious to others is unknown to you and they are kind enough to share their knowledge.

    1. Lily Rowan

      Yeah, I’ve been in the position of telling someone new to the world of full-time office jobs that she couldn’t make personal phone calls and had to be on time, which was frustrating to me at the time, because isn’t it obvious??? Well, no, it’s clearly not obvious to everyone. And she totally took my feedback and got better.

      This roommate is definitely on the road to getting fired, and I think the best thing the OP can do is prepare for the inevitable month where she can’t make the rent because she didn’t have a job.

    2. Kalico

      I agree. To me this sounds like a transition problem – from college to a first job. A lot of the roommate’s complaining might have to do with difficulties they’re facing trying to get used to a different culture, environment, and expectations more so than the actual circumstances of the job. Many people use their phones as coping mechanisms when stressed out or bored – not that it’s appropriate here by any means, and if the roommate continues to behave that way there should be consequences, such as getting fired.

    3. Pommette!

      In my first post-school job, I was surprised and bewildered by the amount of time I had to spend looking as if I was working when there was no actual work to be done. It’s not a skill that I had developed as a student or in any of my student jobs. I was terrible at it, and I was clueless about the fact that I was failing at an important aspect of my job. It did make me look bad professionally. (It also taught me to look for jobs where I would not be expected to look busy at all times).

      I wonder if the room-mate spends so much time on her phone because she has so much time to fill, between doing what feels like grunt-work. Obviously, if looking busy is part of your job, you have to learn to look busy. Her phone use is clearly a problem. But a part of me can still sympathise (while hoping that she learns, quickly, to change her ways).

  35. nnn

    I think there’s no point in dissuading her from looking for a new job. If it’s far too early for her to change jobs, the job market will prove that to her far more persuasively than you can. If she keeps her current job (and therefore her income) while looking for another job, it doesn’t affect you.

    If I were the one advising your roommate, I’d say something like “So it sounds like what you want is a job with less close supervision, or with a lot of downtime (maybe something where your job is simply to be present in case of an emergency?) or where employees can manage their own workload. I don’t know of jobs for new graduates that have these characteristics – nothing in my field does – but that’s the thing for you to research. You could also research jobs for more experienced employees that let you do that, and work towards it in the longer term.”

    That way you aren’t lecturing her like a parent about how she needs to be more responsible, you’re simply pinpointing how to solve the problem, while telling her that the particulars are outside of your expertise.

    (Also, a job that lets her work from home would let her text as much as she wants as long as she gets her work done, but I personally wouldn’t encourage my roommate to work from home because that would take away from time that I could be home alone.)

    1. Flash Bristow

      I think this is great advice.

      I’d add that, if she’s jobhunting, she needs to consider how she’ll answer “why do you want to leave your current job” because saying “they won’t let me text my friends all day” is not likely to get a positive response…

    2. Parenthetically

      This is really kind.

      OP, if you feel like you have patience for a moment of hand-holding and helpfulness (and like Roomie would be responsive), this is a great script!

  36. CoveredInBees

    Finding a moderate way to sympathize with her about her annoyance might make her more receptive to the advice to stop texting advice. e.g. “Yeah, it can definitely be tough a transition to having to keep your phone out of sight at work. It’s so tempting! But it can be helpful in the long run. Ya know, mindfulness and all that.”

    Yes, she should just put her phone away already and my eyes have been rolling back and forth reading this but unplugging is clearly difficult for this person. She’s new to the workforce, so there’s hope for her. I’ve seen people get their act together after being horrible people to work with.

    Other than that, I agree with the advice to respond pretty neutrally and maybe some AAM links (although she might find this one).

  37. caryatis

    Do some research on landlord/tenant law and be prepared to evict her when it becomes necessary. She’s not going to be able to pay the rent much longer if these trends continue.

    1. Smarty Boots

      Yes, I’m worried that OP is going to be stuck with a non-paying leech in her house. If you don’t have a lease or some written-down agreement, OP, do that right now — research what you need to have and what you’ll need to do. And be ready for it to get ugly, because that’s a real possibility. (She’s gonna be upset for sure when you tell her to leave…)

    2. AC

      Hello! Thank you for your concern. I do have a written lease that runs until January with her. Luckily I did write in provisions to protect me so if she were to move out early or default on rent payment, she owes me more than two months rent.

      1. caryatis

        Great! So, depending on your lease, you probably need to give her 30-60′ days notice before asking her to move out. So, mark that date on your calendar, X days before the end of your lease, and reassess the situation then.

  38. Nicole

    For starters, I’d begin putting aside some money to help you float through if she can’t pay her bills and/or you need to evict her.

    It’s not your job to be her parent or to teach her that texting at work isn’t acceptable. The fact of the matter is that there will ALWAYS be times/places that using your phone is Not Okay, and work is one of those places. Has she never gone to school? Been to a doctor’s appointment? Attended a funeral? Put the damn phone away.

    Let her find another job she hates because they’re going to tell her to put the phone down, or let her get a crap job that doesn’t care and pays a pittance in exchange. She will learn the hard way whether you help her or not (and I’m betting she’s ignoring your advice anyway).

    I’d keep my focus on myself and what I need to do when/if her income falls through. That’s all you’re responsible for.

  39. Avid reader infrequent commenter

    If you don’t have a written contract/lease with your roommate covering her financial responsibility, NOW is the time to do it. Cover your behind for the worst case scenario, and then don’t worry about financially babysitting her. She needs to learn for herself, and you shouldn’t have to hold her hand.

    1. fposte

      You can evict a tenant for non-payment under the default lease terms of your, though, even if you don’t have a specific lease.

        1. fposte

          It’s not costless, though. You have to spend the time and money to get a proper lease, hopefully with a lawyer, and be clear about the change in the lease terms and when they kick in in accordance with your state/municipal law. And it has a risk of antagonizing the roommate. Basically, this is a renter’s postnup. On the bright side, it might piss her off enough to leave of her own accord.

  40. ZSD

    The expectation of being allowed to text all day is pretty clueless, but I must admit I have some sympathy for your roommate’s complaint about her job being mostly grunt work. I definitely remember the shock/disappointment of going from higher education, where every day I was using my brain and was always expected to challenge myself, to an entry-level job, where often I would come home and think, “I didn’t use my brain once today!”
    I handled the transition better than your roommate is, but I do think there’s kind of a bait-and-switch between what college teaches us to expect from a career (intellectual stimulation) and the realities of entry-level jobs.
    Maybe it would help if you told your roommate about your first professional job or two, and what the expectations and responsibilities were. If she hears about how you started out doing “grunt work” but then were able to move into positions with more autonomy, that might inspire her to shape up. (Other commenters are right that this shouldn’t be your responsibility, but it would be a kindness to act as her mentor in this situation.)

    1. Smarty Boots

      Might work. Or should could be like my brother in law, who had this complaint about every job he had (and there were many, in different fields) for over 10 years because he kept quitting, going to school or training in a new field, getting an entry level job, being offended that he had to do grunt work and not share all his fabulous ideas for making the business work better. I tried having a straightforward and truth-filled talk with him (because I love my sister), but he seemed to think that was just because I wasn’t that good at my field (LOL).

      Yep. Now he’s a manager (and actually a pretty good one) and is offended at having to follow the directives from on high, although he no longer gripes about work at work and he no longer quits.

    2. I Wrote This in the Bathroom

      Yeah, I scrolled all this way from the top looking for someone to comment on the grunt work piece (since the no-phone piece is pretty obvious).

      I am confused though. In my field, that was never the case. Not at my first job out of college, not at my first job in the US where I had to start at entry level again. There was no grunt work, period. If I had to give advice to someone in my field and they said they were doing mostly grunt work, I’d have to tell them to either work on their own projects after hours, or start looking, or do both, because no one would hire them for actual work after several years of sucking it up and not using their brain. Any employer would choose a candidate with relevant experience over them. It is actually dangerous to get stuck doing “grunt work” in my area (software development), as that’s a good way to find yourself out of a job and unable to find another a few years down the road. Does it maybe depend on the field? Assuming I am correctly understanding what “grunt work” means in this case, which is like you said, something where you “didn’t use your brain once” throughout a day.

      In all the jobs that I had in my field (because I had to take a part-time admin assistant job once and that of course was very different), I swear I only did grunt work for ONE DAY total. It was my first job out of college, and one day a much older coworker, who didn’t even have the authority to assign me anything, somehow told me to do some kind of paper-shuffling/box-checking for a day. He would then strut by my desk as I was working on his assignment and make comments like, “ah, now you are getting used to REAL work!” I was horrified, because he looked so much like a figure of authority when he said that, that the 22yo me assumed that he was right and that this was what the rest of my career was going to be like. Then my real manager finally saw what was going on, and put an end to it.

      In summary, the roommate could be all sorts of wrong and not correctly understanding what her work entails, or she could be trapped in a dead-end job (incidentally, those places LOVE hiring fresh college graduates who do not know what to expect). If she came to me with this complaint, I’d ask for more details about her job title, job description, actual day-to-day responsibilities, etc. to try to figure out whether her complaint is legitimate – it very well might be.

      1. Rat in the Sugar

        I think it’s definitely field-dependent. I work in industry accounting, and entry level in this field often means clerk-work. Plenty of people do start at a higher position than clerk, but it’s very normal to start there and spend your days doing filing and data entry for a while. It definitely works for us–I started with my current company as a combo front desk admin/accounts payable clerk and the grunt work was actually very helpful. All the filing gave me a chance to get familiar with our vendors and their invoices, basic data entry likewise helped me get familiar with our accounting software and start recognizing our account codes, etc. Getting a handle on a whole accounting system for the very first time can be overwhelming, especially since there’s so many different kinds of accounting and the system you’re working with probably doesn’t resemble your textbooks very closely. The grunt work helps you ease into it, so you can build a foundation of basic knowledge and start relating your new real-world experience to your textbook examples, and also so you can start to learn all the ins and outs of your department’s procedures.

        1. I Wrote This in the Bathroom

          Ah, I see. Makes sense – I would definitely want to ease into the type of work that involves handling people’s money.

          Our version of entry-level work is maintenance and support. You are allowed to make small changes with supervision, then more serious changes, then you are the one doing the supervision. What helped me the most in my career was doing 24×7 on-call support; even though a lot of people consider it the ultimate grunt work. It helped me to both quickly learn the system, and to see for myself what the consequences of our coding errors are. You become a lot less likely to make careless mistakes in your code after your phone rings at three AM and there’s a panicking user on the other end, telling you that production is down because of someone’s seemingly minor coding error.

          1. Observer

            And this is a key issue – this kind of work can actually be valuable experience, even in the field of software development, even though it’s seen as grunt work. The advice there for someone who has not been in the job long, is not “This is terrible and unreasonable, get out now” but “There is a lot you can learn if you make it your business to.” In addition to the items you mention the people skill you can develop are really valuable, as well as the UX knowledge you can gain if you start thinking about patterns.

      2. Lynn

        I’ve been an attorney for over a decade that handles high profile stuff. But because we have a lack of funding, there isn’t enough support staff to go around and I do my own grunt work on a nearly daily basis. It’s just part of the working world – we can’t delegate everything.

      3. Observer

        I think that part of the reason for this is that the rest of her attitude is so out of kilter that it’s kind of hard to see her as having reasonable complaints.

      4. londonedit

        I had to do a year of ‘grunt work’ – i.e. getting a receptionist job at a publishing company. It’s a fairly standard way in. I saw all the submitted manuscripts coming in, learned what all the different departments did and how the hierarchy worked, and helped a couple of departments with admin work. When an editorial assistant position became available, the hiring manager happened to mention to me that she was frustrated because they’d interviewed 20 people and no one had been suitable. I said well, I’d like to be an editor one day, she asked me to send her my CV, they interviewed me and I got the job.

        Doing the photocopying and answering the phone and stuffing envelopes wasn’t exactly thrilling work, but it was the definition of the ‘experience’ and ‘foot in the door’ that people always tell you are so important. In my career since then I’ve encountered interns who have turned their noses up at the idea of sitting in our office for three weeks making tea and photocopying manuscripts, because they want to be editors and they think they should automatically be getting proofreading jobs to do. They don’t understand that if they do well at the ‘grunt work’, they probably will be kept on or given more interesting/relevant work to do.

    3. AC

      I definitely understand, my first job out of college (which is still my job today) involves a lot of grunt work since it is a small office and I am still the newest member to the team. Luckily it has started to go into more challenging work, but that is definitely a good suggestion. She did quit the job she hated and had accepted another job, but decided a couple days before she was slated to start that she didn’t want to do it and quit that job as well.

      1. Parenthetically

        “decided a couple days before she was slated to start that she didn’t want to do it and quit that job as well.”

        Yiiiiiiiikes.

        1. AC

          Yup. She was supposed to start a teaching job at a local high school this past Monday. She let them know Thursday night that she was rescinding her acceptance. I am a genuinely worried about her. The past month she stopped taking her anti-depressants since the doctors in the area aren’t in network for her insurance provider (her parents insurance, they are located a couple hours away). I am not sure if maybe this is stemming from that because I didn’t know her prior to her going off of anti-depressants and how she acted while on them.

          1. Marthooh

            Oh noooooooo…

            This is starting to sound a lot more serious than just “Newbie ignores workplace norms.” Please send an update to let us know what happens!

            1. Observer

              Oh, yeah. This does present a different picture.

              OP, you still need to protect yourself, but this sounds like a more complicated picture than someone who just needs a clue by four.

            2. AC

              I definitely will. Thank you for your concern. I am trying to support her as much as I can while she is off of her medication, but I just don’t know at what point supporting just becomes enabling. At this point, I am doing all of the cleaning at home, including picking up after her and doing all of her dishes. I am trying to remain as calm as possible and trying to remember that this could be stemming from her mental health, but it is still frustrating.

    4. Monty and Millie's Mom

      “Grunt work” doesn’t have to mean you’re not using your brain – it often just means you’re using it differently. Personally, I’ve always found my brain to be pretty full for the first couple weeks of a new job, since I’m learning a bunch of new stuff, even if it’s just noting and cataloging the office culture and behavior. Just because it’s different than you’re used to doesn’t mean it’s beneath you – and maybe that’s not what you meant when you said ‘I would come home and think, “I didn’t use my brain once today!” ‘, but I just wanted to clarify that!

    5. Bea

      I do the heavy lifting work as well as the grunt work (small businesses, no need for an assistant or clerk to do the small stuff). You’d be shocked by how many people fresh out of school struggle with the grunt work. Fighting with new software and filing systems.

      I knew a highly educated woman who tried to wrap her mind around taking inventory. It was painful the questions about “but how does this all work?!”

      It wildly depends on the industry. Throw a fresh business major into an ops management position, I will take bets on who survives.

  41. Halmsh

    I think you can be sympathetic to the fact that adjusting to full time work can be challenging! It’s possible to be a person with strong work ethic and understanding/adherence to workplace norms and still think it sucks to have to work 40+ hours a week. Maybe in your approach, you can acknowledge both sides of this – both the ‘it’s hard to get used to completely giving over your time, and it sucks to lose some of your autonomy’ and the ‘that’s the expectation/the norm for full time work, and if you can’t adjust to it you will probably get fired’. Just because it’s the way things are doesn’t mean it’s the way things *should* be, but there’s certainly something to be said for making in through a less interesting job with a long game for how to build a life that suits one’s interests and needs more closely.

  42. Wintermute

    I have a friend like this, though she’s more of a chronic failure to launch (she’s been working on an associate’s degree for about a decade, and she will fail classes because she can’t be bothered then just retake them…) Never had a job, just doesn’t understand how the world works.

    And she gets upset with me because I can’t hang out on a schedule that’s convenient for her, and that I have to work overtime when we had plans, etc.

    Now she’s a way more extreme case, she’s probably idled her way into permanent unemployability in any professional capacity, maybe any capacity, but the rough situation is similar.

    There’s nothing you, as an outsider, can do to suddenly imbue her with a knowledge of workplace norms in some mystic ritual involving surrounding her in copies of AAM’s book, painting her with runes representing workplace norms and burning an employee handbook in a brazier.

    She’s going to have to get to the point she understands how the world works on her own. Some people take time to move beyond pain aversion (if I do this it has negative consequences) to goal motivation (if I do this I will take longer to achieve my personal goals and the life I want to live). She’s not even to pain aversion on the motivation scale, if she’s not responding to reprimands.

    For someone that deficient there’s not much you can do, she’s going to have to learn this one the hard way. But hopefully some survival stress will cause her to find a reason to care– having to find a way to pay your bills and not being able to buy things you want or even need has a way of teaching responsibility very fast. Take steps to protect yourself, and offer advice if asked but take my advice on this– people like this are often those that conflate the pain of the situation with the person delivering it and will lash out at people that try to help them because they don’t want to have to change.

    Some people learn from advice, others only from experience.

    1. IT But I Can't Fix Your Printer

      I do like the idea of an AAM ritual summoning. Maybe the OP could sneak into the roommate’s room and play the audiobook while she’s sleeping, in hopes that it will sink in somehow?

  43. Yojo

    This is why pretty much everyone should work retail or food service or customer service when they’re young. People like this function a lot better when basic Obey Authority norms are drilled into them before they need to navigate more complicated, more antonymous office norms.

  44. Wakeens Teapots LTD

    I had a number of cringeworthy dumb bad omg really notions when I was a youngster – even though I had been working since age 13 – and a cringeworthy attitude to go with them. I remember being outraged that I was called out for being late, consistently, to my high school department store job even after I EXPLAINED TO THEM how busy my schedule was and how that was problematic with the bus route. Really? After all I do for these people??

    I have no idea where I got that entitlement (I was poor growing up and desperately needed the money) or how I got rid of it, but I don’t think I groked work is for work until close to my mid 20’s. Maybe a peer could have helped but I doubt it. I had to grow up.

    1. Countess Boochie Flagrante

      Yeah, as much as the tenant’s behavior is cringeworthy, I feel a certain amount of empathy because I sure do remember my own new-to-the-workforce bad attitudes and bad behaviors. I wasn’t nearly as blasé about it as the tenant sounds like she is, but it took a stern writeup and the loss of a raise to shock me into a better path. I hope that one good, hard shock to the system will be enough to get the tenant’s head on straight.

      1. Wakeens Teapots LTD

        I don’t know how I never lost a job over it. Generally, I generally always did good work and generally, I was generally a happy and likable person to work with but, MAN, flashbacks to the s**t I said when called out on obvious You Don’t Do That At Work things. Thank god there were no smart phones back then (although that didn’t stop me from yakking on personal calls at my desk in an era where that was Not Done, did it).

    2. Bea

      Part of it is just being young and still learning. Our brains don’t fully develop until way after we’re considered “adults”!

      I’ve had to talk down some otherwise reasonable older folks who view business things as unjust too though. So it can just be utter lack of understanding across the board.

    3. smoke tree

      Weirdly, I had the complete opposite approach to work, where I was so terrified of screwing up that I let a lot of crappy bosses walk all over me. I was never in any danger of being fired, but I stayed way too long in some pretty bad situations. I wonder what it is that informs some of these early impressions of work–for me I think part of it was that I had a pretty hard time finding a first job.

  45. LSP

    I’m sure I’m echoing a lot of other commenters on here, but I think the conversation here needs to be more about her ability to pay rent/utilities, and less about her specific job expectations.

    Let her know that she can quit her job if she wants, but that she needs to make sure she gets you her rent money on time. If she fails to do so, let her know you may have to ask her to move out. If she tries to turn the conversation into something about how she can’t possibly work somewhere that doesn’t view her on-the-clock texting as acceptable, and doesn’t give her the most interesting work to do in an entry-level job within the first two weeks, simply reply with something along the lines of, “Most jobs are like that, and sometimes, especially at the beginning of your career, you have to deal with grunt work. It’s called paying your dues. But as long as you pay your rent on time, I don’t care what you do.” Repeat as necessary.

    It’s frustrating to hear someone complain about things so benign, but you can always leave the room, and I would stick with the refrain (even to yourself), that she can do what she likes with her career, provided she gets you the rent on time.

  46. IT But I Can't Fix Your Printer

    I agree that your priority needs to be making sure you’re financially secure. You probably can’t fix this person.

    In order to keep her at her current job as long as possible, what if you say this: “Based on my experience and other people I trust, it’s normal for a job to expect that you keep personal phone use to a minimum and [insert other reasonable advise you’ve given her]. But it’s true that culture varies by office! It sounds like this is a priority for you, since you’d be willing to leave your current job over it. In that case, I recommend that you bring it up in your interviews, to make sure you don’t end up in another place that’s a bad fit for you.”

    Maybe she’ll find the magical unicorn job where texting all day is totally fine! But probably this will just throw up a red flag for her interviewers, ensuring that she’s stuck at her current job and can keep paying bills. And maybe she’ll get some horrified looks that will teach her a lesson.

  47. cheeky

    I think you’ve already done more than you need to. She might be one of those people who has to learn the hard way. Either she’ll listen to you, or she won’t, and there’s not much more you can do.

  48. The Other Katie

    I’d just be straightforward when she asks for advice, and say that most jobs don’t let you spend all day on your phone (or whatever unreasonable expectation she has next). If she refuses to put her phone away she’s probably going to get fired from this job quickly, which will hopefully bring the lesson home. To protect yourself, find out what the protocol is in your state for evicting a lodger for non-payment. Otherwise, leave her to it. You’re not her mother or sister, and don’t really have a responsibility to impart life lessons she maybe should have learned by now.

  49. Colin

    Man, this thread is already suuuuuper judgemental over someone that we have about 3 details on. Here’s my hot takes:

    -There’s plenty of desk jobs where it’s fine to pick up your phone throughout the day… or if phones aren’t your thing, perhaps spending time at work to go write comments on your favorite blog *cough*

    -Looking at your phone does not make you a non-functional human being, entitled millennial, or whatever phrases everyone likes to throw around. Looking at one’s phone is a habit for most people, and one that can be hard to break.

    -As her roommate, and with no other context about your relationship to this person, it’s really not your problem to teach her how to function at work, beyond perhaps a reminder that you expect bills to be paid.

    -Her job may actually not be a good fit for her, and “changing jobs after two weeks” isn’t a good reason to stay at a job that’s a bad fit for you. You can just leave it off the resume when applying elsewhere.

      1. Colin

        There’s plenty of unreasonable takes here, like the one that says this girl’s parents failed to teach her to be a functional human.

        1. Snark

          I think that’s reasonable! If not her parents, someone failed disastrously to make general rules of professional conduct and behavior clear to this person. Constantly attending to a distraction rather than work and doubling down when directed to change course is not the behavior of a functional adult.

          1. Colin

            Do you not understand that “her parents failed her” is a hugely inappropriate assumption to make based on having exactly one anecdote about this person?

            1. Snark

              Uncharitable? Yes. Unwarranted? Possibly. “Hugely inappropriate?” Nah. Don’t clutch the pearls too hard, dude, it’s coming off more than a little performative.

              1. Colin

                It’s not performative. I am genuinely grossed out by this entire thread of a few hundred people casting harsh judgement and making nasty comments (““Are you having a hard time hearing me with your head shoved so far up your own ass?”) toward someone they don’t even know, who doesn’t even know this thread exists.

                1. Snark

                  Ok. I think you’re generalizing a few really harsh comments to the tone and tenor of the entire thread, and I think you’re focusing on the wrong things, but I don’t really care one way or another and I certainly don’t care to litigate your responses.

                2. Ask a Manager Post author

                  I just read through all the comments (up to here) so I could find what you were talking about. I saw the one comment about her parents not raising a functional human (and responded to it) and … no others that struck me as overly harsh. (And I also removed the “head up your ass” comment earlier today for being over the top rude.)

                  There’s definitely a lot of “find a new roommate” and “let her experience the consequences of her actions” and comments that aren’t expressing notable sympathy for the roommate, but I didn’t see any (other than what I mentioned in my first paragraph) that seemed overly harsh. I suspect it might be the sum of the whole rather than any one individual comment that’s making you feel that way, but if there are specific comments you want me to take a look at, I’d be glad to.

                3. RTFM

                  You seem to be bringing rather a lot of personal baggage to this comment section today, and it’s colouring your interpretation of the comments. Maybe this isn’t a good place for you to hang out today.

                4. madge

                  @RTFM that’s a rather condescending thing to say. I don’t see anything particularly over the top about Colin’s comment.

                5. Snark

                  Speaking as someone who’s had the same thing said to me when I got unreasonably worked about a given topic, I think that’s constructive, not condescending. Right or wrong, when you’re getting this personal, this invested, and this aggressive, it’s time to go take a walk – and I say this as someone who’s indulged in this kind of posting many a time.

            2. Lora

              The Omen can happen to anyone.

              I’m kidding…sort of. Babysat for more than a few large families where 5/6 children were happy, well adjusted, responsible human beings who did their homework and brushed their teeth as directed, and that ONE kid was just the spawn of satan. OP got unlucky in roommates. Doesn’t change the overall advice though – plan to need a new roommate soon.

          2. madge

            There are many facets to being a “functional” adult, and struggling at one of them does not negate one’s functionality.

          3. madge

            Also, maybe not everyone comes into the adult working world thinking they should automatically do whatever they’re told. It’s generally a good idea in a professional context to comply with requests from the boss if one wants to keep one’s job, and it’s probably naive to think otherwise, but that doesn’t make somebody fundamentally flawed if they don’t do this.

            1. Jennifer Juniper

              Isn’t that the very definition of teamwork, madge? Doing automatically whatever you’re told?

              I’m saying this as a serious question, not out of sarcasm or snarkiness.

              1. Ask a Manager Post author

                Definitely not the definition of teamwork, at least not anywhere remotely healthy! It means thinking about what’s best for your team, speaking up when see problems, helping out colleagues when you can — all sorts of things that aren’t just doing what you’re told.

            2. Susana

              It kind of does, though. We’re not talking about a first-grader. This is someone in the professional work world. Not boss’s job to bring roomie into adulthood. This isn’t a skills learning curve. This is a Bad Attitude. Maybe all caps.
              Sorry – but this reminds me of people who look at sexual harassment in the workplace (or maybe pinning down a fellow student at a prep school ) and thinking the problem is that the men/boys weren’t “trained” not to do that.

    1. Emma

      All of this!!! Staying focused on getting my work done and not getting overly distracted by my phone has been a huge struggle for me. Modern smartphones are intentionally built to be addictive!

    2. Countess Boochie Flagrante

      I agree with most of what you said here, but ignoring your boss when they tell you to shape up is a more worrying behavior.

      From where the OP is standing, I think they do need to be prepared for the worst, but it’s not a bad idea for us commenters to remember what it was like to be new to the workforce and not yet adept at knowing how to behave in an office.

      1. Turtle Candle

        That’s sort of where I come down. Being bored with grunt work is understandable (and something that a lot of people have to adjust to when going from school to work), and not having a good sense of how much you can goof off at work is something that many people have to get feedback on and adjust to. But flagrantly ignoring a manager’s instruction isn’t a problem that can be chalked up to garden-variety cluelessness. That’s not “she’s new so obviously she needs to learn workplace norms,” that’s “she’s not taking instruction,” and it’s a much more intractable problem in my experience. A manager can only help an employee learn office norms if they’re willing to take feedback and put it into action. I can’t imagine outright ignoring a boss going over well pretty much anywhere.

        None of this is the LW’s concern, of course, except inasmuch as she’s also apparently not taking instruction on things like “clean up your own messes at home,” but yeah, that’s what tipped me over from “eh, she’s naive but can probably self-correct” to “ouch.”

    3. Snark

      In order:

      1) In general, if someone’s productivity is low enough and your general demeanor so distracted and checked out that their boss has asked you not to do a thing, I am confident that the boss is a competent judge of the distinction between that and “I’ll catch up on AAM while I mind this email chain that’s bouncing back and forth.”

      2) Yes, it is habitual. In general, if one is making a good faith effort to manage that habit, particularly when directed to do so by their boss, that is different than doubling down and refusing to change one’s habitual activities. We are not helpless automatons, in passive thrall to our impulses.

      3) No question.

      4) Whether or not her job is a good fit for her, it sounds like she is determinedly making herself a bad fit for the job.

          1. Les G

            Yeah, my take on this is that Colin is a longtime reader with excellent hearing–good enough to hear a dog whistle or two.

          2. Ask a Manager Post author

            I’m not getting “entitled millennial” from it, with all the baggage that carries. I’m getting “clueless young person with ridiculous notions,” which is age-specific, not generation-specific. And which is, frankly, a real thing and always has been. I was that person in my first job! It doesn’t mean the roommate will remain like that forever.

            1. Mike C.

              Yes, this is my point. The wrapper doesn’t say “entitled millennial” but the cookies inside taste just the same.

                1. Snark

                  And to the extent that it is about millennials, it’s because (the youngest cohort of) millennials happens to be around the age when the speeding car of being a young person possessed of ridiculous notions runs into the bridge abutment of natural consequences – not because there’s something specific to milennials that makes them more likely to swerve.

                  (I think that analogy survived the wreck, but I’m not sure)

                2. Mike C.

                  It doesn’t have to say “entitled millennial” to be a comment that is in general sh!tty to younger, less experienced people.

                  Colin used “entitled millennial” as a shortcut to describe a more general concept, one which you pointed out above. Folks are ignoring his greater point by nitpicking the fact that “no one ever specifically said the phrase ‘entitled millennial'”.

                  It doesn’t matter what label you attach to it, it’s still a very similar sentiment.

    4. EddieSherbert

      I think your points are reasonable…. but weirdly aggressive to everyone else? Literally no one else at this point has called her entitled or a millennial (I just checked) and we already know that *her* job is *not* one where’s fine to be on your phone all day.

      I totally agree OP should just stay out of it besides making sure rent is still coming in, and the friend should not put this job on her resume.

      (PS I’m not at work right now, since you’re asking :) !)

      1. Colin

        I’m honestly really grossed out about this thread. It’s 200 comments of people being super judgemental to this young woman (who has no idea that strangers are currently casting aspersions on her), with basically zero information other than one story. This might be the thread that makes me stop reading AAM because this is borderline toxic.

            1. Hiring Mgr

              I think Colin is going a little overboard, but you yourself have said there’s been too much sniping, etc lately…I would prefer much more constructive discussion

              1. anon for this

                Cool, me too. Your comment above is not that. And I am surprised to read this from someone who’s been told in the past to stop derailing conversations.

      2. madge

        What’s getting to me is the judgmental/moralizing tone of a lot of the comments, as if it’s a fundamental failure on her part that she’s not automatically obedient to her boss. Her behavior may be problematic from a purely pragmatic standpoint (i.e. if she wants/needs to keep a standard job, she will need to behave a particular way), but it doesn’t make her a bad person.

        1. Mike C.

          Yeah, over the years I’ve found that there’s a distinct undercurrent of moralizing when it comes to fitting in with a particular idea of what “professionalism” is. It’s really easy to notice when you weren’t born into the white collar world.

          1. Lora

            In this particular instance I thought it was rather the opposite though: years of car-washing, babysitting, waiting tables and cashiering and so on long before college prepared me for the basics of the workplace. Thought admittedly dinosaurs roamed the earth and we didn’t have cell phones, I learned pretty quickly that you can show up on time and pay attention to the work and do what the boss tells you quickly and thoroughly, or you can be fired. Since money was an issue and no job == no food / gas for car / warm winter coat that fits, I was pretty fussed about keeping my job. I definitely didn’t think about quitting a job I didn’t like just because it sucked, because near as I could tell all work everywhere sucked to one degree or another – that’s why they had to pay you to do it, duh.

            It seems uniquely privileged to be able to bail on a job you merely dislike, in the certain knowledge that the Bank of Mommy and Daddy will fund your search for personal fulfillment via smartphone.

            1. madge

              It might indicate a degree of privilege, but people also have different thresholds for what they’re willing to tolerate or what they’re willing to sacrifice. She may be naive for thinking that her current boss has unusual demands, but that doesn’t mean her reasons are vapid or entitled (characterizing her as “search[ing] for personal fulfillment via smartphone” seems unjustifiably mean).

              1. Susana

                No – she is not naive. She is clueless and self-centered. And can’t believe she wasn’t immediately fired.
                Workplaces are not meant to accommodate what individual employees decide they are “willing to tolerate.”

          2. Turtle Candle

            My entire extended family is either blue- or pink-collar workers, and I (and my brother) are the first white-collar worker in our family, and… honestly, my experience of this seems to be backwards from yours? What I got drilled into me was that you did what the boss said no matter what, you hung onto a job like grim death because otherwise you couldn’t pay the bills, and “if you have time to lean, you have time to clean.” Those weren’t great lessons and it took a while for me to get out of that mindset when I went into white-collar office work, but frankly, my experience of people new to white-collar work is the opposite of what’s described here, and frankly I know my relatives would be deeply offended that not goofing off and ignoring your boss was described as something that you need an office job to learn.

            1. Jennifer Juniper

              Ding ding ding! I learned to obey and work hard by first grade.

              Of course, that didn’t keep me from making many other mistakes in the workplace…

          3. Mike C.

            You guys are missing my point – it isn’t that one didn’t learn how to “work hard” growing up blue collar, it’s that there’s a distinctive white collar trait to moralize when you don’t fit into a specific (and many times arbitrary) form of professionalism.

            Folks responding keep talking about the importance of following the boss and working your butt off and performing as much work as possible until the job is done, and those are legitimate lessons and yes, I learned them very early. But the thing most of the responses aren’t saying is that the person lacking these skills is somehow morally deficient. That they’re a bad person. That they are somehow lacking in their values and humanity.

            Many of these comments are just going on and on about how “they should know better” and “I know this/knew this since I was 4” and after a while becomes a white noise of “I’m better than you” without regard to the lack of experience this person has, and without regard to the lack of experience we all had at one point or another.

            Does this person need a clue? Sure. That’s called being in your 20s. But the moralizing and bragging is becoming a bit much.

            1. Turtle Candle

              Mike, I didn’t miss your point, and it’s kind of insulting that you think that I’m disagreeing because I have reading comprehension issues rather than simply… disagreeing based on a life lived with and around non-white-collar workers. I have for sure had blue collar workers moralize to me about work ethic. Boy howdy, have I. I have had them intimate that I was morally deficient because of the work that I do, or how I do it. If you want to explain (mansplain? because it’s often gendered, too!) to me further about how I’m Wrong about this and only white collar professionals do it, have fun.

              But I don’t even know how we got onto this topic, because nothing about a blue collar background is even in the letter. So it feels like pure virtue signaling to me.

    5. Birch

      As for the first two, I don’t think anyone is making those assumptions. It’s more that clearly Roomie’s job doesn’t allow casual phone time for entry-level employees, and she’s making a lot of entitled assumptions about what she should be allowed to do at that job at her level, plus OP says she’s talked back at her boss after being asked to put the phone away and do work, which gets into a whole other territory of insubordination entirely separate from the phone thing. Since this is her first job and she’s approaching it in such an entitled way rather than asking what is allowed, she probably is not prepared at this point to make informed judgments about what jobs might be a good fit for her.

      1. madge

        But you just said she’s making “entitled assumptions”…I realize I’m outside the norm for this, but what if one simply doesn’t want to work a job with such a hierarchical structure? That will certainly limit the range of employment options (maybe impossibly so!), but it’s not inherently entitled (she’s selling her labor, she’s allowed to decide what she’s willing to accept). I think we can separate what’s necessary (to keep a typical entry-level job) and what’s moral.

        1. Ask a Manager Post author

          Totally her call! But not reasonable to stay in this job and expect to bend it to her whim, and not reasonable to have no plan for meeting her financial obligations that impact other people if she gets fired for it (the OP).

          1. madge

            Yes, of course–I didn’t see it mentioned that she had no financial plan, but that’s certainly something for which she is responsible (and maybe OP could focus on that component–e.g. asking the roommate if she has a plan for paying rent for the next X months).

        2. Snark

          “…what if one simply doesn’t want to work a job with such a hierarchical structure?….but it’s not inherently entitled”

          No, not inherently. But accepting an offer of employment is accepting the terms of that relationship. She took the job, she accepted its hierarchical nature, and changing the terms of that relationship to center one’s recreational phone usage does strike me as a little entitled.

        3. Isabel Kunkle

          Sure, but then hypothetical-you a) don’t…take that kind of job and then complain, and b) don’t complain about it constantly. Certainly don’t complain constantly to your roommate, who is not your therapist. (Inability of adults to get that is why I shell out the extra for a studio, even in my city.) And take out the trash. And stop acting like you came from the off-Broadway production of RENT/Reality Bites: The Musical, because those people are almost entirely awful.

          1. madge

            Generally, I agree. But if it’s her first full time job and she’s only a few weeks in, it’s possible she didn’t anticipate it would work this way or to this degree ? The complaining is annoying and I absolutely think the OP is within their rights to establish/enforce boundaries there.

            1. Isabel Kunkle

              Is true. And I admit I’d think she was less of a wretched excuse for a human being if I hadn’t seen below that she was also That Roommate Who Doesn’t Do Dishes or Take Out the Trash, and now I’m like: kick her out, put her stuff in the street, set it on fire.

    6. Alldogsarepuppies

      Agreed with Colin. Thank you for being so reasonable. Two things I’d like to add

      – Looking at your phone/ask a managering is great as long as A. its within your office culture B. You are getting your job done first (no matter how grunty) including striving to find extra things to do if you don’t have enough work. C. you aren’t doing it so much that it is your identity with in the office D. when your boss asks you to stop you stop. But overall, given that most of us probably comment here from work given the timing of posts, we can agree that she’s not a failure of an employee for EVER texting, but that her time of the phone compared to work load is unbalanced
      – If she is also OPs friend before roommate (which I give a good 50/50 shot) she can be more invested in help her and shouldn’t just focus on evicted her
      – I’m super impressed with OP who it sounds like is just a year out of college and already in a managerial role to hire/fire AND owns at least a two bedroom place. Mazel Tov!

    7. Murphy

      As someone who is trying to spend less time on her phone (not at work, but at home) yes, it can be a hard habit to break. But the fact that roommate decides to completely ignore her boss and doesn’t see why she’s being told not to be on her phone all the time rather than actually working on breaking the habit, that’s a huge problem.

    8. Akcipitrokulo

      I think it’s absolutely reasonable to have empathy with someone who may be finding work a shock to the system – but it won’t help them not to let them know, and OP does want to help.

      I also agree about the phone… except when your boss says “cut that out” and you don’t. First, you’ve misjudged if you can or not from being told that – which can happen! – but not taking a telling is not a great sign.

    9. Detective Amy Santiago

      There’s plenty of desk jobs where it’s fine to pick up your phone throughout the day

      And clearly LW’s roommate is not in one of them since her boss has very explicitly told her not to text.

      Some jobs do have built in downtime or don’t mind if you take a few minutes break every so often, but that is the exception rather than the rule and looking for a job that will allow you to be on your phone all day is not really an effective job searching technique.

    10. JamieS

      The issues aren’t that she’s using her phone at all. The issues are she’s doing it often enough her boss has taken notice, she’s ignoring requests to put her phone away, and she thinks it’s unreasonable for her boss to limit phone usage.

    11. Smarty Boots

      Except that she;s upset that her boss has told her to stop and responds to the boss’ direction by spending MORE time on her phone. That’s the thing — not that she’s on the phone, but that she doesn’t get workplace norms, especially for as a newly hired entry level employee. Although it’s often fine at many jobs to look at your phone now and then, either her job doesn’t allow it at all, or she’s doing it too much. I don’t see anyone here saying “phone at work is bad!” or “people who look at their phones at work are non-functional human beings!”

    12. Bea

      These are all fair takes.

      I do want to keep pushing back on the idea that 2 weeks in that it’s regularly okay to be preoccupied with a phone or websites.

      The job I had for over a decade fired the original person they hired instead of me because during training she was constantly surfing the internet. She had tons of things to learn for the position. But instead of answering the phone, she was playing online Bingo.

      After I was fully trained and had my routine together, I had hours to kill. Nobody cared if I was texting or blogging because they knew me by then and knew I was getting everything done.

      Even at my level now, I make sure my boss isn’t hawkeyeing my use of time and are always my first priority.

      She’s young and learning. I don’t think she’s a failure or lacking as a human by any means. So I agree some of the commentary is a whole lot of “wtf” wild leaps.

      1. Mike C.

        “She’s young and learning”.

        This is the issue exactly. She’s not harming anyone, she’s not committing crimes, she’s acting suboptimally in a way that many posters can point to in an effort to look superior.

      2. Alli525

        Is she ACTUALLY learning, though? Because it sounds like she keeps making mistakes/blunders and not particularly learning from them, because she doesn’t see them as mistakes.

    13. Thursday Next

      Honestly, this isn’t that meaty a letter, and I’m surprised that so many people are commenting on it. And there’s definitely some hyperbole going around. This behavior is not really due to a failure of parenting!

      Boss told roommate to stay off her phone, LW told roommate to stay off her phone, and now the chips are going to fall where they may.

      1. AC

        Hello, honestly I am pretty surprised as well. I assumed there would maybe be 50 comments, not quite to this scale. I really didn’t mean to paint my roommate in such a negative light, she is a very nice person and has been very helpful and kind as I go through the recent loss of a close friend, but I wanted to keep the letter as concise as possible and with the most relevant information.

        1. Family Drama OP

          I think the nature of letters like this is that you’re not going to be able to present a totally balanced view of a person, because you’re writing with a particular situation in mind. It’s natural to focus on that.

          FWIW, I read your roommate as being relatively inexperienced in the workplace, and you as a frustrated friend. It’s hard to watch someone ignore practical advice!

          1. AC

            Definitely agree. Obviously when I wrote this I was extremely frustrated with the situation and had just finished doing all of her dishes and picking up after her. It was a moment of sheer annoyance if I am being completely honest, I hoped that hearing other people’s perspective would help. Sometimes you just need to step back from a situation and evaluate I suppose.

    14. Robin Sparkles

      I agree with you Colin that there are some pretty mean comments – and seriously folks I bet everyone of us has likely done something stupid in our young days that we could easily be the subject of an AAM letter. That being said – I think the issue here isn’t that she should know that using her phone is not OK with this job. It’s that she was told by her boss that it is not OK and she is digging in her heels and continuing to do what her boss has told her she cannot do. That attitude is not going to go over well for her. But – she sounds like she doesn’t get it and eventually she may. We don’t know anything about her to call her names or assume she is going to remain like this all her life.

    15. Rainbow Roses

      Yes, plenty of desk jobs let you be on the phone or surf the web. But do plenty of jobs let you ignore(!) the boss and keep on texting when they tell you to stop? Not a good action.

      You are correct that it isn’t the OP’s problem if the tenant quits or keep flaking out on her jobs. But it *is* the OP’s problem to make sure the rent gets paid. Perhaps the tenant has backup from her parents, but the OP doesn’t indicate that since she’s worried.

      OP, there’s nothing to say since I assume rent is still being paid but you should put a plan together just in case.

    16. Amen to that!

      @Colin: thank you so much for saying this.

      You would think that OP’s roommate is the world’s first person to complain about work once they’re home. Granted, OP may not want to be the complainee, and that’s fair. But the mere fact of complaining about “grunt work” hardly justifies this demonizing of OP.

      As for using her phone, she’s far from the only person doing it. It may, or may not, get her in long-term trouble at work. “No texting” may or may not be a professional norm, depending on your office culture. (I work in strategic consulting, and everyone is glued to their phones all the time; I guarantee that with our work hours, which are definitely not 9-5, that some of these conversation are personal, and not business related.)

      Even if Roommate is in a job where phone use isn’t acceptable, it may or may not have consequences for her. She might get fired. But it could also be that her performance generally becomes so stellar over time that the company doesn’t care. Or she is a middling employee, the company may care on paper, but ultimately decide that the battle is not worth fighting.

      Plenty of people seem to flout minor professional norms in some way yet seem to linger in their jobs, even if they’re not high performers. (Do you seriously think that everyone posting here at AAM is doing so outside of working hours?) My point is not that this is an ideal situation, but merely that all the people insisting “Roommate is a Horrible Person and is going to lose her job!” are jumping to conclusions.

  50. Oranges

    I understand how frustrating it can be to see a train coming and your friend/roomie is on the track and just… oblivious. You’re yelling “TRAIN” and they just… don’t get it.

    However these are very obvious metaphorical train tracks which are well used and are vibrating from the coming train. You can’t bodily yank her out of the way of the train. You can only say, “TRAIN!” and even then I doubt she’ll get it until she’s been hit a couple of times.

    This is survivable by her. Losing her job, job hopping, etc won’t kill her (I’m assuming she has a family safety net since *usually* you only get this obtuseness in someone who comes from a privileged background). All you can do is make sure no matter what happens you’re in the best position to avoid her mess.

  51. JP

    The only thing you need her to understand is that rent is still due monthly. When she complains to you, just give her that reminder and move on. She’ll have to deal with the natural consequences of her actions at work.

  52. Amber Rose

    Assuming she even gets an interview, can you imagine how that’ll go?
    “Why are you leaving your current job?”
    “My boss won’t let me play on my phone all day.”

    1. Bea

      And WHAT kind of work is she looking into? It sounds like she can’t be bothered to do office assistant work…I’m sure she’s envisioning being “the boss” and just shopping online for 8hrs a day while telling people what to do here and there.

  53. animaniactoo

    You might want to try the avenue of explaining to her that when she is at work, she has effectively sold her time to her employer. They have purchased it and that means that within reason for things you actually NEED to do in order to live (use the bathroom, eat, receive emergency calls), they own her time and they expect her to use it for business focused needs.

    She doesn’t have a right to use it for personal stuff like texting because she sold that right to them for their needs. This is the understood exchange between employers and employees of what each is receiving from the transaction – she gets the paycheck that helps her pay the rent and buy food, and they get attention to their business needs as the primary and — if they want it — sole focus of the employee. That also includes doing grunt work that pretty much nobody wants to do, but somebody has to do because the task while tedious or annoying like cleaning the bathroom has to happen for the business health of the company. As you progress, you may end up doing less grunt work if you are entrusted with higher level responsibilities – but everybody starts out by proving that “they get it” by doing the grunt work that needs to be done. By proving that they can be relied on to be assigned tasks and get them done no matter how boring they are. This is how you build work experience and a work reputation, and it’s very unlikely that she’ll find a company that will allow her to skip over that.

    And then leave it alone – either she’ll get it or she won’t – but start figuring out now what you’re going to do if she ends up having to move back in with her parents. You don’t have a responsibility to rescue her and it would be far overstepping your boundaries to keep trying beyond some initial “uh, this is the way the world works” stuff. You do have a responsibility to rescue you, given the writing that you can see on the wall. Are you both on the lease? Can you break only her half the lease? Can someone else take over her half the lease if it becomes necessary? Can you save enough to break the lease yourself if you need to and move?

    1. Amen to that!

      “You might want to try the avenue of explaining to her that when she is at work, she has effectively sold her time to her employer. They have purchased it and that means that within reason for things you actually NEED to do in order to live (use the bathroom, eat, receive emergency calls), they own her time and they expect her to use it for business focused needs.”

      You’re not by any chance posting to AAM at work, are you?

    2. Jennifer Juniper

      Going to the bathroom is a privilege at lots of call center jobs. You must hold it until break (and sometimes miss your break and wait until lunch) if you are stuck on a call. Taking a full break and lunch is a privilege as well.

      I’ve worked at call centers my whole career.

  54. I don't wanna work either

    Chiming in to agree with the general thrust of the comments so far. And also to add, that, if the OP’s discussion with the roommate goes that way, the OP could point out that entry-level jobs are generally grunt work. It is the very rare job that is all fun, excitement, lollipops, and rainbows and those come about after paying one’s dues.

      1. Bea

        Our bank has lollipops. I assume that this woman would take them all to the back room and text away the day if she got a job there. “What do you mean these are for the clients?! What about my needs?!”

  55. Nep

    There’s two problems here: 1) Her expectations are out-of-whack for employment. 2) She’s complaining to you about it too much. You can’t do anything about the former, she’s clearly not listening, and she really needs to figure that out for herself at this point. All you can do is try to manage latter.

    Just limit how much you’re willing to let her rant. I say that like it’s easy, but I know it’s not. When you’ve had enough, just tell her that you’ve heard this complaint before, that you don’t have anything new to add, and could you please talk about something else? And do not engage with her on it. If she persists in complaining, ignoring your requests for a change of topic, excuse yourself from the conversation/room if you can.

    Fortunately, you’ve got the power in this situation, because you own the home. I’d mentally start preparing for trying to find a new roommate unless she has a lightbulb moment.

    Best of luck to both of you.

    1. Colin

      Right? This thread is full of people commenting on a blog, probably while at work, about how this girl is a failure as a person because she’s distracted at work.

      1. Snark

        I’m also scheduling out next week, discussing a change of direction with four people on Skype, and sending meeting invites. It’s real satisfying to call out hypocrisy, but there’s a difference between “occasionally doing something unrelated at your computer in the flow of a work day” and “nonstop focused on a personal advice rather than doing work.”

        And, y’know, my boss hasn’t directly ordered me to stop doing it.

        1. Birch

          Same. I’m at work and I’ve also checked out gardening tips on Instagram today. But I’ve also been writing a proposal and my boss is satisfied with my work. If I was asked to stop doing other things on brain breaks I’d be horrified and immediately change the behaviour.

        2. Environmental Compliance

          Yeah, the difference between “I’m sometimes checking texts/watching a quick cat video/reading a blog while still keeping up on my work and limiting the distractions so that they’re not affecting my work” and “I’m so caught up in my phone that I *willfully and directly ignore my supervisor telling me to put my phone away and work” is pretty substantial.

          I highly doubt there’s a single person who goes to work and isn’t distracted at least part of the day. But work is still work, and you still have to get the work done. Your supervisor is still your supervisor, and if your supervisor tells you to put the phone away and work, you put your phone away and work. Not keep it out right in front of them, ignore them, and then complain how unfair it is to your roommate.

        3. Amen to that!

          I’m also scheduling out next week, discussing a change of direction with four people on Skype, and sending meeting invites.

          …and Roommate may be doing the same thing. We don’t know.

      2. Rusty Shackelford

        But if my boss said “stay off AAM while you’re on the clock,” I wouldn’t come home and gripe to my roommate/landlord about what an unreasonable request that was, and continue to surf AAM while I was on the clock. That’s the problem.

        1. Akcipitrokulo

          Agreed. I often use a few minutes on AAM or another distraction to help me switch gears from one mental task to another – and my manager knows I do, and is OK with this, and if I were ever told not to I’d stop.

          The first part – not realising what is an appropriate amount and misjudging – is a mistake probably everyone does and not a big deal. The second part – taking view that the boss is wrong and how dare they – it’s very inexperienced and it would be good for her if someone – who doesn’t have the authority to fire her! – tells her to knock it off before she gets the sack.

      3. animaniactoo

        Well, my files sometimes take a really long time to save. Or my brain needs a break because I’m doing creative work and down a rabbit hole and 5 minutes will let me focus on it again.

        And I have long since paid my dues on grunt work and today’s actually mostly doing grunt work that I am capable and relatively quick at because I did it so much.

        Also – way back when, when my employer told me not to make so many personal phone calls – even though it didn’t interfere with my ability to silo and color correct images – I didn’t double down and ignore them. I accepted that it was their right to want me not to be on the phone (mostly, I admit to not being perfect about that, but I at least reduced the volume on it by a large margin).

        1. Murphy

          Also, I don’t think she’s a failure as a person (I don’t think anybody does, because no one has said that) but she’s totally in the wrong about job searching because she’s been told not to be on her phone all day.

          1. Akcipitrokulo

            I don’t think people think that – they may think she’s making a big mistake and it would be a good thing for her to point this out!

      4. Pebbles

        It’s not so much that she’s distracted, but that she’s been directed BY HER BOSS to not do this thing, she’s refused to stop doing the thing, and she’s complaining that she’s not supposed to do the thing. If my employer had a problem with me reading AAM at work he would tell me and I would stop (rather than doubling down!), because I understand that he has the right to tell me not to read AAM while at work and I also understand that I’m not getting paid to read AAM. But I’m getting my work done because I don’t let AAM become such a distraction that it’s a problem that my employer has to address.

        Also, not everyone has M-F 9-5 jobs and are all in the same time zone. Just wanted to address the assumption in your statement that people are probably at work while reading AAM.

      5. Amber Rose

        Hey, I’ve done my tour of duty. This isn’t week two into my first job. My work gets done, it gets done well, and my boss has never said “you must absolutely stop using the internet to look at stuff.”

        I have been asked to limit my cell phone use, and I do. Up until I switched to using it for music, it sat in my purse at all times except breaks.

      6. Mike C.

        Everyone here keeps ignoring the whole point Colin is trying to make – too many people are using this thread as an opportunity to look superior at the expense of someone who is making some very common and very obvious mistakes while ignoring the fact that they too made similar mistakes when they were of that age and level of experience.

        I’ve made plenty of mistakes in my life. I’ve also been lucky enough to have people in my life take me aside and say, “dude, this is how it is, you need to do X/Y/Z” and made sure I wasn’t set up to fail. While I do what I can to repay that favor to others, there’s no way I can ever repay that fully. To act like the working world is something that you should “just know how to do” and if you don’t you’re a bad person is just nuts. If that were really the case, why does this blog even exist?

        1. RTFM

          It’s so wonderful how you can know the motivations and histories of a large diverse group of people you’ve never met, Mike. Truly, you are an inspiration to us all.

          /s

            1. Ask a Manager Post author

              I didn’t read that as a personal attack (although I see why you did), but as making the point that you’re ascribing motivations to people that are pretty speculative. I can’t speak to anyone else’s motivations, but I agree with a lot of what’s been written here (that I think you disagree with) and my motivation isn’t to “make myself look superior at the expense of someone who is making some very common and very obvious mistakes.”

        2. Snark

          “while ignoring the fact that they too made similar mistakes when they were of that age and level of experience.”

          Except I really didn’t, my dude!

        3. Turtle Candle

          But, I mean, her manager did tell her directly not to do something–this isn’t an “unspoken rules that nobody tells you”–and she ignored it. That’s not setting her up to fail. That’s, frankly, failing of her own volition.

        4. Amen to that!

          Everyone here keeps ignoring the whole point Colin is trying to make – too many people are using this thread as an opportunity to look superior at the expense of someone who is making some very common and very obvious mistakes while ignoring the fact that they too made similar mistakes when they were of that age and level of experience.

          Virtue signaling on AAM? Say it ain’t so.

          1. Susana

            Catagorically -after 2 weeks! – refusing to follow a very reasonable boos request that she actually do her job instead of texting? No, that is not a mistake we all made.

      7. Observer

        That’s just not true. They are commenting that she IS showing a high level of dysfunction. She is “constantly” on her phone, she’s new but doesn’t accept that she has to establish her bona fides, she’s ignoring explicit instructions from her boss.

        Those are all highly unreasonable expectations and behaviors for a person who is in a first job with no relevant experience to bring to the table.

      8. ejodee

        Huh. That never occurred to me. I read this blog every day but: When I am at work, I work. I would be annoyed and would certainly address this with any of my staff who used their time that way. If I need a mental break from intense projects, there are plenty of opportunities to make a positive impact on others (that I work with). I am adding value to the workplace, and it lifts my own spirits in the process. You’ve inspired me to ask my interviewees next week, “think about a time when you had met your deadlines or were in between tasks. How did you use that time?”

    2. Rosemary7391

      Same – but I’ve been in this job long enough to know that’s acceptable, and I make sure it doesn’t interfere with my work (the quick break helps typically!). But OP’s lodger has barely started; they’ve got no idea what is or isn’t acceptable and they’re presumably still at the stage where distractions are really a problem. Especially if it’s being interrupted by texts rather than coming to natural end point and hopping over to AAM.

      1. Decima Dewey

        They should have an idea of at least one thing that isn’t acceptable. What her boss has told her to stop doing.

    3. Smarty Boots

      Well, sure, but I (like many other AAM readers) am not on it for hours at a time — I spend more time on it at lunch and in the evening after work, otherwise I pop in and out, and I don’t assume that AAM comes first and to hell with the crappy parts of my job that I hate doing (filing, I truly hate filing but it’s gotta be done). And I don’t gripe about having to spend time working instead of prowling around on AAM.

  56. Akcipitrokulo

    Ask her if she’d like some pointers that may help. If you set it up first as “i think I can help – are you OK chatting about some concrete things sometime?” and then sitting down specifically to look at that, not at a time she’s mid-complaint, it might be a good primer for her.

    Then, is she’s agreed to honest feedback – be kind, be understanding, but give it to her. It’s doing her a favour to say “it really isn’t OK to use your phone at work generally, and you need to stop texting if your boss tells you to” and other such issues.

    1. Akcipitrokulo

      Two points though:

      1) You don’t have to do this.

      If you want to, because she’s your friend, her being fired could cause you problems or any other reason, then go for it – but you don’t have to.

      2) It may not work – preparing for what you can control may be best.

      If you give it your best shot – or don’t want to – then do what you can to protect yourself is the worst happens. This is both financially and legally regarding the tenancy, and also be prepared emotionally for how you want to cope with any fallout.

      Good luck!

  57. Delta Delta

    Roommate is looking for validation. She wants you to tell her the boss is unreasonable and she is right. But, that’s just not how it works, and you’d be doing her a disservice if you told her the behavior was ok.

    Texting is just like any habit. She’d lose her noodles if she was a smoker and suddenly the boss said she couldn’t take 15 smoke breaks every day. But of course she can’t – that would be unreasonable.

    So, I think I’d exho the other commenters who suggest figuring out another roommate or way to be financially secure without her, since it seems like she may not have that job. I suppose the lucky thing is that this may be self-correcting. Imagine she gets fired and has to explain at her next interview why. She’ll figure out really fast what the problem is.

  58. Greg NY

    Legally, an employer certainly can expect your entire life dedicated to them. It’s not good practice, which is why it isn’t universally done in the US (it still happens far more than it should). While the employer does have the right to set rules, such as not using your phone, many such rules are petty and some are groundless (unless there is sensitive information involved or electronic frequency conflicts in technical environments).

    I would advise your friend to do the following. Don’t push back on the phone rule. Instead, put every minute they can into this job, and do even the grunt work. The goal is to get OUT of this job as soon as possible. The more you do your work and the less you argue, the faster you will advance out of that position. First jobs are often a lot of grunt work, for two reasons. One is that grunt work exists and has to be put on someone, and that lowest level person is ideal. The other is that some grunt work is necessary for everyone to do, and it’s the easiest to learn, a natural starting point for an entry level job. To be clear, however, that first job should not be all (or even mostly) grunt work, otherwise they won’t gain the skills to advance, and they should talk to their manager about that if they aren’t seeing a steady increase of higher-skilled tasks after 2 months of effectiveness at the grunt work.

    As for her unreasonable expectations, people are set up to think they are unreasonable. To be clear, some of them are unreasonable, and I would push back except for the fact that advancing out of this grunt work job ASAP outweighs arguing now. (I would not accept a no phone rule later in my career. But they seem unreasonable because she’s coming from a school environment, which runs very differently from a workplace and the US education system doesn’t do a good job of preparing people for the differences between the two.

    Finally, she should ask herself the following question: if I leave this job, will the next one I get (at the same starting level) be much different? First jobs are usually the biggest grunt work you will get, and they need to steel themselves to getting through a temporary period of this to get to what hopefully will be greener pastures for the rest of their career.

    1. Sailor_Mouth

      You’re insane. The only employer that can “certainly can expect your entire life dedicated to them” is the military. Everything else you’ve said is complete nonsense.

      1. Potato Girl

        I don’t think it’s insane to acknowledge that a company is legally permitted to expect to be your #1 priority. I’ve worked at companies where it’s frowned on to make a distinction between company time and personal time because you’re supposed to be passionate enough to spend your nights and weekends on it too, and giving anything less than 50 hours a week is being lazy and not a team player. It sucks, but it’s reality.

        1. Sailor_Mouth

          Your entire life? They can LEGALLY expect your ENTIRE LIFE to be dedicated to them? That is NOT reality.

  59. pcake

    I’d ask her “Why would anyone pay you to use your phone?”

    You never know – it might make sense to her…

  60. theletter

    She might be new to the job world and have unrealistic expectations. She might be right that work is busywork and it’s pretty much dead-end for her. Either way, you should probably just tell her that as the landlord, you expect her to pay her rent on time (either from income or savings) or you will be finding a new housemate. No excuses.

  61. Knitting Cat Lady

    Well, the not getting upset part is kind of impossible.

    Therefore I’d skip it entirely and go for as blunt as possible.

    1. There is no job in the world that will allow you to text all the time.
    2. Your boss tells you what to do at work.
    3. You do the work your boss assigned you. As long as it isn’t illegal, you do it.*
    4. If you don’t change your behaviour, you’ll be fired.
    5. You’ll be fired from your next job(s) as well if you keep acting like you do now.
    6. If you can’t pay your rent, I will evict you.

    Do this once. She probably won’t listen.

    Turning her into a functioning adult is not your job.

    *I had PMs suggest I do *something* to improve simulation results. Which breaks all kinds of national and international regulations. Each time that happened I would tell my direct supervisor. Who would go to his boss. Who would then rain fire and brimstone on the offending PM. The PMs seem to have learned the lesson now.

  62. Anon From Here

    LW, it’s not your job nor your place to educate your roommate about how to manage herself at her own workplace. She’ll get it or she won’t. That’s between her and her employers. In the meantime, stick to mostly non-committal responses like “Hmmm,” “Huh,” and “I guess I put my phone away during the workday most of the time, myself.”

    But as her landlord you should protect yourself. Get a rental agreement in place between the two of you, if you haven’t already. Make sure you have a way to kick her out if she fails to pay rent for some period of time. And as others have mentioned, take care of your own parachute and keep enough funds on hand to cover your own mortgage if/when she falls behind on rent.

  63. The Ginger Ginger

    I’d just act super surprised and confused by every off-the-wall complaint she makes. Maybe if she gets some shock around complaining about texting or having to do things at work she isn’t totally in love with will clue RM in on the fact that their complaints are really off base.

    LW: “Sorry, I can’t tell from the story; what’s the problem?”
    RM: I CAN’T TEXT AT WORK.
    LW: makes super confused face “That’s…normal? Did you actually think you’d get paid to sit around and text all day?”

    RM: I HATE MAKING COPIES; I CAN’T BELIEVE IT’S PART OF MY JOB
    LW: makes confused face “Your title is Copy Maker I; did you not expect to make copies? I don’t understand the problem.”

    At the very least you’ll become really not fun to complain to and that might stop. Which would also be okay.

    1. Niki

      Ah, commented below before seeing that you’d said basically the same thing already! Completely agree – making it clear that her comments are strange might give her the shove she needs to look at norms in working life.

  64. mark132

    I have to be honest my main goal would be to salve my own conscience. I would probably simply point out that the vast majority of employers expect their workers to work, and that getting a new job would probably just result in more problems as any other employer would likely react similarly. That would let me feel that I had a tried, and I wouldn’t feel guilty for not helping.

    This roommate needs a semester at the school of hard-knocks to hopefully finish rounding out her education. And beyond simply pointing out her behavior is unacceptable at any employer, I think let her learn through hard experience might be the best.

  65. Cassandra

    Assuming you’ve set the really important boundaries regarding rent and possible eviction, OP, I think you can also set boundaries around the complaining. Captain Awkward’s blog has quite a few terrific posts about this, but in the interests of tl;dr, you might start off with one of the “yes, work is like that” suggestions from previous comments and then go for an immediate subject change.

    If your roommate returns to badmouthing work, do it again: “Yep, entry-level jobs, whaddayagonna do, how about that SUBJECT CHANGE.” Repeat as needed.

    If this doesn’t work — and your roommate does sound a bit oblivious — you’ll have to be more direct, perhaps setting a time limit on how long you’ll listen to complaints, and enforcing it by physically walking out of the room (ideally into a space that’s yours with a door you can close, like your bedroom).

    Good luck; this is a tough one.

  66. Niki

    I agree with everyone else that it’s not your problem to solve, but if you do want to tackle it I’d go for the misunderstanding / making her explain in detail route – next time she comes in complaining just look genuinely puzzled and say “Sorry, I must be missing something – everything you just described seems pretty normal to me. What did your boss do that was unreasonable?”.

    If she provides an example like being asked to put her phone down I’d go with a “… so, you think the company should be fine with you spending all your time texting while they’re paying you?”. Just keep breaking it down and making her spell out her ridiculous expectations – if she’s totally lacking self awareness it might not get you anywhere, but if she’s not it might make her see the point (and if it doesn’t it’s confirmation that she’s a lot cause!).

    In a weird way I think it was an advantage that my first full time job was genuinely awful – it meant that by the time I got to my second role I had the perspective to recognise that workplace annoyances aren’t the end of the world.

  67. Bea

    She’s your roommate not your daughter.

    Tell her you’re not interested in discussing work if she’s only going to complain to you about the basics.

    Tell her that it’s cool if she wants to find a new job but you expect rent to be punctual or she’ll have to find a new place to live.

    You’re her roommate and landlord. Draw firm boundaries. You cannot sustain a balance with her acting like you’re supposed to guide her through life.

    Until she faces real consequences, being fired and evicted, she is never going to learn to deal with having to hold down a job. She sounds spoiled.

  68. Icontroltherobots

    1) She’s probably not actually asking for advice. She’s probably fishing for you to agree that her job is being ridiculous.
    2) She sounds like the type of person who thinks they can do no wrong and will blame shift. How’s she at communal chores? I’d wager you’re pulling the weight on that front.
    3) What’s your rental agreement like? Hopefully you have one.
    4) What are the eviction rules like in your state? I’d suggest looking them up.

    You’re not going to be able to fix her or give her any advice other than, listen to your boss. She’ll either learn the hard way or not. I just hope she keeps paying rent on time.

    1. AC

      I am the original poster! She is not bad about chores, unless you expect her to clean after herself, take out the trash, do her dishes, etc. And now after coming home after working 9-10 hours she is sitting on her butt and nothing is done. It was a terrible precedent to set, but I have now started cleaning up after her (aka doing all of the chores at home) and now she does even less. I have tried to discuss it with her in the past and she doesn’t seem to make any effort whatsoever. It is very different when you actually own the home versus just renting I suppose. The rental agreement was drafted by me. It is a six month lease ending in January. Luckily I did put quite a few protective provisions in there for myself. I already familiarized myself with the eviction laws and luckily there is a Tenant Resource Center in my city that can help in these situations as well.

      1. Cassandra

        Oooooooooof, this sounds awful. At least there’s a built-in time limit on it! Do not under any circumstances renew that lease.

      2. mark132

        Man that changes a lot. I would probably just do things to keep the peace, just make sure she knows that when the lease is up, it won’t be renewed.

      3. Icontroltherobots

        LOL – I KNEW IT!

        Yeh, honestly, I lived with this person in college, you can’t fix her. I’m glad it’s a short term agreement and that you’re prepared. If you don’t read captain awkward you need to start, it’s the relationship equivalent to Alison’s amazing advice.

        Everyone has given stellar advice about how to deal with the complaining. I would just disengage, a simple “huh – yeh I can’t play on my phone either”,” yeh, I get assigned boring stuff too, I just do the assignment” or “yeh, sounds like a job, they are very unfun some days” then topic change.

        good luck!

      4. Bea

        Thank you for reminding me why I’ve never had roommates. I thought my brother had some bad apples over the years but hey they always had jobs and were cool to make up for their mess.

        I’m glad you’re in a position to get rid of her. Make sure she doesn’t take any of your sht on her way out! She’ll probably end up back with her parents or at least a friend who can tolerate that nonsense.

      5. valentine

        In future, include details about the necessary cleanliness level and charge them for cleaning you then outsource.

  69. Excel Slayer

    I’m wondering if the constantly-on-the-phone thing is related to the grunt work things. Perhaps she’s just looking at her phone all the time out of boredom? Perhaps there are some practically suggestions of things she can do instead of sitting on her phone all day. I tend to listen to music if I’ve got a particularly boring thing to get through, although headphones won’t be ok in all offices. I use to give myself time trials of how fast I could do x number of things, which does take the edge off of boredom.

    It’s not for OP to coach her on these things, and I suspect she won’t listen if she won’t even listen to her boss. But it’s the only real helpful suggestion I have.

    1. Colin

      This is very likely if it’s mostly “grunt work”, as OP puts it. I remember having to catalog CDs during my internship and it really necessitated stopping and doing some light web browsing every so often, because it was just torture. This was pre-smartphone though.

    2. Detective Amy Santiago

      This is a fair point.

      I do a lot of tedious work and listening to podcasts/audio books gives my brain something to do.

    3. Bea

      Audio books or listening to shows on Netflix that don’t require me to watch is my go to. You should be able to do 2 hours of mindless work without checking your phone.

      But many moons ago I did a giant imaging project for a records department. I was able to get into a groove and fly down the stacks dancing to my headphones bopping along. Ah my 20s.

  70. AKchic

    I’m *That* person. You tell me you’re having a problem and I’m going to be the one to tell you what I think. I Mom people.
    Since the first approach didn’t work, I would be tempted to drop to sarcasm. How dare your boss expect you to do work while getting paid to be *at* work. What next, earning the full paycheck? Sheesh… next they’ll expect you to be competent at your job. How dare they.

    It might shock your roommate into looking at you (and putting down the phone). Then you can be straightforward with her.

  71. Rusty Shackelford

    My advice… don’t make this your problem.

    “My boss is such an ogre. He keeps telling me not to text at work.”

    “What are you doing about that?”

    “I’m still texting.”

    “Okay. As your landlord, I need to know you’ll still be able to pay the rent when he fires you for ignoring that directive.”

    “But it’s not fair/he’s so mean/other jobs aren’t like that/blah blah blah.”

    “I’m not talking about what’s fair or common. What I’m saying is, he told you to stop doing it, and you haven’t stopped. That’s how people get fired. And I need to know you’ll still be able to pay the rent.”

    1. LadyPhoenix

      Yup. Just expect an entitled temper tantrum and for OP to be called a witch/b1tch/killjoy/etc etc.

      So glad I don’t have roommates at the moment.

  72. Earthwalker

    You might help her out in understanding actions and consequences. A school vice-principle I once knew said that many of her kids had trouble grasping the concept. After failing to turn in any homework and failing on their tests, they concluded that the reason for getting a bad grade was that the teacher was mean. Sound like your roomie needs the lessons that the vice principle taught about how actions have consequences, and those consequences are not the result of uncontrollable outside influences. I agree with others that this will take time and some difficult experiences for her. You might try NOT advising her to leave the job off her resume. If she admits what happened in a few interviews and gets turned down several times for it, it might hasten her journey toward enough experience to rethink her approach. At the same time, you would need to be prepared to evict her if you can’t carry her rent-free.

  73. AC

    Hello everyone,

    Thank you all for your responses! I am the original letter writer. Since I submitted this post, she was offered a different job and put in her two weeks notice at her job. She then changed her mind and decided to not start at her new job because it “sounds like it sucks” and is now currently out of both jobs. I am going to try to answer the majority of questions that I saw:
    1. I am prepared to evict her, I already know the process and everything like that since I work in the legal field. Luckily I did write into the lease that if she does move out early/default on payments, she will owe me almost 2 months rent.
    2. As of right now, she said that her parents were planning on paying her rent for a while.
    3. She is apparently applying to grad schools and wants to start in the spring semester. Luckily we only have a 6 month lease that ends in January so I won’t be putting up with her for too much longer. In the meantime, she is looking for part-time employment.
    4. Lastly, I finally understand why my mom was so upset when I was off middle school in the summers and she was working all day and she came home to dirty dishes and me sitting on the couch because that is now my reality.

    Thank you all for the comments and suggestions, I know that roommate-related drama is probably a bit out of the wheelhouse of AAM. We will have to see what the future holds I suppose, but in the meantime, if someone can find a way to get her to take out the trash because asking her is not working, that’d be awesome.

    1. Anon From Here

      I don’t think you can change her or make her do anything, but I sure do think you’ve gotten yourself into a real learning experience for vetting future roommates!

      1. AC

        For sure. Live and learn I suppose. Oddly enough not the worst roommate I have ever had, there was the one in love with my brother who would just be naked everytime he came over and the one whose boyfriend I reported to the District Attorney for violating the parameters of his bail and called the cops on for drunk driving.

    2. Detective Amy Santiago

      I would suggest making it clear to her that you are not interested in extending her lease.

      And sending you all the patience in the world to get through the next few months.

    3. Youth

      Sounds like you have a bigger problem on your hands, to be honest. I have nothing against going to grad school, but in this situation it seems like she’s using it to Peter Pan her way through life. At least maybe it will give her more time to mature before entering the workforce for real?

      1. Snark

        I dunno. Grad school is not exactly an incubator of professional norms, and she’ll find a lot of other people there with peculiar ideas about priorities and the centrality of one’s impulses.

        1. Youth

          Yeah, I’ve heard mixed things about it. I do have one close friend who went to grad school thinking it would help her do more fulfilling work. That turned out not to be the case, but she at least realized she was behind her peers in terms of things like savings and has tried harder to make her jobs work for her.

        2. Birch

          In my experience, people don’t finish graduate degrees unless they’re internally motivated though, so I highly doubt it that Roomie is going to make it far if she even gets in.

        3. Vin Packer

          This made me audibly guffaw due to its truth.

          But, eventually, she’ll have to do actual hard work, even in grad school. Lots of people don’t finish for this reason. (Though some, of course, somehow manage to fail up.)

      2. AC

        It definitely is a Peter Pan response to the working world. She doesn’t even know yet what she wants to get her Masters in so that is definitely concerning.

      3. Bea

        Professional students are absolutely a thing.

        She’s probably very smart book wise but unmotivated to work.

        I could write a book on this phenomenon.

    4. Cassandra

      Speaking as one who teaches grad school… I don’t know of too many with a rapid enough admissions cycle AND where a spring start is possible that she can apply now and start this spring. Yet another rude awakening for your roomie on the horizon, I think.

      Even gladder for you that this lease is short…

      1. AC

        Plus she hasn’t taken the GRE yet either. I never applied to grad school so I don’t know the whole process, but I didn’t think there were a lot of programs that start in the spring semester?

        1. Snark

          It’s pretty unusual; most start in the fall, so you start with the rest of a new cohort. Exceptions are made, but not often.

          1. Cassandra

            Yep. Another reason for it is to keep the teaching load as low as possible for courses required of everyone. We require one specific course to be taken in one’s first semester; refusing spring admission means we don’t have to teach that course in spring, freeing up an instructor for something else.

        2. Rusty Shackelford

          If your only reason for going to grad school is so you don’t have to work, the criteria might be easier. “All I need is a program that doesn’t require the GRE, and will let me start in the spring.”

        3. Fabulous

          Not all graduate programs require the GRE. I didn’t take it when I decided to get my Master’s, I just chose a school that didn’t require it. And chances are, if the school doesn’t require the test, then they’re probably more lenient on program start dates too.

        4. Close Bracket

          She can apply for the fall and take classes as a non-degree student. She could even register as a non-degree student now, if the late registration period is still open. I started as a non-degree student bc I was aiming for a certificate and decided I wanted a degree. I bet she doesn’t know about those options, though. :)

      2. Snark

        Yeah, unless she has a commitment from an advisor or has an offer letter in hand confirming a spring start date, welp. Oh, honey.

        At the large, typical state school I did my grad work at, fall start dates were assumed, spring ones were negotiated, and in any case the applications were all due at the same time.

    5. Birch

      I’m so glad you have ways to get her out because wow. I have to laugh–she’s not going to last 6 months in grad school if she can’t follow directions in an entry-level job.

      All the suggestions I have for getting her to do chores are so passive-aggressive they’re borderline aggressive: put the full trash bags and dirty dishes on her bed, keep the clean dishes in your room so she can’t use them, when she’s on the couch, take all the cleaning supplies and make a little fairy circle around her with them, cover every surface in the house with brightly colored passive aggressive post-its…. good luck and have yourself a party when she moves out!

    6. Icontroltherobots

      You have had some experiences! wow!

      The roommate I referenced to before and I got into a trash stand-off. There were maggots involved. I caved, because, I have limits! It was a rental, if it was my actual house I would have caved a lot earlier.

      Good luck!

      1. AC

        Ahh I am familiar with roommate trash Jenga. The trash bag has been sitting at the front door for four days now. I don’t think light suggestion is working.

    7. Jadelyn

      Oh…dear. Yeah this is someone who is going to coast through life on her parents’ support and unreasonable expectations of the world, right up until she coasts face-first into a brick wall.

      And I say that as someone who had something of that mentality when I was younger – not as badly as your roommate, but I definitely had a minor case of What Do You Mean Adult Expectations Apply To Me? in my early 20s. I hit my brick wall when my partner and I separated and I was forced to take a hard look at my life and my behavior and make some big changes. Luckily, I was able to do so successfully, but it really did take a major life collapse to push me into it. I’d bet your roommate is going to need something similar.

    8. Allison

      Ha, I can relate to #4! I also remember my dad going off on me because he’d be working around the house and running errands on Saturday while I sat on my butt, and recently I had a roommate who’d spend the weekend on his bum while I cleaned, did laundry, ran errands so we’d have enough toilet paper and dish soap, and I almost lost it on his lazy ass when he came up from the laundry room on Sunday night groaning “I haaaate laundry.” I wanted to say “I don’t enjoy it either! Or doing the dishes, or taking out the trash, or decluttering common areas or throwing away the rotten food in the fridge or cleaning your little hairs off the bathroom floor, but I do it anyway because I’m an adult who doesn’t want to live in filth!”

      You DO NOT have to coddle a 2o-something who thinks they’re exempt from adulthood simply because they “don’t wanna.”

    9. Observer

      Lastly, I finally understand why my mom was so upset when I was off middle school in the summers and she was working all day and she came home to dirty dishes and me sitting on the couch because that is now my reality.

      I snorted at that.

      I think you’re going to need to stop doing anything that related JUST to her. Also, if she leave stuff around that belongs to her, just dump it in her room. It’s not ideal, but it limits that craziness.

      You are room mates, but you don’t have to cook for her. Tell her that if she doesn’t start washing up after herself, you’re going to take away access to the dishes.

      But, I think you’re out of luck on the trash.

      1. AC

        I’ve been trying to leave her housework for her, but I just hate coming home and everything is dirty and messy. It stresses me out so much and it makes me dread coming home. I love my home and I want it to be well taken care of.

    10. PhyllisB

      Do what my mother used to do to my younger brother. His ONE CHORE was to take out the garbage. She would remind him a couple of times, but if it still wasn’t done he would come home from school to find it all sitting on his bed. After a couple of times of that his memory got a lot better. (I know, you can’t really do that to a non-relative adult, but the mental image might help.)

  74. John Rohan

    Then she would really hate my job. I am well paid, but at our workplace no one can bring in cell phones at all. We have to leave them in our cars or in special lockers. Somehow, we survive. I admit I do go outside and check it during breaks sometimes however.

  75. Meredith Brooks

    It’s not your responsibility to teach her responsibility. And while she’s using you as a sounding board and asking your advice, it doesn’t sound like she’s prone to accepting it. So, stop wasting your energy trying to give her help when she clearly wants someone to validate her behavior and choices.

    I understand she’s your roommate and its important she’s financially sound to pay rent and bills. But, you can’t teach people who don’t want to be taught. And I think regardless of the advice you give her, you’ll likely still end up with a roommate who may not be able to pay rent and bills, which might be the kick in the pants she needs to learn some valuable lessons. (Possibly at your expense unfortunately, but then you learn an important lesson too, about who you want to live with and how you want to spend your time. — I’m not being snarky, just silver lining it)

    1. Anne Elliot

      This. OP’er says “I really want to help her understand that her actions at work are less than exemplary and that she will probably end up getting fired.” But that’s not your role; you’re her roommate, not her parent or teacher or boss. The best you can do is give practical advice _when she asks for it_ — but you’ve already done that, and she’s not listening. So I line up with everyone else who says you should proactively map out your plan should she end up unable to make her bills. Can you cover rent for her? Do you even _want_ to? Under what circumstances are you willing to evict her, and what will that look like? Hope for the best but plan for the worst.

      1. Pikachu

        If OP owns the home, they should be able to cover the bills without any roommates… buying a house you can’t afford on your own income is just about as ill-advised as ignoring a direct instruction from your boss.

        1. Rat in the Sugar

          Well, someone might buy a house and be able to afford it and then have life circumstances change and not be able to anymore. However, if OP isn’t able to put together a plan for paying all the bills on their own, then they should have a plan for always having a reliable roommate lined up instead, and contingencies for deadbeats. She did say in a comment below that she has an official lease agreement with protections built in, so it sounds like she’s got it pretty well in hand in any case.

  76. Erin

    Not much advice, but commiserations. A friend is looking for a new job and doesn’t get why it’s not a good idea to take a video call in just any clothing from your phone, or why a messy couch doesn’t make a good background.

    1. AC

      Oh geez. Although I have to say in my younger years I was doing a video interview (it wasn’t interactive at all, just responding to pre-recorded questions) and the only place in my apartment to sit was my couch and I was trying to position myself and the only angle without a ton of glare was with my back to my wall. I did not realize until after I recorded and submitted everything that in the background you could see my gigantic cow-shaped chalkboard the entire time. Luckily I live in the dairy state so we all mostly love cows?

          1. an infinite number of monkeys

            After reading Ask A Manager for a while I feel like many interviews would benefit from including this.

          2. Jadelyn

            I’d probably be more entertained than anything else if I did a skype interview with someone who had that behind them.

            Like someone who posted on Tumblr about how they almost sent their resume in for a job without replacing the “filler” they’d stuck under the Summary section cause they were having a hard time figuring out what to write for the summary – and the filler in question was “I am a fish I am a fish I am a fish I am a fish”. If I got that resume, after I got my giggles under control, I’d probably reach out to that candidate and give them a second chance, just because it was at least an amusing mistake.

          3. AC

            Haha I did get two follow-up interviews, didn’t get the job offer though. Maybe you’re right, in dating I am pretty sure this is called peacocking.

  77. Micromanagered

    OP you did what you can do. You gave her your best advice, based on your experience. Now she gets to decide whether to take the advice or leave it. It can be hard to watch people make their own mistakes, but sometimes that’s the best thing, or the only option, even.

  78. El Esteban

    There’s a line from “Beavis & Butt-Head” that I love, where the titular characters are working at Burger World and the Butt-Head says, “Why is that manager dude always telling us to do stuff?” I’ve thought of that line many times throughout the years, and just about every job I’ve had.

    1. Nessun

      I always think of the Tiny Toons episode with Plucky and Hampton trying to break into Hollywood! They get tricked into taking jobs as waiters, thinking they’re acting in a TV show, and Plucky asks the “director” (chef/owner) what his motivation should be for the scene – the response is a scream: “TO. KEEP. THIS. JOB!”

  79. Jess

    Not your role to tell her what to do. If she doesn’t figure things out for herself when the expectations are the same at her new job and runs into financial trouble, your job as her landlady is to kick her out. But you know what? She’s probably going to figure it out for herself.

    And two weeks isn’t a career BTW.

  80. Jubilance

    1 – makes she has her rent paid up or that you have her rent check in hand

    2 – start looking for a new roommate who will actually do their jobs, and who can cover the rent

    2 – sit back and watch the fireworks. She WILL get fired.

  81. Aphrodite

    Give her 30 days notice to move out. She has an attitude that will not change with a job change nor will it allow her to listen to you. She is going to move from job to job but her stretches of unemployment will be longer as time goes on. She will probably mature in time but if you have her as your roommate for financial reasons she is a bad bet for now. Find another roommate; your financial stability may be at risk if she stays.

    Oh, and save your breath. At this point in her life she will do what she wants and your advice is only going to be an unwelcome buzzing in her ears.

  82. Laurelma_01!

    http://milewalk.com/mwblog/top-12-professional-etiquette-tips-new-college-graduates-anyone-matter/

    Has a comment about cell phones. Also read something that your job doesn’t care about your interests and social life. You are there to work.

    Your roommate may not last much longer. If she listens to you, she needs to drop the cell phone, and apologize to her boss. Stating that she isn’t used to workplace norms, and is learning. Maybe ask what she could do to fit in better with the team. She may not like the answer, but if she takes that approach, listens and applies it, it could prevent her from being fired.

    Keeps doing what she wants, she’s out the door. They haven’t invested much time in training her at this time, they may can her today or tomorrow.

  83. LadyPhoenix

    This is a case of “You can lead a horse to water, but it won’t drink it” situation.

    She will have to realize sooner or later that working means actually working. If that means she is fired from several jobs until the message hits, so be it. Right now, she probably either has never had a job before or had a job where management dgaf (fast food, some retail).

    Just make sure your butt is covered and let her learn to adult on her own.

    1. Jadelyn

      Where’d you work retail that management dgaf about being on your phone or doing work while you’re on the clock? o.O Wish I’d worked there. My managers in retail jobs were a billion times harsher about things like using my phone, taking a bathroom break that was 0.2 seconds longer than they thought was appropriate, etc. than any manager I’ve had in an office job. You could literally get fired for having your phone out if you were at the register or on the floor – I’d have been walked out on the spot if I had my phone out, my manager told me to put it away, and I didn’t immediately do so.

      My guess is this person has never worked service jobs at all, maybe had an internship or something (where she was one of the slacker interns we hear about from time to time), and is facing a rude adjustment now that she’s joined the workforce.

  84. Lee

    It sounds like your real interest in this is that she is able to pay her rent and that is what you should focus on. I mean, you can give her the benefit of your work experience, if she wants to take it (but it sounds like she doesn’t). Make sure you have the necessary lease agreements in place and that she understands what her responsibilities to you are for the rent. You have to take your own side on this. Finding a way to talk to her so that she doesn’t get upset may not be possible, but when it comes to it you have to make sure that you are protected financially and legally.

  85. KitKat100000

    This may not be the best advice ever, but:
    (1) Don’t listen to her complain anymore
    (2) Let her make her own mistakes
    (3) Start looking for a new roommate for when she is inevitably fired (or quits) and can’t pay the rent
    (4) Don’t waste your time giving her advice that she won’t take
    (5) Be glad you’re not in her position, take a deep breath, and only spend 5 minutes a day (and no more!) thinking about this
    (6) Surround yourself with people that can help you grow professionally
    (7) Coconut water – for hydration and calming
    Best of luck!

    1. AC

      Hello! Thank you for the advice. It has been a difficult and complicated situation to say the least. I have been trying not to dwell on it too much since as of right now she can still pay rent. I have definitely never tried coconut water before, I usually stick to around 60-70 ounces of regular water per day, or attempt to, and usually a cup of tea in the morning.

  86. Noah

    I don’t get the sense that either (1) she is asking for your advice or (2) that you are friends. Keep your opinion to yourself and evict her when her lease is up if you’re worried about her paying bills.

  87. JerryLarryTerryGary

    Seconding everything said already, and adding that she try leaving her phone at home when she goes to work. She’s addicted, can’t self-regulate, and isn’t focusing. Of course her phone is more interesting than work, but employment isn’t optional…

  88. Amylou

    This is a hard one. It’s so difficult to give advice when the other person thinks they’re in the right.

    I had a roommate who complained a loooot about her job. It was an entry-level job with a lot of admin, grunt type work (what a surprise eh?). She complained about a myriad of things, like the “demeaning” tasks, or the fact that she got a warning about being late all the time and not being immediately at her desk at her start time (got in 15 min late she told me after which she spent a while in the office kitchen preparing breakfast). And all this she told me wanting me to agree with her! It was hard to get a word in, let alone any advice (even simple things like “maybe you should be on time” cause we didn’t know each other that well yet). It was sad to see someone almost selfsabotage them out of a job… in the end she got another written warning and things improved (she left the house on time!), probably because she faced some real consequences and they literally said they would fire her if things didn’t improve. And in the end, I think that’s the only way really… if she really doesn’t see it, she doesn’t see it and nothing you can say will make her see otherwise. You can always try but just don’t expect too much.

    And prepare to get a new roommate ;)

    1. Jadelyn

      Some people who ask for advice aren’t really asking for advice – they’re asking you to confirm their pre-existing opinions/beliefs/biases.

    2. Bea

      Yes. She wants validation not advice.

      Thankfully your story involved discipline that worked. Sometimes it takes consequences other times it’s just a lost cause.

  89. SierraSkiing

    General roommate thing: if she does get fired and get financially stressed, do. not. let her pay for a cent of rent with her deposit (presuming you have one). You lose so much leverage if your name is on the lease and you aren’t holding your subletter’s deposit.

    I had a somewhat hippie roommate who left her crystals on the window ledge to recharge under the full moon, but was generally sweet and a good roommate. (Even if she ate nothing but junk food and was in and out of the house at odd hours.) So for our last month, when she asked if she could pay her last month’s rent with her deposit so she could make a deposit on a new lease, I said sure. Then on moveout day, she walked out the door around 11 am, and just… vanished. Didn’t respond to texts, didn’t respond to calls, just left her shit piled up in her room. When we finally went into her room to see if she had packed up, she had LIT CANDLES BURNING ON THE FLOOR IN THE MIDDLE OF THE ROOM. Melting onto the floorboards. We were livid.

    She finally showed up and took her stuff the next morning when the landlord was about to haul it all out and stick it in a locker. I still don’t know what sort of hex she was trying to cast on the apartment… other than burning it down.

    Anyways, deposits. Very important.

    1. Bea

      Deposits are never for back rent!!! That’s for damages and cleaning, you’re lucky to get back half if that given the racket most landlords are running. My heart hurts that you got taken like that but so glad you know not to allow it.

    2. Noah

      In this case, LW owns the house, so if she can do a walk through and determine no damage before her roommate leaves, it seems like not a big deal to use the deposit to pay the rent.

      1. SierraSkiing

        Still, you lose a lot of control if you let someone pay rent with the deposit. If you have the deposit, the person knows that you can withhold some of that if they break the terms of the lease; if you don’t have the deposit, you’d have to haul them to small claims court or something to get them to pay (which might not be worth it for smaller damages.) So it’s important insurance when dealing with a subletter of dubious quality.

  90. Jadelyn

    Someone who’s refusing to put down their phone when their boss outright tells them to, and complains about it later, is not someone who’s going to be open to advice that isn’t “yes you are 100% right and it’s so unfair of your boss to expect you to work while you’re at work!”

    I hate to sound harsh, but I’ve known a few people like that and the only thing that seems to produce real, long-term change is their behavior having Serious Consequences for them. Sometimes even that doesn’t do it – it depends on the person and whether they take getting fired as a wake-up call or reframe it in their head as unjust persecution. I’d probably make the one attempt – next time she brings it up, just flatly say “I’m with your boss on this – pretty much all workplaces expect you to be focused on work when you’re on the clock, not on your phone. You’re probably going to get fired if you keep it up.” And then leave it at that, let the cards fall where they may – and be prepared to find a new roommate when this one gets fired.

    1. LavaLamp

      I think the internet ate my previous comment.

      While this is true I’d ask her if there’s any reason she needs her phone first. In this day and age, diabetes trackers are apps and hearing aids look like wireless headphones so I’d ask her if there’s a reason she needs her phone. If not continue with harsh reality check.

      This reminded me of that letter we had a while back where someone’s boss didn’t get that her phone was also her glucometer, so I can see both sides of this especially because my own boss didn’t understand that my phone was used for medical reasons.

  91. ACDC

    This probably isn’t very helpful given the nature of your dependence on her having an income…BUT I think people like this kind of need to go through an experience (or two, or three) with an employer where they keep getting fired for the same sort of issues so they can finally get a wake up call and improve!

    Again, I realize this does not help at all since you need her to be making money in order to help pay the bills, but just wanted to throw my two cents into the mix.

  92. Sarah N

    Since your roommate asked for advice, I think you can definitely be honest about your experience and say you think the boss sounds perfectly reasonable. But, her behavior is far enough outside of workplace norms that it might be the case that nothing you say will get through to her. That said, you can certainly decide you don’t want to be the designated “You’re the person I’m going to complain to” person. I would be ready with some boring scripts like “Well, you already know we disagree on this, so I’m not the best person to complain to about that one.” etc.

    As far as rent stuff goes, when the lease is up, I might look for a new roommate if this one hasn’t changed.

  93. Elizabeth

    Honestly, I think the bigger offense here is not that she played on her phone, but that she ignored her boss when he told her to stop. Like, who does that? This leads me to believe that she…doesn’t have much chance for improvement, because she is clearly bullheaded and self-absorbed.

    If she genuinely didn’t think it would be a problem to play on her phone all day (that’s a stretch, but okay), then she should have immediately apologized and put it away when her boss told her to. The fact that she continued texting does not say good things about her character to me.

  94. Alienor

    For what it’s worth, I had a job when I was in college where most of the employees were also college students or very recent grads, and there were always a few people who found ways to be constantly distracted from work even without a phone at hand (this was c. 1994 when cell phones existed, but weren’t widespread yet). I often wonder what those people are like in 2018 and whether they ever figured it out.

  95. memyselfandi

    The comments are mostly focused on the phone use, but the OP said the roommate complained that the work was “grunt” work. That is almost a bigger problem. Even when you aren’t just starting out and are in a higher position, everyone has to do some grunt work at some point, and it is valuable to do the grunt work and know how it should be done, so you can supervise the grunters appropriately. That being said, my experience with losing my cell phone taught me just how much I was attached to it. It is a real psychological problem.

    1. Jadelyn

      That depends on how you define “problem” – I think it’s perfectly reasonable to be quite attached to my primary communication device, through which I talk with family and friends, socialize online, keep photos and videos, play games, and use the internet to look up whatever I need without having to wait until I’m back at a computer and just hope I remember what it was.

      That aside, I agree re grunt work in general. I had to remind myself of that when I was stuck doing interminably boring filing at my first couple jobs – it’s a phase you have to get through in order to earn the right to not do the grunt work. And grunt work is still valuable – *someone* needs to do it. So yeah, roommate sounds like that one “ideas guy” in an old letter, who was frustrated because nobody would hire him to sit around and be brilliant at them. (https://www.askamanager.org/2010/11/no-one-will-hire-me-as-their-visionary.html)

  96. bopper

    You could turn it around: “Roomie…imagine that you have hired me to clean your house. You are paying me a salary. But every time you look at me I am texting on my phone. Would you be happy with that? Would you think: “I am not paying you to text, i am paying you to clean? Text on your own time.”

    Tell her: “What people with jobs do is let their friends know that they are working now so can’t text as often. If you want to check your texts for somethign important, do it at lunch or when you go to the bathroom.
    Also, all bosses will be the same. There is no point in switching jobs because of this.”

  97. Colorado

    My advice, offer your advice one time if she asks for it. Otherwise, she has to figure this out on her own.
    I think this came from Ask Amy or Carolyn Hax but I’ve always remembered it. There are only 2 scenarios where I offer advice. 1. If it is asked directly of me. 2. If it is a life threatening situation.

  98. J.B.

    This makes me not miss my days of roommates. Not at all. (Not that mine were that bad, but sharing space.) Of course now I have kids-our circus, our monkeys.

  99. Rainbow Roses

    I haven’t read all the comments yet but I’m afraid my response probably won’t be that nice.

    “Welcome to the real world. They are giving you money to work; not play on your phone all day. You’ve only been there for two weeks and already on their radar as a goof-off. What makes you think you’ll get more prestigious assignments or move up the ladder when you show you can’t even handle grunt work? This is why many companies have a three month probationary period. Believe me, you’re already on your way out.”

  100. Not your coworker

    How about this as a script:
    “You asked for my advice, so I’m going to be blunt: Don’t use your phone at work unless you are on your lunch break or it is necessary for your job. Your boss clearly has a problem with it and feels that you aren’t being productive and are wasting time on your phone. By showing your boss that you aren’t listening when s/he is telling you to get off your phone, you are causing more problems–that shows you are defiant and are projecting a low work ethic. Your boss hired you because s/he had faith in your abilities. The ‘grunt work’ you are complaining about may be what is available now, and if you want to take on bigger and better things you need to do the work is assigned to you and respect your boss’s directive about your phone.”

  101. Technical_Kitty

    You could try “Haha, yeah, that’s what a job is – doing things you are told until you prove you can do more”. Or just say “I would have fired you for being a goof off already so stop playing with your phone”. Honestly I wouldn’t put too much work, it’s not your job to keep her employed.

  102. Yourskrewely

    My advice: next time roommate complains about her boss actually doing his job, say “Then don’t be surprised when – not if – you are fired.” And then change the subject. She knows she is in the wrong, she just doesn’t care.

  103. JSPA

    “That’s why they call it work.”
    “hunh, I’ve never heard of a job where you can text or chat with friends, so I’m not sure why you’re complaining.”
    “You mean when you’re on break?” [repeat, repeat, repeat, with clear incomprehension that she’s using her phone while on the clock.]

    Basically, refuse to even process the idea that someone would be texting at work, while on the clock. Treat it like she’s telling you it was thirty-o-clock in the afternoon, the weather was clamato, and her co-worker was a trillium. She may get the message. She’ll stop talking to you about it, in any case.

  104. RUKiddingMe

    She’s an adult. She’s making choices. She will have to live with the results of those choices and hopefully she will learn from them. No amount of telling her otherwise will likely make a difference.

    She will get fired, at this job or another one (or many) for not doing her job, for ignoring the boss (i.e. insubordination) which is part of learning how to be a grown up. I think though that she will have to just suffer the consequences of her actions.

    Start looking for a new roommate.

  105. Dawn88

    Before you give her advice, remind her you are a HOMEOWNER…otherwise known as her Landlord. You are no slouch, or a fool. You are a proven responsible and accountable person.
    Then (as Alison always suggests) be simple and direct:

    1. Do her Text pals pay her bills? They seem to have no respect for her livelihood.
    2. What if she gets fired for texting? She won’t get unemployment or a reference.
    3. Can she pay her rent to you if she gets fired? Fired means no unemployment.
    4. If she owned a company and was paying wages to a staff that was goofing off (texting) during work hours, would she allow herself to be disrespected and used, and pay the slacker’s wages, taxes and benefits in the process?

    Hopefully that college education gave her the ability to use her brain for more than texting.
    There are many others who would snatch her job in a second, and leave their phone in their car every day. Sounds like logic won’t work, but it’s worth a shot.

  106. Jen

    I would just leave it – in most places these days, you can always find another roommate if she moves back home. this might need to be a hard lesson for her.

  107. Nacho

    My kid brother was like that when he first joined the workforce, not understanding why he couldn’t just not do parts of his job he didn’t like. Eventually he got it down though and now he’s a teacher’s assistant. She’s going to have a hard first year or so, but there’s a good chance that her failures will be good learning experiences for her, and that she’ll shape up eventually. And if she doesn’t, then that’s her problem, not yours.

  108. RickTq

    +1 to giving her 30 day notice to vacate, because she won’t be employed there much longer with that attitude.

  109. Jennifer Juniper

    I’d start looking for another roommate immediately. This woman is going to get fired soon and stick you with the unpaid rent. It’s not your job to babysit her.

  110. Ralph Wiggun

    It sounds like your roommate is seeking validation. So first acknowledge her feelings, or else the conversation is unlikely to be productive. Note that this isn’t the same as agreeing with her perspective; you’re just acknowledging what she’s feeling and that she has a right to feel them.

    Say something like, “It must be frustrating to not be able to text during the day like you’re used to. You’ve been able to text at any time during school, so being told it’s inappropriate now feels unfair.”

    An alternative at this stage is to simply repeat all of her statements back to her matter-of-factly. Either approach typically makes the other person feel listened to and much more receptive to feedback.

    Then follow up with an open-ended question that puts the onus on your roommate to think of this from the employer’s perspective. Make sure to avoid any accusation in your tone when you ask. Treat it as an honest question to ponder.

    Say something like, “How is your boss able to tell if you’re getting your work done if she sees you on the phone a lot?”

    Honestly, it may be fine to text on the job… as long as she doesn’t offend clients, or has a clear way to be accountable to her bosses, or whatever the issue may be. Or maybe alternatives aren’t possible, and your roommate will come to realize that through this kind of conversation. Either way, it changes her mindset into solving the problem rather than complaining about it, and she’ll feel ownership of the solution because she came up with it.

    Good luck.

    This approach is heavily influenced by the books “How to Talk so Kids will Listen and Listen so Kids will Talk” and “Never Split the Difference.”

  111. chickaletta

    Ugh. That sucks. The comments here are harsh. Easier to tell someone to kick out their roommate than to actually have do it.

    Things you can do:
    – Lead by example. Talk about your job in a matter-of-fact way (save complaints for a different audience). Mention the boring grunt work you do at your own job. “I made copies of all the handouts for everyone at the meeting and then I filed the papers from last week, so it was nice to get that done”. If your roommate texts you during the day, don’t respond until your lunch break or until you get home. Or throw in how you respond to personal calls and texts at work like, “James texted me this morining about going out on Friday night, so now that I’m home I think I’ll write back to let him know that 7pm sounds good.” Etc.

    -Sympathise but encourage her. Let her know that yeah, it does suck to have your boss on your case, being asked to do basic office tasks that aren’t really fun, and having to wait to respond to your friend’s text. But let her know that’s life and if she buckels down she’ll do well and maybe even start liking her job better. Maybe give her some tactics, like if she has a friends who texts a lot she can let that person know that she’ll respond to the texts during her lunch break. Or if she’s sick of making copies, let her know that most people start off in roles doing that and even managers make copies of things.

    Finally, have a back up plan for how you’ll handle things if worst comes to worst and she loses her job and doesn’t pay rent for a couple months. Just knowing that you have a plan in place will help put your mind at ease a little bit.

  112. wondrous

    Woof. If she just graduated from college, has she ever worked a job in an office before, or is this literally her first job ever in her life? At first I was thinking if she’s just only ever worked small summer jobs, and ones that were really lax/low-effort/had a boss that didn’t really care that much before, so maybe it would be helpful to emphasize office norms in case she’s really not making that leap in noticing the different environments.

    If this is her first job period, that might be a lot harder. I think chickaletta’s advice is really great as well

  113. henrietta pussycat

    I honestly feel this is something that the OP cannot teach her roommate. Roommate has to learn it herself. I was fortunate that I had several internships before I really entered the work world, so all my bad behavior got ironed out during those situations. I cringe when I think about how I acted, but it really helped me learn how to act at a job. This is most likely something she’s going to learn herself, as I said, because anything you say to her will seem ridiculous (even if it’s not).

  114. Les

    My advice is more to the letter writer — if your agreement with your flatmate isn’t in writing and doesn’t include the consequences of not paying the rent, you would want to correct that quickly.
    The only thing you may be able to tell her is that if she can’t pay the rent, she can’t stay with you.
    And that she’ll need to start planning for that.

  115. Burnett

    Yeah, OP this isn’t your lesson to teach her. If you don’t have a lease agreement with her in writing, I’d get one set up now. You don’t technically have a roommate – you have a tenant, and she has rights that will keep you from evicting her right away if she doesn’t pay the rent you expect her to.

    You aren’t her parent. If she asks you for advice, you’re welcome to give it, of course, but it’s not your job to fix her.

    1. CM

      +1 to this.

      I don’t think there’s anything to be gained from being her career counselor. If the issue’s just that it’s annoying to talk about it, it’s totally cool to say you don’t want to talk about it anymore. If the issue is that you’re worried about rent, then make sure you know what happens legally if she can’t pay rent and make a plan for what you will do.

  116. Cucumberzucchini

    I’m a little late to this party but I have some roommate suggestions as I have had A LOT of terrible roommates.

    Trash – If she’s not taking it out, she never will. I never found a way to get a non-trash taker outer to take out trash. I once put a bag of trash in front of the bedroom door of a roommate who NEVER took the trash out and she moved the trash bag to my bedroom door.

    Dishes – Get some type of cabinet lock, and locks up all the dishes. She can go buy disposable or her own dishes. If she doesn’t clean them tell her she has a day to clean them or you’re throwing them away. Okay don’t really do that, just fantasize about it. I would still lock up your own dishes. She can figure out her own dishwate situation.

    General advice – Remove the television from the common area until you get a new roommate. I did this with a roommate that worked from home and I didn’t want her nesting in the living room. She had a tv in her room and it at least helped keep the mess in her space and not the common area. I would also cancel the cable unless it’s in your lease that you’ll have it. Living with you shouldn’t be fun to help encourage her to move out. If you can afford it, hire a cleaning person to give you a little break until she moves out. It’ll help you feel a little less aggravated.

    Other things I have done/had happen: put deadbolts on bedrooms doors, locked up toilet paper, cleaned roommate’s private bathrooms because I couldn’t take it anymore, rented a uhaul to take all the garbage and detritus to the dumpster after one hoarderesque roommate moved out, discovered a hair dye stain on the back of my couch, had my roommate’s boyfriend steal my laptop and wallet and had a roommate that was behind on their rent by three months move out in the middle of the night (blessing in disguise).

  117. Trek

    Ask roommate if she has a ninety day probationary period. Then ask if she understands that she can be terminated during that time without the normal process. She may not receive multiple write ups just a few conversations I.e stay off your phone and then they will terminate.

  118. Rapture

    This mobile phone use-glued to people’s hands, sounds a bit like a generational thing… possibly, a really bad habit, fear of missing out, but still, any employer will tell her off for having that phone out and being on it. I don’t want to be paying someone to work only to have them fiddling on their phone. Any articles she could be given to read? Third person relaying the same info might get across better…
    ===just a concern of mine, I understand the comments about not having your phone on you when dealing with peoples banking info, same could be said with medical, insurance call centres and such, what do parents do? They must be easily and quickly contactable in case of emergency with their children at all times. How is that managed? I think immediate termination of the guy waiting for the imminent birth of the baby getting fired was over the top, miles over the top. There isn’t mention of alternative arrangements like a clear line of contact in case of family emergencies etc…

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