my coworker is telling everyone he wants to ask me out, should I admit I had a nose job, and more

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

1. My coworker, who might be in junior high, is telling everyone he likes me and plans to ask me out

I work for a large company, and my job involves interacting with many departments. One man at the company, “John,” has apparently told several of our colleagues — who are also good friends of mine outside of work — that he intends to ask me out. These friends have all separately come to me and told me about this.

I’m not interested in dating John, which is awkward enough — but I now feel especially awkward about the whole thing, given that he’s told so many people about his crush on me. If he had just come to me and asked me out privately, I would have turned him down gently, and it may have been a bit strange working with him for a bit, but probably fine in the end.

But the fact that he’s involved so many people already in this makes me extremely self-conscious and, frankly, pretty annoyed at him for acting like our workplace is a high school cafeteria. I know he’s gearing up to ask soon — I saw him at work the other day and he mentioned something about a “big question” he needs to ask me — and I’m not sure how to handle it. When I turn him down, should I also mention my annoyance that he involved half the office in this? Tell him that it was inappropriate? I’m a little afraid that he’s going to turn around and broadcast the rejection to everyone – and I don’t want him to do this again with another woman at work in the future. But I also don’t want to overreact and feed into this (admittedly minor) drama.

I don’t have a problem with someone asking out a coworker — I just don’t want it broadcast all over the office!

Oh my goodness. He told you he has a “big question” he needs to ask you? This would be weird even for a nervous high schooler asking someone to prom. (Also, he’s really raising the stakes for himself with all this drama.)

Anyway … ick. As a counterweight to how much drama he has brought to this, it might be effective to keep your rejection as simple and matter of fact as possible — just “No, thank you.” That said, there is an argument for telling him he’s behaved inappropriately and that it’s been unwelcome and has made you uncomfortable. And if you’re comfortable with that and want to do it, please do — I just don’t want you to feel obligated if you’d rather not take it on, because it’s not your job to teach him to behave like a respectful adult. (But it’s very much your prerogative to ask your employer to handle that, if you want to have a word with his manager or HR. You’re absolutely entitled to tell them that you don’t want this guy making his desire to date you a topic at work and to expect them to shut it down from there.)

My bigger worry is how he’s going to react after you turn him down. If he’s moping around, hassling you about why you said no, or asking friends to urge you to reconsider, or otherwise making it A Thing in your office, that’s head-to-HR territory. He can have all the feelings he wants, but he needs to keep them to himself and not make things awkward or uncomfortable for you.

2. Should I admit my nose job to coworkers?

Due to an accident a few months ago, I broke my nose and now need to get internal surgery on my nose (specifically the septum). However, I’ve always been unhappy with how my nose looks, so while I’m under anesthesia and in the OR, I’m going to have rhinoplasty done as well. My boss and team are aware of the impending surgery and wishing me the best. It shouldn’t keep me out of work for long, so I was simply not going to tell anyone else that I was having surgery and let them just think I’m out of the office for vacation or something.

However, I anticipate my nose looking quite different as I currently have a rather large bump on the bridge of it. I’ve been at this job for four and a half years, so I feel pretty confident that my coworkers in other departments will notice the change in my face! I’m nervous about navigating comments about looking different. It’s part of my office culture to be nosy (no pun intended), so I’m not sure if I should embrace and admit I had plastic surgery or just brush it off. For example, if I get asked “Is that a new nose?” I could smile and say “Yep, sure is!” Or shrug and say “Just a new haircut.” (I’m sure there are some better responses though!) I don’t want my responses, or the fact that I’m getting plastic surgery, to reflect badly on me or my professionalism. What would be the best course of action?

I think it depends on how obvious the change is and what your comfort level is in talking about it. If the change is really noticeable, it might be weirder to attribute it to a haircut, and you risk it becoming more interesting to people if you’re denying something obvious. But you actually have a really easy fall-back here — you can truthfully explain that you broke your nose a few months ago and recently had surgery on it. People can fill in any blanks from there on their own, without you needing to get whether or not you tacked on a cosmetic adjustment as well.

(In fact, “I had surgery to repair a deviated septum” and similar explanations are pretty popular for nose jobs, exactly because they let you acknowledge the change without having to deal with people’s weird feelings about cosmetic surgery.)

Read an update to this letter here.

3. My boss keeps changing my schedule and not telling me

My boss keeps changing my scheduled work hours on the fly, sometimes even forgetting to tell me about it, and it’s driving me crazy. When I get to work, I have scheduled my life so that I leave approximately when my scheduled shift ends. I don’t mind staying a bit to wrap things up every so often if there is an unexpected project, and often do so. However, if I am scheduled until 4, my boss will often say, “you can stay until 6?” It sounds like it’s a question, but it’s not. And there are passive aggressive remarks if I say I can’t stay.

Earlier this month, I came in for extra work that my boss had been worried about. When I got there, first thing, we agreed on the time I would leave. Eight hours later, I had everything on her list completed and went to leave at the agreed upon time, but my boss said, “oh, but I scheduled you for another half hour. So you will need to stay late on tomorrow to make it up.”

I enjoy my work. I want to be a team player; if someone is sick or on vacation, I cover, I help out at busy times of year, etc. But I have night school and have older relatives I help care for—in fact, I was hired because I am in school to become professionally regulated, so they are well aware I have firm commitments. My superiors know when they will be working months in advance, yet I have to fight for even minimally advanced notice. Even if I didn’t have a quote-unquote good excuse to not stay into the evening at the drop of a hat, it doesn’t seem right. It feels like my workplace doesn’t consider me a full person.

This field is also not normally part of a culture of overtime similar to, say, young doctors and law students. Up to this point, I’ve kept neutral, factual reminders like, “Oh, I was going by the posted schedule, is there new information i should be aware of?” and “I am happy to stay, but I need advance notice” on the tip of my tongue, but nothing sinks in. How can I get some balance in my life?

You’re going to have to be more direct and more assertive about it: “Because I have night school and older family members I care for, I’ll no longer be able to change my schedule at the last minute and will need to leave at the end of my scheduled shift, unless it’s something we’ve worked out ahead of time. I wanted to let you know so that you’re not counting on me staying later than scheduled on the fly from now on.”

And then if you’re asked to stay late and you don’t want to do it, you say, “Sorry, I can’t! I need to leave right at the end of my scheduled shift because I have a commitment afterwards.”

After you do this a few times, if you get the sense that your boss is upset by this, address that head-on: “I’ve gotten the sense that you’ve been concerned when I haven’t been able to work later than my scheduled shifts. Can we hash out exactly what you expect of me in that regard and what I’m able to do so that we’re on the same page?”

Ultimately if she says that you need to be available for longer shifts with no notice, then (a) that’s unreasonable, but (b) you’ll have to decide if you want the job under those conditions (or if you’re willing to just keep refusing and deal with whatever results from that, which could be anything from annoyed resignation to firing you over it).

4. We’re required to pay for our own celebration, even if we don’t attend

I wanted to get your take on something that’s been going on at the company I work at. I work as an actuary. To obtain the highest designation of Fellow of the Society of Actuaries, a person must complete several exams, which often take five or more years. People complete these exams while employed and companies will provide funds to use for study material and paid time off to use for studying. If a person fails their exams repeatedly, they may be removed from their job. Every six months, my company hosts an “exam results party.” Anyone may attend, whether you passed or failed, but the intention of the party is to celebrate those who have passed. Those who passed their exam are asked to contribute $85 (regardless of whether they intend to go to the party). Those who failed do not need to pay in order to attend. I say that they’re “asked,” but the reality is that we’re “told” to pay. The last time an email was circulated, it said “please pay Susan and Marcus the following…[with an explanation of the amounts of be paid].”

Everyone pays the money and it’s very clear that it’s “expected” rather than being asked for. For example, one year I passed two exams and was told that I’d need to pay $170 instead of $85. My face dropped in shock, and the person said, “Yeah, sorry, that’s just how it is.” Am I wrong for thinking that it’s inappropriate that this is presented to employees as a “required” payment? Most people here aren’t comfortable with causing trouble, so they just accept it and pay. Am I wrong for thinking it’s also weird that employees are paying for their own party?

It’s not necessarily outrageous that people are paying for their own parties (I mean, it’s a little weird, but that’s a thing at some places), but it’s completely bizarre that it’s a requirement and that you can’t opt out, and it’s even weirder that you’re charged double if you pass two exams.

I wonder if this got miscommunicated somewhere along the way — like someone decided the honorees should pay if they wanted a celebration and somehow that got misunderstood by an admin as “they must pay.”

Ideally you and others would just refuse, saying something like, “I appreciate the offer, but it’s not in my budget so I’m not going to attend.” And then if you’re told you have to pay anyway, you’d say, “That seems weird — why would I be charged for a party I’m not attending? I think there must be a misunderstanding somewhere, but regardless this isn’t an expense I want to take on, so I’ll need to pass.” You could add, “If this is a business requirement, the company should be covering it. If it’s not a business requirement, then I’ll decline.”

5. Is this rejection email rubbing salt in the wound?

I interviewed for a job a few days back for a company I was introduced to during an industry networking event. I felt that the interview went very well and afterward they said they would be making a decision within a few days. I was prepared to play the waiting game until three hours later I got this email:

“Hi All: Firstly, we wanted to take the time to thank you for meeting with us. We wanted to get back with everyone ASAP, so they would not be dwelling on this all weekend. We had a really great group of candidates and all of you would be a valuable addition to our team. We did have one candidate that was truly overqualified and had a skill set above what we were looking for. We have offered them the position and they have accepted. We will keep all of your resumes on file for future. We are growing and will need more help in time. We wish you all the very best and again thank you so much for meeting with us!”

I was understandably disappointed since this would have greatly improved my circumstances (higher pay, new experience in the industry, etc.) but what I can’t seem to shake off is the insulting nature of this email. “Not only are we not hiring you but we will openly praise and stress how excited we are about the winner!” I know it sounds childish, but honestly I feel discouraged by this whole situation. I guess my question is, is it normal for hiring managers to rub salt in the wounds during a rejection email?

I actually think it’s a pretty nice email! It’s very normal for an employer to explain that they went with someone who was unusually qualified or a particularly strong match. It’s not generally considered rubbing salt in the wound; it’s intended as an explanation — “you were good, but the competition was strong.” They’re trying to say “it’s not that you weren’t great, but just that someone else was unusually outstanding.” I suspect that because you’re disappointed, you’re taking the email more personally than you should.

The thing that’s a little unusual here is that you got this email only three hours after your interview, but it’s possible that you were their final interview, they made an offer right afterwards, and it was accepted on the spot.

{ 609 comments… read them below }

  1. DArcy*

    OP #1, is “John” actually close to any of these people he’s telling he wants to ask you out? Because it really sounds to me like he’s being socially manipulative and intentionally trying to put you in an uncomfortable drama position if you say no. It’s a HUGE red flag and you should probably start documenting all interactions with him in case he escalates further and you need to take things to HR.

      1. AnnaBananna*

        I concur with your agreement.

        I was reading this and sat back thinking ‘he’s AWFULLY confident about this’. I wanted to give him some slack – because hey, they’re his friend too. But I can totally see this almost like the rumor in high school that there’s going to be a fight in the parking lot, waiting for the rumor to get to the victim to build suspense so the perpetrator has a larger audience for the fight. And that’s when I thought ‘wow, he’s pretty confident this is going to go in his favor’. And the only reason I could think of why was because simply telling him no wasn’t going to dissuade him.

        LW, if you’re not actually friends with him, give him a simple ‘thanks but no thanks’ in a public setting, and limit your interactions with him as much as possible.

        1. Annonymouse*

          I got the read that the friends were giving her the heads up of “dude is into you, has told us he wants to ask you out. It’s kinda weird. And if he is acting strange that’s why.”

          This is a crap deal because you have to be all polite and professional around his created awkwardness until he finally asks you out so you can reject him.

          1. PersonalJeebus*

            I actually came here to say the OP does NOT have to wait around and endure this awkwardness/dread until he finally decides to make his move. He has openly spread the information around, and she is under no obligation to pretend she doesn’t have it. She can act on it now, or at any time. Return awkwardness to sender, express mail!

            OP1, right now John is choreographing this situation entirely according to his own wishes and comfort level. Everything is on his terms and his timeline, with you at his mercy. But you don’t actually have to keep spending every workday anticipating his next move, letting him save face at the expense of your peace. Tell him to knock it off. Things will probably be awkward afterwards, but they’re going to be awkward anyway, so you might as well advance them to the next stage of awkwardness. Go ahead and end this if you want to. And document. Inform your HR and/or coworkers that you plan to address the issue directly with John (meaning you are going to tell him a) you’re not interested in dating him and b) you want him not to discuss you in a romantic light at work anymore). Then inform them afterwards of what you said and how he responded. You don’t have to have the conversation in front of others if you don’t feel unsafe/prefer to do it quietly, but I recommend keeping someone else in the loop; you are not obligated to protect John’s privacy or dignity when he has already laid his feelings and intentions out for everyone to see.

            Not everyone would take my “at dawn we ride” approach, and I get that, but know that you’re within your rights to do so!

            1. GlitsyGus*

              I’m actually with you on this. My instinct here would be to take the ball into my own court. You don’t need to be confrontational, but just go up to him and say, “hey John, a couple of people have told me you mentioned something to them about asking me out. Before this goes any further I just wanted to let you know that, while I’m glad you think highly of me, I’m not interested in dating, so please don’t ask. I hope this won’t cause any undue awkwardness, but there are no hard feelings on my part.”

              Just rip off the Band Aid and get it out there. If he blusters about how he doesn’t know what you’re talking about? “Oh, ok, great, they must have misunderstood. I’m glad we’re on the same page here.” and let him have the cover story. If he doesn’t let it go, then head over to HR.

    1. OhNoes*

      Agree. I am really worried the event is going end with several well-meaning colleagues going up to OP1 and saying, “BUT HE IS TRYING SO HARD JUST GIVE HIM A CHANCE.”Oh GOD that would be so annoying.

      1. MassMatt*

        I was thinking about this possibility too. He might simply be immature or inordinately fearful about asking someone out, but it’s likely that the people he told are recruits for pressuring you to say yes.

        I would try to keep in mind any awkwardness around this is HIS fault, he got all these other people involved.

        I also recommend visiting Captain Awkward’s site, she has many scripts for dealing with exactly this sitiuation.

        1. Kathy*

          I would bet that John sees himself as a “Nice Guy” and by that I don’t mean an actual nice guy.

          1. It's Business Time*

            That is my thought as well – sounds like a “Nice Guy”, hopefully once you tell him no, he doesn’t go full nice guy on you.

        2. AKchic*

          Manipulative people like to pose as the Socially Awkward NiceGuy and socially engineer this exact thing in order to pressure people into saying yes before they actually even ask the question. They get other people to do their campaigning for them because “he is such a nice guy” “he’s so awkward and sweet” “he’s so shy, why don’t you just give him a chance!”, etc.

          Being socially awkward doesn’t mean “I get to campaign and do whatever I want in order to get what I want”. Usually, being socially awkward means that people are more aware of social norms and will do whatever possible to avoid embarrassing others and themselves. They are hypervigilant about it. This isn’t socially awkward NiceGuy. This is manipulation masquerading as Socially Awkward. This is something else.

      2. Gigi*

        OP mentioned this guy has been stating his intentions to people who are her friends. I really hope they don’t try to guilt her into ‘giving him a chance’ (don’t get me started on how I feel about women being thus treated allllll the time) but if they do, I’d respond harshly. This is your place of work and you should not have to ward off romantic attempts or worry about what happens when you do. Turn him down and if there’s any kind of retaliation or pressuring after, immediately involve your manager and HR.

        1. samiratou*

          I agree with this. If he (or anyone) pushes back, I don’t think I’d be able to stop myself from being all “Have you learned NOTHING from the MeToo movement and increased awareness around how women are treated? THIS KIND OF SHIT IS EXACTLY WHAT WE’VE BEEN TALKING ABOUT. STAHP. NOW.”

        2. Susana*

          I don’t know that we should presume he will behave badly/angrily/whatever. Definitely, he’s behaving badly now – at least, immaturely, which is enough of a reason to say no.
          The “give him a chance” thing isn’t, unfortunately, a workplace-specific issue. It’s so common in life – a guy wants to date you, you just aren’t into him, but are told (by women and men alike) to “give him a chance,” like he’s a recent college grad applying for a new job. Not only does that undermine women – like were’ not people with our own views, but pets in a cage at the ASPCA, waiting for someone to pick us – but for boys and men, it fuels the falsity that “getting” the girl or woman is about being persistent.
          But seriously, let’s not assume he’ll end up harassing her. He may just be awkward and immature, and a direct “no” will make it go away.

          1. Jadelyn*

            I don’t think it’s so much about assuming he’ll harass her, as it is noting that there’s a pattern that frequently shows up in situations like this and being aware of it as a possibility ahead of time so that OP isn’t blindsided by it if it happens.

            1. RUKiddingMe*

              This. It is such a common thing that OP will be well served to expect it. If it doesn’t happen then it’s a pleasant surprise.

          2. Student*

            From my life experiences, I’ve learned that it’s a pretty safe bet to assume a man will respond badly to a romantic rejection from a woman.

            1. RUKiddingMe*

              Likewise. I’ve been thinking about this off and on all day and honestly I can’t recall a male who ever didn’t react badly to being told “no.” Not just about dates and such but pretty much in every circumstance where he (any he) wanted something and the answer was “no” it wasn’t take well/there was a bad reaction to hearing it.

              1. Vicky Austin*

                I’ve turned down some guys who wanted to date me or be more than friends, and while they were obviously disappointed, they accepted my decision and didn’t give me a hard time about it.

              2. Tiny Soprano*

                It’s one of those situations where I think it’s better to expect the worst and then if they behave like a reasonable adult it’s a pleasant surprise.

          3. Boop*

            “but for boys and men, it fuels the falsity that “getting” the girl or woman is about being persistent.”

            The Myth of Gumption.

          4. PennyParker*

            He is already harassing her with his current actions. The only question is how far he will take it. If I were her I would start documenting everything anyone said to me about him expressing a desire to have a personal relationship with me. And, then if he did not stop when asked (which I doubt he will) then I would take all of the names and dates and statement right to HR. This behavior is unacceptable.

        3. Michaela Westen*

          I think manager and HR should be informed now. It hadn’t occurred to me it’s deliberate manipulation but if so, all the more reason!
          Whether he’s clueless, needy and immature or manipulative (and this level of manipulation could indicate an abusive controlling personality IMO), management needs to know either way.
          I was once in a job where a creepy, needy file clerk had eyes for me and was always trying to get personal. Not specifically in a sexual way, but it was clear he wanted to spend time with me outside of work.
          He was such a mess, like a 2-year-old in a man’s body. I felt sorry for him. I didn’t say anything to management for 2 years, until he transferred into my group at the same time my excellent manager retired.
          My new manager was a chauvinist who didn’t understand the technical work I was doing. When I asked him for help with the clerk’s inappropriate behavior he fired me and the man I had worked with and supported for 2 years did not have my back. :( I had done brilliant work for them, saved them a fortune in consulting, always got outstanding evaluations, and it meant nothing. I’m scarred for life and I’ll never assume the best of an employer again.
          So I think OP needs to let manager and HR know now, and document both retroactively and going forward as much as possible. Make a log of who has mentioned this and when and what they said, and of course any emails or texts about this.

        4. RedPsycho*

          I would expect her friends to shut it down. If this guy wants to act like he’s in high school, why not take the high school response and have your friends preemptively tell him your not interested?

          I don’t actually think this is a good idea but I would be oh so tempted.

      3. MusicWithRocksInIt*

        Ugh. This happened to a good friend of mine. The coworker that had a crush on her never approached her directly, just recruited older female coworkers into trying to talk her into a date. She was constantly bothered by people in this pool trying to convince her to give him a chance, then when she did have to interact with him things were 100x more awkward because she knew he wanted to date her but had never said anything directly to her for her to turn down.

        To me this is the most annoying High School behavior, when someone approaches you and asks you out on behalf of a friend. It drove me NUTS. It also happened a lot, so maybe I was unapproachable? But I always responded with “If your friend wants to ask me out he can do it himself” and spoiler alert: they never did and I have no regrets.

        I would say 100% go to HR and let them know how uncomfortable this is making you. Who knows, maybe he’s done this before and they can take action against a troublesome pattern. And if anyone approaches you to try to pressure you into going out with them, ask them to stop point blank and say it is making you uncomfortable.

        1. Blue Eagle*

          Don’t know if this will work, but how about taking a proactive approach and finding a way to be able to talk with him (in whatever way is least awkward for you) and mentioning that you do not date co-workers. Not exactly sure how to work this into a conversation without it seeming to be the main point of the talk with him, but that is what I would try to do.

          Or in the alternative be high school back, whenever anyone mentions what he said to you, tell them to mention back to him that you don’t date co-workers.

          My main point here being – don’t let him take your power away by waiting for him to say something, get your message across to him on your terms. At least that way you won’t have to continue to worry about when he is going to approach you.

          1. sigh*

            I’m with Blue Eagle. Nip this in the bud before he has the time to infomany more people of his “intentions”
            I’d go with “I’ve heard from several people that you want to ask me out. I’m not interested. Please stop discussing this with others, it’s making me uncomfortable.”

            1. Michelle*

              I was also thinking she should tell him that she doesn’t date coworkers before he asks, assuming that she would be comfortable doing that. If not go with option 2 and say you don’t date coworkers whens someone mentions his intention to ask you out.

              1. Sabine the Very Mean*

                And in response to, “I have a big question to ask you!” (which is bizarre as can be), I’d say, “is it about work? Otherwise I’m not interested”.

                1. RedPsycho*

                  I found that bizzare too. Why is he beating around the bush and making it a big deal. Just ask the damn question. This is what makes me think it’s a manipulation tactic.

              2. Terra C*

                The “don’t date coworkers” line leaves open further issues best to avoid. Next week OP may
                Meet another coworker they DO want to date. And also, to someone stalkery or immature, it can say to them “go out of your way to show her it would be OK to break that rule.” In all cases OP should firmly state lack
                Of interest. Polite if possible, but otherwise whatever makes it clear 100% that nothing’s going to happen, period.

                1. JellyBean*

                  I don’t like the “don’t date coworkers” line either, though my reasoning was more along the lines of what if he actually tries to get her fired or do things to make her want to find employment elsewhere so that they can then date?

                  I can see some guys interpreting “I don’t date coworkers” as “I’d love to date you when we are no longer working for the same company.”

                2. snuck*

                  I don’t like “don’t date coworkers” either… There’s lots of … hooks on that one.

                  I’m agreeing with the others… this sounds all very highschool and … pressured.

                  “Hey John, you’ve alluded to me you want to ask a question… what is it?” next time he hints at it. And if he stalls/delays respond/makes it personal/asks on a date… hit it head on “Oh dear John, I do hope you aren’t confusing us… I think you are great to work with but I’m sorry, I have no interest in you personally. Let’s get back to work huh?” and if he pushes again/asks how he can change it … shrug and say “I just don’t feel that way about you and it won’t change” and WALK OFF.

                  If he persists. HR time. Stat. Document everything between now and then.

            2. Essess*

              That’s exactly what I had to do with a co-worker. He constantly went around telling people that he wanted to take me on his next vacation, and other comments about wanting to take me out places (seriously, not joking around). I was (and still am) married and it was grossly inappropriate. I went directly to him and said that it had gotten back to me that he was making these comments to our coworkers and it was not appropriate, especially in the work place, and he was making me very uncomfortable and it needed to stop. Fortunately, he stopped.

            3. RUKiddingMe*

              “I didn’t say that.” “They misunderstood.” “I don’t want to go out with you.” “I would never ask you out.” “Conceited bitch.”

              1. sigh*

                Look we’re screwed either way. If we accept the proposal and it doesn’t work, because we weren’t interested to begin with, we’re the office bitch. If we don’t put a firm end to it we’re leading them on and it won’t stop. If we end it directly, we’re a bitch. I’d rather be the bitch without a stalker, personally.

              2. AKchic*

                “Then you’ll go to HR with me and report their behavior? Because, frankly, I’m a little unnerved about the interest and discussion by so many people in trying to get us coupled up, and I would assume you’re just as put off by it.”

            4. PersonalJeebus*

              Yes. And don’t tell him it’s about a “no dating coworkers” policy. Be clear that the rejection is of him specifically and permanently, so that he can’t try to debate around it, or god forbid come back like “we can date now!” if he leaves the company.

              I would just get it over with now. Right now the OP is going to work every day feeling, “this guy is after me.” Nuh uh, dude. I’m after YOU. I’m coming for you with my humorless frigidity.

          2. Rusty Shackelford*

            Or in the alternative be high school back, whenever anyone mentions what he said to you, tell them to mention back to him that you don’t date co-workers.

            Oh heck yeah. This has the advantage of hopefully making it unnecessary for you to speak to him at all.

            “Bob says he’s going to ask you out.”
            “Oh, I hope he doesn’t. I won’t go out with him, and it would probably be uncomfortable for both of us if he asked.”

            1. Steve*

              I was thinking exactly this. High school silliness (talking via a third party) would be addressed by me immediately by the same third party. Often a low-stakes way of approaching someone is to ask a mutual friend (“Would our friend be interested in hanging out with me?”) and I don’t have an issue with it, but this guy is talking with a lot of people. I would have been tempted to shut it down with the first person, by asking them to convey my lack of interest, and if a second person brought it up I would have spoken to him directly. He’s setting himself up for a really painful rejection.

          3. Susana*

            No, no, no. That then limits the OP, who may very well want to date a co-worker at some point. Same goes for “I have a boyfriend,” which just makes him think he lost a property dispute. “Letting him down easy” with a lie actually demeans OP.

            1. Decima Dewey*

              When a patron hit on me, back in the day, my reply was “I’m seeing someone.” Yeah, the syntax was rotten, but from my desk I could see Fergus, Jane, Lucinda….

            2. DreamingInPurple*

              +1000. You are allowed to say no because you want to say no; there doesn’t have to be a reason why. Giving a reason just opens opportunities for the would-be suitor to complain about “fairness” (ugh) down the road.

              1. Clorinda*

                Fairness (ugh): I agree 100%. A woman is not a cookie. But the sad truth is, sometimes the unavoidable outside reason (can’t date coworkers, already involved) takes the edge off the reaction to the NO.

                1. Clorinda*

                  For her own protection. She obviously feels weirded out by this or she wouldn’t have written in. I’m a hard NO person myself but would not judge a woman who just wants to move past the situation as smoothly as possible. We can all make the choices that seem wisest to us.

                2. PersonalJeebus*

                  But the problem is, those reasons aren’t permanently unavoidable. This guy may not always be her coworker, and if she is currently in a relationship, she may become single. Then she’ll just have to come up with a new/firmer reason if he tries again. With people you have to see daily or with whom you have an ongoing interaction, it’s better just to say you aren’t interested.

              2. Jadelyn*

                As true as that is – and believe me, I agree with you 1000% and it grates on me that women can’t just say “I don’t want to” without the peanut gallery popping up to demand justification – there’s what you have the moral and ethical right to do (saying no without having to justify it), and then there’s what will get you out of a situation fastest, and those two aren’t always the same thing.

                I just don’t want this to get into the blaming territory of “if you don’t stand up for All Womankind by Just Saying No, and instead rely on social evasions to sidestep it, you’re Perpetuating The Problem.” Because I’ve seen that happen before.

                1. AK*

                  Agreed! She certainly doesn’t owe him an explanation, but I judge no one for taking an easy way out of a situation they shouldn’t be in. I get the whole “Don’t say you have a boyfriend, your wants matter regardless” thing, but not every one has the energy to fight the good fight every day, and sometimes you have to err on taking the safest way out, even if that means not standing up for yourself. I also hate the blanket-ness of these things. I get the point that my refusal in and of itself should be reason enough, but I can damn well use “I have a boyfriend” if I want to! I’ve been taken to task for using that phrase before when it was the actual reason – i.e. I would indeed have been interested and wanted to go out with said person, were I not already attached. I get the underlying principle, but the immediate chorus of “No, don’t use an easy line!” is sometimes besides the point. As for using the excuse that she doesn’t date coworkers potentially limiting her in the future? Well, the same line of thinking goes for “I changed my mind!”: it doesn’t need further justification, she’s allowed to do that too!

                2. Susana*

                  That is also true, Jadelyn – I would also not judge OP for giving an excuse. It just gals me that we have to do that. Ironically, I’m more likely to offer a lame excuse when the person is pretty nice and asking nicely, but I just don’t feel it.
                  But you gotta do what you gotta do, even if it means undermining the sisterhood . I* feel this way about the recent news… I mean, ideally, it would be great if all victims of sexual assault and harassment stepped up, named names, etc. But we’ve seen what happens to people who do… and I can’t ask any woman (or man) to go through that.

                3. RUKiddingMe*


                  I can sit here typing all day about how this or that should be XYZ and how a woman should just say ‘no’ and nothing else, blah, blah, blah. However, like most of the rest of the women commenters, I have been in that situation more times than I care to remember and the lessons of my life tell me to just get away safely —however that needs to be achieved.

                  I am not a representative of “all womankind” and can’t be expected to act a certain way in the name of the sisterhood so despite my very radical feminist ideals and feelings about what should/shouldn’t be I advise all woman to do whatever they need to do in a given situation.

                  Someone else said that not everyone can fight the good fight all the time…this is so true. Sometimes, because the good fight is so, so, so hard, and apparently never ending, one just has to take a day off and do something that makes their life a little easier. If “I have a boyfriend” achieves that, despite how totally fucked up it is to need to say it, I say go for it.

                4. Mookie*

                  Yep. I like using that ‘excuse’ because it’s comfortable and easy for me, but women should never feel obligated to do this because a man’s feelings matter more than hers. I’m not into Choosing My Choice, “my actions have no consequences”-style feminism; I prefer my default but I hope it doesn’t make other women’s lives worse in order for me to make it, and if it does, I’m willing to part with it. I don’t like creating or contributing to a culture that makes women into Date Material.

              3. MystikSpiral*

                I also wish we could drop the “I’m sorry” or “Thank you” when turning someone down. Just say no. You didn’t do anything you need to apologize for, and it isn’t a favor when someone asks you out.

          4. RUKiddingMe*

            If we’re gonna go all high school and all…

            She could just write on a piece of paper:

            “Does OP like/want to go out with John? Check yes or no.”

            Then have a “yes” and “no” box with a check mark by “no” and put it on his desk.

          5. clao*

            Getting HER to talk to HIM is exactly what this guy wants. I advise against letting herself being manipulated into it.

            OP, under any circumstance approach this person and address this with them head on. I have a feeling that he in fact, will never actually ask you out, because he is afraid of the rejection. Let this work on your favor. If he ever ask, say a simple “No, thanks”, but in the meantime you can tell you incredibly oblivious coworkers to never mention this to you again.
            -He wants to date you!
            -Well he hasn’t asked so how am I supposed to know? Also please drop this subject forever, kthnksbye. (Also avoid rejecting him by proxy, or communicating your coworkers of your potential decision, as this is also falling into his manipulation tactic)

          6. GreenDoor*

            But the problem with this is twofold…One, the OP would be just as high-school-ish by passively dealing with by using co-workers to spread the word. But also, right now, he’s got plausible deniability. If she tells him, “I’m hearing you want to ask me out…” he can just deny it and play dumb and turn the whole thing around to try and make HER look foolish.

        2. GetReal*

          I definitely agree with getting HR involved. From my experience with a childish coworker who wanted to ask me out I’d say this guy might get scary after he’s rejected. He seemed awkward and not socially adept before I rejected him but after that he was full-on vengeful, disturbing, and stalker-ish. No emotionally mature and stable grown man will go around telling your coworkers that he intends to ask you out!

        3. Allison*

          Is your friend me? This happened to me in two jobs! Just one female coworker each time though, and I don’t know if either of the guys told my respective coworkers or if they just knew, and believe me, I could tell as well (dudes, you may have plausible deniability but you’re rarely as subtle as you think you are!), and they’d be rooting for the two of us to get together even when I specifically said I wasn’t into the guy.

        4. Sally*

          The guy may have been waiting for her to hear about his interest and hoping she would ask about it. Seems juvenile and manipulative.

          1. Rusty Shackelford*

            Or feeling her out via proxy, hoping someone will come back to him and say “she was really excited about you asking her out.”

      4. kshoosh*

        That was actually a plot on the show Studio 60, a guy asked out his boss (!!) and she said no it wasn’t a good idea, so in an ill-conceived effort to convince her to give him a chance, he contacted all of the top industry folks he knew and had them mail and fax and email her “reference letters” for what a great guy he was and why she should go out with him. OP#1, if you want to see an AWESOME takedown of this behavior, she really laid into him- how mortifying his behavior was, inappropriately bringing personal into professional space, ruining her reputation, etc. You want to cheer for her at the end :-)

        1. AMPG*

          Except, IIRC she then ended up going out with him a couple of episodes later. Which is just gross wish-fulfillment on the part of Aaron Sorkin and his writing team.

      5. Observer*


        Which is another good reason to start documenting his behavior.

        OP, if this happens please be VERY clear and brief with people. Do NOT explain. Just a clear “I am not interested in going out with him. It’s not appropriate for him to be sending workmates and friends to me to put pressure on me.” Anything after that is “As I said, this is not up for discussion.” Segue to whatever appropriate topic you can come up with.

        1. Jadelyn*

          This is a good way to frame it when talking to the go-betweens – make it clear you aren’t ok with any part of this, including their well-meaning go-between-ing.

        2. AKchic*

          I wouldn’t even discuss it with the go-betweens. I’d be calling them out.

          “Why are *you* discussing this with me? Are *you* asking me out for him? Are we in junior high? Are you feeling me out on this? When did I go back to junior high? This is a business, not a school hallway. I am not discussing my private life, or John’s supposed interest, so quit bringing it up. It is disturbing and manipulative. How many people is he going to talk to about this?”

          Perhaps it really should be going to HR now because really… how many people HAS he involved in this already? That has to be uncomfortable.

      6. Allison*

        Yeah, that’s my concern as well. “He’s so nice, and he deserves to be happy! He was so brave to put himself out there, it’s not easy for men to do that you know, the least you could do is give him a chance! Who knows, he might be the one for you! I’m sure he’d do anything to make you happy.”

        I mean, I think most women get this bullshirt speech at some point, and usually because the guy doing the asking preemptively won them over before asking so he’d have lots of people on his side.

        1. MusicWithRocksInIt*

          That is just one message that I don’t think we do enough to convey – especially to teenagers. Every person is the boss of who they are attracted to and want to date. Every single one. You should never, ever, ever, ever try to convince someone to ‘give someone a chance’ because YOU think that the other person’s attraction to someone overwrites or is more important that someones lack of attraction to them.

          1. Allison*

            I don’t know if things are different now, but coming of age in the early 2000’s, kids were often told “if he doesn’t like you, he’s too blind and stupid to see what a great person you are, and that’s his problem!” or “if she can’t see what a great person you are, she must not be a very nice girl.” I get that these messages were trying to uplift someone dealing with rejection and restore their self esteem, but it probably wasn’t great to tell a bunch of kids that anyone who didn’t date them was either inadvertently terrible, or needed more convincing.

            Instead, we need to teach kids early on that attraction doesn’t always make sense, and that a person can be awesome, and know that you’re awesome too, but just not feel that way. Or maybe there is a mutual attraction early on, but the relationship fails, and it’s just a matter of compatibility, not a case of one person not being “good enough” for the other.

            1. Sciencer*

              1000x this. That pattern didn’t stop in high school either… when I was in college, I had one ‘date’ with a guy I was interested in, decided he wasn’t for me after all, and didn’t get back in touch with him (nor did he try to contact me). It should have been no big deal, but one of our mutual (female) friends hounded me for DAYS with “Don’t DO this to him, he’s SUCH a nice guy, how can you BE this way,” as though I owed him more of my time/attention because I showed interest in him one time. Her insistence made it so much more awkward for me the next time I did run into him, because I was wondering if he’d put her up to it (in retrospect, I doubt it).

            2. Ask a Manager* Post author

              I once broke things off with someone I’d been casually dating for a few months, and a few days later he informed me that he had surveyed his friends and they all agreed there was no reason for things to end. He thought this would be persuasive.

              1. Le Sigh*

                I would enjoy seeing what that looked like.

                Subject: Please reconsider breaking up with me — I have data showing why you’re wrong
                Dear Alison,

                Thought you might find this interesting. I just got the results back from the FiveThirtyEight survey of 20 people in Dorm A. Surveyed 10 my friends, and to be fair, 10 people who don’t know me, about whether we should break up. Margin of error +/- 5.

                Should Alison and guy she’s been seeing for two months (but is also a really great guy) break it off?
                -No: 51% (Alison, please note that all of *my* friends voted no, which I think is more persuasive in this matter)
                -Yes: 35%
                -Don’t know: 14%

                So, as you can see, we shouldn’t break up. It’s just math. I look forward to grabbing some coffee and talking it over some more.


                1. Zelda*

                  Hey, now I get to link xkcd!

                  I teach HS science, so I have this on my wall for the data-presentation angle; never thought I’d seriously be invoking it for the interpersonal-relations angle…

              2. NotAnotherManager!*

                This was bordering on common when I was in college in the 90s. Often followed by, “I talked to my friends, and they say you’re a bitch for breaking up with me.”, which was somehow supposed to entice someone back into a romantic relationship?!?!?

                So much gross, unequal gender expectations wrapped up in that whole situation. I don’t miss it.

                1. Le Sigh*

                  “Well, so what if I am a bitch?”

                  “If you think I’m such a bitch, why shouldn’t we break up?”

                  “Why should I want to date someone who thinks I’m a bitch”

                  I mean, really….

                2. DArcy*

                  I once had an ex-complicated who claimed that I was being emotionally abusive by *not* throwing a fit when she broke up with me. Apparently, sincerely wishing her well meant I thought our relationship worthless and not worth fighting for.

                  (No, I was over it because she’d been emotionally checked out for months and had already shot down multiple attempts to renew things. I put this down to her being on her first relationship and not really realizing she didn’t want it anymore. )

              3. Is pumpkin a vegetable?*

                My sister in law told me that when my niece tried to break up with her boyfriend, he told her didn’t want to break up, so for that reason they stayed together. Luckily my sister in law was able to talk some sense into her!!

                1. There's Always Money in the Banana Stand*

                  This happened to me in high school! I called my boyfriend, told him I was breaking up with him, and he told me no. I didn’t know what to say, so I just said ok. I broke up with him for good 3 days later via voicemail. Not my finest moment, but I was young and his initial no really threw me off.

                2. Gazebo Slayer*

                  When I was quite young, I had a boyfriend who just sort of nodded when I told him I wanted to break up… then kept following me everywhere, acting like we were a couple in public, and putting his arms around me, as if I’d never said a thing. I didn’t know what else to do, so I just went along with it for months.

              4. Observer*

                I can’t believe that anyone outside of a sitcom would think that this is a reasonable way to deal with the problem!

                Did you tell him that his made you LESS interested?

              5. Jadelyn*

                My jaw literally dropped. I have to ask, what did you say to that?

                I just…how does someone think that’s a good idea?? Does Not Compute.

                1. Ask a Manager* Post author

                  I think I said something like “it’s not up for a vote.” Although the part that’s vivid in my memory is him saying it and less what happened afterwards, so maybe I just hope I said that.

              6. Tempestuous Teapot*

                Really? That in and of itself seems to sum up exactly why it most definitely should remain ended! I’m so sorry you had to navigate that.

          2. blackcat*

            Gah, I got this so badly in high school.
            A perfectly nice, kind dude wanted to date me. He asked me out, I said no, and that was the end of it from him, though he did tell a couple of his friends.
            His friends told my friends. My friends were all “But he’s so nice! Why don’t you give him a chance?”
            “I don’t want to date him.”
            “But he’s a nice guy!”
            “I’d rather not date *anyone* right now.”
            “But he wants to date you. He deserves to be happy!”
            “He deserves to date someone who actually wants to date him!”

            As evidence of his Good Dude-ness, he actually apologized and told people to knock that off. Which stopped everyone but one girl, who just took it as further evidence that he was SO NICE and therefore I should date him.

            Apparently this is something that people continue to do after high school!

            1. Isabel Kunkle*

              Uuugh, yes. Mine weren’t that bad, but they kept saying how “sad” it was that I wasn’t into Inoffensive But Not My Thing Dude, and I was like, well, I guess it’s a little unfortunate when two people’s attraction doesn’t match, but…he’s a grown man and will get over it, I’m not interested so it’s no skin off *my* nose, I don’t think there’s any need for a Celine Dion soundtrack here.

            2. RedPsycho*

              “He deserves to be happy.”

              “And I don’t? I’m supposed to sacrifice MY happiness and date someone I’m not interested in?”

              Seriously, what is wrong with people?

              I once had a guy try to convince me to date him “just for a little while.” I told him that that would be stupid because I would be miserable while we were dating and he would be miserable when I inevitably broke up with him.

          3. Vicky Austin*

            My mom often gave me some form of the “just give him a chance and maybe you’ll start to develop feelings for him. Don’t be so picky” speech when I was in my youth, often to the point that I felt guilty about turning guys down. It wasn’t until I attended a workshop in college that I learned that everyone has the right to reject a date without feeling guilty.
            I get that she just wanted me to be happy, but I knew that dating someone I wasn’t attracted to wasn’t going to make me happy.

          1. There's Always Money in the Banana Stand*

            Yep! I said this to mom once after she tried guilting me into going out a second date with a “nice boy” who I just wasn’t attracted to.It shut her up pretty quick.

          2. Nonsensical*

            Everyone thought he was creepy – yet they wanted me to date him. I felt offended. I wasn’t good enough in their standard to be deserving of a non-creepster?

            1. Allison*

              People seem to think that creepy dudes are only creepy because they’re desperate, and if they get a girlfriend it’ll somehow turn him “normal,” or maybe they think a “nice girl” will do the emotional labor of de-creepifying him somehow, but either way, once he gets a girlfriend he’ll stop bothering people. You were either the most open person they could find, or they thought you were the best match for him, but either way, they needed a martyr to stop the creep from creeping all over the place.

              1. Autumnheart*

                No kidding. Relationships aren’t finishing schools where it’s the woman’s job to socialize the man to be normal.

                Never mind how unbelievably insulting it is to be the “practice girlfriend” who is only there to polish him up for his dream hottie.

                1. Mallory Janis Ian*

                  Similarly, I always hate it when guys say they love their girlfriend or wife because “She calls me on my shit.” Dude, how full of shit are you that some poor woman has a regular job of calling you on it? I prefer my men already de-shittified.

              2. tra la la*

                Oh man, yes, this happened to me when I moved to a new city in my early 20s and some friends of mine from previous city connected me with friends in the new area. I never really clicked with the group but ended up dating their kind-of-a-missing-stair friend on and off for maybe a year. (I also realized that the previous-city friends weren’t really great friends, either, so when I finally dumped the guy for good, it was a fairly cleansing experience all around).

        2. Decima Dewey*

          “But he hasn’t been brave and hasn’t put himself out there. He’s getting coworkers like you to make heavy-handed hints.”

        3. NotAnotherManager!*

          Ugh, this drives me crazy. I hate that (usually women) are told that, if a guy puts in effort and does the “right” things that he’s owed a chance at a romantic relationship, like whether or not the other party is interested matters at all. It reinforced the idea that on party is a prize or something earned rather than a sentient human being with their own thoughts, attractions, and feelings.

          A friend and I were just discussing this in the vein of the absurd phenomenon of “promposals” and how much pressure that would put on someone to say “yes” to a date they didn’t want because a big public show was made of the asking and they felt saying no would embarrass the asker and also reflect poorly on them.

          1. Jadelyn*

            I don’t remember where I read this anymore, but it’s always stuck with me. “Women are not vending machines that men can put kindness coins into until sex falls out.”

            1. Tequila Mockingbird*

              That quote is often attributed to Sylvia Plath but I haven’t been able to verify the source.

              1. RUKiddingMe*

                I’d heard it attributed to Susan Brownmiller, but I’ve never tried to verify it. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

          2. RUKiddingMe*

            You say this as if women are actual people and not simply objects that wait on the shelf until some random male has need of them. Silly hirl…

      7. Kendra*

        Now I’m imagining all kinds of mildly biting replies to give those coworkers…
        “Why do you think my preference isn’t a valid reason not to date someone? Why don’t you trust my judgement that I’m not interested in dating him?” etc etc

      8. RUKiddingMe*


        Five of the most annoying words ever strung together. Ever!

        1. Bostonian*

          And if she did go on one date, confirm she’s not interested, and then never go out again, that would be leading him on…

      9. AnnaBananna*

        I would totally put visine in his morning coffee if he pulled this with me for very long.

        (I know, but I’m a terrible person. *shrug*)

    2. Engineer Girl*

      We actually had an ethics case like this. The target was mortified. HR got involved and gave the guy a reprimand.

      1. RUKiddingMe*

        This kind of crap makes me happy that 90*% of my staff are women. It wasn’t intentional but has worked out nicely that way. Not one has sexually harassed or creeped on coworkers. Coincidence?

        1. Vicky Austin*

          The place where I worked for 16 years was also 90% women. I’m one of the few women in the world who hasn’t had a #MeToo incident at work. I have, however, been harassed in school, on the street, on public transportation, in stores, at a bar, at parties, at the beach, etc. etc.

        2. Tiny Soprano*

          Yes isn’t it interesting… At my last job, I (a bi girl) and my colleague (a cute lesbian) found each other on a dating app. Both respectfully swiped left, joked about it at lunch, and didn’t harass each other at all. And it wasn’t difficult.

    3. sacados*

      Exactly exactly exactly.
      To me, this sounds like someone who is trying to make it as much of A Thing as possible to try and force the OP’s hand so she will agree to go out with him in order to avoid causing awkwardness.
      I mean, there are of course more generous interpretations of his behavior and it’s possible he’s just painfully immature rather than manipulative.
      But either way I think Alison’s advice stands. If he *is* just naive/immature, then a simple rejection or brief explanation of why this is inappropriate will get the point across without any further drama or hard feelings.
      And if he is truly manipulative, then no matter what OP does he is likely to react badly and OP will probably find herself going straight to HR, do not pass Go.

    4. valentine*

      It’s worrisome that several people have become part of John’s fantasy without saying, “Don’t do it, bro.” I like the scripts that boil down to “No; never.” Nothing to argue or wear you down about. Adding the point about marshaling the colleagues might lead him to try again out of the blue. If he warns you again and you want to take the reins, see if he’ll tell you right then.

      1. Detective Amy Santiago*

        This!!!! Why are they coming and telling you about it instead of telling him to stop being an idiot?

      2. CS Rep By Day, Writer By Night*

        Yeah, I mean if some guy at work approached me about asking out one of my co-workers I would probably stare blankly at them and ask why in the hell they thought that was any of my business or why I would care. If they were insistent I’d definitely point out how gross and inappropriate they were being.

      3. Falling Diphthong*

        From the limited info in the letter, I think the intermediate employees could be anywhere from “I wouldn’t dude… Okay, that bounced right off, maybe I should give OP a heads up about the circling weirdness” to “SO CUTE!”

        1. Jadelyn*

          Yeah, I can see how the go-betweens might be intending it more as a helpful heads-up of “hey, don’t be surprised if this happens – and be aware he’s making a big deal of it to other people.” than any kind of pressure.

      4. Classic Rando*

        I used to know a guy who was painfully awkward. Not malicious or anything, just actually socially inept. He had an obvious crush on a woman in our shared social circle, and she was in no way interested in him. One night at a party she was not attending, he mentioned to a group of us that he was planning to ask her out. Everyone in the room told him not to, that she wasn’t interested, not to make it weird, etc.

        A few days later, he worked up the nerve to ask. While giving her a ride home. On the highway. So she was just stuck there with him for something like 20 minutes post-rejection.

        So, y’know, they might have said something, but he doesn’t want to hear it.

        1. LadyPhoenix*

          This dude who crushed on me tried to do that too—ask my buddies about how to date me and stuff. They all responded with. “She doesn’t even know you, dude.”

          He asked me out by blocking my way to anime club. He got a no.

          Then he turned out to be ancreepy asshole, so I dodged a bullet.

          1. Gazebo Slayer*

            People who BLOCK YOUR PATH like that are always creepy assholes. One blocked me in my own kitchen once with no exits and it was terrifying.

          2. Michaela Westen*

            I remember the Sex and the City episode where a date “playfully” wouldn’t let Carrie get out of his car so she said “fine” and climbed out the sunroof.

    5. Traveling Teacher*

      Exactly. I was pretty worried when I read this one! (I watched the Lifetime movie about Laura Black one too many times when I was a teenager…)

      I sincerely hope that this guy is being a drama llama because he’s just young and immature, but even so, it’s worrying behavior. Definitely turn him down flat, as Alison suggests, when he asks you, then send an email to yourself immediately to document the interaction.

      Please send an update to let us know what happens, OP1!

    6. Nonsensical*

      I actually had this happen to me in student government, while it wasn’t workplace. They kept putting my nameplate by him so I had to sit by him, he was obnoxious during the 3 hour long sessions I was privy to every week and people kept teasing me about him. I had zero interest in him, he was actually quite tone deaf and said some offensive things to me when we hung out a few times. I deleted him off Facebook and steam, he wrote a 60 page letter to Student Life after I asked them to give him a no contact order. He had followed me across campus even after I said no to him.

      People kept encouraging him, thinking it was cute.

      There is a fine line between creepy and cute. It can be hard to know which way it will be taken with some actions, but in this scenario, it qualifies as downright creepy.

      1. CTT*

        Happened to me in high school too! The guy knew a bunch of my friends via the drama department; I don’t know what they said to him when he said “I’m going to prom with CTT!”, but I do know they came and told me “X keeps saying you’re going to prom with him, isn’t that hilarious?” Meanwhile I was forced to go to my counselor that I hated to tell her about the situation because I was so freaked out. tl;dr, document and try to make people at work aware of how you’re feeling about the situation!

        1. Nonsensical*

          Yeah, no joke. Funny part is that he didn’t even care about the no contact order, he just wanted to know why. I was freaked out when Student Life told me about the 60 page letter, he treated the no contact order as if he could reason his way out of it by writing some long sort of research paper. Creepiest thing I’ve ever had happen to me.

          He apparently dredge up all our online chat logs and who the heck knows else?

          The topper: we only hung out twice and we saw each other during busy government sessions (this was university) that certainly had zero time for socialization.

          1. Environmental Compliance*

            Holy shitballs. That is so incredibly far from the line of creepy and cute that you can’t even see the line in the horizon.

            1. Rhiiiiiiannnnnnnon*

              I have a similar student government horror story. After five minutes of talking to this guy, he said “I’m so glad I met you. I haven’t had a girlfriend in a year.” I told him that was crossing a line. And he said (I will never forget): “Oh I’m not crossing the line, I’m just running right up to it, so you know which direction I’m going.” O_O

        2. Fact & Fiction*

          Yeah. Creep alert! Most college students can BARELY manage 3-5 page papers for their courses. Some can’t even do that for classes they love. A 60-page letter like this is the sad stuff of Lietime movies. Meh.

          1. whingedrinking*

            I bet most people can’t even come up with a way to stretch “BUT I WANNA” past a paragraph or two. However, I’ve lost count of the dudes on Facebook responding to something I’d said offhandedly by writing what seemed like short novels. (This includes the time I said “It’s raining a lot here” and was treated to statistics about how the province was technically in a drought.) So I can imagine it.

            1. Fact & Fiction*

              Just to clarify, I definitely believe it and have witnessed similar. By the Lifetime movie comment I meant it’s the type of all-too-common plot point of a huge red flag before the “boy next door” is revealed to be an obsssed stalker and everyone around the victim just plays it off rather than agreeing that hell yes that’s creepy and disturbing!

      2. Isabel Kunkle*

        I feel like the line’s actually not that fine, it’s just that a lot of That Guy pretend that it is in order to get away with manipulative BS.

        Anyhow, my sympathy, and I hope he got botulism from a cafeteria hot dog.

        1. Lynn Whitehat*

          Yeah, I work in tech, which has its share of genuinely awkward people. Here are some examples of actually being awkward but well-meaning:

          1) The guy who yells “Bernie Sanders!!!” when he sees me, because he knows I am involved in local politics. I try really hard not to discuss it at work, and was never really on the Bernie train, but I see what he’s going for.
          2) The lady who always says “that looks good!” to any food, even if it’s just the drips and crumbs and wrapper left, and it doesn’t look good at all. But it’s her go-to thing.
          3) The guy who can’t remember anything about me except my husband keeps bees. Which by now is self-reinforcing because we’ve had so many conversations about it.

          See how none of this is creepy? I really think a lot of creepers hide behind “being awkward” and “not knowing any better”. The test is whether they stay the same around people who can tell them to step off. 90% of the time, they suddenly become socially smooth when dealing with people who can push back on creeping.

          1. Allison*

            Oh yeah, I was sexually assaulted at a party when I was 19, in front of everyone, and later the people who saw it were like “sorry that happened, but he’s really a nice guy, it’s just that he’s never had a girlfriend, so he’s really awkward around girls he likes.” He assaulted me and people were still convinced he was “just awkward.” It took them years, and numerous other assaults, to realize he was actually a predator.

            Even if someone is “just awkward,” you tell them when their behavior is out of line, being awkward doesn’t give you a free pass to cross people’s boundaries without consequences.

            1. MusicWithRocksInIt*

              There was a really great post on Captain Awkward once that compared creepy behavior to stepping on people feet. I think she said it was originally by Hershele Ostropoler:

              “If you step on my foot, you need to get off my foot. If you step on my foot without meaning to, you need to get off my foot. If you step on my foot without realizing it, you need to get off my foot. If everyone in your culture steps on feet, your culture is horrible, and you need to get off my foot.

              If you have foot-stepping disease, and it makes you unaware you’re stepping on feet, you need to get off my foot. If an event has rules designed to keep people from stepping on feet, you need to follow them. If you think that even with the rules, you won’t be able to avoid stepping on people’s feet, absent yourself from the event until you work something out.

              If you’re a serial foot-stepper, and you feel you’re entitled to step on people’s feet because you’re just that awesome and they’re not really people anyway, you’re a bad person and you don’t get to use any of those excuses, limited as they are. And moreover, you need to get off my foot.

              See, that’s why I don’t get the focus on classifying harassers and figuring out their motives. The victims are just as harassed either way.’”

              1. Kyrielle*

                Yes! If a harasser is just awkward, that will sort itself out right away when they are asked to stop. Because someone who is awkward but respects the other party will *stop doing it*. (Often while feeling horrible, which may lead to apologies or may lead to avoidance, either of which will work better than staying on their foot.)

                If he refuses to get off their foot, or steps off only to “accidentally” step back on, then whether he’s awkward or not has nothing to do with whether he’s safe to be around, and he’s not.

                Get off my foot. And stay off it, after.

                1. Michaela Westen*

                  Yes – I was at a music event last year and ran into a man I hadn’t seen in some years. I used to shop in his store. He had had some hard luck, and I tried to be supportive.
                  When the next act started he followed me back into the main room and stood beside me. Nothing wrong with that… until he started putting his arm around me and grabbing my butt.
                  I looked at him and he said, “sorry, I got caught up in the moment”. Hmm.
                  Then he did it again.
                  I said goodbye.

          2. Tau*

            I’m autistic and I could write you a novel about how the way predatory and creepy behaviour gets blamed on those with social difficulties is wrong, wronger, even more wrong than that, and generally makes me incandescent with rage.

          3. Isabel Kunkle*

            Yes! “Awkward” is saying “you too!” when the waiter tells you to enjoy your lunch (I’m pretty sure I’m stealing this from a meme) or accidentally rocking out to Bon Jovi at your desk, or forgetting people’s names all the time. I have done all these things. Romantically, I have said “I’ll see you around, because…I’ll see you around!” to a guy at college, realizing midway through that we didn’t actually have classes together or anything, and I have walked off a curb while trying to flirt.

            Following people or talking to them after they’ve indicated disinterest or writing long screeds about Your Feels? Creepy and entitled. Not awkward. Not cute.

      3. DArcy*

        I would argue that the line is not fine at all, women just get aggressively gaslighted into accepting all but the most extreme creepy behavior as if it was cute, and the largely mythical concept of “social awkwardness” is then used to bludgeon us some more.

        1. Totally Minnie*

          This. It’s not a fine line. We’ve just been brainwashed by romantic comedies where a woman’s not interested in a man for an hour and a half, and then in the last ten minutes of the movie he does something dramatically over the top and they live happily ever after. So dudes and other onlookers see initial disinterest as the beginning of a love story instead of a person not being interested.

    7. Environmental Compliance*


      Manipulation for drama’s sake is the first thing that popped into my head.

    8. Been there*

      This happened to me at my first out of college job when I was still pretty fresh in my career. A coworker started out telling fellow coworkers he had a crush on me. I was dating my now husband at the time which was no secret. People told me this coworker liked me and all that, but I figured boyfriend status was enough to strike that down. It wasn’t. For a few years (yes, years), every time I saw him, he would ask me when I was going to leave that boyfriend of mine and go out with him. At one point, he became my team lead. And though the relentless badgering for a date stopped, I was never comfortable with him as my lead. I also never mentioned it to my manager at the time. I regret that now.

      I worked in the same office as this guy for almost 10 years. Most of my time there, we worked in very different departments and I actually saw very little of him. But whenever I did, I couldn’t shake the gross feeling I had about being the object of his desire.

      Don’t be me, OP. Shut this down. And if you don’t, he might move on to some other woman.

    9. Spooky*

      It’s incredibly juvenile, to the point that I’d be tempted to respond, “Sorry, I don’t date children. But let me know if you need a babysitter.”

      (obviously DO NOT say that)

    10. Fake Old Converse Shoes (not in the US)*

      +1 I knew someone like that at my first job. Except this dude took it a step further and told everyone I had sex with him. Someone told me he was spreading the rumor at lunch, and I had a laughing fit in the corridor. He ignored me until he left a few months later.

    11. TootsNYC*

      Yeah, this really does sound like background manipulation–even if it’s sort of unconscious.

      Given that, I think I’d go straight to HR to say, “I need some advice here, and I want to give you a heads-up. Here’s the sitch, and how I’m thinking of handling it. Do you have any other advice for me, or would you suggest a different strategy?”

      And also I’d state your two concerns: “I’m concerned his reaction will be disruptive to the workplace as well as uncomfortable to me, given that it’s already disruptive and uncomfortable. And I’m also concerned that he thinks this is reasonable behavior, and the next time a new female employee catches his fancy, he’ll start again.”

      1. DArcy*

        “Sort of unconscious” makes it even more creepy, and takes it from, “document for HR” to “document for HR and a restraining order”.

      2. RUKiddingMe*

        It’s not at all unconscious. He knows what he’s doing. We need to stop giving these guys a pass/an excuse!

    12. Catherine from Canada*

      I won’t add a “thank you” to the “No.” What do you have to “thank” him for?! Unwanted attention, manipulative tactics, unprofessional behaviour?

      1. Someone Else*

        It’s not a thanking thank you. It’s just a politer version of “Nope!” It’s a way to stay breezy while doing it. Best accompanied by promptly changing the subject or walking away.

    13. RUKiddingMe*

      Yeah it sounds so much like he is trying to create a situation where she *can’t really say no* otherwise she’s a “bitch.”

    14. Meredith Brooks*

      I had this happen to me in high school and I recruited all those who had been recruited to tell me and told them to tell him not to ask me out, which he promptly ignored.

      In the end, he was a nice guy and reacted perfectly well to the rejection. I think he felt like he had to overcome some personal hurdle and unfortunately, I was attached to it. Awkward for everyone, but we all moved passed it relatively well.

    15. dumblewald*

      He is totally being disrespectful. I’ve never asked someone out, but if I did, I would consider all the possible ways doing so would make the other person uncomfortable and try to protect their comfort as much as possible. It sounds like he either didn’t care about making her feel self-concious/uncomfortable, or *knew* that telling everyone might make her too self-conscious to turn him down.

    16. Vicky Austin*

      It’s possible that John is just asking around to see if OP is single and available to spare himself the awkwardness if she turns out not to be, but if that’s the case, he’s going about it the WRONG way.

  2. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

    OP#1, I am seriously bristling at John’s behavior and that he’s put you in such a weird position. I agree with Alison that you can keep it simple and turn him down (be very clear and direct, and don’t sugarcoat!).

    If your HR/management is functional, I would tell them about what happened and ask them to address his inappropriate behavior. I don’t want you to have to deal with whatever ~feelings~ he’s having post-rejection. He sounds like he’s not good with boundaries or behaving like an adult in this specific context, and you shouldn’t have to deal with any backlash from him. Or if he totally shuts down post-rejection, he may not hear you when you tell him he’s being inappropriate.

    He’s definitely out of pocket, and if he does it again, his conduct might begin to look like a liability. Your HR/management will be in a better position to address his bad behavior, and it’s worth putting them on notice in order to protect any other women he might target with his shenanigans.

    1. tangerineRose*

      There’s a Cathy cartoon where a guy does something similar (she says no). Here’s the link to it; it’s on the right, or scroll down a bit, and it’s there in a slightly large size:

  3. Greg NY*

    #5: I am usually a huge critic of rejection emails, they are normally not written correctly. This one is an exception. I wouldn’t take it badly if it was sent to me, and you shouldn’t take it badly either. What they’re doing in this case is pointing out that one candidate stood out above the rest, not that you (or the others they interviewed) fell short. They’re saying (if they’re being genuine) that they would’ve hired any of you, but one person blew them out of the water.

    This is about the best outcome you can get. What you want is feedback on your interview performance, where you fell short, where you did well, and a timely, honest communication of where you stand in the hiring process. This letter nailed all of it. The only concern I have about this letter is the sentence about all of you being “a valuable addition to our team”. It seems impersonal and may not be completely honest, but I’m willing to give them the benefit of the doubt on that one since they did go out of their way to point out that the chosen candidate was overqualified.

    This is a good reminder that you can sometimes interview well and do everything right and still get beaten out by someone better. Conversely, you can sometimes luck into a job even after a bad interview if the rest of the pool isn’t great and the organization doesn’t want to start the hiring process all over again. You have to keep trying, but you should take the positive here, that you did well enough. It’ll help to know that when it comes to your next interview.

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      Rejection letters often are impersonal and not completely honest, and there’s not really anything wrong with that. They need to convey one message — we are not moving you forward in our process or hiring you — and the rest of it is fluff intended as social niceties. Being bothered by that is like being bothered that the cashier asking how you are today isn’t really interested in the answer. It’s social ritual.

      1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

        Yeah—it’s very normal for rejection letters to be diplomatic and not completely honest (or to be bland/unobjectionable). Frankly, I don’t think an employer owes “the truth” to rejected candidates. Parsing letters for insincerity, etc., is just borrowing unhappiness and insult that a person doesn’t need in their life. Better to try to shake it off and move on, especially if the rejection is bland/unobjectionable.

        1. WonderingHowIGotIntoThis*

          “borrowing unhappiness” maybe my favourite part of any comment on this thread! It covers such a multitude

      2. Allison*

        People who get all mad over impersonal or generic rejection letters would likely also be upset if they heard nothing at all, because then the company has no decency whatsoever, so I sometimes think what they’re really upset about it not getting the job, and they know they can’t be mad at a company for simply not hiring them, so they pick apart the rejection letter, looking for legitimate reasons to be upset with the company.

        1. Walter White Walker*

          Exactly. Or if they heard the complete and unvarnished truth. If someone is upset about a generic and impersonal rejection letter, my guess is that they wouldn’t be thrilled about hearing “Your qualifications were mediocre, and you came across as a little out-of-touch and slightly off-putting in the interview. We might have hired you in the absence of better options, but the person who interviewed immediately after you was equally qualified and much more personable.”

        2. Jen S. 2.0*

          The worst is that a lot of people really need to hear this. THIS is the feedback that would actually be useful.

      3. Reliquary*

        In academia, I’ve heard this kind of rejection letter referred to as “the baby announcement.” The person hired is the new addition to the family, and there is much rejoicing. Yuck.

    2. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

      Yeah—I think that OP may be reading too much into the email? To me, it reads as pretty considerate and straightforward, and it doesn’t sound patronizing, over the top, or mealy-mouthed. It doesn’t sound like they’re overly praising the person they picked or insulting the people they rejected. This may be a situation where the speed of the rejection stings, so it casts a shadow on the email for candidates who were not selected. Hopefully a few days’ distance will help?

      1. grey*

        The only thing that struck me is odd is that they actually used the word “overqualified” for the person they did hire. That phrase usually carries such a negative connotation.

        1. MK*

          I don’t see any negative connotation in this context. In fact, it’s less negative for the rejected candidate to say that they changed to find an overqualified person willing to take the job for whatever reason than that they chose a similarly qualified person that impressed them more.

        2. boop the first*

          I would be a little put off if I was the person who was hired, unless they are also getting increased pay (or anything) because of it.

      2. Sarah P*

        I agree – this is an extremely nice rejection email and isn’t intentionally rubbing salt in a wound at all! In this case, OP #5 is, unfortunately, responsible for his/her own wound and the amount of salt (s)he pours in it.

    3. Trout 'Waver*

      I disagree here. I totally agree with OP#5. Sugarcoating hard truths is something you do with children and not appropriate in business communication. It comes across and insincere and patronizing; it’s as if the recipient needs help to manage the rejection. I wouldn’t lose any sleep over it because insulting rejection notices are pretty common and preferred over complete ghosting, which is also shockingly common.

      I mean, if you communicated in the same way in other business transactions, people would cringe and roll their eyes.

      But I know my opinion is a minority position amongst the commentariat here. So I’m going to leave it here.

      1. Reba*

        I see that the email is a little, idk, chirpy? cute? perhaps overly friendly? It has a casual tone, but in the contents I don’t see any sugarcoating in it at all. To me it reads as sincere. It says, we liked all candidates, we chose one who isn’t you because of Reasons [which are understandable], we told you as soon as we could. That’s all you could want from a rejection email, I think!

      2. FaintlyMacabre*

        I agree! I would prefer a bland rejection. No need to shoot glitter and rainbows out of a cannon at me to gussy up the fact that I wasn’t hired.

        But preferences aren’t universal. Just a mismatch between the LW and the rejection letter writer.

      3. Jerry*

        The primary lesson I’m taking from this thread and others like it, is there is no way to win with a rejection letter. People are offended by the rejection and are willing to attribute it to any detail to protect their ego.

        1. Trout 'Waver*

          That’s pretty unkind to the OP to say they’re just trying to protect their ego.

          There’s no way to deliver bad news and make the person happy about it. Some people appreciate it if you try, others prefer it if you don’t.

          1. Indigo a la mode*

            I don’t think Jerry was calling out the OP. It’s true that on the whole, people latch on to details, factual or perceived, to soothe their feelings in the face of rejection.

            It does seem that there’s no way to win with a rejection letter. As far as they go, I found this one friendly, informational, and encouraging.

      4. Le’Veon Bell is right*

        See, I feel the opposite; I wouldn’t assume that someone being friendly in their rejection was sugarcoating or patronizing. I think people should be friendlier in business! Business is too formal, too stodgy, too brusque, too focused on everything other than the flesh-and-blood people that make enterprises work. Friendliness is a good thing, and I communicate roughly that way in almost all of my business communications. I’m a warm, friendly person, and I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that; in fact, I think most organizations need more people like me!

      5. Jadelyn*

        Out of curiosity, if you’re in a meeting and you disagree with someone, do you interrupt them and flatly say “No, you’re wrong.”? Or do you use social niceties to ease the conversation even if the message is still “no, you’re wrong”? In an email string where someone proposes something that definitely won’t work, do you reply-all and say “That’s stupid and it will never work.”? Or do you gentle your delivery of it in order to maintain a good working relationship with them?

        It’s not “sugarcoating hard truths” to be friendly and polite, and recognize that candidates are humans who eill have emotions around things and try to be respectful of that.

        1. Trout 'Waver*

          Of course I’m not rude to my colleagues.

          But I also don’t try to manage their feelings by buttering them up before delivering bad news. Unless of course, that’s their preferred individual communication style. If I know someone prefers directness, I’ll try to be direct. If someone prefers to chit-chat about kids and the local sports team for 5 minutes, I’ll do that too.

          But, in my own personal opinion, business communication is direct, sincere, and factual because that’s going to be the least misunderstood way of communicating when you don’t know the other party’s preferences.

          1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

            I’m a little confused, because the email reads as direct, sincere, and factual to me. What parts of it are sugarcoating or indirect?

            1. Trout 'Waver*

              Pretty much all of it? I tried to break it down line-by-line but it just felt too nit-picky and derailing. It’s personal preference, I guess.

              1. JM60*

                I don’t read any of the email as being indirect, insincere, or not factual. It directly tells them that they chose someone else instead of them and why (the other person was highly qualified). If true, that’s factual and sincere. Unless you think that they’re essentially lying about this being the main reason for the rejection, I’m not sure why this would be interpreted as insincere, indirect, or not factual. Given the fact that the OP thought the interview “went very well”, and that they were told a decision would be made soon, the reason they have in the email most likely is the main reason why the OP was rejected.

                Out off curiosity, how would they have had to write the email in order for you to consider it direct, sincere, and factual?

    4. KarenK*

      Considering the number of times people have posted here that they have been totally ghosted post-interview, I found this email polite, refreshing, and timely. I’m loath to nitpick the wording of the message itself and accept it for what it is. The company did not want to keep the OP and other candidates hanging when a decision had been made. Kudos to them.

      1. Sarah P*

        I agree. Good for them for not playing games or keeping candidates on the hook longer than necessary.

      2. 653-CXK*

        I liked it too; I would prefer a letter stating “We made a decision; rather than make you wait over the weekend, we found someone else to fill the position, but we’ll hold on to your resume should something else with your skills come up.”

        I’d be annoyed if I got a letter full of business-speak, only to end with “sorry, you haven’t been selected.”

      3. NotAnotherManager!*

        And, really, there is no rejection email that is going to make everyone happy. Someone is always going to find them too vague, tonally inappropriate, too short, too long, too casual, too formal, etc. It’s not news most people want, and the best that can be done is to send one that is timely and professional.

    5. jmw1122*

      This was a great rejection letter. The naturally suspicious part of me thinks the timing was a little odd, but other than that it’s good.

      I got a similar one once, but it was weirder because they actually gave me the name of the person they hired instead of me and listed all of their specific qualifications. If I hadn’t already found a job before that rejection letter came I’dve been really mad about that.

    6. Vesna*

      I was initially rejected for my current position with a similar message (delivered via a scheduled phone call, which really irked me at the time) – it did feel exceptionally cruel to talk up the qualifications of the chosen candidate. Two weeks after this initial rejection, another member of the team resigned, I was offered my role, and I now work alongside this ~*extraordinary*~ candidate. What this taught me:
      – The call was sincere, because they did legitimately think I did well in my interview – well enough to eventually offer me a position!
      – The originally chosen candidate is a pretty average employee overall, with some pretty serious personal quirks that can make working with him difficult – some people just look especially impressive on paper.

      In short, keep on trucking – you will find the right position eventually, and this company may be sincere in their statement that they’ll keep your resume on file.

  4. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

    OP#2, it sounds like your coworkers are aware you already broke your nose? If that’s the case, and you need septum repair, it’s really common for folks to come out of that repair with a nose change, anyway.

    Whether you tell them you had a Carrie Underwood style accident or a repaired septum, they’re probably going to interpret it as a nose job, anyway. So you can say whatever you want to them, or you can just mention the medical improvement from the procedure (e.g., “It’s so nice to be able to breathe, again!” or “Yeah, having a septum fixed makes a huge difference in my energy levels.”). Or you can shrug it off and change the subject.

    1. Engineer Girl*

      There’s another part too. Even septum surgery has facial swelling. It doesn’t totally go away for months. So the difference may not be immediately noticeable. By the time the swelling has gone down the coworkers may not remember the difference.

      1. WS*

        My cousin and I both needed this surgery (thanks, genetics!) Both of us had noticeably different nose shapes afterwards, because the swelling from sinus issues had affected the tissue around the nose. People did ask if we’d had plastic surgery (me more than him, I’m female) but no, we hadn’t.

        1. Myrin*

          Reading these comments, I feel like I dodged a massive bullet – I had septum surgery early last year and my face was never swollen at all! Even my nose itself was only slightly swollen for a few days, and looking at the pictures we took a few hours after the surgery, I look basically normal. I mean, my doctor made sure to prevent my nose’s normal shape and everything (which he indeed managed to do – it still looks exactly like it did pre-surgery), but now I feel like even apart from that, I could have looked mighty different if things had gone weird!

      2. Falling Diphthong*

        *raises hand* I’m not faceblind, but on that end of the spectrum, and I imagine I would notice nothing if a bump was gone post-swelling. (If I did think you looked different, I wouldn’t launch into a guessing game of why.)

        I suppose this is outing myself as someone who’d be the last to notice everyone around me being replaced by robot copies.

      3. LessNosy (OP2)*

        That’s a really good point – I guess in my nervousness I didn’t even consider that. It will likely be more of a gradual change that maybe they’ll get used to!

    2. Someone Else*

      Yeah, I’m acquainted with a couple of hockey players who’ve had some severely broken noses that required surgery, and they looked different before and after. They weren’t intentionally changing their noses, but they looked different anyway just from the straight medically necessary repair. If the coworkers ever knew anyone who’d been in a similar accident or had a similar injury, they probably won’t be surprised if OP looks different afterward.

      1. Nita*

        Exactly! I’m sure OP could just say she had surgery to repair a broken nose, and not go into whether the shape change is a nice surprise or something she planned.

    3. RaccoonMama*

      Yep, my mom got her deviated septum fixed a few years ago (to help with her loud snoring and sinus problems), and while she didn’t get any cosmetic changes people *still* asked if she’d gotten a nose job. Mostly jokingly but…it’s common enough hopefully none of LW’s coworkers make a big fuss of it!
      Wishing LW the best with her surgery!

    4. SteamedBuns*

      OP #2 will probably be shocked at how many people don’t notice.

      I got a nose job 3 years ago. I’m super open about it. I was getting nosebleeds every single day. Terrible headaches every single day. I never felt well-rested. Instead of just getting the septioplasty I, too, opted to get a couple bumps shaved down and wanted my nostrils to have a less flared appearance.

      I notice a HUGE difference! I can finally look at myself in photos without wanting to cry! I haven’t had a nose bleed since!

      But the friends that I didn’t tell about the surgery had no idea until I told them.

      I spent 8k on my schnoz (well 5…insurance picked up 3k of the tab), part of me wishes I would get more comments on it…but finding an amazing surgeon who goes above and beyond in maintaining a natural appearance worked out well for me.

      Even the friends that did know prior to surgery who told me “don’t do it, you’ll look like -famous person who had a botched nose job-” say that if they didn’t know I had one they’d not have noticed.

      1. LessNosy (OP2)*

        OP2 here. Oh my gosh, I quite literally feel your pain. I can’t sleep and TMI, I’m throwing clots out of my right nostril I seriously cannot wait to be able to breathe, not bleed, AND like the way I look. So glad to hear you’re happy with your results!!

      2. Wayside*

        Similar story for me too with the cost but I didn’t tell anyone except my partner. I had a few days off vacation leave from work for recovery. But I didn’t have a broken nose just cosmetic surgery. When it was done, no one questioned me at work and even family members had not noticed it. I thought it was a bit noticeable and with the swelling it blew up bigger than the original size after surgery. I think people just politely thought I had a sinus problem. I think OP should enjoy the change it will make because it is really exciting to change something like that. It takes a few months to two years for the nose to settle into its shape and at the end it does look different. But whether you tell people or not is up to you. In my case I didn’t because I’m a private person. It gave me a huge confidence boost and even years later I still feel so happy about the decision and enjoy looking in the mirror and tying up my hair off my face. Good luck.

        1. LessNosy (OP2)*

          Completely understandable and I think you hit the nail on the head for why I care so much – I’m pretty private too and really don’t prefer to project what’s going on in my “more private” life to most people outside of immediate family and 1-2 closest friends. Thanks for the luck, and I can’t wait to have a functional and more attractive nose!

          1. Mel*

            I had a purely cosmetic nose job about nine years ago, and only told my husband, one friend and some family members. Literally no one who didn’t know commented on it, which was fine with me as I’m pretty private too. Also, even nine years out I look at my profile at least weekly and am so happy I had it done! My nose still isn’t “perfect”, but I feel like it’s the nose I was meant to be born with :) I hope you are as happy with your results!

    5. shep*

      I had a cosmetic rhinoplasty and no one ever said a word to me except one coworker a few weeks after the procedure. She was talking to me in the threshold of my office (and a busy hall) and suddenly interrupted herself to exclaim (very loudly): “DO YOU HAVE A BLACK EYE?”

      Now, I HAD had a black eye, which is very common after rhinoplasty, but I was pretty sure it had sufficiently faded. Also, I went through a long spell of not wearing makeup, and have the good fortune of taking after my dad wherein we have spectacularly ashy under-eyes, especially when we’re tired or sick.

      But OH MY GOODNESS, that struck me as the rudest way to broach the subject–especially something potentially as sensitive as a situation in which I would end up with a black eye, because I’m pretty sure “nose job” is not the first thing that springs to mind. I just sputtered for a moment and said, “Um, no, that’s just my face without concealer.”

      So she was the only person who said anything even remotely related to my rhinoplasty. Others may have noticed, but they never said anything. Also, as others have said here, there’s potentially a LOT of swelling (I was various degrees of swollen for a good year). Since your coworkers know you’re having this surgery, they should expect you to be swollen, and as Engineer Girl said, probably won’t even notice a difference by the time the swelling dissipates.

      1. LessNosy (OP2)*

        How rude!! Sorry you had to go through that – but I like your response! Hopefully that coworker never made comments like that on anyone’s looks ever again.

        1. shep*

          She means well, but unfortunately she’s one of those who just says what she’s thinking. A while back we were having an informal divisional meeting (mainly a snack social) and she was (1) pressing another coworker to eat and then (2) realized she was on a special diet and continued to press her for information on how much weight she’d lost. Seriously. Along the lines of:

          “Wow, are you losing weight?”
          “Really? How much?”
          “Yes, but HOW MANY POUNDS?”

          In front of everyone. It was deeply uncomfortable.

          1. shep*

            Oh, and probably the most egregious foot-in-mouth instance as far as I’m concerned: She told someone it’s a good thing things didn’t work out with her Muslim boyfriend because “in their culture, he would own you.”

            It apparently happened within earshot of me, but I only found out from my coworker friend later. If I’d heard it for myself, although I’m SUPER conflict-averse, this is definitely a situation wherein I probably would’ve low-key lost my shit. I have lots of Muslim family members, but even if I didn’t, I like to think I’m educated enough to know that this is ABSOLUTELY not true.

            (I admit I took great pleasure during a discussion about rice dishes explaining that I have a particularly deep love of rice because I’m half middle-eastern.

            “Oh, I didn’t know that.”

            NO, YOU DIDN’T. Facepalm.)

            1. LessNosy (OP2)*

              Oh my gosh. *headdesk* You deserve the most amazing karma for having to deal with her.

    6. LessNosy (OP2)*

      I love the idea of mentioning the medical improvement! Knowing my coworkers, that would probably steer them in the direction I would rather go.

      1. TootsNYC*

        Also, I might assume the removing the bump was part of what was medically necessary. Feel free to let that stand.

        (I also wouldn’t judge someone who said, “well, I figured while they were in there, they might as well smooth my nose out, right? ‘While you’re up…’ Sometimes a bit of project creep is very useful.”)

      2. Cheese Boat*

        My mom had deviated septum surgery when I was in high school, and although I understand they do it a little different now, after all was said and done she went from having a German bump to a little ski slope nose! Granted, maybe she was hiding from us that she actually also had a rhinoplasty but I have never questioned that it could just be the way they had to manage her nose. So I would just tell people about the deviated septum part and leave off the rhinoplasty if you don’t feel like discussing it! I hope your surgery goes well!

    7. CommanderBanana*

      Who cares if people know you had a nose job? I broke my nose badly as a child and eventually had a septoplasty, sinus surgery and a rhinoplasty because the broken septum’s scar tissue had sealed over one side of my sinuses and I was constantly getting tonsillitis from it, plus dental pain from the sinus infections.

      The septoplasty completely removed my septum, so I had to have a rhinoplasty or have a completely flat nose. It looks different because the bump from the broken ridge is gone. I also had to wear a nose bandage for a month afterwards, so it was pretty obvious.

      It annoyed me that people seemed to think it was “okay” to have a nose job because I’d also had extensive sinus surgery as opposed to having one just because I didn’t like the shape of my nose (which I didn’t and was already considering a rhinoplasty anyway).

      It’s likely that your nose and face will be swollen enough that it won’t be immediately noticeable that the bump is gone. And my surgeon told me that it can take up to six months for the nose to ‘settle’ into its new shape and the swelling to go away entirely, so your nose will gradually look more defined.

      I’ve had other plastic surgery and I could not care less if people know about it. I won’t answer invasive questions about “why” I felt the need to get plastic surgery, but if someone is looking for a doctor or thinking about getting the same procedure themselves I don’t mind telling them about my experience.

    8. Classic Rando*

      My sister, who I shared a room with until my mid-20s, always had a bump on her nose bridge. I didn’t think it looked bad, but she hated it. She also had septum issues, and a few years ago had surgery to correct them, and lumped a nose job into that to remove the bump.

      I knew she was having the surgery. I knew when she had the surgery. I knew that she was planning to remove the bump.

      And yet, the next time I saw her in person, I didn’t notice the change at all. So… depending on how severe OP’s bump is, the coworkers might not notice either!

  5. Greg NY*

    #3: You are going to have to remind your manager about your other responsibilities. They might be ignorant, they might not care, they might not remember, they might be selfish. The only way to know is to see what their reaction is. I think it would also help to tell them that you cover for others, which gives them flexibility, and you deserve the same flexibility back, especially in light of your family and school obligations. Ultimately, Alison is right that you may have to leave if your manager refuses to change, but if that happens, this isn’t a manager you’d want to continue working for, despite liking the job otherwise.

    1. MassMatt*

      Interesting, I actually think getting into the reasons why opens up potential arguments from the boundary-disrespecting boss. I would focus on the entirely reasonable and normal need for knowing what your schedule is in advance. Virtually no one goes to work wondering when (or whether!) they are going to be able to leave.

      I am wondering whether the manager does this to other employees, and if so whether it is with the sample frequency. Maybe she has some sort of weird issue, such as resenting that your are taking the classes to advance your career?

      I hope you have a grandboss or HR who is reasonable because my hunch is that your boss is not and this won’t end with one conversation.

      1. some peasant*

        I have been avoiding relying on the school excuse, actually. I think it’s a weird sense of justice. Sometimes, at the end of a shift, the only thing that’s got me through the last two hours of customers griping is thinking, “oh good, I can go home at x”. So, even if it’s just downtime I’d be giving up, it feels like my stress levels are paying for it.

        I have asked around and this is an ongoing issue of time management and managers-not-managing, I think. We don’t have a grandboss or HR contact nearby, so I will probably try to mitigate as best I can until I graduate and am in a position to look for full-time elsewhere

        1. GlitsyGus*

          Good luck. Customer Service (which is what your comment makes it sounds like you’re doing, even if it isn’t traditional retail) is pretty notorious for disrespecting employee boundaries. I would follow Allison’s advice and while you don’t need to totally fall back on school, it is totally legit to say “Hey, Circe, I am back in school for the semester, so I don’t have the kind of flexibility to change my hours without notice. Sorry, but I do need you to give me a heads up on these things.”

          If she does, great! If not, well, as Alison said you’re going to need to make a decision as to what you want to deal with.

    2. MusicWithRocksInIt*

      I feel like if you have a more candid relationship with your boss you could try for a big picture conversation right away? “Lately it has often felt like you need me to be available to work longer hours at the end of my scheduled workday with no prior notice, and seem upset when I have to say no. I have prior commitments that I have to get to after work. I feel like I can’t rely on my scheduled hours anymore, and being able to do that is important to me. What can we do to make sure that all the hours I am needed to work are scheduled ahead of time?”

    3. Beatings Will Continue Until Morale Improves*

      I worked for someone who didn’t care what we had going on in the evening. We were expected to hang around until everyone was done with their work and back in the office (our job was mobile and our schedules fluctuated a lot) and he was done talking to us. Leaving “on time” was a huge no no as was refusing to take on extra work at the end of the day that was already assigned to someone else on a rotating basis.
      Two of us quit and he blew up. Didn’t understand at all why we didn’t find cancelling plans all the time for the sake of our clients to be a problem since they came before anything in our personal lives and he also liked to complain endlessly about having to pay taxes on our bonuses.
      Managers like this don’t change. We talked to him multiple times and the only result was being threatened with extra scheduled work time so we wouldn’t make plans. He was shocked we left. I would look at other employment options if that’s a possibility.

  6. Temperance*

    LW3: there’s always the “it was part of the deviated septum” surgery white lie. It’s true, technically, while not giving away more information than you feel comfortable sharing.

    1. Lord Gouldian Finch*

      Agreed, I’d say it was part of the surgery. Which isn’t a lie if it’s being done at the same time (as it then IS part of the same surgery procedure). Whether it was strictly medically necessary is something between you and your doctor, after all.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        Yep, OP, people have no clue, really. Craft a go-to statement of one or two sentences and keep reusing that statement. We do have people in society who jump to their own conclusions about everything. Don’t worry about those people, they will just think or do whatever. Let them do that as that tends to bring on a set of struggles- er, learning experiences- that they need to work through themselves. You are fine, your life will continue on. Remember we can’t control what others think all we can do is make sure we are making good choices for ourselves. And this sounds like you are taking good care of yourself.

  7. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

    OP#4, this would drive me out of my mind. I think it’s totally unreasonable to charge employees for mandatory “parties” that are going to happen multiple times per year because people are required to take exams to remain employed. It’s one thing to ask someone to foot the bill for celebrating their birthday or other major event, but this sounds like mandatory fun where no one has fun.

    1. Tardigrade*

      And maybe I’m imaging something way less extravagant than what’s actually going on, but what kind of office celebration costs $85 per (even absent) head?!

      1. Trout 'Waver*

        I read it as that only the people that passed exams pay for everyone in the office, even those who didn’t take the exams or already have the credential.

        1. Tardigrade*

          Ah, yes I misunderstood that. I was reading it as those who passed + everyone else except those who didn’t pass.

    2. GRA*

      I was wondering if it was a way for the them to recoup some of the money spent on their employees for the exams? Disguised as paying for the party? Maybe a long stretch, but especially since they have to pay twice if they pass two exams in one year.

      1. samiratou*

        This was my take. It’s a (petty) way for the employer to claw back some of the costs of funding the exams.

        I don’t think it was a miscommunication, but the LW should treat it as one when she pushes back.

      2. Lisa Babs*

        That is exactly what I was thinking. The OP is paying $85 for the company provided funds to use for study material and paid time off to use for studying.
        I was also thinking that maybe it was even to pay for a party to compensate the other employees that had to make up your work for your extra time off.
        But I agree with GRA that paying twice for passing two exams does also make me think it’s a compensation thing.

        1. So long and thanks for all the fish*

          If nothing else, if nothing can be done about the cost, looking at it as a way to thank your coworkers who covered for you while you were studying might be a decent way for the OP to frame it in her own head? It’s still a ridiculous practice though.

        1. TootsNYC*

          mathematically, perhaps–but emotionally / psychologically?

          Also, as you know, money is fungible.

    3. Not So NewReader*

      I have to say, I love, love, love Alison’s scripts here. I bet no one in the company has tried to do this yet, that is why the company keeps doing it.

      I have no idea how this works, OP, but maybe asking for receipts so you can take it as a tax deduction would knock some people into reality.

      1. KarenT*

        Agreed. And I have to wonder who at the company has made this mandatory. Perhaps upper management, but also could just be a social committee on a power trip.

      2. Ama*

        I think Alison is exactly right that everyone has forgotten the original reasoning for this (or maybe all the people who came up with the original idea are long gone). I would not be surprised at all if this started as people who passed inviting their coworkers out for celebratory drinks a few times and somehow it morphed into “mandatory cost for mandatory party.”

        When I worked in academia (where this kind of “weird practice that no one remembers the reason for” is pretty common), I would frequently go to my bosses with “hey, so doing X this way is a bit inefficient. Is there any reason why we can’t do it this other way/stop doing it entirely?” Sometimes there was a valid reason behind it once people looked, sometimes there was an internal political reason why it couldn’t be altered, but sometimes once I’d pointed out that there was no reason to do things that way people were more than happy to change.

    4. Je Ne Care Pas*

      This is SUPER bizarre to me. I actually do work in an actuarial department. It’s standard practice to pay for exams and study materials/time for actuary students. We also do a once-annual department-wide dinner to celebrate everyone who has passed an exam — but it’s specifically paid for by our company, NOT anyone in the department. No one is singled out, every single person (whether they passed or not, took an exam or not) gets their meal paid for.

      It would also be a terrible way to recoup money for the exams, because the study materials alone can run into the hundreds, and the exams themselves are a couple hundred a pop. If you’re going to pinch pennies, why wouldn’t you be charging the people who failed?

      FWIW, the biggest drama we’ve had with our party is our VP getting crabby because people would order bottles of wine and not finish them. :)

    5. Marthooh*

      I think management is treating it like a sportsball game; winners buy the first round. And apparently all the rest of the rounds.

  8. Greg NY*

    #1: I’d suggest that you nip it in the bud and not wait for him to ask you “the big question”. Speak to him and tell him that you found out this news from others, and many others know. Explain the truth to him, that you aren’t interested in him, that you wouldn’t have been interested in him had he came to you without letting everyone else know and you would’ve turned him down gently. When you do that, the suspense is over, and it is no longer going to be office news.

    Depending on how friendly you are with him, you might also tell him that it wouldn’t have made a difference with you because you weren’t interested anyway, but for many people, this kind of charade would lessen his chances with them. If you barely speak, you can omit this part.

    1. OhNoes*

      Recommend you have some friendly colleagues help hover around in the background so he doesn’t escalate it into from AWKWARD to REALLY AWKWARD

    2. wherewolf*

      If I didn’t get any other weird vibes from this person, that’s how I would handle it. “Dude, I’ve heard from like 372 people that you like me. I’m not interested and I wish you had just asked me so I could say no, instead of telling everyone else, which was weird and unprofessional. So thanks but no thanks, and please stop broadcasting this stuff to everyone at work.”

      If I got weird vibes I’d go straight to HR though.

    3. Tyche*

      I discourage this course of action.
      This opens the door for the classic “I was only being friendly! Did you really think I’d ask you out?”

      Then, if things escalated, you’ll have more difficulties presenting your case to HR.

      1. wherewolf*

        If things escalated, wouldn’t it be easier to present the case to (a functioning, competent) HR, regardless of what OP did?

        “John was telling coworkers he wanted to ask me out. It made me uncomfortable. I spoke to him directly, said no, and asked him to cut it out. Now he’s mocking me to coworkers and spreading rumors about how I’m in love with him [or whatever escalation]. This is sexual harassment and I need it to stop.”

        Is OP’s case so much weaker without sentence 3? Honestly I think just the first 2 sentences should be enough. But that’s more on how reliable is HR, than what OP should or shouldn’t do.

        1. Falling Diphthong*

          I see the information hypothetical OP acts on being all second-hand as a potential problem with this scenario. In framing to HR it’d be better if escalation was left in John’s corner until he actually does something directly to her. I absolutely think targets are allowed to escalate beyond what their bullies were counting on–but John hasn’t directly done anything to OP yet but mention that he wants to ask her something. Which could be about the Weebles account.

          (For example, it’s conceivable at this point that this is a deluded match-making third coworker trying to steer the two together.)

      2. sheworkshardforthemoney*

        Yes, pre-empting him could send him into r/nice guy mode. Wait to see if he asks and then shut him down with a firm “I never date co-workers,” In the meantime, make sure all of your interactions with him are neutral and professional.

        1. MusicWithRocksInIt*

          A couple people have said to go with “I never date co-workers” but honestly that just gives him mental hoops to jump through. He could tell himself things like ‘she would totally date me if we didn’t work together, I just need to convince her to give up that rule’ and then he would keep pining and oversharing his feelings with everyone. Just shut him down with a solid No or Not interested. Which can be really hard. Woman have been taught to soften their rejections and that men can react badly to a solid no. But if he reacts badly HR should have your back, and I think a solid no will end this situation much more quickly.

          1. GradStudent*

            Having dealt with my share of “nice guys”, its terrifying and dangerous. I’ve been followed around campus, harassed through every form of social media possible (even email!), and been followed into classes (that the man was not taking) where they stayed for the whole class sitting as close as possible to me all while “friends” were defending the men’s behavior! Even No Contact orders weren’t enough in some of the cases. Not sending him into “nice guy” mode is an act of self-preservation.

          2. Mookie*

            Because to be a functioning Nice Guy, you have to have a victim, a scapegoat, and/or a recipient of your harassment. The LW will be that person. I agree that “don’t provoke him!” is obvious victim-blaming; I consider this more in the line of a fair warning. Engage with him at length about this and you’ll have legitimized it as a reasonable subject for discussion / his everlasting, guilt-tripping whinging.

            The only time it’s fun to troll Nice Guys is when they can’t get to you, in my opinion.

      3. Not So NewReader*

        “I was only being friendly! Did you really think I’d ask you out?”

        “Oh, you were only being friendly? Good, I am so glad we got this out in the open. Now you can just stop saying that because we have discussed it. Since you were only being friendly, it should be absolutely no problem to let it go and focus on our work. And then we do not have to have this discussion again.”

        snark/ I was really hoping you would NOT ask me out for reasons 1-24. Which is why I am saying this now, so we can cut to the punchline./snark. Do not say this, but carry the attitude.

        1. GlitsyGus*

          This exactly. “Oh, ok, great, must have been a miscommunication. So we don’t have to worry about this coming up anymore. Have a great weekend!” If he needs the stupid cover up let him have it, but make it clear that this is the end of the situation.

      4. TootsNYC*

        I discourage this course of action.
        This opens the door for the classic “I was only being friendly! Did you really think I’d ask you out?”

        Why is that a bad thing?

        And the response to that is, “Nevertheless.”
        And then you go back to your desk.

        Or, you say, “I’m going on what several people told me. Regardless, please don’t discuss me with other people here in the office anymore.” And then you go back to your desk.

        Who gives a shit what comebacks he comes up with to try to save face? They’re just hot air.

      5. Essess*

        You don’t give him the ability to get away with that gas lighting. When you speak to him, you tell him that it is coming to you from several sources that he is telling other people that he is going to ask you out. If he tries that classic line, you can let him know that if that is true then he needs to be more careful about what he is saying to other coworkers about you because that is what is being passed around the office and that he needs to shut that down.

        1. Isabel Kunkle*


          “I was just being friendly!”

          “Well, I don’t know what you said, but what other people *heard* was that you were going to ask me out. So now you know not to be ‘friendly’ in that way any more.”

          1. GlitsyGus*

            That’s even better than what I might have suggested which was “maybe it was some kind of misunderstanding but…” your “well, what they heard was…” is way better because it’s less wishy washy. They did hear you say that, you want to cover your tracks, fine, but end it here, dude.

      6. smoke tree*

        To be honest, if this guy turns more aggressive, I don’t think there’s much that could have been done to avoid it. It’s hard to know without confronting him in some way, and I understand if the LW would rather not do that.

    4. Tau*

      I like this idea (also because, in OP1’s situation, waiting for John to finally actually ask the question instead of spreading rumours and asking around the question would drive me to distraction.) I would however consider:
      – mentioning it to your boss or HR beforehand as a heads-up. “Hi, just so you know John is apparently telling a lot of people saying he’s interested in me and going to ask me out. I’ve heard this secondhand a number of times and it’s making work really uncomfortable. I’m going to talk to him about it and hopefully nip this in the bud, but wanted to let you know in case it goes badly.” Wording isn’t great, but you get the gist. I worry that there’s a decent chance John will attempt to retaliate when you do turn him down, and this way you have your story in first and a good basis for going back and saying “I talked to John and now he’s doing X, can you please step in and tell him to knock it off?”
      – figuring out how to react if he goes “what, I was never interested in you, how could you think I’d ever be interested in you!” as there’s a pretty big chance that’s what he’ll do. I’d probably consider accepting it at face value and going “well, that’s a relief! I’m glad you’re not because that would have made things really awkward. The rumour mill is strange, isn’t it?” Like, allowing him to save face a little is probably not the worst thing for peace and harmony at your workplace.

      1. Woodswoman*

        I mostly agree with this approach, with one change. I would speak to my manager and use this variation of Tau’s script: “Hi, just so you know, I’ve heard from several of my co-workers that John has told them he plans to ask me out. It’s making work really uncomfortable. I would like this to stop, and I would appreciate your advice about how to deal with the situation.”

        OP, this assumes you have a good relationship with your manager and that s/he would be receptive to brainstorming solutions with you. The reason I think it’s good to start there is that you will have said something in advance, rather than going straight to John and having him say who knows what and to who about your conversation. Getting your manager’s take on things might lower the drama factor rather than elevate it.

        I mention this from an experience that was not identical to what is happening for the OP, but similar enough that I thought I’d share what was helpful for me. My manager was awesome, and helped steer me in the correct direction about how to respond while also now being there to back me up if anything blew up.

        1. EPLawyer*

          Definintely loop in the boss first. But talk to him now. He’s already made it awkward and uncomfortable. You do not have to put up with being uncomfortable at work just because John is milking it for all the drama he can. What if he just talks forever but never asks? It’s still awkward, uncomfortable and the source of drama and gossip in the office.

          Tell him politely that you are not interested. Also, if you feel like it, remind him this is not middle school. We don’t ask our friends to ask so-so if they like us. If he reacts badly, you have already told your boss. The next stop is HR.

          1. Not So NewReader*

            OP, super important, don’t let his discomfort become YOUR discomfort. You have done nothing wrong here. You deserve to have a workplace that is free of this type of synthetic (and preventable) drama. It’s his drama not yours and more importantly, this is nothing you did/created/caused.

    5. all the candycorn*

      Do this in writing, with your boss and HR cc’d.

      Hello John,

      I have heard from Jim, Joe, Sally, Rachel, Fergus, and Wakeen that you “like” me and are planning on asking me out. Please be advised that I am not interested in dating you, and am going to turn down the offer.

      It makes me very uncomfortable that so many people have been included in spreading rumors about me.

      Thank you,

      1. Detective Amy Santiago*

        I feel like immediately escalating to boss & HR might not be the best course of action.

        1. Susana*

          Agree, DAS. It makes *hr* sound junior high schoolish. At this point, she doesn’t have more than, John is telling people he has a crush on me, which isn’t really an HR level issue yet. It will be the aftermath of her no that will determine next course of action…

    6. TootsNYC*

      yeah, I think I’d want to stop this now, proactively, instead of waiting for him to “pop the question.”

      (He may be testing the waters–give him the feedback promptly)

      1. Eddiesherbert*

        This is also how I feel – especially since he seems to be dragging this out! You have no idea if he’s going to ask you out tomorrow or if it’s going to take another month of weird hints and gossip before he gets there.

        Plus, if you’re worried about how he’s going to react, you get to choose when/where this conversation happens (and if you have backup nearby).

    7. LurkieLoo*

      This, but I’d keep it simple to start and tell him something along the lines of “I’ve heard from several sources that you want to ask me out. If this is true, please don’t.” If he presses, you can add more of the details Greg suggests as needed and up to the point you feel comfortable. If he says it’s just a misunderstanding, you can tell him that people are for some reason getting this impression from how he talks about you then.

      Absolutely take back up to be on hand if you feel you need to, but I think doing this in a group makes it seem even more high school.

      I wouldn’t wait until he gets up the nerve to ask you out, though. The rejection after putting yourself out there is so much more personal feeling and (I feel like) would be more likely to escalate due to hurt feelings in the moment. If you preemptively reject him, he can save face by denying it or calling it a misunderstanding or even just saying it’s too bad he thinks you’re the bees knees. Or he might be shocked speechless.

      If he’s more creepy than that, it will come out in other ways, I’m sure.

    8. smoke tree*

      If he seems more on the clueless side, I’d consider just letting him know in advance that you don’t appreciate being the subject of the rumours, and it puts you in an uncomfortable position having to deal with this at work. It’s the opportunity for him to get a learning experience if he’s willing to take it, and to avoid the embarrassment of asking you out. If he then gets more aggressive, it’s HR time.

  9. Enter_the_Dragonfly*

    OP3 – I know jobs don’t grow on trees, but I would definitely start looking around. It’s not impossible that a conversation with your manager about respecting your time will go somewhere but unless there’s some information missing from your letter they a) sound like the kind of person who’s unlikely to change and b) sound very likely to hold a grudge (snide comments when you have prior commitments? Really??).
    Do talk to them by all means, use Allison’s excellent script (and probably the follow-up one as well) but just start looking around. It can’t do any harm and it might get you out of a frustrating situation.

    1. Tardigrade*

      Agreed on the looking around. It’s useful to at least know what else is out there, and I’m also worried that a boss who regularly makes same-day schedule changes and makes passive-aggressive comments might not listen and/or take it well. Not that OP shouldn’t try and assume good intent from the manager, but just be prepared.

    2. Paris Geller*

      Yup. My last manager was like this. It was a job I had to pay the bills while in grad school and as soon as I graduated, I got out ASAP. It was never going to be a career job, but one of the reasons I left as quickly as I did was because of my manager’s absolute inability to schedule properly. There were a lot of other things wrong with that job and that manager, but that was one that impacted me literally every single shift.

  10. grey*

    #3 – The LW may want to see if their jurisdiction has a Predictive Schedule law. May help them out if their boss continues to be obtuse.

    1. some peasant*

      Thank you! I just checked, and it does look like some new legislation has come into effect. If nothing else, I think I can turn down shifts that aren’t 72-hours ahead, etc. I’ll definitely keep this in the back of my mind from now on — at least I know what can’t be held against me.

      1. SavannahMiranda*

        Make sure the legislation applies to your size and type of employer. Exemptions could be included for employers with 20 or fewer employers, employers who run shift work factories, healthcare employers (so they can call in staff or EMTs on short schedule), that sort of thing.

        Just read closely and make sure your workplace doesn’t fall under any exemptions. And make sure it’s not slated to take effect January 2020 or something.

        You can usually find the full text of the legislation online via your state’s legislative body. Good luck! And good job advocating for yourself! You’re going to do great.

  11. nnn*

    For #1, I’m pondering whether it would be useful to respond to all these people who keep telling you John is going to ask you out with “Oh no…now I have to figure out how to say no without making things weird for everyone’s professional relationship! Do me a favour – if he mentions this to you again, try to talk him out of it!”

    I mean, normally involving all your colleagues would be a huge no, but he’s already involved them against your will, so why not make use of that? Then instead of Everyone Thinks John and LW are Going Out, it’s Everyone Stop John from Asking Out LW.

    Thinking back to when I was 13 and thought it was a good idea to get my friend to ask Crush’s friend if Crush liked me, I would have backed off completely if word had gotten back to me that Crush didn’t like me. I can’t tell through the internet if that would also apply to John, but his motivation does seem similar.

    1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

      Oh, I would not ask them to talk him out of it! That just perpetuates the junior high-esque nature of his misconduct. If OP asks her coworkers anything, she can ask them if they can help shut him down or not indulge him when he talks to them about wanting/planning to ask OP out.

      1. Ask a Manager* Post author

        Yeah. Maybe just say, “It’s super weird that he’s talking to people about this, and if you hear it again, I’d appreciate if if you’d tell him it’s inappropriate and he should stop.”

        1. wherewolf*

          I’m confused how your and PCBH’s comments are different from nnn’s. They all seem along the lines of “next time someone comes up to you about it, tell them to tell him to stop.”

          Yes, it’s still junior-high-esque I suppose but it makes it very clear what OP’s feelings are, and turns these coworkers from messengers to allies.

          1. Tash*

            One is a) tell people to tell him a thing and one is b) ask people to shut this down if he carries on.

          2. Ask a Manager* Post author

            I may have misunderstood nnn’s suggestion, but I thought the suggestion there was “try to talk him out of doing it” — in other words, enter into the drama and try to convince him it’s a bad idea, which might involve discussing and cajoling and convincing. What I’m saying is “tell him it’s inappropriate and he needs to shut down the discussion entirely.”

            1. JamieS*

              Differentiating between what nnn and you said is like saying water and wattuh are two different things. It’s the same thing said a bit different. It’s obvious the intent of nnn post was to communicate OP should ask others to communicate to John he should stop which is what you also said.

              1. One of the Sarahs*

                I don’t read it that way at all. The first is about telling John that OP isn’t into him, and opens the door for colleagues to have to be involve in a ton of conversations of the “But whhhhyyyyy? We’re perfect for each other!” type, and gets into the really sticky “What has she said about me?” “When she heard what you said, she said…” and if a colleague asked that of me, I’d be very, very unhappy.

                The second closes everything down and says “All of this conversation is inappropriate” and is about the colleague. It doesn’t get close to colleagues trying to talk for OP.

                1. JamieS*

                  You’re overanalyzing nnn’s post
                  and adding a lot that’s not there which is my point. I could overanalyze Alison’s script too and come to the same conclusion you did about nnn’s post.

                  The take away was to advise OP she should ask others to help nip it in the bud when John brings up asking her out, which is also what Alison’s script is, even if nnn didn’t phrase their script exactly perfectly.

                2. EPLawyer*

                  This. Nnn is adding to the drama and back and forth. Alison is saying what she always says, the colleagues should be saying “I don’t want to be involved in y our drama” and then CHANGE THE SUBJECT with him.

                3. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

                  JamieS, nnn specifically says to deploy junior high tactics to combat junior high behavior. In particular, they said they’d be dissuaded if someone told them their Crush didn’t like them back. It’s not an overread to read that as “tell your coworkers to tell John you’re not interested in dating him, and ask them to talk him out of asking you out.”

                  That’s very different from saying, “Hey, it’s really not appropriate to talk about this. Please stop telling me about your interest in dating OP.”

              2. Falling Diphthong*

                Asking other peers to communicate to John seems very junior high. Whether people are coming to her in the spirit of “John told me to tell you…” or “OooOOooOOoooh someone has an admiiiiiiirer!” or “Heads up, John keeps saying he’s going to ask you out, thought I should tell you so you aren’t in the dark” OP shouldn’t be sending them back with a message to tell John. “I’d appreciate you shutting it down” just requests that they shift from sympathetic or neutral to ‘nope dude’ in response to any actions on his part toward them. But doesn’t ask them to go actively carry messages back.

          3. Someone Else*

            One suggests telling him “don’t ask her out” (and therefore involves themselves more). The other suggests telling him “stop talking about asking her out” (and thus attempts to involve themselves less).

            1. Observer*

              Yes, I read both PCBH and Alison as saying that. Because, really, who wants MORE discussion of this?

      2. Bilateralrope*

        What about telling them “If he asks me, I’ll say no”. Let the rejection get to him in the same way the question came to you.

        1. WonderingHowIGotIntoThis*

          This would also account for the other co-workers WILLINGNESS to engage in the drama. There may be co-workers who want to keep their distance and there may be others who will thrive on the gossip. All these comments so far have assumed the former, but I think that’s painting too rosy a picture of our fellow humanbeings – there will be people at OP3’s company who will enjoy being part of the John – LW grapevine.

            1. Falling Diphthong*

              …. secretly, all Alison’s letters come from one very large, very dysfunctional company, with many small family-owned side-shoots…

              1. AKchic*

                And the occasional family-run non-profit started up in spite to irk an uncle that upset someone.

        2. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

          I can definitely see why that’s a tempting approach (fight immature “communication” with a similar method), but I think it invites the coworkers to participate further in John’s efforts to recreate problematic high school rom-coms. If I were a coworker in the middle of this (assuming I’m not friends with John), I would not want to become an interlocutor between John and OP. I’d much rather have a safe way out of the conversation each time he brings it up, because it would make me super uncomfortable.

    2. The New Wanderer*

      I’d split the difference. If a coworker said to me that John keeps saying he wants to ask me out, I’d say “Oh, huh. Well, I’m not interested and I’d rather he stop talking about me that way with other people.” When this happened to me in HS, I gave the “not interested” response to the mutual friends right away and never heard about it again.

      How aggravating. I like the suggestion to go to the manager first and see what the recommended course of action is. It gets it on record, and maybe the situation will resolve more smoothly if the manager steps in.

    3. Mookie*

      Yes. Push the invasive awkwardness and game-of-telephone back on them. A combination of “why are you telling me this?” + “oh, well, tell him ‘no’ and make sure he understands it.” They want to act on his behalf and do his dirty work, they can take their orders from you, and if they don’t like it, they can shut up. These co-workers are not behaving decently here.

  12. ENFP in Texas*

    #5 – I don’t see how this email is “insulting” in the least. I understand you are viewing it through a lens of personal disappointment, but no, there is nothing insulting in that message.

    1. TootsNYC*

      they also aren’t “openly praise[ing] and stress[ing] how excited we are about the winner”

      They wrote:
      “We did have one candidate that was truly overqualified and had a skill set above what we were looking for. We have offered them the position and they have accepted.”

      Only the word “truly” is a “color” word, and it’s less about gushing and more about accuracy or scale, I think. “we’re not making this up” or “the ‘overqualification’ really is bigger than ‘just a touch more experience.’ “

  13. Greg M.*

    what on earth is going on at this party that is worth 85 dollars? and then 170???? and it’s only people who pass that pay but others attend? this is all kinds of wonky.

    1. AcademiaNut*

      My guess is that the contributions from the passing people fund the general party.

      At my job it’s traditional to arrange for food and drink for a work celebration when you’ve been promoted or got tenure or won a major award, so it doesn’t seem that weird to me (there’s also a strong cultural tradition of senior people treating more junior ones). However, the difference is that for us it’s entirely optional whether you do it or not, and the parties are randomly held when there is an occasion.

      1. The Wall Of Creativity*

        To qualify as an actuary, this guy’s going to have to pass, what, 10-15 exams? A bit more financially onerous than getting a promotion every five of six years.

      2. MK*

        We do that to, but the person who pays decides if they want to do something and what, a.k.a. they are the host in all senses of the word. If the company wants to host these events, they should be paying for them. If they are simply facilitating the celebration for convenience, they should ask each employee each time if they want to participate, not demand money.

      3. Falling Diphthong*

        If I squint, I can see an origin story where years ago Pat was all “I passed my exam! Isn’t there a party?” and management said “Arrange one if you want; you’re paying” and Pat said “Any excuse for cake! Cake and singing!” and thus did it grow into the weird company tradition everyone follows today, even though Pat is now retired on a beach in Bora Bora.

    2. Lora*

      I was thinking, wtf kind of party is this that costs $85?!? There better be live music, a decent sit-down meal, a giant wedding-type cake, an open bar, I get to take home a flower arrangement and the whole thing is held at a swanky hotel. Good heavens.

      Moreover if I have to pay $85 for my own celebration, it’s very much going to be the celebration of MY choice, i.e. good sushi, a bottle of Cakebread white wine and cupcakes from the fancy bakery shared with my women friends, followed by puppies and Netflix in my pajamas.

      1. arjumand*

        Also, the time OP passed 2 exams, she had to pay $175! WHAT. Seriously, my mind is blown, right now. I don’t get the logic. “If you pass ONE exam, it’s steak and red wine. If you pass TWO, it’s lobster and champagne! No, don’t argue, it makes sense (in the land of madness).”

          1. Perse's Mom*

            Can I trade in the steaks for more wine, I think I would need it to attend one of these parties.

      2. Someone Else*

        It’s not $85 a head. It’s $85 from the exam-passers, who seem to be the minority of party attendees, but the only people paying anything. IE they’re funding everyone else’s attendance. If two people pass, and 10 people fail or didn’t take an exam recently, that’s $170 for a 12 person party. It’s not live music and wedding cake level party.

    3. your favorite person*

      It’s crazy to me that they would make them pay for the party themselves! We also have actuaries who have to take those exams and the company hosts (and pays) a once a year party to honor everyone at once. It’s like an awards ceremony. If someone doesn’t want to be recognized, they aren’t. They just pick up the award afterwards. Also, everyone in the company gets food. It’s great.

    4. Beaded Librarian*

      I’m not sure what it says about my thinking but my first thought when I saw they had to pay twice is that the company is trying to recoup some of what it spent on the tests. I know it doesn’t make sense but that’s what occurred to me.

      1. TootsNYC*

        even if it’s only psychological–“we’ve spent all this money on you, you can give something back”

  14. designbot*

    #4, this structure for exam support sounds completely backwards to me, like it’s rewarding those who didn’t pass and penalizing those that do! In my field/former field of architecture, the typical structure is that candidates front the money for exams themselves, and are reimbursed when they can prove they’ve passed. No money for failed exams, no charge for passed exams. If others are as put off by this as you are, I’d look at how other fields handle exam support and present it as references to help your company formulate a policy that is more supportive rather than punitive.

    1. wherewolf*

      +1 Plus, seriously, what are they going to do if you don’t pay and don’t go? Is the idea that you’re paying for OTHER people to be recognized at the party? Otherwise I don’t see what leg they have to stand on.

      1. MassMatt*

        The leg they have to stand on is making the LW’s work life extremely unpleasant, up to and including termination. It would be wrong, and stupid, but if this org is so invested in these parties it is possible.

        I would hate the whole mandatory contribution thing of it no matter the amount, but $85 per person per exam sounds awfully high. Are these large gatherings with lots of food and drink, or is this money going to someone’s private slush fund?

        1. R*

          I worked somewhere where, once you got the designation, the tradition was to sponsor a happy hour cohosting with anyone who got the designation the same time as you. You basically prayed you would get a decent number of cohosts. It was very very expected to do this and your peers would not be happy if you didn’t. It could end up in the $500+ range. But then, you do get a pay jump and a bonus for both exam passing and designation achieving, si the theory was you had the money and should be happy to do it. I went elsewhere before I got my designation!

          1. valentine*

            the theory was you had the money and should be happy to do it Ew. This could go really wrong. Did anyone say no or admit the bill was too high?

            1. R*

              Some people refused on religious grounds and brought in cupcakes instead. People were not happy about it at all. I don’t know that it had direct professional impact but they were definitely viewed as not being team players.

              1. TootsNYC*

                Lately I find that I see violations of the Tenth Commandment (thou shalt not covet…) everywhere!

          2. Health Insurance Nerd*

            Wow, what a terrible tradition. The company gives people a raise and a bonus and then gets to dictate how it’s spent? Pass.

    2. The Wall Of Creativity*

      Yes. I agree. Make those that failed pay. He can those that failed even show their faces at the celebration? I’d be too embarrassed to attend.

      1. MK*

        This is very unkind. Failing an exam, especially a difficult professional exam is not a moral failure that merits paying a fine in the form of sponsoring the people who passed for a celebration.

        1. Harper the Other One*

          Yes, and especially for many high-level designations, where it’s quite common to need to take the exam more than once.

          1. Decima Dewey*

            When I worked for the accounting firm (I was support staff), I was told that passing all parts of the CPA exam the first time was bad–because then you still had to do X years of public accounting before you could claim the CPA designation. If you had sections you still hadn’t passed, at least you had a goal to work toward.

      2. McWhadden*

        Actuaries take an ungodly number of exams. It isn’t at all unusual to have to take some twice. It’s nothing to be ashamed or embarrassed over. And they certainly shouldn’t have to pay. (Nor should the winners though.)

      3. Jadelyn*

        Have you ever had a career that required professional certifications? Those exams can be brutal, and often have only a 50-60% pass rate depending on the profession and which exam. It’s not something to be horrifyingly ashamed of so that you can’t even “show your face” at an event celebrating your peers who did pass. This is a bizarrely judgmental take on it.

      4. Former Admin Turned Project Manager*

        I have a professional certification for which I had to take the exam twice; the first time through, I missed the passing grade by one point. I’m not a bit ashamed, and I decided that I would do one retake (the certification was neither required nor guaranteed to give me a raise/promotion/bump in performance rating) but that would be it. Had I missed passing the second time, I still would have been proud of the amount I’d learned and the experience I got preparing for the exam, since the qualifications required to sit for the exam were not easy on their own.

    3. Lynca*

      “In my field/former field of architecture, the typical structure is that candidates front the money for exams themselves, and are reimbursed when they can prove they’ve passed.”

      This is the way they handle it for the engineers that work here. You even get a modest reimbursement for study materials but you have to pay for everything up front. I do know other locations that cover the costs entirely but they tend to have fewer engineers than we do.

      The set up the OP’s company has for the testing is very generous from my experience. The mandatory party is really the only weird thing.

      1. Antilles*

        I have also seen the same in my engineering field – the employee pays upfront for the licensing exam and you get reimbursed if and only if you pass.
        If there was an employee who legitimately couldn’t front the $300 or whatever for the exam, the company would probably figure it out…but with a clear implication of “you *will* study as hard as it takes to make sure you pass the first time because it’ll look really bad for you if you ask for a special exception then fail”.

    4. It's me*

      in public accounting the firm will typically front the costs for study materials (often have partnerships with a big name one) and then they reimburse you up front for each section of the exam. If you pass, no problem and if you fail you just have to pay for the next round yourself. I don’t really see a problem with that approach. What I do see as a problem is making someone front the cost of a party they might not even attend!

  15. Phil*

    #2 If it was me, I wouldn’t be able to resist the temptation to have my out-of-office auto reply say something about picking my nose.

    1. Bilateralrope*

      I’d probably make a few jokes about some excessive cosmetic options. Like installing some lights.

  16. Lissa*

    Charging double because you passed two exams makes no sense. I mean the rest of it is bad but this… would you being to two parties? If not, what even?

    1. Blossom*

      It’s almost like the company is trying to recoup its costs by the back door. I can just about imagine the (terrible) logic – “we’ll pay the exam costs up front, but really, having the qualification benefits the employee just as much, so the successful ones can reimburse us”.

      If that’s not it, I’m hoping that is one spectacular party for the cost per head!

      1. R*

        $85 is a drop in the ocean compared to the cost of the exams, study materials and paid study time.

        1. valentine*

          OP #4: Are the parties equally lavish, instead of the budget reflecting the number of exams passed? Do you get a plaque or alleged gift?

          1. Actuary #4*

            The parties are in a rented room at a local place and there are unlimited appetizers and drinks until the budget is exhausted.

        2. Falling Diphthong*

          And it’s not like the company gets cash toward the next executive retreat–they get bags of potato chips.

        3. TootsNYC*

          yes, but it may be less about the cash and more about the gesture: “you should be grateful to us, and paying for the party is how you show it. If you passed two exams that we paid for, you should be twice as grateful.”

    2. Diamond*

      So bizarre! Passing two exams doesn’t mean you will eat twice as much food at the party and require twice the decorations!

      1. valentine*

        I would love to have a garish amount of ribbons and backordered noisemakers, but I wouldn’t pay any amount for something I don’t want.

  17. somebody blonde*

    Alison’s advice is probably better, but in this circumstance, I’d probably pull him aside and say “Can I talk to you about something?” And then launch into “I’ve been hearing from a lot of people that you want to ask me out. If you had asked me out and not said anything to anyone else, I’d still have turned you down, but you and I would be the only ones to know about it.” And then I’d just leave him to it. It may be harsh, but honestly, no one who is old enough to work at a large company with several departments has any business doing this, and I wouldn’t be able to stand the suspense of wondering when he’s going to do it.

    1. Tyche*

      As I commented before, the problem of this course of action is that if OP approaches him, John can minimize saying something like “Oh, but I didn’t mean to ask you out! It was on friendly terms! How could you think that!”, that’s the usual strategy in these cases.

      Then it becomes a case of “he says – she says” and OP could lose face because she’ll be caught in the middle of this gossip, or if in future some problems arise, then OP may have lost some credibility with HR.

      1. DrakeMallard*

        Definitely agree. At this point since he’s already mentioned asking the question, I’d go ahead and let him ask, then politely decline. And I wouldn’t even mention the immaturity of telling all of OP’s work friends. I would, however, ask those people to tell me if he comes to them with additional gossip, asking them to “put in a good word” for him (i.e. guilt OP into accepting a date), etc. At that point I would take all of that information to HR and ask work friends to back me up if need be.

        There’s always the possibility this guy is just a little clueless and awkward but chances are he’s behaving this way because it has worked for him in the past.

      2. Not So NewReader*

        “Oh, but I didn’t mean to ask you out! It was on friendly terms! How could you think that!”

        If that is what you meant you should have clearly stated that. What you said sounded vastly different. How could you think that people would understand you meant friendly terms based on what you actually said? That is not realistic. Stop saying this, period. Anyway, I consider this whole line of conversation resolved and closed. If I hear anything more I will be going to the boss/HR/whomever.

      3. Reba*

        I mean, it does give him a plausible deniability option — in fact this whole strategy of his already does that, I think that’s part of the point. Like Somebody Blonde, I like the idea of just deflating this by going to him first.

        It’s likely that he will respond as you say, Tyche, but I don’t see that as a huge problem. If he says “It’s just friendly!” OP can reply, “Great! glad we agree. Now you can stop talking to coworkers about me, right? It annoys me and is inappropriate.”

        Like, she doesn’t need him to admit his true feelings to get to the shutting-it-down part of the conversation.

        It just depends on OP’s comfort and how she thinks things might go. However the conversation goes, heading to HR if Coworker doesn’t immediately stop the behavior is the right move.

        1. TootsNYC*

          I’m w/ Reba.

          Let him have his plausible deniability. the OP should just make her point and walk away.

          1. bonkerballs*

            Agreed. I wouldn’t really care if he’s able to save a little face as long as the behavior stops.

      4. Allison*

        That would be super dumb of him to say though, because he’s told so many other people that he was planning to ask out the OP, so even if he denies it, he has a ton of witnesses that he had roped into his scheme, are they all going to go along with him suddenly denying everything?

      5. Rusty Shackelford*

        the problem of this course of action is that if OP approaches him, John can minimize saying something like “Oh, but I didn’t mean to ask you out! It was on friendly terms! How could you think that!”

        “Oh, good. I’m relieved. Several people thought you WERE going to ask me out, so I’m glad they were mistaken.”

      6. Tau*

        Yeah, the reason I suggested giving your boss/HR a heads up before going to talk to him is to avoid the “he says/she says” problem by getting your side of the story in before the convo. And the more I think about it, the more I feel as though “I wasn’t actually asking you out!” isn’t the worst possibility here – OP can just accept it at face value (“oh, that’s a relief! Something must’ve gotten confused in the rumour mill. So, how about those teapot reports?”) and hopefully the guy will be smart enough to let it lie.

        I have to say I’m still in favour of going to talk to him because there’s no telling how long it will take John to actually ask the question, and it would suck for OP to have this hanging over her at work for ages. Defuse it ASAP and try to move on.

        1. TootsNYC*

          yes, I would want HR to be aware of the problem before that conversation–if only to save time.

      7. TootsNYC*

        John can minimize saying something like “Oh, but I didn’t mean to ask you out! It was on friendly terms! How could you think that!”, that’s the usual strategy in these cases.

        Who cares if he says that?

        The OP can just ignore it. She’s not in this to “fix” him or to win all the debate points.
        She wants to say her piece, make her point (whether he agrees with it or not), and move on with her life.

        She doesn’t have to get him to agree with her on all points, etc.

      8. somebody blonde*

        As others have pointed out, I think the “Oh, but I didn’t mean to ask you out! It was on friendly terms! How could you think that!” line is not the worst outcome. Then you can say, “That’s such a relief! Can you explain that to [insert names of people that you heard this from]? They seem to have the wrong impression.” And then it’s still his problem.

        The reason why I think it’s not worth waiting is that someone who’s still doing this kind of thing in adulthood may take weeks or months to actually get up the courage to ask… or they may never ask! It would be horrible to be just anticipating this question in every interaction with a coworker. It’s also kinder to him if she shoots him down quickly, so he isn’t spending all this mental energy building up his perfect fantasy crush of her in his mind (which I’m sure he’s doing because of the middle-school stuff). I think everyone will ultimately be happier the faster they get this over with.

      9. MLB*

        The possibility of him playing it off is not reason enough to not confront him before he asks. She could always “If this is true” before turning him down. He’s acting like a child, he should be treated as such.

  18. Flash Bristow*

    OP2, when I was in sixth form a girl got rhinoplasty. She spun it as breathing problems but we all knew that she hated her hook shaped nose. But of course nobody questioned it other than to wish her well.

    Anyway, for the following many weeks, she needed to… For want of a better way of putting it… Push her nose back into shape several times a day. Having been broken for the rhinoplasty, it sort of smoothed down into her face and needed pushing back every few hours.

    Sorry if that’s gross, OP – ultimately she was delighted with the result but of course people talked about her, unfortunately. So be prepared for a certain amount of gossip, own it, tell people it was due to a medical condition if you’re willing to say that – and ignore any pettiness, or get managers to promptly step on it. After all, if you were in hospital for horrific burns, or something else which affects breathing and appearance, they’d be pretty awful to mock that.

    I hope your healing goes really well. Good luck with it.

    1. LavaLamp*

      OP, I myself had major sinus surgery that was pretty much everything you can have done to a nose that’s not cosmetic.

      The healing will be exhausting. I didn’t think it would be a big deal, but for me it was worse than the abdominal surge I had a few weeks prior. My best advice is, if the hospital or your surgeon doesn’t give you one, ask for an ice mask. It’s basically a sleep mask that holds ice. It was a life saver for me.

      I didn’t have anyone gossiping about my surgery that I know of. Just a fight with the insurance company because my procedure wasn’t for cosmetic reasons. My advice is to rock your new nose. If you have a positive attitude perhaps that will set the tone for everyone else.

      1. Knitting Cat Lady*

        I had my deviated septum repaired and polyps removed a few years ago. No idea about the pain because I had laser surgery on my soft palate (UP3 for those interested) at the same time.

        The pain from that was so bad I literally couldn’t feel any other pain for a week and a half.

        The pain from the gall bladder colic and gall bladder surgery was worse but only lasted for a few days.

        The most annoying thing about the nose job was not being allowed to blow my nose for three months. And when the scabs started to come off that was all kinds of disgusting.

        OP, keep a giant box of tissues on your desk when you return to work. You’ll need it.

        1. LavaLamp*

          Oh they didn’t let me just wait for the scabs to come out. I had to go back every few weeks for my ENT to use this machine to suck the scabs out of my face to prevent infection settling in. On top of them packing my nose not with gauze (most surgeons think that leads to post op infection) they used an antibacterial jelly. Everything smelled like blood and neosporin for two months. Granted my surgeon is one of those guys who always has the newest tech and techniques, so other people’s experience might be different.

      2. LessNosy (OP2)*

        Thanks so much for the advice! I’ll definitely ask for an ice mask. That sounds amazing.

    2. (Different) Rebecca, PhD*

      That…shouldn’t be how things worked. As in, if the surgery is to produce a certain shape, the shape should be internally maintained afterward. I think something went wrong with your classmate’s surgery…

      1. Dorothy Zbornak*

        Yes, I think something went wrong with her surgery. I had a nose job five years ago because I’d always hated my nose and when I could finally afford one I was shouting from the rooftops about it. It was for me and no one else so I didn’t care if others judged me (to my knowledge no one did). And I didn’t ever have to screw with pushing it back into place (??).

        1. (Different) Rebecca, PhD*

          I had a septoplasty without rhinoplasty, and other than sinus irrigation they did not want me messing with it!

    3. LKW*

      I say “Own it”. It’s your nose to do with whatever you want! You have a deviated septum, you’re taking the opportunity to have your nose cosmetically tweaked. Good for you! We’ve all seen cosmetic surgery out of control – but it’s your face, your choice and anyone who wants to make a deal out of it… cut em off “I did this. I love my new nose and I can breathe!”

      1. LKW*

        Not that you’re out of control – but pooofy lips, tight eyes, etc. You know …Real Housewives surgery. That’s not the case here.

    4. Not So NewReader*

      It’s not doable to control what people think or say. You can put your message out there and they will hear what they want to hear. Your true friends hear what you are actually saying. It’s a people filter if you allow it to be one, you find out who your true friends are.

  19. Akcipitrokulo*

    OP2… depending on how dramatic a change it is, and if you want to, coming back with a very different hairdo might help? By the time they’ve got used to your new look, the change to your nose may not be noticed.

    1. LessNosy (OP2)*

      I’ve considered it! I also wear glasses and have considered going back to contacts for a bit (which is advisable due to the bridge work I’m having done) so that might be enough of a change as well.

      1. Akcipitrokulo*

        I think it would be :) I did something similar when I got dentures fitted – new glasses and hair colour and no-one noticed!

      2. SarahKay*

        I can see that being very effective – people are often shockingly bad at identifying what change someone has made to their face. If you’ve changed your hair and stopped wearing glasses I’d say 75% of people won’t spot anything beyond that. In fact, probably 25% of them won’t even spot that much….

        Worst case I know of was when my dad got his hair cut short (in the 70’s , so it’d previously been kind of long and shaggy) without telling Mum what he’d planned. He got home and Mum said “Hmm, you look different – did you shave off your moustache?” His moustache was still there…on his face…that she was looking at!

  20. Flash Bristow*

    OP3, your boss is being an arse, and I wonder if theyre perceiving a lack of experience (whether rightly or wrongly) so are turning it round and kinda exploiting you in a “this is normal for the world of work so I’m doing you a favour, get to it!” kinda way?

    I think you need to be firmer (while polite of course).

    “I had everything on manager’s list completed and went to leave at the agreed upon time, but then they said said, ‘oh, but I scheduled you for another half hour.’ ”

    Well, Um, you’ve done your work so tough titties to them – you’ve met your obligations and you’re off to have a life? Assuming I’m reading you right in having completed the work?

    For me, this is where you say “understood, but I’m done with my workload for today, so I’ll see you tomorrow” and LEAVE, even tho it feels awkward at first.

    Think about it – what can they do? Disciplinary? You completed all your work, you attended the scheduled hours, you were courteous.*

    Look, you’ve done the work as asked, you’re certain of it, then great! Get union support in case it becomes an issue, that’s what saved me (see below, though I realise it’s a different setting and Not About Me™).

    [* Courteousness is important; an arse ex-employer tried to get me disciplined for “attitude” – on the basis they asked me to work early on day x or y, boss would prefer y – but I was busy so I said no prob, I can do x! Which was after all part of the choice they gave me, just not what boss WANTED me to select. At hearing, “attitude was unfounded”. So courtesy and a paper trail saved me. But honestly! My union rep said he’d never seen anything so shocking (not just that, but other unfounded issues against me) and I’m so glad I had the union rep… to help as I extricated myself from the company. But that’s Another Story for Another Day. For now please just heed the warnings, be confident in your actions but watch your back just in case.]

    But whatever – don’t kowtow to this monster! You work, you go home, you chill out. End of. Even if he doesn’t respect work/life balance, I’m sure other members of the company will. If not practically and morally, then HR will still appreciate their obligations. If you’re completing work like you say, and it’s not a job which unexpectedly has compulsory overtime to handle emergency firefighting, then what can they actually do?

    I’m ignoring the social issues of how they feel if you enforce your right to go home on time. I’m hoping others will cheer you on and be able to follow your example, rather than hiding.

    Also – I really hope your work is enjoyable other than this! Because it’s awful when you feel trapped and then dread the snarky asides your manager will drop when they catch you for a moment. Damn I hope I’m projecting and your situation is actually better… Huge good luck!

    1. Hallowflame*

      Unfortunately, according to OP’s (ridiculous, unreasonable) boss, they haven’t attended their scheduled hours. So it would be possible for boss to discipline OP for not completing their scheduled shifts and hold up the altered schedules as evidence.

      1. some peasant*

        OP here! Thank you, I hadn’t thought of if that way. The scheduling concern was just for those weekend shifts, as boss was late submitting our hours to corporate that week. If some dispute were to happen, would the records I keep (hours worked, duties performed) be able to be offered up as well?

        We do not have computer-mandated hours. Everything is written on one of those free calendars realtors send out, “First Initial 1-9”. So, sometimes I have come in expecting to work 8-5, seen it has been whited out and changed to 9-3 (I could’ve slept in!!), and then hear “oh you need to stay until 8 today”. Or, if I am covering for a coworker scheduled 8-4, at 4:10 when I go to leave, it is “already? I thought you could help”.

        1. Observer*

          If you keep accurate records all of the time, yes, those could be very valuable in the US. I have no idea about other countries.

        2. valentine*

          A surprise extra 5 hours is outrageous. See if your locality has laws about how much time you have to have off between shifts and consecutive hours worked. Are you able to take breaks properly?

        3. AKchic*

          Yes. Save and document all of the changes. It can help you.

          And even if your grandboss isn’t in the same building/location, reach out.

        4. kitryan*

          Can you take photos of the calendar? If there’s an issue later and you have a photo showing the each time the posted hours changed from when you took the picture before leaving on your last workday and then you have another pic of the whited out edited calendar, taken at the start and end of the next shift and then your time sheet or whatever showing that you worked even *more* time on top of the already edited shift, that your manager requested…
          That would be pretty good evidence that you were being yanked around and you were doing your best to comply with the posted hours (that you could prove were constantly being changed). Those photos and your personal notes on what the photos and time sheet represent would be good evidence for you.

      2. Autumnheart*

        Sounds like Boss could do that anyway, since OP isn’t being informed of the schedule changes regardless until the point of departure.

    2. some peasant*

      Thank you! I will be trying to assemble some firm points. I don’t leave work uncompleted, but I do set up my whole workday based on how long I will be there. If I have 4 hours left, I’m going to do the 3-hour task and leave time to catch up on filing stuff we’ve been putting off, rather than start the 6-hour task that isn’t urgent, you know? So it’s hard that way.

      I love the technical aspects of my job. The uncertainty and shit-rolling-downhill from managers makes me go cry in the bathroom sometimes.

      1. LavaLamp*

        Start taking photos of your schedule before and after changes. That way you have a record of the changes if your boss does decide to punish you.

  21. Akcipitrokulo*

    I like that rejection email. I don’t see it as rubbing salt in the wound to say their chosen candidate was better… the fact you didn’t get the job says that! … it’s saying “you were fine, we liked you, you were just unlucky someone exceptional applied”. Which to me is a kind message.

    1. BeenThere*

      I can see LW’s interpretation, but I do think they are reading too much into it. Your take is also my take.

      1. Falling Diphthong*

        It’s not like they were going to hear “You were the best, but we’ve hired someone who just doesn’t have your sparkle.”

    2. Isabel Kunkle*


      One of the nicest rejection letters I got last time around boiled down to “You were in the top three post-interview, but one candidate had more experience in this particular industry.” And I don’t expect that kind of feedback–generic letters are generic for reasons, nobody owes me anything, etc–but it was really nice to know I hadn’t flubbed the interview or the editing test or anything.

      1. Akcipitrokulo*

        Yeah – OH got feedback that he’d interviewed really well and was one of final 2 – but they felt he had a very solid background in the range of skills, but other guy, while lacking the flexibility, was stronger in one specialisation, and they wanted a specialist at this time. Still disappointed, but he was OK with that (and kept good relations in case they ever change their minds/have another opening!).

        1. TootsNYC*

          plus he knew that if he could expand that specialty, he’d be a stronger candidate at some other point (maybe with some other company).

          I’ve given just this feedback to people.

    3. Trout 'Waver*

      I would agree if it was a personal e-mail. But it’s clearly a form letter that they sent to everyone regardless of how the interviews went.

        1. TootsNYC*

          I mean, I don’t generally interview someone who wouldn’t, on paper at least, be a good candidate.

          1. Trout 'Waver*

            There is often a great deal of discrepancy between the resume and the candidate for various reasons.

  22. Izzy*

    Sympathies, OP3 – I had a boss like that and it was the absolute worst.

    Do you have any kind of actual printed/online schedule of your work hours, a rota if it’s shift-based or anything like that? Or if not, can you start keeping one on your work calendar? So for example, on Monday you could say “hey boss, I’m just making sure I have my hours straight – have you scheduled me to stay late at all this week?”, and make a big deal of putting any extra hours in your calendar. (Ideally get your boss to put them in, or use a shared calendar that you can invite her to.) Then if she tries to add more, refer back: “But I asked you about this on Monday and you didn’t mention it – sorry, I didn’t know so I can’t stay.”

    That’s how I used to deal with it and it helped a little for me! It’s really not fair for your boss to randomly schedule you in for extra hours – I mean, it’s not really “scheduling” if she doesn’t tell you about it, that’s just pulling extra coverage out of her ass.

    1. TootsNYC*

      Plus, the calendar thing might force boss to recognize exactly how often they’re asking, etc.

    2. some peasant*

      I feel really silly typing this out. Our shifts are handwritten on a free calendar that is up in a communal area of the workspace. Often the changes are verbal, totally on the fly, or sometimes I come in and notice that someone has used a white-out pen to change them and may or may not have told me. I may borrow your line and see if I can get my boss to be more specific.

  23. Jemima Bond*

    LW#1: Frankly if your co-worker is going to behave like he’s at high school then I reckon you are fully within your rights to behave likewise by telling your friends (that he has told about his intentions toward you) that you think he’s like totally gross and you are sooo not going to date him, and they can go back and tell him, “uh John, you absolutely should not ask Tangerina out, she is so not into you and she’ll shoot you down in flames and all the jocks will laugh at you”. Jk of course I’m not for a moment suggesting you should actually try to embarrass him but maybe his intention in telling your friends is to scope for an advance indication of likely success? In which case you could let them know if they want to advise him not to bother, it’s fine with you.

    LW#2: I think if you are happy to say, “I had to have an op on my nose so I got it all sorted out while I was under the knife, I’m much happier with it now!” then you can go ahead and own it; there’s no shame in it. But of course you might want to be more private and not discuss your reasons and decisions, in which case just referring to the operation and stopping there is fine too.

    LW#3: I’m wondering how your working hours (the amount as opposed to the distribution) are set – your boss’s references to putting you on a schedule implies you have a set number of hours above which I’d imagine overtime must be paid – if that’s the case, are you getting the pay? And is your boss allowed to make you do overtime? If you are salaried and your hours aren’t set – you work within normal office hours but might need to work late/early as per business needs, why is there a schedule? Just trying to understand how it all works.

    LW#4: Whilst I am personally absolutely familiar with paying for one’s own celebrations (I’m a civil servant and the taxpayer can’t be asked for money for us to have fun) the process is usually, “hi everyone I’m organising the Christmas party, here is the suggested activity and how much it would cost” then when people are agreed, those attending pay money. The idea of compulsory payment whether you attend or not is daft. Also $85 is a lot – without trying to be stingy, what do you get for that? For the equivalent in sterling I’d expect a three course meal and plenty of wine at the very least! Also the idea that you pay twice for passing two exams is preposterous; you don’t take up twice as much room at a venue, look at decorations twice as much, stuff two canapes in your mouth at once or grab two glasses of bubbly on the way in! Although frankly if they hold you to the payment I’d be tempted to try the latter two, whilst yelling, “I paid for this!” and walking out with a table centrepiece under each arm…

    LW#5: Whilst I agree with Alison that it isn’t wrong of them to email this and their intention is probably to make you feel better (you were still great! Just someone was better and they had to be REALLY amazing to beat you) I’d probably feel a bit miffed too, you’re only human. I think it’s ok to briefly, and privately, have a session of sour-grapes speculation about how the brilliant candidate they picked probably microwaves fish and listens to right-wing podcasts on a speaker and throws people’s coffee mugs in the bin, and they’ll rue the day etc… ;-D

    1. CM*

      For #2, I think any inquiries could be handled with, “I broke my nose and needed surgery.” After that only the nosiest (no pun intended) of people will ask a followup question, and you can say to them whatever you feel comfortable with, from “I took the opportunity to fix up my nose,” to “Yes, I look a little different now.”

      For #4, pushing back is certainly justified, but I probably wouldn’t bother unless this is something that really grates on you and you think you may be able to change. The company is paying way more than $85 for you to take the exam, so I’d consider this a small part of the cost that I had to bear.

      I agree on #5 — I would not appreciate hearing how great the person they picked was! I mean, I wouldn’t cry and swear revenge or anything, but I’d definitely be annoyed by that letter.

      1. LessNosy (OP2)*

        FWIW, I really like the “Yes, I look a little different now” response. Non-emotional, matter-of-fact… They can interpret that as they wish… :)

    2. some peasant*

      OP #3 here. I am part-time hourly, and if I ever get close to time-and-a-half overtime they would call and tell me not to come in. I am usually officially scheduled for anywhere between 15 and 35 hours a week. So, I come in expecting an 8:30-5 shift for that day, see the calendar has been changed to 9:30-3, and then am told to expect to stay until 6 or 7 that evening. I’m compensated for the extra hours, it is just a matter of feeling unable to plan anything else in my life.

  24. pleaset*

    To OP4: The fact that company bears some of the cost of the education makes this less disturbing to me. You (and they – of course) get a big benefit and now you’re annoyed at paying a little back, in a way that has been known as traditional?


    “it’s even weirder that you’re charged double if you pass two exams.”

    No, the point is the company presumably provided more support, so the payback is more. And they don’t ask people who failed to pay because that’d be kicking a person when they’re down.

    I don’t 100% agree with the company’s position, but there is a logic to it.

    1. mimsie*

      But it isn’t being communicated as a payback towards the employer’s support (which doesn’t make sense to me either, but anyway), it’s being communicated as “party contributions”. There is no logic when presented as paying your own way to your own celebration party, especially doubling your ‘entry fee’ because you passed two exams. There is no logic in that.

    2. Alfonzo Mango*

      If that’s the case, they should make it policy (and opt-out-able) instead of transferring the cost to a party.

    3. WellRed*

      The company either wants to pay for the education or it doesn’t. If they want to pay a partial amount then do that and be upfront about it. Don’t claw it back in the form of a party.

      1. TootsNYC*

        it may be less about strictly “clawing back the cost” and more about “show us how grateful you are.”

        1. Autumnheart*

          But in practice, they’re not asking test-passers to bring a treat for the office or whatever, they are specifically asking for money. A specific sum of money, directly related to the cost of the test. So even if it’s supposed to be “show your gratitude”, it looks exactly like “We’re clawing back the money we spent on you”.

  25. The Doctor*


    To use Alison’s term, this has already become a “head-to-HR” matter. John is deliberately going through others to force a “yes” from you. This is HARASSMENT. You don’t owe him anything.

    1. Susana*

      It’s really not harassment just yet. But definitely dark clouds on the harassment horizon. It’s not harassment to ask out a co-worker, or even to confess a crush to another co-worker. But he’s being very juvenile and indiscreet, and I think many of us here have the sense he will not be gracious when she turns him down.
      I do wonder why her friends are indulging this at all – why aren’t they saying, I don’t want to hear about this – it has nothing to do with me, and if you’re hoping I’ll speak to her on your behalf, forget it. Or – at most charitable – coworkers should say, well, if you want to ask out a co-worker, of course you can. But you should be prepared for how you are going to deal with it if she says no, as you will still be working together.
      Now, if he asks, gets a no and won’t let it go – that’s in harassment territory.

  26. BeenThere*

    You may be surprised how few people notice your new nose. They may notice something is different, but may not be sure what. I had a pretty close friend get one and I never noticed. I just don’t notice that kind of thing. She was actually a little (maybe more than a little) offended that i didn’t notice, actually. What can I say??

  27. BeenThere*

    In the US Navy, it’s called a “wetting down” and the newly promoted officer pays for their own party. This can be a burden, especially on the junior officers with families…however, it’s only every few years at most (in line with the promotion cycle) and not every year for a few years in a row! That seems kind of crazy to me too!

    1. Person from the Resume*

      That’s exactly what I was reminded of. The military services do it. Everyone who is promoted is asked to pay for an open bar and buffet food (IIRC) even if they’re not going to participate in the base party at the Officer Club. It’s expected and another one of those things you do because of tradition. The pilots and people from units with a lot of people being promoted generally took advantage of it just because they brought a big group of friends and colleagues (and people who hung out at bars and drank) whereas if you were the only officer in your unit you might not be all excited to go to a party where few of your friends and coworkers were interested in attending. It’s what you do because of tradition. and of course we can’t expect tax payer dollars to go to this so it has to be funded by the individuals. Also the people who weren’t promoted certainly weren’t asked to pay for the party!!!

      I wonder if someone with a military background borrowed with idea which I find shocking at a civilian company. It’s also weird that you pay for each exam passed and not just completing the final exam at the end. This is odd. I would push back, but if its enough of entrenched tradition you may look like a bad sport because everyone else does it and has done it. Not saying it’s right, but it’s hard to fight culture.

    2. Steve*

      In some parts of the military, convention for promotion is to spend half or all of the differential on booze. So if someone gets paid $300 more per month, then they buy $150-300 of drinks at the mess. This seems quite reasonable to me as a concept, especially since it isn’t required.

  28. Four lights*

    What exactly are these parties like? These parties are every six months, so you have several people chipping in $85…I can’t imagine what on Earth they’re spending it on. Most places would get a sheet cake and some soda or cheap champagne. Are these guys getting some kind of fancy decorated cake or fancy restaurant catering?

    Now that I think about it, can OP tell us, because I wonder if they’re really using all this money for the party, or pocketing some of it.

    1. Falling Diphthong*

      … Okay I confess, I love the idea that an admin somewhere is funding their retirement palazzo via ‘party contributions’ from everyone in a very large corporation, under hundreds of different party hats.

      1. give me something I can use*

        In a firm of actuaries, no less. The last people you would ever expect to be able to balance the finances.

  29. sheworkshardforthemoney*

    LW#2 I had a nose job and…no one noticed the difference. Not even my family. My sibling refused to believe me and I had to show her before and after pictures. Please don’t be surprised if only a few people can see the difference.

    1. AvonLady Barksdale*

      This is what I imagine will happen. For the most part, good cosmetic surgery is subtle, and besides that, people spend way less time thinking about or noticing our appearance than we do. Unless, of course, the LW is going full-on Jennifer Grey, in which case she should just be prepared to re-introduce herself a lot.

    2. CheeryO*

      Yep, I had a septoplasty two years ago, and I had them shave off a bump and straighten the bridge while they were in there. The change is obvious when you look at photos, but I swear no one noticed (or maybe I just work with extremely tactful people, I don’t know). I did get a lot of “You look great!” and “New haircut?” when I saw people for the first time afterward.

      You might want to be ready to tell people about the septoplasty part since you may still be extremely swollen and/or bruised when you come back, depending on how long you take off. I took 10 days and still had a couple people ask if I was okay during my first few days back because I looked like hell.

    3. Autumnheart*

      I had a BOOB job and nobody noticed the difference. I went for a natural and proportional effect, but it was definitely a case of “yesterday I didn’t have boobs and today I do.” After I was all healed up, I went out with all my friends to a bar while wearing my new cleavage-showcasing top, and was like, well?! “Well what?” Duh, new rack! “Oh yeah! I forgot you were going to do that.”

      If it looks natural, people won’t notice because the difference will just make you look more like “yourself”.

  30. Four lights*

    OP1– I just want to add that I’m sorry for the position this has put you in. Also, that whatever this guy does is entirely on him and you’re not in any way responsible for his future disappointment, hurt feelings, or lashing out. It sounds like you might be the type to know this already, but I thought it still deserved to be said.

  31. Rebecca*

    #4 – $85 seems to be a weirdly arbitrary amount of money, and a lot of money, at that. I know I’d be hard pressed to want to cough that up on even a bi-annual basis.

    Serious question: what would happen if you just said no? As in, no, I’m not paying $85 or $170, and I’m not able to attend the party? I can see maybe having cake and ice cream in the break room, or something along those lines, but $85, and multiple people pay this? That just seems odd.

    Many times odd workplace practices go on way too long because no one stands up and says “enough, this is silly, and I’m not doing it any longer”. Maybe if enough people just stand up and say, we’re not doing this any longer. We passed our tests, that’s great, we do good work for the company, no need for a costly party every time.

    Honestly, I’d be tempted to take my certifications and go work someplace else.

  32. thankful for AAM*

    Re #4: is it really that strange to pay for the party when the company is so supportive during the exam prep? They sound particularly generous, are other companies as generous, is this the norm in the industry or better than average? And is it common for other companies in the industry have the same party payment plan? I don’t think anyone mentioned that.

    I definitely understand not being required to pay for events and parties in most workplaces. But the company is generous about exam prep (yes it benefits them but it sounds like the benefits the employee more?).

    What if the company said, for every exam, employees need to pay $85 for exam materials or exam fees? Would that go over better?

    1. Alfonzo Mango*

      That would at least make more sense! I wonder what their company policy is? It seems strange to pay such an exorbitant cost for a party. I would never chip in more than $$10 for party supplies.

    2. CupcakeCounter*

      That makes a lot more sense in my mind. In public accounting many places provide assistance with the CPA exams similar to the way OP#4 but it is either they pay and if you don’t pass you have to reimburse the company the costs or you submit an expense report after you pass the exam.
      $85 for a party – and double that if you are awesome enough to pass 2 in the time period – is just ridiculous. I hope OP pushes back (and provides an update).

    3. KimberlyR*

      It would be different. This sounds like a bait and switch, if they really want the money to recoup some of the study materials or test fees. Don’t lie about the purpose of the money and force people to pay for a party they may not want or attend (!!!) If the company had a policy that they pay all but $85 of the study materials and the employee is responsible for the remaining $85, that would make a lot more sense and be more honest, if the company does in fact want to make some of their money back.

      However, although I don’t know how much actuaries make, the fact that the company willingly pays for everything leads me to believe the company makes enough money from this deal that it works for them. I think it started out as someone way back when paying for their own party voluntarily to celebrate, and transformed into a mandatory thing that doesn’t make sense.

    4. Bea*

      A lot of companies and industries pay exam fees and for higher education. No, they do not require you to pay anything back in the form of a celebration. It’s a perk. It’s like thinking because we have Christmas as a paid day off, we should be happy to pay to attend our Christmas party because the company is “generous”.

    5. An ASA*

      The thing is though, the company is “so supportive” during exam prep because they need people to get credentialed. Hence all the incentives. It’s really weird that they would then turn around and make people pay for their success. If it’s really that onerous to host a celebration, they should build the costs into the exam bonuses/raises.

    6. Lirael*

      It is definitely the norm for companies to pay for at least two attempts at an exam (mine pays for three) and study materials and substantial study time. I don’t think the party is normal – I’ve never heard of anything like that, particularly not having the actuarial students pay for it. The two companies I’ve worked for have done some sort of recognition for exam passers (stand up in a meeting, email announcement), and maybe your team would take you out to lunch on an informal basis when you get a designation (ASA/FSA).

    1. R*

      In most places it’s those that pass the exams paying for a social gathering for everyone who took an exam, pass or fail. Actuaries aren’t known to be that social. This would be one of the main times that they network with one another, commiserate over the awfulness of exams and so on. Not saying it’s right, just saying it’s not that uncommon in the industry.

      1. give me something I can use*

        Ah, so it’s a very cleverly designed plot to get junior actuaries to let their hair down because they might as well get something for their money? Then someone said ‘but let’s not make those who failed feel even worse’, and the current absurd situation results. (Also, unless $85 is round fraction of the exam costs, it smacks of “$75, adjusted vaguely for inflation” which cracks me up.)

  33. KT*

    OP2 — I had septorhinoplasty in college. My doctor told me most people would feel there was something different about me but wouldn’t be able to pinpoint it and he was right. I did tell a few close friends, but certainly not everyone and no one commented on it, not even the people in my dorm who saw me daily. I think it’s fine to say whatever you are comfortable with if someone does comment; there is nothing shameful about having a nose job, or using the built in deviated septum excuse if you want.

  34. JSPA*

    OP1, it could be Junior High, or it could be cultural (don’t know if there are any cultural differences possibly in play). There are places where it’s not very strange to tell other people if you like someone. They’d normally carry the message to the potential object of interest. That person would then indicate if they’re definitely not interested (“Oh, that’s awkward, I really would have no interest in dating him, I hope he doesn’t ask!”), or potentially interested “Oh, that’s interesting, I think he’s very nice, thank you for telling me” or whatever. And the interlocutor(s) would carry that message back. It actually prevents awkwardness.

    Now, for this to work, all the people involved have to know the drill. If the interlocutors don’t carry the message back, or soften it too much, it doesn’t work. If the potential object of interest is flummoxed and does not give a reportable response, it doesn’t work.

    And of course, if the person sending the messages doesn’t hear what’s being sent back…it doesn’t work any better than any other method. (And in fact, it’s a warning that they’re perhaps not going to process a direct “no” very well, either.)

    So basically, I’d
    a) send an “indirect no, via interlocutor.” It’s fine to do so, even if it’s personal, not cultural. It’s not “your job” to do so! But the faster this goes away, the better. That includes saying, “That’s so irritating. Hasn’t anybody warned him yet that I’m not interested in him, and that chatting about romantic intentions is not work-appropriate?”
    b) document, in case there’s ample evidence that indirect no’s by interlocutors are not registering. That’s enough to turn (say) asking twice into a pattern of ignoring “no.”
    c) feel free to be a bit frosty in his presence. We’re socialized to be friendly as part of being professional, but if he’s letting pressure build, this is a way to deflate without having to wait for him to ask.
    d) prepare a very clear script for how you will give him a clear “I’m definitely not interested in you” response, without falling prey to the urge to either be too nice, or conflating the anger at the chatting with the “no.” (The anger is valid; but you don’t want to turn him down in a way that sends the message that he is intrinsically undateable by anyone / an object of disgust.)
    e) follow up with an email saying that it has come to your attention that other people were aware of his intent to ask you out, and that you’d like to point out, as a separate issue from your refusal of his invitation, that it’s not professional to talk about one’s romantic intentions regarding coworkers, with other coworkers, and that you hope any such sharing will cease immediately. This will put in writing that the invitation happened; that you said no; that he handled the whole thing unprofessionally; and that the unprofessionalism needs to stop now.

    1. Not So NewReader*

      You are right about how this works sometimes. I do wonder what the people in the middle are saying to him. Clearly he needs the “not appropriate, stop it” message. Perhaps they have told him this. OP you should know if they have said this to him or not. If they have bluntly told him to stop, then because this continues I would involve HR or the boss. Bring in that 3rd party with authority because peer pressure is not working.

    2. Not a Mere Device*

      Asking one or two people to convey a message might be cultural. Ten or twenty starts to be culturally sanctioned harassment: if he expects her to send an answer back, silence is an answer here. If he doesn’t expect an answer until he asks directly, there’s no good reason for more than one or two “Fergus likes you” messages. Either way, “I have something big to ask you, but later” would be weird enough in an ongoing relationship–what are you trying to do, make me guess whether you want to marry me, break up, or take a vacation in Hawaii? I’m fairly sure that if a partner, or a non-romantic friend or relative, said “I’m going to be asking you something big, sometime soon” I’d tell them to ask now. Or maybe, in a silly enough mood, “No, Jane, the moon is not made of green cheese…The capital of Alaska is Juneau…That’s a complicated question, but there are lots of good books on human reproduction at the library…”

      1. JSPA*

        I may have missed an in-thread response from OP1, but as far as I can tell, the number of coworkers involved isn’t specified beyond “several.” That could mean 3, or it could mean 20. If it’s 20, I 100% withdraw the “cultural” option (assuming he’s told them directly, and it’s not just become water cooler talk that metastasizes in his absence).

        If the latter, it suggests a strange dynamic where other people are (inappropriately) invested in the outcome. I’ve seen this play out. It’s not cool, but it can take active push back to get people outside of their “awwww, romance blooming and we get to watch, I’ll bring the confetti and the tissues” mindset. In which case, the message can be tweaked:

        “It’s very unfortunate if people are encouraging John to dwell on the possibility of a romance that’s deeply unwelcome and unwanted on my side. I hope everyone, John included, gets the message that this feels creepy to me, and that any further romance talk is really problematic in the workplace.”

  35. ZSD*

    #3 Are you hourly? If so, some cities and states require your employer to pay you an hour of compensatory pay for changing your schedule at the last minute. Check to see if your city, county, or state has a law called something like “fair work schedules,” “retail workers’ bill of rights,” or the like.

    1. some peasant*

      I just checked, thank you! It looks like my area does have something like that, but I’m going to get a lawyer relative to explain it to me fully before I bring it up with my boss

  36. Naomi*

    OP5: I think in your disappointment, you’re missing the good news: it sounds like this company might be hiring again soon. The message here is “we found a superstar this time, but you were still a good candidate and we’d be happy to give you a second chance next time a position opens up.”

    In the meantime, look at it this way: if you’re not going to get hired, it’s better to be beaten out by someone awesome. Wouldn’t it be worse if the hired candidate was mediocre and the company still preferred them to you?

  37. Grey*

    Reading today’s post title as a single subject gives it a whole new meaning. I’m sure it wasn’t intentional but I still found it amusing.

  38. Another Actuary*

    OP4 – I am also an actuary and I can tell you this is (rightly or wrongly) very, very common in the industry. The actuarial community in my city hosts a similar party twice a year. It may help to reframe it your mind; your company has paid for your exam fees and study materials ($1000-$2000) and provided 10ish paid work days to study. I don’t know what your exam program is like, but my company pays generous bonuses and/or raises for passing (in the thousands of dollars).

    Because actuarial exams are so hideously expensive to the company already, there is no appetite for the company to chip in for parties. In my city, all the actuaries and students from every company are invited. It’s a wonderful networking opportunity, both for the students and the fellows. I finished my exams many years ago and still make a point to attend to meet the up and coming exam writers, and yes I’ve both hired people I’ve met at these events and been hired due to connections I’ve made. Maybe think of it less like a mandatory company event and more like a social club where you can meet peers, managers, and executives in your field.

    For those asking where the money goes, there’s usually an open bar and all you can eat food, plus some kind of activity and a free cab ride home. We socialize until the money runs out and everyone has a good time. After 4 months with your nose to the grindstone and no social life (exams are HARD), it can be a great opportunity to cut loose for a night. That said, if you don’t want to participate just politely decline to go, ever. Do NOT be the guy that participates when he fails and opts out when he passes… people notice, and it’s not cool.

    1. Just Another Actuary*

      Actuary here as well, and I think you’ve missed the point. This isn’t part of an actuarial community – its a job requirement. Participating in an actuarial community or organization that exists outside of or across several employers is very different from your company taxing your exam success.

      In my experience, this is NOT common – every company I have worked at has either hosted the party or there was no company party. You are correct that the company is investing a lot in their actuarial students, but that’s the standard cost of doing business AND they are getting a return in the form of qualified actuaries and capable workers. Requiring them to “pay it back” is petty and punitive – if the company doesn’t want to pay for the celebration, don’t host a celebration.

      That said, I do know companies where a newly credentialed actuary is expected to host a big “I’m done with exams!” party, but that’s also substantially different from what the writer describes.

      1. Another Actuary*

        I didn’t read it as “paying it back” – if that is what’s going on, then yes it’s petty and punitive. In my experience that’s not what happens, though (I recognize that my experience may be very different from OP’s).

        1. Just Another Actuary*

          Just to clarify, are you saying the company charged to host this celebration, or that there was some other organization/group hosting and funding the celebration through contributions? Those are very different things.

          1. Another Actuary*

            It is not the company, it’s the community. So yes, very different things. I just chimed in to offer OP another possible perspective on these parties.

    2. Canadian Actuary*

      I’m also an actuary and I agree with this. My company does exactly the same thing and I had to pay around $200 for one celebration because I had passed 2 exams as well, so I understand the OP’s annoyance! But the way it works is that once you’ve passed all your exams, you can attend the celebrations in perpetuity for free. So in actuarial terms, its a pretty good deal.

      Another thing some companies do if you don’t want to contribute when you’ve passed an exam and also don’t want to attend the celebration, they will accrue your contributions and you have to pay the entire amount if you want to start attending again. This is something you could suggest as well!

    3. Gigi*

      Does the company get refunded the exams expenses when someone fails? If not I don’t understand the logic in not charging everyone who takes the exams instead of just those who pass.

      1. Canadian Actuary*

        The SOA doesn’t refund exam fees if someone fails. At my company, the reason those who failed don’t have to pay is more of commiseration than anything else. Most actuaries understand how bad it feels to spend 4 months of your life studying for an exam, only to have to write it again!

        1. Another Actuary*

          Yes, this. It’s an incentive to come drown your sorrows and a consolation prize for failing.

    4. Canadian Actuary*

      Also, just to clarify: at my company, the company hosts and pays for an exam celebration, like a nice lunch or a games afternoon, which is fully paid for by the company. The drink-up event is not company-sponsored, so employees are paying for themselves/each other.

      1. Just Another Actuary*

        Hey, I think we are actually agreeing here – what the poster described is paying for the actual company “sponsored” party, not the unofficial bar outing – those are two very different things. The latter has the weight of community, the former has the weight of employment, which makes the former highly inappropriate.

        1. Canadian Actuary*

          Hmm, ya, you’re right. I missed that in the OP’s letter. In my experience, it’s not standard to ask for contributions to the company-sponsored event.

          OP, maybe you could suggest splitting the event into two?

  39. Jaybeetee*

    LW3: Okay, I’ll be “that guy” today – but is it actually legal in the US to just change someone’s shifts at the last minute like that? Everyone here is talking like that’s just a thing that boss can do, so I suppose it must be? My first thought reading that letter was that it wasn’t legal – because where I am I think the law is minimum 24 hours notice for scheduling (back in my shift work days, I’m sure there were times where managers *asked* if I could work a different shift at the last minute, but that was the thing – they asked. They didn’t just change the schedule and expect me to accommodate it.)

    1. LizB*

      There are some US cities and I think a state or two that have started making this kind of last-minute schedule change illegal — and I’m guessing that some unions may have stuff in their contracts about it — but there isn’t any US-wide law against it. I’m a manager in a shift work situation and yeah, I *ask* my people if they can stay to cover in a pinch, I give them at least a week of notice (preferably two weeks) for an actual schedule change, and I cover last-minute if nobody else can. That’s why they pay me the big medium bucks.

    2. Bingbong*

      Yeah, I wish. At my old job I would be called at 7 in the evening to dhow up at a place 2 hours away at 7 am the next morning, or have a shift end 3 hours later because another guy was running late and somehow never gets fired. It sucked. You can’t go to school in the evenings when you’re not sure if evenings are free, or work a second job if you don’t have steady availability. It totally tanks your social life and economic mobility.

      1. TootsNYC*

        there was a big story in a magazine or newspaper here in NYC profiling a young single mom w/ a preschool-age kid whose life was made triply hard because her hours changed so much and so late.

        That story was the catalyst for NYC’s scheduling laws.

    3. some peasant*

      OP here. I’m no US but, no, I’m not certain it’s totally above board here either. That said, bringing legality into the conversation seems like a last resort, as I need to work closely with my manager for all of my shifts.

      1. valentine*

        There are “We”-based scripts for this on this site, along the lines of “That’s illegal and I wouldn’t want us to get in trouble.”

  40. Database Developer Dude*

    Not for nothing, but as a guy, I’m having a hard time wrapping my mind around why a man who likes a woman like that wouldn’t just walk up to her and ask her for a date. If I were free, and I liked a woman at my workplace, I’d ask her to mid-morning coffee, and explicitly tell her “I find you attractive and would like to get to know you better”. But that’s just me.

    1. AvonLady Barksdale*

      As a woman, I would find that really, really off-putting. (If I were a guy, I’d likely feel the same way.) It’s an office. I’m there to work, not to be asked out, even in a straightforward manner. This is not a bar or a club or a speed-dating event, where people often go to meet new dates. It’s a place of work. You like her? Great. Get to know her a little better, take it slow, maybe something will happen many months down the road. But no no no, please do not suggest that it’s ok to ask a co-worker out for coffee (in the middle of the workday!) for the express purpose of telling her she’s attractive.

      I mean, sheesh. This is like the times I’ve been approached at a gas station and asked for my number. I am there to pump gas! What on earth about this scenario suggests that I want to have a conversation with you about my attractiveness?

      1. WellRed*

        Thank you saying this so clearly. I was cringing at the thought of being approached this way at the office.

      2. JSPA*

        If it’s not someone I work with directly, i would not find it particularly less welcome at work than otherwise–and it would actually be far better than having someone try to befriend me for the sake of getting in my pants (and then cutting and running or complaining about “being friend-zoned” if I were not romantically / physically interested). I don’t have the hours to put into a friendship that’s actually a stalking horse for something else. (Unless you would love to be my friend, regardless, in which case, eh, make friends, I guess.)

        However, I’d much prefer a comment that asks where I’m at, first, rather than telling me how someone feels about me. (OK, so I know have this strange factoid that someone I really don’t know is attracted to me. That’s…like a friendly dog giving me something slobbery in the park. Didn’t want it, don’t have a place to put it, don’t have a handkerchief to carry it in until I reach a trash can. It doesn’t make me hate the dog, but it’s awkward.)

        “Feel free to tell me if it’s none of my business, or not a work-appropriate question, but I was wondering if you’re single and looking” leaves open the possibility that you’re asking for your brother, your sister, your friend…or to answer a bet. I don’t need to know that you’re thinking sexy thoughts about me.

        Either way, I can give you the brush-off total. I can give you the brush off conditional. I can ask you why you ask. I can say, “depends, are you?” I don’t have to wonder if the coffee invitation is conditional on thinking that you’re sexy, or whether going for coffee with you at any future time will be misconstrued as a delayed positive answer. If you get a positive to the first question, then by all means suggest coffee.

        Or make a you statement that doesn’t include the “what you think of me” component. “I’m trying to get out of my old routine, so I’ve challenged myself to go on a mini date with someone at least once a week. Would you humor me and join me for coffee?” In dog gift terms, that’s the clean stick vs the slimy tennis ball. I may not want it, but I can drop it on the ground with no guilt, and not be left wishing for a wet wipe.

        1. AvonLady Barksdale*

          “Are you single and looking?” is… not a work-appropriate question. Especially from someone who’s interested in dating you. Have I been asked that at work? Yes, but from co-workers with whom I had developed a friendship. And they were never looking for, “Yes, want to go out?” They were looking for, “Yes, have anyone to set me up with?”

          I am not completely against dating co-workers. I have had some interesting relationships with people I’ve worked with. But this whole idea that it’s ok on any level to approach a co-worker out of the blue with, “I think you’re hot, do you wanna go out, check yes or no” is blowing my mind. Come on.

      3. Susana*

        I agree I would not like it if someone at work told me he found me attractive. But what’s wrong with asking out a co-worker? People meet at work, become friends or bf/gf. I just wouldn’t be that direct – I might say, would you maybe like to get dinner sometime, get together outside the office?
        I’m assuming someone who asks me on a date finds me attractive – it’s just sort of cringe-inducing to say it out loud.

        The gas station thing wold creep me out – but this is different. The gas station attendant just likes the way you look (also, you’re a little vulnerable there, at the gas station). At the office, well, this is someone who knows you a bit, has seen how you interact with others, how you work.

    2. the sexual politician*

      Dude, I can’t believe you’ve ever had success with that approach. If you’re pulling that off, you must be an extraordinarily attractive specimen for your co-workers to respond positively.

    3. Gigi*

      Agree with AvonLady. It is so inappropriate to tell a coworker you find them attractive and want to date them. It’s work, not a social event. You’d be putting your female coworkers in an extremely uncomfortable situation by doing this. If things progress organically over time that’s one thing, but to put someone on the spot or pursue them is another. Don’t do it.

    4. Temperance*

      I wish more dudes would just try to get to know a woman without making it weird and creepy before putting a move on her.

    5. Observer*

      You don’t need me to tell you how bad of an idea this is – the others have covered this quite nicely.

      The irony is that it’s STILL better than what this creep is doing.

    6. Birch*

      Read the first thread. It’s a manipulative tactic used to get a lot of people to insist that OP “give him a chance” because now they’re invested in it–they’re on his side because all they’ve heard is that he’s so enamored of OP and he’s such a nice guy but so shy and so scared of telling OP how he feels. Word gets through the grapevine and wears down OP’s ability to say no because now it’s a public interest. Meanwhile when OP is finally confronted with this, she’s gaslit and pressured into thinking this guy DESERVES a chance with her just because he exists and wants it. It’s predatory and it works to get a yes better than asking outright. That’s why men do it.

      Bottom line though, is don’t ask out people at work. Period.

    7. Uyulala*

      I don’t date people I work with, so my answer would be no… but in non-work settings, this is exactly how I do like to be approached. No confusion about whether the person means friends or date. No “what does your boyfriend/husband think of something” games to see if you are single before asking.

      It does take confidence, but that’s part of why it can work. It shows confidence without being cocky or the ridiculous negging that some people use.

      1. Database Developer Dude*

        First, like I said, I’m not free…if I *were* free…

        Second, I’m gobsmacked at the junior high school antics of ‘John’, the guy the OP is writing about. Take my comment in *THAT* context.

        1. AvonLady Barksdale*

          I’m taking it in exactly that context, and no. You cannot do this in the workplace.

        2. Rusty Shackelford*

          Your first point is… not a point at all. You think this is an appropriate action, even if you’re not in a position to do it right now. THAT’S the problem. It wouldn’t be appropriate even if you were free. I mean, I’m glad you’re gobsmacked at John’s behavior, but even if your idea is the lesser of two evils, it’s still evil.

          1. Susana*

            Rusty, I’m with you (I think!) but I also don’t think it’s inherently creepy to be drawn to someone at work and ask that person on a date. I’ve met a couple of my boyfriends at work, and glad I did.
            Now – because it is a workplace, you have to be far more cautious. And of course, that means “John’s” behavior – bad in any circumstance, including 8th grade – is even worse. If you are interested in someone at work, do NOT make any comment about physical appearance – that is uncomfortable if there’s mutual interest and would be excruciating if it’s not mutual. Just ask, with more casualness than you would if you met at, say, a party, whether s/he wants to get together outside of work. If the answer is no, it’s not that uncomfortable.

  41. JJJJShabado*

    OP4, congrats on passing the exams. I passed the first exam on my second attempt and then I didn’t bother with it anymore (I never really liked financial math so that tempered my enthusiasm and did not pursue the actuarial field as a career path)

  42. Kare-Bear*

    Sorry if this has already been suggested, but I wonder if it’s possible for OP to signal to crush-boy John that she’s not interested before he asks. Perhaps she can drop the fact that she’s not interested in dating anyone at work at all, never, no way, not now, not later, never.

    1. jack*

      I think saying “I don’t date people I work with” isn’t the right way to go. I think OP needs to be clear that they do not want to date John at all, under any circumstances. And what if OP does want to date someone they work with later on?

      1. Kare-Bear*

        What I was thinking is, OP could force it into a conversation before John even gets to ask. This way, hopefully, he won’t ever ask.

        1. Database Developer Dude*

          I don’t think OP needs to ‘force’ it into a conversation, per se. I think she needs to notify HR first that this is what she’s going to do, and then go to John, and explicitly tell him “this is what I heard. I don’t want to date you. If you really were going to ask, please don’t. Please stop talking to everyone about how much you’d like to date me.”. If he doesn’t…go back to HR and file an official, formal complaint.

          Seriously, the dude’s tactics are fresh out of junior high school.

  43. kjdubreuil*

    You might just say “Ick! that’s so weird!” to people who tell you about the potential asking out.

    And to the individual, when he said he had a Big Question for you, “What are you talking about? You can’t just walk off after saying that! That’s really weird. Any question you need to ask me you can ask me right now. What is it?”

    “Oh, that. No, I can’t do that.”

    1. Isabel Kunkle*

      Yeah, I second all of this.

      A look like you’ve just heard norovirus is going around and an “Oh, God, *really*? Uuuuuugh, and my day was going so well…” or similar should get the message across both that you’re not interested and that they should stop acting like your office is the set of a bad romcom.

  44. LessNosy (OP2)*

    OP2 here! Thanks Alison for answering my letter. I think you’re right and that it would be easier to attribute the change to the break. I hope no one would push further but if they do I’ll just say something like “Well, they did what they had to do!” and hopefully end the conversation. People at my office can be inappropriately pushy about personal topics. It’s really weird but I just keep my nose to the grindstone (can’t get enough of these puns…) and ignore it, which seems to go over just fine.

    For the readers, thanks for the additional advice and well wishes! Glad to hear that most people who have been through something similar didn’t get too many comments. I do feel like, to a certain extent, one thinks their “flaws” are worse than they actually are, and thus thinks others see them the same way. In reality, everyone around me probably hasn’t even paid that much attention and will continue to not do so :) I feel a lot more comfortable about debuting my new look in the office. I’ll try and send in an update after a few months. Cheers!

    1. dorothy zbornak*

      for the first 1-2 years after my nose job, my sister said she couldn’t tell the difference (btw, that’s apparently the highest compliment for the plastic surgeon), so I think definitely you’re most likely in the clear! Good luck and can’t wait to hear the update!

    2. Rache*

      As someone that wanted her nose fixed from the time she was a little girl, I completely embraced the entire process of the surgery, healing, bruising, etc. Granted, I also had a recent break to it to “justify” the surgery, so by all means use that excuse to whatever extent you want! :) My ENT wanted to repair a couple of things he found and it added to the reasons why it was medically necessary.

      I’d highly recommend sleeping in a recliner – as upright as possible – for the first couple of weeks after the surgery. It really helps minimize the bruising and swelling. Also, Arnica Montana can be taken before and after for the same reason. I have post surgery pics that show how quickly the bruising came and went.

      I went back to work with bandages on my face, and it got the questions out of the way fast and no one ever really said anything more about it. It takes seeing an older pic of me for most people to know that anything’s been done at all, and it was a very drastic change to my own eyes. Every now and then my reflection just looks unusual to me, and it’s been 10 years since my surgery! :)

      1. LessNosy (OP2)*

        You are echoing my internal monologue! I actually had the accident that broke my nose 4 days before my birthday this year. Even my mother joked “Hey, now you can get a nose job for your birthday!” Thanks for the tips as well, that’s very helpful!

  45. An ASA*

    LW #4, that is messed up. I work in a company with a pretty relaxed credentialing program but we’re still lauded and feted when we pass exams and the idea of paying for your own celebration (and paying more if you pass more than one????) is just… wow. Your boss should be taking you out. I hope that you’re at least getting raises and bonuses for the exams that you pass.

  46. Actuary #4*

    I wrote #4. Here’s some additional information:

    The full exam process consists of about 9 exams. And a few other things like projects, presentations and seminars to be attended.

    Exam support is the norm in the industry. It would be unusual to work as an actuary for a company that didn’t provide exam support. As far as I know, the support provided by our company isn’t unusually high.

    The high fee goes completely towards the party. A room is rented at a local restaurant and appetizers and drinks are brought out until the fund is exhausted. The money is completely spent on the party. It’s not used to subsidize exam costs.

    Part of why the fee is so high is that the people who pass the exams are subsidizing the costs for those who didn’t pass. It’s also high because of the whole “food keeps coming until the fund is exhausted” aspect.

    I have been here for several years and this has been happening the entire time. The costs have risen slightly over that time. It was originally around $50 per exam passed when I started here.

    I know that some people are uncomfortable with the fee, but not willing to speak up because they don’t want to be seen as someone who “causes trouble”. Someone else I know asked to not have to pay the fee and he was met with resistance. A few years into my employment, I sent a letter explaining that it was difficult to pay the fee given my financial situation. The coordinators said they’d discuss it and I was eventually told that I didn’t have to, but I was asked to keep this confidential. That response sort of reinforces my interpretation that the fee is being presented as a requirement and it’s not just that I’m reading things the wrong way. It also felt like I had to push really, really hard in order to get out of paying.

    1. An ASA*

      That is so weird to me. I mean, I’m in pensions so maybe the norm here is different than the field that you work in, but we have celebratory lunches or happy hours and the bosses pay.

    2. Falling Diphthong*

      How attached are people to the parties? Like, is it a quarterly highlight that they dream about, or just a thing that happens sometimes at work?

      I’m also not clear on the ratio of people paying each round to people not paying–does it include just people who passed and people who failed, or also people who didn’t take an exam this quarter at all but will next quarter, or people who work in the office but never take actuarial exams?

      1. Actuary #4*

        The parties happen twice a year. Most people writing exams are in their mid-20’s. There are a few of us who are older. The younger people are generally more enthusiastic about the parties. Generally, between 60% and 80% of people writing exams at my workplace will pass. The parties are only attended by actuarial students. So, any non-actuarial staff don’t attend. If you didn’t write an exam for some reason (this is rare, because passing exams is a job requirement), they pay half of the fee if they plan to attend the party and nothing otherwise.

    3. Indie*

      That response really sounds like you could push back as a group. Like, you dont have to reveal you were given a free pass on paying if you promised to keep it confidential (personally I would just refuse to and say ‘no I can’t afford to pay for the company’s expenses and I’m not hiding the fact that it’s a non personal business expense from colleagues’ but YMMV depending on how ridiculous or vindictive they are) but you could say to the group; ‘Hey how about we request a per head arrangement from the restaurant to limit costs and ask that only the people who are going pay, regardless of passing?’ If everyone sitting the exams is cool with that, put it in a group letter and all sign it.

      It’s beyond bizarre to cater a limitless amount of food for a set number simply because it’s being paid for by other people’s (subordinates!) money. I’d be concerned about the leadership’s basic common sense, awareness of norms and financial management.

    4. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

      This whole setup is seriously so bizarre to me. I think this is a situation where it’s 100% worth pushing back with your colleagues.

      Also, if I didn’t pass the exam, I would not want to attend a celebratory party where those who did subsidized my food/drink.

  47. sigh*

    The only time I was insulted by a rejection letter was when I received it in the mail. The envelope was addressed to me, the letter inside was not. The job was for an official correspondence position within a state agency who needed to handle and transmit borrowers personal data.

    1. CanCan*

      That’s a bit like the divorce judgment I got in the mail. One side was my divorce (“page 1 of 2”), and the flipside was someone else’s.

  48. Observer*

    #5 – This kind of response is why so many companies just won’t give give any feedback, even when asked. They just can’t win.

    1. JS*

      I was thinking the same thing. I can understand why it would sting a bit because ideally you would want people to consider you for longer than 3 hours but objectively, when you know you just know and after a quick meeting with those involved it doesn’t take days of mulling over to figure it out. They even said “they didn’t want to keep them in suspense all weekend”. Late week interviews are killer for that reason.

      I actually think the company sent a great rejection letter. It’s still a rejection but it is encouraging to know that it wasn’t because I was horrible or someone didn’t like me but someone else was just overly qualified as to the reasons why I didn’t get the job.

      1. Trout 'Waver*

        But how can you know that? It was a form letter sent to everyone that interviewed and was rejected. They sent it to the people they found horrible as well.

          1. Trout 'Waver*

            Let’s consider a hypothetical: Let’s say you did interview someone who lied on their resume. Would you send them the form letter saying that they were one in a sea of excellent candidates or would you write a separate individual accurate rejection?

        1. JS*

          The letter literally said “We had a really great group of candidates and all of you would be a valuable addition to our team.” They said ALL. Sure, it could be something they say all the time but we have to keep in mind that OP inferred they had an in-person interview. By that point any “horrible” people (horrible as unqualified or bad mannered) would have likely been screened out by then.

          I think you are reading too much into it.

    2. Nonsensical*

      I was rejected on my way home from a final interview. It was a bit more annoying at that time but I also just took it as I needed to step up my interview game. These days, I wouldn’t bat an eyelash at it.

      1. TootsNYC*

        actually, I wouldn’t even take it as that. I would take it as “they were further along with someone else than they let on.”

        Though I can see why you’d worry about that.
        (I sometimes worry that, when I get an invite to a bridal shower in the far future, I’ll seem rejecting if I send my “no” RSVP immediately.)

  49. Indie*

    OP1: John is definitely a why-man. So you can give a straightforward and drama-free ‘no thanks!’ and he’s absolutely going to say “Whhhyyyyyyy? I thought we were in a movie plot of my own making!”
    It’s still fairly undramatic to respond with: “Well, I wasnt going to say anything but since you ask; the way youve been telling everyone you’re about to ask me out is borderline harassment and I’ll be needing you to cut that out entirely forever. If you had just spoken to me privately, I could have told you it was going to be a no anyway”.
    If he’s genuinely awkward he’ll take no for an answer and learn from the fact that he’s now embarrassed that he told people. But he’s not.

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

      “But whhhhyyyyyyyy” is a way to manipulate the OP into engaging further in conversation so that he can argue her out of her answer. It’s best to just keep repeating “No” or just walk away. Drop the rope completely. Especially if the OP is wary that anything she says can, and will, be used against her.

      1. Indie*

        Oh absolutely. It’s the most confident play to just be amazingly laconic with the word ‘no’. That’s my own first move out the gate. However if I’m itching to tell the guy off AND he’s making it clear there’s going to be back and forth regardless, I’ll give into the itch one time with ‘because of what you’re doing right now’. I felt like OP was suggesting a similar temptation and I like the way Alison phrased it as something she can do if she wants to…

      2. JS*

        I agree with “why” being used to manipulate but OP absolutely needs to draw the line and make it clear that any further conversation about this to her or other coworkers will be harassment and WILL be reported to HR. I’m not saying this wont bait him further as he seems to be the type that could be unreasonable but if and when this gets to HR it will only benefit OP if she says she directly and firmly laid out consequences if this was to continue. I’m cringing thinking of an HR who is sympathetic to the guy and says something like “well you led him on by not being direct, lets see how it goes from here” or takes it all as a big joke but you need to coverall bases and saying that explicitly means less wiggle room for this guy to get out of it when it does escalate.

  50. Persimmons*

    LW #1 There was a “John” at my old job, who was interested in a woman that everyone knew was married. When he brought up asking her out, everyone commented to that effect. His response was always “I don’t see a ring”.

    That situation was problematic in all the obvious ways, but we also worked with machinery. NOBODY wore rings.

    1. Susana*

      Oh, I would love, love love it if Amy Schumer did a bit on the “I don’t see a ring” guys – the ones who indeed see this as a property matter. (her “Hello Milady” sketch is a classic – )
      I think we should have a series of flashcards when asked that question, saying:
      I don’t wear a ring, but I am married/engaged/attached.
      I’m not married/engaged/attached, but I am a lesbian, and therefore would never be interested in you.
      I’m not married/engaged/attached, but not interested in meeting anyone right now.
      I’m not married/engaged/attached, would very much like to meet someone, but would never go out with you in a million years.

  51. RUKiddingMe*

    Re: OP#1… let’s say he doesn’t take it well and broadcast all his feels all over the place and makes it uncomfortable for her etc. does that veer into sexual-harassment territory?

    1. Kenneth*

      Not quite. I don’t even think it would qualify as harassment, since harassment generally requires active behavior, not passive behavior – e.g. gossip, along the lines of which “broadcasting all his feelings” would likely be. Instead it’d likely qualify as “creating a hostile work environment” or something along those lines.

      Either way, it’s something on which HR can take action.

  52. HannahS*

    OP1, would it work for you to shoot him an email/slack message instead of talking face to face? Just a “A number of people have told me you’ve been talking a lot about wanting to ask me out. It’s making me uncomfortable, and I’d appreciate if you’d stop.”
    It’s probably what I’d do, and here are the advantages I see:
    1. It’s documented. If he argues back, if he mistreats you later, you have written proof that you said “stop.”
    2. It’s less awkward for both of you. You don’t have to have a conversation face to face. He can deal with the rejection privately and it makes it harder for him to make you manage his feelings. If he does reply–and he might not–you can take time to write back whatever you want, whether that’s nothing or “Regardless, it’s making me uncomfortable and I’d like you to stop.”

  53. AnonAnonymouses*

    (I haven’t read any comments yet, so this may have already been said.)

    OP1: UGH. Maybe I’ve reached the point of being super cynical after the last year, but I wonder if John has been making it A THING just to pressure you into saying yes. So often women get conditioned to not want to cause drama and a scene and appear agreeable and put others before themselves.. that by telling everyone in the office that he wants to ask you out, it could look bad on you if you decline.

    Absolutely tell him no, and leave it at that unless he starts making a bigger deal out of it. If he does, like Allison recommended, beeline to HR ready to put in a harassment complaint.

    Good luck!

  54. Budgie lover*

    Op 2: You may have moved on after the other helpful comments, but chiming in here as another person who had a purely cosmetic rhinoplasty. People who never saw me with the bandages didn’t notice a difference. Even relatives I’d known my whole life. And I also got a chin implant at the same time, which makes it weirder.

    For me recovery was only uncomfortable the first few days (pain meds helped a lot). I did get a ton of swelling and bruising, but that was more interesting to document as it changed. It didn’t hurt. And my nose did not collapse.

    Overall: you will probably notice your nose more than anyone else.

    1. TootsNYC*

      when Carol Burnett got her chin implant, it just made her look the way I’d always seen her in my mind.

      Ditto when my SIL had a breast reduction. I think she was hurt I didn’t comment, but (1) commenting on other people’s bodies is rude, plus I didn’t think of us as that close; and (2) she just looked the way I’d always pictured her.

    2. LessNosy (OP2)*

      Thanks so much for chiming in with your experience too! It does make me feel better that so many people have had it done and no one caused a scene over them. I think you’re right, it will probably make the biggest difference to me, who is the person that matters ;) I’m just pretty private in general and don’t like attention drawn to me, which I think is where my reservations stem.

  55. Ja'am*

    OP #5

    The letter isn’t particularly egregious, but I do understand where you’re coming from. It would feel sort of like ‘rubbing it in’ WHY I didn’t get the job, (“this person was better than you”).
    I would prefer a less personal rejection, just a “We decided to move on with another candidate.”
    I already know why I didn’t get the job, I wasn’t good enough/someone was better, I don’t need reminding of it.

    1. TootsNYC*

      except, what if the message they want to say is, “you were SO good, and it’s only a really unusual circumstance that you wouldn’t be good enough”?
      And what if they want you to still consider yourself as “very qualified for a position with us”?

      1. Ja'am*

        I think that’s the case for the letter writer, which I thought about and it still doesn’t feel great.

  56. LadyPhoenix*

    OP#1: Ehen I use to work retail, some of the older ladies told me how some of the boys had crushes on me.

    I told them, “If they don’t have to guts to ask me out thenselves, they’re not worth it. Also, I don’t date coworkers.”

    1. RedPsycho*

      That’s my take. Whether it’s at work or not, if you can’t come and ask me yourself, I don’t want to date you

  57. Eddiesherbert*

    OP #4, I think Alison’s advice is good, but the one thing I’d add (that I don’t think was covered yet), is that I feel if you use Alison’s script, you should decline to go to any of the parties (even the ones you aren’t being asked to pay for).

    I could see it being taken badly if you don’t attend the party in January when you were asked to pay, but then attend the one in July when you didn’t have an exam (and weren’t asked to pay) and still enjoy all the food and drinks your coworkers had to pay for, for example .

  58. Kenneth*

    Re: LW#3

    Anyone get the sense that the manager in #3 is purposefully trying to set LW up to be written up or fired? It’d be frustrating enough if the schedules were being continually changed like that WITH notice. But that it’s happening continually WITHOUT notice tells me the manager is looking for an excuse to let you go with cause.

    If confronting the manager over these schedule changes doesn’t resolve the problem, it may be necessary to appeal up the chain. Speaking of, does your boss’s boss know this is happening?

    1. some peasant*

      Hi Kenneth, OP here. I can see why you would get that sense, but I think it is more of a thoughtless, time- and resource-management issue rather than a sign of intent. I work in a small office, so there is no one to write me up other than my boss. Plus, I have just enough training and experience in the field to be really useful, but not enough to put me into the next pay bracket, so right now firing me would mess up their whole workflow.

      Corporate is three hours away, and I don’t know that they would call it a concern.

      1. Liz*

        I agree that it sounds more like thoughtlessness or lack of planning. I would add that if you are located in the U.S., some local governments (typically the city and county level) are starting to implement notice requirements for workplace scheduling. My local county recently implemented a law that says hourly employees must be given at least 24 hours of notice of any work schedule change, which has helped employees push back on employers who do a poor job of managing schedules. Might be something to look into.

  59. wheeeee*

    Re: deviated septums, that is a BS cover-up excuse for a nose job. They can be done at the same time but are are two different procedures. A repair to a deviated septum does not change the external shape of your nose. If your nose looks different after, you had a nose job and yes, everyone will know.

    My sister had a deviated septum repaired when she was in junior high and her nose looked exactly the same before and after. If you lie about your nose job everyone will know you lied. Period. They can see the truth on your face!

    1. Elspeth*

      Nope. Many people have nose jobs and no one really notices! Anyway, it’s not a lie – at all – to say you had to have reparative surgery on your nose.

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

    #1 I wonder if you could let John know that “a group of people are gossiping about him behind his back.” And then let him know how you would want to know if it were you that was a victim of office gossip of a personal nature. He may want to shut that gossip down because it could set him up for a discussion with HR about inappropriate behavior and maybe even sexual harassment. “So, John, about those Work Reports you have a ‘big question’ about…?”

  61. Whaow*

    For a moment I read ‘may be in junior high’ literally. That was alarming. I could feel the expression I was making.
    Anyway, I read on and have changed to disgusted. This man isn’t immature so much as he is manipulative and aggressive.
    Telling everyone around you but not you does a few things, none to your benefit.

    1) He gets the effect of asking you repeatedly without doing it himself. If he’d personally come to you equivalent to the number of times a friend has spoken for him, it sounds like it would be clear to anyone he’s harassing you and a creep.

    2) He gets to pressure you. When he involves other people they often become interested in how the situation unfolds. This can influence how you handle the issue, even subconsciously. Shutting down Joe is enough trouble, shutting down Joe when 24935860 people might ask you about it is harder. Particularly if he’s established himself as a ‘Nice Guy/Harmless/Victim’ that you were sewww cruel too~ if you say no. The extreme of this is people who propose in public or with many people around without confirmation the proposee(?) is comfortable with it.

    3) He’s inserted himself in your life without your permission. He’s at your work. He seems to only talk about you. He’s all your friends talk to you about. He’s enough of a constant that you wrote in here. Since he won’t come to you directly, you have to wait for the other shoe to fall on his own time. It’s only natural that the weird signals would bother you, so he invades your mental space.

    He absolutely knows all of this, OP. Dropkick this walking warning sign as far as you can.

  62. Alliej0516*

    OP#1, I may be in the minority here, but I would be 100% proactive, right now. I would ask to speak to John (in a quiet but not altogether private place, maybe in an unoccupied office or conference room with the door left OPEN), and tell him something like “I know you’ve told a number of my friends here at the company that you would like to ask me out. I’m grateful that they all came to me to let me know, and you should know that not only do I not date co-workers, but don’t appreciate your dragging others into your plans; please don’t do that anymore.” And then let that be the end of it, walk away. This would be an unequivocal message that the OP is not upset with the coworkers, that she wouldn’t date John regardless, and his behavior was unprofessional and unacceptable, BUT he wouldn’t be embarrassed in front of others – like he might be if he foolishly decided to ask her out in a public setting. Just my opinion……

    1. RUKiddingMe*

      “…please don’t do that anymore.”

      “…please don’t do that anymore.”

      It’s not a request. I’m all about social niceties and understand things such as “thanks but no,” however “please” is a different thing. It’s making a request, and since OP isn’t really making a request, I think she needs to just tell him to not do it.

      No grey area, no room for interpretation, no rules lawyering. e.g. “well you said ‘please’ which is a request and I decided that I didn’t agree with your request…blah, blah, blah..” because there are definitely males out there that would argue it like that.

  63. Elizabeth W.*


    Something similar happened to me when I worked in a factory. A guy about my age, possibly a little younger (we were in our twenties) liked me and asked me out at lunchtime, in front of everyone. I don’t remember why I said yes, but I did. I must not have minded for some absurd reason. He then spent the next week talking about it, again in front of everyone, like “I can’t wait until we go out on our DATE!” I thought it was a joke at first, but he was totally sincere. If he were an emoji, he would have been the star-eyes one. :P

    He asked me for my address so he could pick me up, and then he showed up with a dozen roses. By that time, I was completely over it. I sat him down and told him he had gone way overboard, we were not going out, and next time he wanted to date someone, he needed to cool it because that over-the-top crap was not gonna fly.

    HE CRIED. Flat out bawled, great big tears and everything.

    I really took a chance letting him come over–there’s no way I’d do that now. I should have done it in the parking lot at work after our shift. Nothing bad happened and he avoided me completely after that. It was mega awkward; I shouldn’t have said something after lunch the day he asked.

  64. Not Rebee*

    OP3 – one of the things your email flagged most for me that Alison doesn’t seem to have addressed is that when you tried to leave that one day after 8 hours of work, your boss’s response was “Oh but I’ve scheduled you for another 30 minutes so you have to stay”. This suggests to me that saying something like “I can’t stay late today I need to stick with what is actually scheduled” might not get you anywhere, because your boss is changing your schedule without advanced notice and expecting you to hold to that. I mean, it’s one thing to not-ask if you can stay later, but this is presenting it as if it’s on the schedule and you’re not meeting your scheduled hours. So I think the key here for me would be to not stress the importance of sticking to the schedule as much as it is to stress the importance of not changing the schedule without certain amounts of notice so you can confirm if this works for you.

    However, if you’re in the service industry or anything similar you may be SOL. I’ve recently realized how awful it can be for people after watching my significant other go through scheduling woes. She has not had much success in getting stable days off each week (she usually gets two but they can be on any random day any particular week) or getting her schedule in advance (their work week for scheduling purposes starts on Saturday and she’s definitely been waiting for her schedule still on Friday (sometimes even as late as 6pm on Friday) to know if she’s working the weekend or not (her shift is the 6am opening shift). She also does not appear to have an actually scheduled end time to her shift (she is typically off somewhere between 3 and 4, but she sometimes gets out as early as 2 and as late as 6). So this is awful and I had no idea that people without corporate jobs were dealing with all this nonsense and that there’s nothing required by your employer in terms of advanced notice for your shifts (outside of practicalities).

  65. Specialist*

    Rhinoplasty OP:
    Change your hairstyle. Trust me on this one. I have a number of my patients do this. Even breast reduction and belly patients. People will pick the obvious thing. There will be a few who catch on, and for them you just tell them that you had problems with your nose for years and after this last accident you finally had it fixed. Or you can ask them why they are so fascinated by the nose on your face.

  66. Elizabeth Frantes*

    Geez Louise . . . this sounds like the first chapter of a horrible workplace shooting that happened here in the Bay Area at a tech company. Dude was obsessed with coworker, she was ‘nice’ and didn’t report him, and when he finally got fired because he would not back off, returned with a high powered rifle and shot the place up. Being “nice” gets women victimized and the perps off the hook. HR can’t protect you if you don’t tell them. It’s like the police. REPORT. Even if the behavior does not rise to the level of intervention, the cops want to know the background. You need a paper trail. Because someone that dense WILL feel the need to retaliate. He WILL escalate. Anyone who acts like that in a workplace . . . well, there is no nice way to put it. Dude is NOT dealing with adult life and is more than a little deluded, demented, and depraved. I tell you whut, people who yap about their kids, their love life, or lack thereof, or their obsessions with others are deplorable.

    BTW, this is one reason why I have never socialized with coworkers. Conflating work and personal life tends to end badly.

  67. Rubal*

    Match scorecard. India batsman Rohit Sharma has become the first man to hit 250 in a one-day international. His 264 in the fourth ODI against Sri Lanka beat the previous record of 219 made by fellow Indian Virender Sehwag against West Indies in 2011.

Comments are closed.