I saw my coworker buying a beer during work hours, using personal days for religious holidays, and more

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

1. I saw my coworker buying a beer during work hours

I saw a coworker at the pharmacy near our office this morning (9:45 a.m.) buying a 40-ounce can of beer. I was confused at first and I couldn’t figure out what to make out of it, but then I also remembered that this coworker always falls asleep in meetings.

I wasn’t sure if I should have approached her (I didn’t want her to think I’m being nosy). I do not want to jump to conclusions because I also thought she might have bought the beer for someone else (i.e., a homeless person in NYC or whatever). She got back at her desk around 10:15ish without the bag. I also saw her sleeping at her desk (pen in hand, head down) at noon today.

In terms of her quality of work, my team and I stopped going to her because we never get good answers from her anyway. I also overheard her team members question her ability in doing a project. Is this something that I should report in case she needs help or in case this requires disciplinary action?

The fact that you saw a coworker buying a beer before work is not, in itself, damning. She could have been buying it for after work or, as you say, for someone else. Who knows.

If she’s sleeping on the job or otherwise not performing her work in a way that affects you, or if she’s coming to work smelling like alcohol and/or appearing intoxicated, you should absolutely talk to your manager about those things. But “my coworker sucks at her job” and “I saw that same coworker buying a beer” is not enough of a connection to report someone for being drunk at work — that’s just too much speculation. Focus on the things you know for sure.

2. I have to use personal days for my religious holidays, while my coworkers don’t

Not a high-stakes question, but I did want the opinion of someone outside my company. For a little background, my company is amazing! They are great to employees and I truly love my job. However, the vacation/holiday/personal/sick day situation leaves a lot to be desired. I have had to take many days off as I have a toddler in daycare (aka, a petri dish) and daycare has strict rules as to how long a child needs to be fever-free before returning to daycare.

All of that being said, I am Jewish and had to use my personal days (of which I get three a year) for the high holidays in the fall. Due to my dwindling supply of sick/vacation/ personal days, I only took one day off for Rosh Hashana (as I expect to need to use my final personal day as a sick day before the end of the year).

Last week, my company got an email stating that the office would be closed on Christmas Eve (as well as Christmas Day). As happy as I am to get another vacation day, it rubbed me the wrong way that we are all getting an extra day off for a day that isn’t a holiday, and I have to use personal days (or come in to work) on a holiday that I observe. Am I being too sensitive?

It’s annoying, but it’s really, really common. Most people in the U.S. who celebrate non-Christian holidays are in the same situation. That doesn’t make it okay — if we were designing the system from scratch, we presumably wouldn’t design it this way — but maybe it’s useful to know that your company is doing what most companies do.

That said, you could certainly point out to your employer that you have to use your limited personal days for religious observance and suggest that they offer some floating holiday days that people can use for whatever days off they want to observe (which don’t need to be religious in nature).

3. Should I use my full name at work to seem older?

I am a current university senior who is in a full-time student teaching position. I have gone by my nickname (let’s say “Meg,” although it’s not that) during my university time. My problem comes in with the fact that I am a rather petite, very young looking female. When I say young looking, I get mistaken for an eighth grader at my K-8 school on the regular when I am wearing business casual and makeup and the kids are in leggings. I just have a young looking face and, based on my mother, it isn’t going away anytime soon. Sooner or later, people start calling me “Meggie” or some other cutesy variation of Meg, which I rather loathe and usually try to make a reason to introduce myself rather quickly to someone else as Meg.

So as I start job searching and moving into the professional world, I have been wondering if I should start going by my full name, “Meghan,” as to seem older and more professional. I understand that this may be silly and I’m fixating on something so small, but I am at a loss as to what to do to make myself seem older so I don’t get mistaken as one of the kids. I’m also thinking using my full name might ward off people thinking it’s okay to use a cutesy nickname which implies that I am some cute thing rather than an adult professional woman.

Would it cause problems if people from one part of my life know me as “Meg” and a new part know me as “Meghan” for references and such? I’m at a loss as to what to do to make myself appear older – I wear subtle makeup daily, loafers and business casual are a regular part of my life (appropriate for my work with kids) and I have been complimented on my professionalism in my various work settings as I make it a point to avoid using slang, swears, and other language that would readily identify myself as part of the younger crowd. Any tips? Would the full name help or is there something else I can be doing?

If you’d like to go by Meghan professionally, there’s no reason why you can’t. Lots of people use their full name professionally but a nickname with family and friends. And as long as the nickname is commonly recognized as connected to the full-name (as with Meg/Meghan, although I know those are just examples), it shouldn’t cause confusion with references. People being asked about “Meghan Plufferton” are going to connect that with “Meg Plufferton” pretty easily.

But if you prefer Meg, it’s okay to use that and push back on the people who are changing it up. If someone calls you Meggie, say firmly, “It’s Meg, please” or “I don’t go by Meggie. Just Meg.” Reasonably considerate people will hear you loud and clear and will cut it out.

4. How should we announce we’re offering health insurance, but not to part-timers?

My husband and I own a small, three-year old restaurant and we’re finally able to offer health insurance benefits in 2019! I couldn’t be more excited to offer this benefit for our staff, knowing many choose to go without despite the mandate.

The problem is that we’re only able to offer this benefit to our full-timers, which excludes about a third of the staff. No matter how many times I crunch the numbers, I just can’t justify paying half a premium for someone who works just one shift a week.

What’s the best way to share this information? I’ve considered holding an all-staff meeting, which is rare for us, but I feel uncomfortable inviting part-timers to a meeting where they won’t be getting the benefit (especially if it falls on their day off, just icing on the cake!). It also doesn’t feel good to just allow the part-timers to find out through the rumor mill. I’m a fan of upfront communication but I’m not sure how to navigate this one.

Yeah, definitely don’t make part-timers come in on their day off just to hear about a benefit they won’t be getting. You can talk to people one-on-one, post a notice in a central location where you know everyone will see it, or hold a series of smaller meetings over the course of a week so you reach everyone by the end of it (without requiring anyone to come in specially for it). It depends on how you normally communicate information — but any of those options should work.

When you do, be straightforward about the finances. It’s pretty normal not to offer health insurance to people who only work a shift or two a week, and people probably won’t be shocked by that.

5. Can I send my resume in a Google Doc?

What would hiring managers/HR think of receiving a resume in Google Docs? I’m in a sector now with a very specific job-application process (I’d be pasting my resume into an internal application system), so it doesn’t really apply to me, but I’m a bit curious. Would a Google Docs resume be accepted, or is “Not Word format” still considered a negative?

Don’t do it; it’s really annoying to your recipient. The issue isn’t that they’re not Word, because PDFs would also be fine. The issue is that there’s no easy way to get a Google Doc into most applicant tracking systems, so when I receive these, I have to write back and ask the person to resend their materials as attachments instead (and plenty of people won’t bother to do that and instead just won’t consider you).

Plus, if your materials are in a Google Doc, that means you can change them after I look at it the first time, which I’m not comfortable with since I may pass them on to someone else involved in hiring to look at and I want to know they’re seeing the same version I am.

Send your cover letter and resume as attachments — Word docs or PDFs. Do not send them as a link to a Google Doc or any other website.

{ 657 comments… read them below }

  1. Lacroix*

    #3 – I think it is super OK to use shortened form / nickname in every-day conversation, and your full name for resumes etc.

    My first name is ‘Timothy’. I am a lawyer, and my business cards say ‘Timothy’, as does my signature, my correspondence, my name on the letter-head, the documents I draft etc.

    However, whenever I meet someone, I am ‘Tim’. My friends and family all call me ‘Tim’. If you asked person ‘X’ – ‘who’s that guy’, they’d say ‘Tim’.

    Having said all that, if someone tries to call me ‘Timmy’, they’re going out the window.

    1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

      Totally agreed. I use my full name all the time, but folks who know me will often shorten it (to something similar to “Tim” or “Meg”). I’m totally ok with that as long as it doesn’t get converted into a nickname I don’t like or that I think is overly twee. And I have friends who really do not like having their name shortened, so I make sure I don’t give them unwanted nicknames.

      From what I can tell, most reasonable non-jerks will quickly accommodate your name preferences.

      1. I'm pretty sure I know what my name is, thanks.*

        As for nicknames, my Mom has a great story about how she got called into a parent-teacher conference when I was small.

        Backstory – I have a name that has a couple of common short forms, one of which I hate. For the sake of the story, Michael going by Mike and _never_ Mikey. I’ll tolerate Michael because it is technically my name, but never ever Mikey.

        There were a couple of other Michaels in the class, including another Michael MyLastInitial. Teacher decides it’ll be less confusing if I’m Mikey, and I quietly refuse to answer to it, or even acknowledge in any way that any reference to Mikey could possibly refer to me.

        So, parent-teacher meeting. Teacher tells Mom, “Mikey refuses to do anything I tell him.” and Mom says “That’s probably because it’s not his name. I’ve been trying to get him to use Michael, the name I gave him, and since he could talk, he’s been Mike. Good luck getting him to answer to anything different for _you_.”

        The next day, the other Michael MyLastInitial was Mikey.

        1. Kenneth*

          Similar story from me. I tend to go by Ken with people who know me. But the few people who’ve asked if they could call me “Kenny” have all been met with a very firm NO. My mother first found this out when I was in kindergarten being introduced to my teachers. (Yes teachers, plural, as I had two.) One of the teachers tried to call me “Kenny” and my 4 year-old self asserted that my name was “Kenneth”.

          My mother brought this up when I was visiting over the recent holiday weekend, and I said to her that such has always been the case. I’ve never been able to tolerate someone calling me Kenny. My paternal grandmother had to change how she called me since my grandfather is Kenneth as well – I was named after my grandfathers. And she always called him Ken, so tried to call me Kenny. Until I corrected her on that.

          Now the only time I’ve ever really needed to deal with people calling me “Kenny” is when they’re being intentionally belittling.

          1. TardyTardis*

            I’m sure you’ve run into all the South Park fans among your friends already. Good luck getting *them* to change (although you could tell them to call you Cartman from now on, and maybe they’ll get the hint).

          2. Can't Think of a Name*

            Ugh yes. For some reason people always want to add an “ie” to the end of my name all the time – even after I’ve corrected them. I’ve tried explaining my name is “Jess,” and even added that it’s an important distinction since my teammate goes by “Jessie” and we have the same last initial, but nope, people will still do it. At this point I let it go since it doesn’t really bother me, and I figure they can deal with the confusion of figuring out which Jessie X they want to talk to.

            1. JessaB*

              I get the same thing, I’m a Jessica who goes by Jessa because Jessie was my late grandmother. I won’t put up with it at all, I’ll answer to Jess, but that “ie”does not belong to me. Why can’t people just go by what you say when you introduce yourself to them? What is with all these people (and there’s a metric tonne of letters to Alison about this,) who insist on changing people’s names?

        2. Recent Anon Lurker*

          Glad to know I’m not the only one who did that in kindergarten to their teacher. Teacher tried to shorten my name to “Missy” which I have detested since I could talk, because my full name was too hard for a five year old to write (ughhhh number two – I turned six in the second week of the school year). My dad just looked at this first year teacher and said something to the effect of if she can read Dr Seuss I’m pretty sure she can handle writing her full first name.

        3. MrsCHX*

          My husband, dad (okay, he technically doesn’t count because he’s “dad”), brother and nephew are all Michaels. I decided to call my nephew Mikey. When he was about 14/15 he said, “Auntie, I don’t go by Mikey. I hate it.”

          And I was mortified!

          Husband gets super, duper agitated when someone he’s just meeting calls him Mike.

    2. TootsNYC*

      my best friend went by Kathy for a very long time, certainly into college. But partway into her career, she started going by Kathleen.

      Everybody rolls with it.

      In fact, you’re at a perfect time to switch.

      My sister added a hyphen to her two-part name shortly before she graduated high school so that everything would be entered into all the systems from the beginning.

      I would also say that it’s smart to have a resume that has your full name on it. At my company, they use your resume to put your name into the PeopleSoft system, and apparently they cannot change it.

      1. aNon*

        Off topic but PeopleSoft definitely lets that change happen. People can legally change their names and they’d need to be updated for tax purposes. That sounds more like someone in payroll making excuses.

    3. Quoth the Raven*

      I am the same. I use my full name in my correspondence/signature (“Jessica”) and the shortened form (“Jess”) when speaking or introducing myself — and like you, if someone decided to go around calling me “Jessie”, they’re going out a window, too.

      In my case I’m so used to hearing people call me by my short name that I relate someone calling me my full name to them being mad at me (as has been the case, historically). There’s only one person who can get away with doing it without it making me feel I done screwed up.

      1. AKchic*

        Saaaaaaame. There is no Jessie (or Jessi/Jessy). Only Zu’ul.

        Everyone calls me Jessica unless they know me really well, then they might be allowed to call me Jess. If they pay me, they get to call me something else.
        Then I have my fair name, my 50’s name, and a pen name. There is power in names.

    4. Jerusha*

      I also agree. I use a short-form for my name that isn’t the immediately-obvious nickname, and I’m “Margaret” on my business cards, on formal documents, and in my email address/signature, and “Peggy” to my colleagues. Other derivatives, like “Marge” or “Maggie” or “Meg” are Right Out.

      To borrow Tim’s example, if you asked person ‘X’ “Who’s that?”, depending on context they’d either say “Peggy” or “Dr. $surname” – I don’t think anyone would say “Margaret”

      My brother successfully navigated a switch from being referred to by his initials to using the common derivative of his first name, also without a problem, although I think he did it at the high school/college boundary, not the education/employment boundary. (For example, if he were David Robert, called D.R. in childhood, now goes by Dave at work/in his adult life).

      (NB: I’m not actually Margaret, and he’s not actually David, but other names for which the same principles apply).

      1. Amelia Pond*

        I never did understand how people got Meg put of Margaret. That’s really besides the point, I just find it baffling.

        1. Seeking Second Childhood*

          I was once told that Margaret/Peg makes more sense in Gaelich, but the source was sketchy on how.

          1. A. Schuyler*

            It’s just rhyming slang, right? Margaret > Meg > Peg in the same way that Richard > Rick > Dick.

          2. Slartibartfast*

            My mom is a Margaret who goes by Peg or Peggy, and she said Pegi is the Gaelic translation of Margaret.

        2. Myrin*

          I don’t want to derail, so I’ll leave it at this one reply, but if you want to talk more about this kind of stuff, we could start the topic anew in the next open thread!

          I’m a germanist, not an anglicist, but let me just tell you that for someone who deals a lot with this kind of stuff (my focus is on the middle ages), it’s completely obvious how “Margaret” became “Meg” because you see it literally all the time – in short and very basic, there are entire branches of historical dialects which don’t pronunce “r”s very much, so they just got ignored (modern German as a whole tends to do that, at least compared to other languages), and there were several so-called vowel shifts which affected the germanic languages which led to, among other things, “a”s getting “flattened” (I don’t know the scientific expression for that in English) to “e”s; especially that last part is super, super common and actually one of the markers for the great vowel shift in general.

          If you want to know in more detail, you can search for the Dictionary of Medieval Names from European Sources, looking for Margaret – it’s a scholarly site and 100% matches my own experience with medieval sources.

          1. ssssssssssssssssssssssss*

            “The Great English Vowel Shift!” Remember that from my BA days. Yep. Language is fun.

        3. PhyllisB*

          I have never understood how Peggy or Penny was derived from Margaret. I love researching names/word originations so if anyone can point me in the right direction…………

      2. Don't call me Liz*

        I think LW3 would be well-advised to go by the name Meghan in the workplace, ideally combined with a middle initial — certainly on things like business cards, website information, and so on. The use of a nickname on official correspondence will subtly signal people to take her less seriously. (I also recall reading some academic research to this effect, although I can’t retrieve it offhand.) And that is doubly true if the nickname is a not immediately derivative of the full name (“Meg”), and triply true if a diminutive (“Meggie”).

    5. Anononon*

      I’m also a lawyer who has gone by a common nickname of my whole life. It’s also a nickname that has a younger/more childish connotation. (And I also look and sound young. Gotta love the “are you a lawyer?” and”you’ve been practicing how long??” questions.) I basically handle it where I introduce myself with my full name to anyone outside my firm, but I go by my nickname internally.

      1. Cat wrangler*

        I have a short name which doesn’t logically shorten – say it’s Tina, so most people call me Tina. My boss occasionally calls me Teen. I’ve decided it’s not worth Going There with him over it but if you want to be known as Meg or Meghan, just correct them when they get it wrong or use a variant you don’t like.

        1. C Average*

          I had a boss who was horrible in many ways I won’t describe here, and she called me by the first syllable of my name. Just lopped off the rest. It was in no way a recognizable or obvious nickname, and I felt my back go up every time she uttered it.

          My other colleagues knew I hated it, and one day when the boss used it, a colleague with a little more political capital than me calmly said, “Why do you cut off her name like that? I think she prefers her full name.”

          The boss turned to me. “Do you? Does the short version bug you?”

          “It does,” I admitted.

          “I’m sorry. I wish you would have said. I’ll use the full version from now on.”

          It really was that easy.

          1. Project Manager*

            I had the same thing happen. People like to shorten my name and add an “s” to the end, like going from Holly to “Holls”. My boss in college would call me the “Holls” equivalent and I would ignore it and silently stew. However, I corrected some co-workers that picked up on it, they called it out to my boss, and she was very embarrassed that she had called me a name I didn’t like for quite some time. Now I realize how easy it would be to quickly & casually correct her and save us both some angst. Most normal people don’t want to call you something you don’t like.

            Also, as another person that looks young, I wouldn’t count on changing your name to impact that perception significantly. Focus on being professional and people will pick up on your demeanor.

            1. Sled dog mama*

              Why oh why do people do this? I have a short (used to be) common name, think Mary but not and so many people shorten it to Mar. it makes me crazy that’s not my name and you’re gone to the trouble of saying almost my whole name, just add the one letter!!!!!

              1. London Calling*

                I’m a Sarah – frequently called Sar or Sair. Like how much trouble is that extra syllable??

              2. Book Badger*

                My name is similar to Mary but the first syllable is “Mar,” as in “car.” “To mar” means “to ruin” and that’s what I say when people try to shorten it that way.

            2. AnnaBananna*

              Yep. The suddenly plural. Melissa = Mels. Abigail = Abes.

              Like, thanks so much for thinking we’re close enough that you can just ASSIGN me a nickname (that I don’t like)?? Um, no.

              Also, I’ve noticed nobody else has really touched on OP3’s other issue – being seen as younger because of her ‘8th grade’ face and such. My three pieces of advice is: be uber professional, almost (but not quite) distant, to colleagues. Folks assume warmth and generosity of spirit (eg enthusiasm) is a bit of a young trait. Of course this isn’t true across the board, but if you can distance yourself from being seen as a happy little bunny right now, so much the better in the long run. This means no gossip of any sort at happy hours, no bringing cupcakes for your colleagues ‘just because’, don’t plan the employee holidays, etc etc. Kind detachment is your friend.

              Also, and this is dumb, but get yourself heels. You know as well as I do that us short folk just aren’t taken seriously as a first impression. We’re just considered too ‘cute’. I mean, who fears a fluffy kitten? Nobody. Find yourself some comfy heeled shoes (clogs? platforms? both are surprisingly comfortable to stand in while teaching) and it’ll give you just a bit more presentation oomph – it will also give you the confidence to exude your actual age, instead of the cute bunny that you aren’t.

              Last, make sure you’re networking within your teacher community. Make friends with more mature colleagues and maybe grab a mentor or two. Being seen as taking your career and role seriously has a surprisingly good effect on your overall reputation. I think this last step may really help you be seen as no longer just the new gal, but someone to take seriously.

              I wish you luck, OP3!! :)

        2. Dr. Pepper*

          Unless they are especially malicious, most people really do want to call you by the right name. Even if they’re a bit of a jerk in other ways, getting a name right is a common desire. I think part of that is that getting someone’s name wrong, even if you just decided to call you something else, reflects poorly on *you* to outside eyes. Getting names right is often a point of pride. How do you react to someone purposefully calling someone else the wrong name? I would bet it’s along the lines of “wtf is wrong with you, his name is Jim” and not “hahaha I’ll call him Jimmy Johns too!” Unless of course you are all 8 year olds.

        3. Kelsi*

          Yeah, sometimes you just have to decide whether it’s worth Going There and it’s okay if the answer is no. There’s a coworker that regularly calls me “Kels”–which is awkward as hell and which I only usually tolerate from people who have known me since childhood. But no one else has tried it, and I don’t interact much with that coworker, so it’s not really worth the goodwill capital I’d have to spend to fight it.

        4. Robin Bobbin*

          Re: Tina to Teen
          My grandaughter’s name is Julia, which also doesn’t logically shorten. Even so, family at times calls her “Juje” (rhymes with “luge”) or “Jujie.” Wonder how she’ll feel about that when she’s older? She’s currently 5, so she has some time to form an opinion.

          1. Nana*

            I have a Julia…her father and I sometimes call her JuJu or Jujie. She alternated between Julia and Julie all through school and work…and still does, at 50+

    6. lyonite*

      As a counter example, I have a nickname that isn’t particularly common, and isn’t obviously related to my real name (it’s traditional, but hasn’t been common since the 19th century; my parents are weird.) I decided to go by my real name for similar reasons to the OP’s, but have come to regret it, because it isn’t what I care to be called and it makes my life more complicated to have multiple names. So, I would say, ask people to call you what you want to be called, and if they try to use something else correct them.

      1. Ermintrude*

        I picked ‘Ermintrude’ as a Facebook pseudonym and now I’m stuck with friends who see me on Facebook a lot calling me Erm or Ermie. The latter irked me quite badly but those who insisted on it were like, ‘it’s not even your real name anyway’. :/ Ah well.

      2. Anonymeece*

        I agree!

        I have my real name, which doesn’t normally translate to my nickname, but it’s a nickname I’ve had since I was literally born. Family, friends, all those call me by it, and I ended up hating my real name. When I first got into the work world, I decided it would be more “mature” to go by my real name… then ended up telling people my nickname anyway.

        Just go by the name you want to be called, and correct people who try to change it. It’s your name, your identity.

    7. Madeleine Matilda*

      #3 – growing up I was Maddie, but in my early 20s I became Madeleine. Now everyone except family and long time friends call me Madeleine. To me it seemed like a more grown up name at a time when I was trying to be taken seriously in a professional context by people much older than myself. YMMV.

      1. Hi there*

        Same here, but I do not have the same experience of everyone but relatives using my preferred name. In high school I was “Trish” and had long, blonde hair. In my first year of college, I think, I switched to “Trisha” and eventually cut my hair. (This was both to be taken more seriously and because I noticed I would hide behind it.) My legal name is Trisha, but because people think it is short for something they figure they can call me whatever they want. I try correcting them when they say “Trish” but it is a losing battle. “Pat” or “Patty” I take it up a notch and explain that my name is not Patricia. Even that doesn’t always work!

        1. Madeleine Matilda*

          I had a friend in college we called Trish (still do), whose name is Trisha. Her mother was Patricia. Oh the confusion they caused until my friend changed her last name when she married.

        2. Business Cat*

          My father and mother both have short names, Bobby and Frankie. Those are their legal names, and aren’t short for anything else, but it’s amazing how much mail they receive addressed to “Robert” or “Frances.”

          1. Jadelyn*

            My mom gets that sort of thing – her name is Vicki, but it’s not short for Victoria, her legal name really is just Vicki. And yet people always assume her full name must be Victoria.

            It’s actually become sort of a family joke, in that to “yell at” my mom we call her Victoria.

      2. Turquoisecow*

        My mom’s full name is Annette. People who knew her when she was a kid call her Net or Nettie. She doesn’t have a problem with those nicknames that I know of, but she introduces herself as Annette. People who met her as an adult call her Annette.

      3. Darrell*

        Hi, Madeleine. My daughter’s name is Madeleine, but in middle school and high school, her friends went with “Maddie.” When she went to college, he made the decision to introduce herself as Madeleine, which made mom & dad happy. It’s so interesting to run into parents of her school friends, who will ask “what’s Maddie up to?” It usually take me a beat or two to translate to myself that they’re asking about her.

        1. Robin Bobbin*

          We always called my son by his long version name. By late high school, some people called him by the short version. In college her became an avid member of the Society for Creative Anachronism (medieval recreation folks) and took a medieval name. At work they may call him by his short name, we still use the long name, but pretty much everyone else in his life uses the SCA name. “A rose by any other name would smell as sweet”

    8. snowglobe*

      I think the main point though is that offering the longer version of her name is not really going to solve LW’s problem. Folks who like to use nicknames are just as likely to change Meghan to Meggie as they are if they know her as Meg. Either way, she’ll need to remind them to call her by her chosen name.

      Also, I’m not sure the longer name really implies older anymore. I’ve noticed over the last ten years that young kids often go exclusively by longer names – Nicholas, Michael, Katherine, etc., while people over the age of 40 are more likely to be Nick, Mike, Kate, etc.

      1. CaliUKExpat*

        Is it an age thing? I just assumed it was a British thing… everyone I know in California used nicknames, hardly anyone I know in the UK does. Now I’m going to look more closely at ages when I hear full names

        1. Turquoisecow*

          There’s a trend right now for people to name their kids after their grandparents, so I think that might be part of it. Also, when you’re in a classroom with a dozen Mikes, Michael is a way to stand out a little.

        2. PhyllisB*

          Not just British. I have relatives in New Jersey who will give you a nickname whether you want it or not. My name is Phyllis, so I’m Phyl. (Doesn’t matter to me.) My mother’s name is Marjorie; most people call her Margie, but they call her Marge. My step-son is Alan, they call him Al. One aunt is Marilyn, they call her Mare. The deal-breaker is my husband. His name is Richard. If anyone calls him Ritch, Ricky, or Dick, he will not answer. At first I chastisted him for being rude, but then I thought about it; why should you be called by a name you don’t use? So when they asked me why he wouldn’t respond, I would say because you are not calling him by his right name.
          My GRRRRRRRRRRRRRRR moment is, when my nephew was learning to talk, he couldn’t say my name so he came up with a version he could say. It was sweet and cute, but then others in the family started calling me that, and mentally I was like “NO!!!!!!!!!!!! This is nephew’s special name for me. His wife and children picked it up, too, so I have learned to roll with it. But I really HATE it when my brother and sister use it.

      2. Flash Bristow*

        Totally agree – I don’t think it matters what your name actually *is* or how it might be read / interpreted / perceived; it’s more important how you conduct yourself, etc. Just be clear on how you like to be addressed, and if there is anyone being persistently stupid about it, either don’t answer to their name for you (if you’re in a position where that is possible), or just quietly but persistently correct them.


        Potential elephant in the room: yes my first name is Flash. After you’ve said it a few times it just becomes the identifier for me, nothing different or special. Like Jacqui, John, Samira, Khan, Rocky, etc. Just a name.

        To enforce this in a slightly humorous way, in the past I kept a swear box in my desk. Sing that damned Queen song in my face, be “fined” a pound which will go to children in the third world. Makes the point, adds a bit of humour but shows I’m serious, we all move on. (I never chased people to enforce it, obvs it was a voluntary donation, but people took the point, mostly in good part.) My sponsor child in Mali appreciated the stationery and football.

        Btw – I wouldn’t advocate that method unless you also have a name which attracts the same tiresome response, in which case this shouldn’t need saying but – know your audience! I was in a very friendly and informal space at the time!

        You get the point – choose the name you want to be known by, be clear (but not stern) about it, and carry on! It will soon stick in people’s minds as “the word that means that person” and won’t need any further analysis – on your side or theirs! All too soon it will be “just” a name – once they realise you’re serious about not wanting the cutesy or affected alternatives.

        Your name is your name, dont change it for anyone – own it!

        1. Exhausted Trope*

          I love Queen but I’d cannot imagine who’d sing Flash at a coworker. Perhaps We are the Champions but never Flash.

        2. Kelsi*

          If it helps, less unusual names also get the “obnoxious song” treatment. Just from my acquaintances I know of Jenny (867-5309 by Tommy Tutone), Sylvia (Sylvia’s Mother by Dr. Hook & the Medicine Show), and Barbara (Barbara Ann by the Beach Boys) who are all heartily sick of their name songs. I’ll have to share your twist on the swear jar with them :D

          1. Ralkana*

            I have a former coworker named Jeremy. I asked him once if he got a lot of Pearl Jam sung at him. He just looked at me with despair.

          2. political staffer*

            My first name is in a popular song (not listed above). If one more person sings that song to me, I will become the exact opposite of the adjective that is the first word of the song title (the second being my name).

            Yet people still get my name wrong ALL THE TIME (there’s a different name that is the same except for the last syllable)

          3. Cari*

            Hollies’ Carrie Anne, never mind it’s also spelled “wrong”.
            It got old fast, and I’m not even of that song’s generation

        3. Not Actually Judge Dredd*

          > Sing that damned Queen song in my face,

          I’m sorry. My last name is Judge, and I got that damned Sammy Davis Jr song sung at me when I was younger. One of the singers was my sixth grade teacher! It tapered off when I got older bc not as many people know the reference and I guess people are more mature when they talk to an adult.

          Later in life, some of my students called me Judge Dredd. I was ok with that.

        4. annon time*

          I was actually named after a song, but luckily it’s my middle name that very few people know and the song is a pretty obscure choice from a semi-well known folk singer. No one has ever sung “my song” to me, to my unending relief.

        5. cxx*

          I might have to borrow the song jar idea – I’ve had people singing Sweet Caroline in my face my entire life. And people calling me Caroline in general.

          (My name isn’t Caroline. It’s close, but it’s not.)

          1. political staffer*

            My name is Caroline and words can’t describe how much I hate that song. People still don’t get my name right despite it.

    9. Où est la bibliothèque?*

      I use my full name at work, and my nickname elsewhere. At least for me, it allows me a kind of mental divide between my “social life” at work and my actual social life. YMMV, but for me this is actually a really good thing. I’ve struggled with social boundaries in the past, been part of one of those toxic workplace cliques, and the name thing is a good reminder that it’s great to have friendly coworkers, but except in special circumstancesd I don’t want to consider them friends.

    10. MCR*

      “Having said all that, if someone tries to call me ‘Timmy’, they’re going out the window.”

      +1 to this – I actually think LW #3 needs to make a bigger deal out of this if it’s happening so regularly. The instant someone says Meggie, you say “UGH, Meg actually – I am so NOT a Meggie person, it just rubs me the wrong way.” Make it A Thing so people remember it. There may be the occasional a-hole that will call you the cutesy name to poke fun at you, but most people will remember your preference and stick with it.

      1. ThankYouRoman*

        Exactly, this.

        It reminds me of the episode of The Practice where some dbag keeps trying to call Eugene, “Genie”. No. No. Triple no.

    11. Dr. Pepper*

      I do this as well. My full name is fairly difficult to pronounce, so I go by a shortened version of my name. It’s easier to pronounce and people remember it better. When I was a kid, for whatever reason I insisted on always being called my full name, so people who know me from back then use my full name and not my shortened name. Everyone else uses the short name. Aside from official documents I use the short version on everything. It’s not a big deal. If someone tries to be funny and gives me a stupid name, I correct them.

    12. Half-Caf Latte*

      Yeah. I’m “Stacy.” People I really like can shorten it to “Stace.” Not my preferred or how I introduce myself, but not my hill to die on with those who are close to me.*
      But people who try to do this in the first conversation where we meet, especially to try to force familiarity/agreeablility from me? (Looking at you, car dealership supervisor jabroni). Gee tee eff oh.

      *I’m sure I’ll hear about how I have a right to be called a name I prefer, and I do. It genuinely doesn’t get my heckles up as much from those I’m familiar with, and I suspect there’s a regional dialect/norms piece to this as well.

      1. Kelsi*

        This!! I mentioned upthread that I don’t like “Kels” (it sounds so awkward, names like Stacy and Kelsi don’t need to be shortened!) but it doesn’t actually bother me from people I’ve known since childhood.

    13. Gelliebean*

      I’m in the same boat with a bunch of y’all. My first name is Angela and in a professional setting, that’s really all I want most people to use. I have one friend at work who’s close enough to use a family nickname and another that we just call each other “potato” most of the time (when not around other coworkers) but that’s it.

      A lot of people like to use “Angie” and it really grates on me. If it’s someone on the phone or another client that I’m not likely to ever talk to again, I’ll let it go, but I had a manager once who seemed to use it as some sort of power play and actually argued with me when I corrected her. That was extremely frustrating.

    14. Maggie*

      OP3, you’ve got a lot of responses here on names, so I just wanted to comment on stature as a fellow teacher. I’m 34. I STILL get people who walk into my classroom and ask, when I am at the board in a suit skirt and heels, “Where’s the teacher?” If you are relatively fit, this will never go away. However, with age, you will be significantly less annoyed by it and eventually flattered. Hang in there (but push back on the name)!

  2. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

    OP#1, I think you have to separate the performance issues from your speculation that your coworker is drinking at work (or is drunk at work). The first set of problems exist regardless whether your coworker is struggling with alcohol, or buying it for “a homeless person in NYC or whatever.”

    It’s one thing to say you never get good answers from her, and she falls asleep at her desk and during meetings. I don’t mean this in an accusatory way, but the rest of your letter sounds like you’re looking for reasons to dislike her or discredit her as a person. It may be totally reasonable to dislike her, but try to stick to measurable, concrete things instead of imaginative speculation. Your managers are more likely to trust your judgment if you come to them with a concrete concern that’s affecting your work performance or effectiveness than if you thread together impressionistic moments to speculate that she’s drinking/drunk at work.

    Finally, I find I can usually make clearer decisions if I imagine the most charitable explanation for someone’s underperformance. The purpose isn’t to decide why a coworker is behaving a certain way, but rather, to try to get myself in an empathetic place so that I can figure out a compassionate and professional response. I find managers are more likely to hear me out if I frame my reactions from a place of concern instead of blame/disgust/frustration/BEC-dom.

    1. valentine*

      OP1, since you have a workaround, unless you want to report that, the threads you have are too thin to tie together properly.

    2. Coffee and Cake*

      It’s a bad sign on the OP’s part that she is tracking when the co-worker is arriving and when the co-worker is sleeping. This sounds like the op is work stalking her co-worker to get something to talk to management about. There are a thousand things this could be and since op said she doesn’t use the co-worker for work none of them are any of Op’s Business.

      1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

        I think “stalking” may be a bit of an overstatement, but I do think OP is dedicating too much energy toward observing their coworker. I tend to notice when people come/go and fall asleep at work, but I’m not timing when they arrive or fall asleep, because it’s not really any of my business. This does sound like observing in order to dig up dirt, which is not a great use of OP’s emotional energy or focus.

      2. OP1*

        The person works right behind me, in an open space environment like most NYC offices are set up. You literally see people in and out. It’s not stalking. I was being observant.

        If her actions are none of my business, thanks for pointing that out – that’s why I came here to ask the question.

        1. Traffic_Spiral*

          Well, I’d say it’s not your business so long as it doesn’t negatively affect your work. If it does, that’s another story.

          1. Temperance*

            This is pretty unrealistic. It would be hard not to notice someone literally sleeping at her desk in an open floor plan. The same way that you can’t miss someone flossing or clipping their nails.

            1. Les G*

              This. Folks notice things. It’s human nature. If folks here think they’re somehow immune, well, I’d respectfully submit they’re just painfully lacking in self awareness.

            2. Traffic_Spiral*

              Well, flossing or nail clipping can be annoying. But so long as the person isn’t snoring it’s not annoying, so I’d say it’s not her business. I mean, yeah, she’s gonna notice, but she doesn’t have to do anything else about it.

              1. SignalLost*

                But … it IS annoying of any or all of it is part of a larger pattern of behaviour that makes the coworker not good at their job, as the OP states. I agree that it’s too thin to tie all these strands together, though I do think there’s a difference between buying wine or a six pack for after work and buying a single can of something like Old English 800 during work hours and we can pretend there isn’t but that’s ridiculous. Saying that someone who sleeps at their desk and is bad at their job isn’t annoying is a reach. I would be annoyed if someone was doing that, and I don’t have faith that all managers will address performance issues appropriately.

                Even if we went way out on a limb and said that coworker had a legit issue that made them fall asleep at their desk, their manager should be discussing with them ways to minimize the impact, like taking a nap in a conference room or whatever might be a reasonable accommodation for narcolepsy.

        2. Liane*

          Also, on the “Sleeping at her desk,” the only example you specifically mentioned is at noon. I’ve known lots of people who sleep on breaks–albeit, not in the middle of an open office!–& noon is a common office break time.
          Now, maybe this isn’t her break time, or anybody’s break time, in your office. Either way, the “Does it affect your work?” question is still key, as is whether it relates to the performance issues. If they are connected, sure bring them up: “We cannot go to Aurora for answers because she is usually sleeping. It takes 10 minutes to wake her and then she doesn’t understand the question because she is groggy, so gives partial/incoherent/wrong answers.”

        3. Observer*

          You’re still doing more tracking than is reasonable.

          As for the rest – what is your business is the stuff that you actually know for certain AND that affects you. So, if you can’t get any work from her, and she’s really the person you should be going to for something, that IS your business and you should go to your boss about that.

          The fact that she sleeps at her desk is not your business, unless she’s often doing that when you actually need to talk to her, and you can’t wake her up / she reacts badly to being woken up. The fact that she sleeps in meetings is almost certainly something her manager knows about – and it doesn’t affect you.

          But, that does say that there might be more going on than you know about. Being drunk is actually the least likely scenario I can think of for sleeping at her desk. And medical issues that might fall under ADA are a very likely scenario. Which means another reason to tread lightly.

          1. Nay*

            Wow, I am floored by the number of people saying that her sleeping at her desk is not your business…I you all seriously that ok with people sleeping at their desks!? To me that’s a big red flag; of what may not be your business, but if I saw a coworker asleep at their desk (pen in hand even!) I would be concerned for their physical and/or mental health, and would absolutely say something to them (Jane, I saw you asleep at your desk earlier, is everything ok?) or their supervisor (Jane is asleep right now at her desk and I’m worried about her, can you please check on her?)…how you can ignore this is beyond me.

      3. Ask a Manager* Post author

        That’s a really ungenerous interpretation. There are plenty of ways to notice when people arrive at work without going out of your way to do it — and certainly seeing someone sleeping at work is something you’d notice.

        1. Coffee and Cake*

          Noticing it and being irritated by it is one thing, but Op is tracking the time of these things down to the minute and that really puts it on a different level. I said work stalking so I’m not meaning op is following her at home, but she is certainly tracking her at work at a level that is odd.

          1. LKW*

            You’re acting like if you were in the same situation you’d just totally ignore it instead of doing what anyone would likely do and look at their watch or phone to see what time it was. And in this case, if the OP was considering writing to AAM, then she’s going to give additional details to provide more context to the situation.

            1. Coffee and Cake*

              No I was thinking if someone was tracking and writing down everything I did I would be so mad.

              I would be irritated but tracking the times down to the minute takes it to another level, I wouldn’t track this its not harming my work.

              1. WellRed*

                I think you’re reading something that isn’t in the letter. Nowhere does it say she’s writing it down. I am guessing people have actually done that to you, Coffee? Also, if they have stopped relying on the sleeper, well isn’t that an impact?

              2. London_Engineer*

                Sometimes when my coworkers are late I will check the time just to make sure my own perceptions aren’t off and so I can build up an idea of when to expectrl them. If I happened to be writing an email later that day/week about their habits I might remember the exact time and mention it. That wouldn’t make me an obsessive stalker

                1. LQ*

                  Yeah, I definitely check the time when people in my line of sight come in, mostly because it is a visual distraction and “Shoot! Am I supposed to be in a meeting right now!” I don’t know that I’d remember the exact time, but I’d know it was before my 10:30 meeting by a bit and would guess 10:15. (I’ve also seen coworkers outside the office and definitely checked, is it actually a work day, what time is it? Am I way off base on time and day?)

              3. Labradoodle Daddy*

                The time on its own isn’t really weird, but paired with the bizarre accusations it doesn’t look good.

              4. Les G*

                Advice column fan fic at its worst. You cannot possibly be making a good faith argument if you’re grasping at strawmen in this manner.

              5. Marthooh*

                OP said coworker bought the beer just before work, at 9:45, and arrived at work without the bag half an hour later, 10:15ish. This isn’t tracking the coworker to the minute, it’s just giving a time frame for beer-drinking or beer-giving-away.

              6. kittymommy*

                Honestly, if I saw one of my co-workers sleeping at their desk, I’d probably check my watch and notice the time too. Capped on top of the fact that it’s a) happened before and b) I just saw them by beer a few hours ago (whether or not it was for them) it would stand out. I don’t think it’s stalking as much as simple observation.

              7. Antilles*

                I don’t think it’s really “tracking times to the minute”. 9:45 and 10:15 sound like just mentally rounding off – I’m not saying 9:45 because it was that exact time, I just know that I started work at 10 and it was just before that. It could be 9:45 exactly, it could be 9:40, it could be 9:51, it could be 9:42…but it’s somewhere in the ballpark of 9:45.
                I’ve worked in several companies that work with government regulators and even *they* round to the 15-minute intervals on timesheets. So it seems pretty reasonable.

          2. WellRed*

            Ever since being moved to a desk near the door, I know when most of my co-workers leave. I can assure you, I am not tracking or stalking them.

            1. Dr. Pepper*

              Yup. When I worked in full view of the doors, I knew when everyone arrived and when everyone left, as well as who got coffee when and who went out for lunch and when. I didn’t even care, it was just impossible not to notice. Whatever.

          3. Observer*

            Actually, I think you are wrong about that – As others have note 9:45 and 10:15 are typical “rounded” times. And the OP also use the “ish” extension, which indicates that they are NOT “tracking to the minute.”

            I still think that they are spending a little too much head-space on this person’s comings and goings, but to it’s just not reasonable to call it “stalking”. There is simply no indication that the OP is keeping a highly detailed, much less obsessive, track of CW’s schedule. (And it also trivializes a real and often frightening behavior).

    3. CC*

      Yes, my father had a head injury and developed narcolepsy—based on how he acts at home I’m sure he’s not employee of the year or anything, but his falling asleep is unrelated to that.

      Also, even *if* this sleeping in work is related to drinking on the job, it never hurts to be compassionate about that as well. It never hurts to be kind.

      1. Kuododi*

        I understand exactly what you mean. I have a long history of falling asleep at inappropriate times/locations because of a life long hx of sleep apnea. (In treatment now so please no suggestions for exercise, folk remedies etc. Thanks!). Additionally I am quite aware in reference to the purchase of alcohol, that correlation doesn’t always imply causation. Op’s lacking way too much data to justify taking any further action at this point, unless there’s a big chunk of info which was not in the original post. Best regards.

        1. Jennifer Juniper*

          If OP1 reports their co-worker for buying a beer before work, OP1 may be seen by higher-ups as a tattletale and sabotage their own career prospects.

        2. CleverGirl*

          Solidarity. I have fallen asleep EVERYWHERE… in classes, in seminars, on trains and buses, in meetings, at a friend’s house in the middle of a conversation with a few people, standing up waiting for a train. Finally did a sleep study and found out I have sleep apnea. Got on a CPAP and while it didn’t immediately fix everything, it’s amazing that it doesn’t hurt to wake up anymore (I thought a splitting headache and feeling of utter exhaustion was just a normal feeling in the morning). And yes, super tired of people telling me to exercise or that I “just need to sit up straight” and things like that.

        3. TardyTardis*

          A lot of meetings make me want to fall asleep (budget meeting for Brasada, looking at you). And diligent note taking doesn’t always work.

      2. Temperance*

        Okay, no. You can’t get drunk at work. It is not unreasonable to be annoyed at someone drunk at work.

        1. Labradoodle Daddy*

          There is no evidence to suggest that this coworker is getting drunk at work. OP1 is coming up with absurd explanations to justify how she’s feeling.

          1. Emily S*


            It’s trivial and almost default (for those of us who aren’t jerks) to be kind to people who aren’t annoying you and haven’t done anything wrong. The advice to practice kindness and compassion is typically especially meant to apply to people who are annoying you or have made mistakes.

            My parents were annoyed with a whole lot of my shenanigans growing up, but they were always kind to me. Setting and enforcing rules and expectations isn’t unkind. It’s the attitude you do it with and how much nastiness you level at the other person in the process of setting and enforcing rules that makes it kind or unkind.

        2. Sapphire*

          We don’t know if that’s the situation here, though, and neither does the OP, unless there’s concrete evidence (like the co-worker smells of alcohol).

          1. Psyche*

            Yeah, since there is no evidence that the coworker consumed the beer before work it would be a weird thing to report. If the OP saw the coworker drinking beer before work it would be different.

        3. Observer*

          Except the OP actually doesn’t know that their coworker got drunk at work.

          Even a large (40oz) beer is not necessarily going to get someone so drunk that they are going to fall asleep. And, the OP doesn’t even know that the CW actually drank that can of beer.

    4. Perse's Mom*

      …the rest of your letter sounds like you’re looking for reasons to dislike her or discredit her as a person.

      I read it as OP having a lightbulb moment. Like oh… that’s maybe why her work isn’t great and why she falls asleep in meetings, but asking what her standing is to say anything because she doesn’t *know* that the coworker is actually drinking during work.

      1. SS Express*

        That’s how I read it too – her work isn’t great and she often falls asleep during the day, and when OP saw her buying beer it suddenly seemed like there was an explanation besides “she just sucks”.

        I think it’s helpful here to remember that alcoholism is a disease, not a personality flaw. I don’t think OP is accusing her colleague of being such a terrible worker that she even goes out drinking during work hours. It’s about realising that her poor performance might actually be related to a health issue (if not alcoholism, possibly something else that she’s trying to manage with alcohol).

      2. beth*

        That might well be the case, but I think the actionable step is the same no matter what OP’s intentions were with their phrasing. They can take action on their coworker sleeping on the job and not doing their work–that’s something they can bring up to their manager, especially if it’s interfering with OP’s ability to do their job. But they can’t bring up the possibility that the coworker might be drunk at work because they only have speculation for that, not evidence.

        1. OP1*

          Bingo. I am glad some folks (Perse’s Mom, SS Express, Beth) understand where I am coming from with this question. I wasn’t trying to accuse anyone of anything (that’s why I said in my post – “I was confused”, etc)…I was merely trying to point out a realization. Also, at the end of the post, my question was about either getting help for the coworker (ie alcoholism or narcolepsy) or disciplinary action. It’s unfortunate that I didn’t specify that I was concerned about a possible disease that she might need help with and some commenters think I’m trying to find ways to dislike her. Thanks Perse’s Mom, SS Express and Beth for seeing my point.

          In any case – I’ll stick to Alice’s recommendation for now. I understand there’s not much evidence…which is why I held off in talking to my manager about it at work and I asked the question here.

          1. LGC*

            In general (as in – in almost every case), I don’t think you can really do much of anything to help her, and neither can management. (Well, they can refer to an EAP.)

            It sounds callous, but you’re all adults and you guys all have agency over your lives. It’s not your employer’s job to diagnose and treat their employees, and it would likely be more uncomfortable for everyone involved.

            1. LGC*

              And on reading this again, it sounds like I’m chastising you, OP1! That’s not what I meant – it’s just that I think there necessarily has to be some distance with something that sensitive. Maybe she’s an alcoholic. Maybe she has sleep apnea. Maybe she bingewatches stuff on Netflix every night. But it would be needlessly awkward for everyone to speculate on the reasons.

              You do have a lot of actionable issues – she’s sleeping at her desk, and more importantly she’s so ineffective you’re sidestepping her to get things done. (And sadly, if she does have issues with alcohol use, they might make themselves more apparent anyway.)

              That said, I’d have questions if I saw a coworker buying a 40 of malt liquor in the morning myself. Most people…don’t buy alcohol when they’re at work!

              1. Les G*

                The 40 was gone by the time she came back to work, so that’s why the OP reached for another explanation. But wait, she should have covered her eyes and hummed when the coworker came in so she wouldn’t notice anything about her, right?

              2. curly sue*

                Or ‘crap, I promised I’d make the beer ribs / chicken recipe for dinner tonight and I forgot to get some yesterday.’ I can absolutely see myself doing that during lunch or before work if I happened to be near a store that sold an ingredient I needed for cooking that evening.

              3. CmdrShepard4ever*

                I buy stuff to use at home (including alcohol) before and during work all the time. I try to avoid buying stuff after work because a 5 to 10 minute delay can result in a much more crowded train ride. I carry around my “freshman” backpack on my commute and many people are surprised at how many things I can carry in it. Especially if i bought alcohol before work I would stuff it in my backpack so people didn’t see me carrying it around and make judgments or think I was drinking at work.

              4. Psyche*

                Just because she couldn’t see the can doesn’t mean that it wasn’t for later. It could fit into a purse or have been left in a car.

              5. Someone Else*

                The sequence of events was: both coworkers were in store (very near work?) just before work started. OP then went directly to work and arrived, presumably, on time. Coworker who bought a beer showed up at least 15 minutes after OP, sans her beer purchase.
                OP then had a lightbulb moment of “wait did she just drink that between purchase and now?” (which didn’t feel so conclusion-jumpy since coworker is a poor performer and iff coworker were drunk all day that would make her behavior at work make more sense than it did absent that theory) OP then tries to come up with an innocent explanation that involves the beer being gone and concluded “purchased and given to someone else”. If coworker has a car, another guess is the beer is now in the car, but maybe OP knows coworker uses public transport. I don’t know. In any event, I don’t think the OP wasn’t going to outrageous lengths to view the coworker poorly. She had a knee-jerk reaction and then tried to come up with a kinder explanation. It’s reasonable and human. More important than why OP might go through the thought process she did is that her only real course of action here workwise is on the work things that are concrete and known.

            1. Liet-Kinda*

              This is an overly harsh and judgmental thing to say to an OP and fails to take them at their word and give them the benefit of the doubt per site rules.

              And, frankly, this is not the first performatively outraged attack I’ve seen you indulging in. You need to rein it right in.

          2. WellRed*

            I understood the question and am frankly surprised by some of the criticism you’re getting here. It’sa reasonable correlation. I agree with Alison’s advice.

            1. Washi*

              Yeah, sometimes it seems like folks here believe that just noticing things about a coworker is intrusive. But we spend 8+ hours a day with our coworkers, it seems very normal to me to notice their habits and wonder about them. It’s only a problem if you act needlessly on that speculation, rather than on what affects your job and the actual facts. (Which the OP is doing and came to AAM for advice when she wasn’t sure what the line was!)

              1. Flinty*

                Or if you let the speculation negatively change your perception of them. But it sounds like the coworker sucks at her job either way, so the main thing here is to file it away as a random incident and focus on whether the suckiness is affecting your work.

            2. BadWolf*

              Indeed — I think people often say “But what about these secret reasons for Behavior X” on this site. And now OP1 has discovered a possible Secret Reason for Sleep At Job Behavior and people are melting down.

              1. SignalLost*

                The secret reasons thing is only deployed when it makes the problem worker suddenly innocent. A secret reason that made them guilty would get this, where people are looking for the secret reason that makes the other secret reason okay.

              2. Emily K*

                I am on OP’s side here and don’t think they did anything out of line. But in general on this site, I think lumping alcoholism and other extenuating circumstances all together as “secret reasons” that are supposed to make someone “innocent” or “guilty” is not quite accurate.

                There’s definitely a contingent on this site who encourages LWs to give benefit of the doubt where possible and not assume ill intent, and they provide possible explanations that don’t involve ill intent and provide room for that doubt. The point of those comments isn’t “always consider Secret Reasons!” It’s “err on the side of not assuming ill intent without hard evidence.” Sometimes erring on the side of not assuming ill intent is easier when you can imagine a plausible alternative explanation.

              3. beth*

                I mean, there’s a reason for this difference in receptions, though. Giving people the benefit of the doubt helps us view their behavior through a different lens, which can make it easier to tolerate their behavior. This is sometimes the best advice we have to give LWs, especially when they don’t have the power to make the coworker behave differently; if you can’t change the actual situation, sometimes the best you can do is change how you feel about it, and imagining that people have good reason for how they behave is a proven way to do that.

                Looking for possible Secret Reasons that people are actually as bad or worse than you thought has the opposite effect. It tends to make people feel more frustrated and upset with their coworkers, not less, and it’s not even actionable since it’s unproven speculation. If someone does it too much, it can turn into a really unhealthy mindset that adds a lot of tension and bad blood to a workplace. So, since it has some significant downsides and not much potential for good, it tends to get rejected when it comes up here.

          3. fieldpoppy*

            OP, I’m also sort of surprised at how many people are surprised or critical of the fact that you noticed this. I would totally notice this and wonder “WTF does this mean, what is adding up here.” Like you, I wouldn’t run off and immediately tell, but I would put it together as a possible pattern and explanation. It’s like I once noticed a friend doing something odd with two bottles of fancy shampoo or something when we were shopping — I saw her look at a bottle from a shelf and then, it seemed to me, put it in her bag. She COULD have been comparing a price of one she’d already purchased somewhere else to the one on her shelf, but she could have also been shoplifting in a clever “price comparison move” way, but it all happened so quickly I was like, WTF did I just see. I didn’t report her to the shop of course but if there had been other erratic things happening, I would have started to really wonder.

            That went in a direction I didn’t expect, lol, but I get it.

          4. Observer*

            Your concern for possible health issues is kind. But your thought that reporting it will help her get help is fundamentally flawed. You can be absolutely certain that your coworker knows that she’s falling asleep in the office. Reporting that to her superiors (even if they didn’t know about it) would not give her any new information.

            To the extent that anything on the job will help / push her to get help it’s two possible things. One is her chain of command actively SUPPORTING it by making whatever accommodations may be reasonable. We don’t know what, if anything, that they could do, but being flexible with scheduling while not subtly holding against her is something that seems likely.

            The other thing is realizing that she’s having significant performance issues at work. She doesn’t need anyone to draw the line for her – all she needs to know for certain (which she may or may not be aware of yet) is that there are clear issues with her work that are having an effect on her performance and on other people. Either she’ll make the connection herself and realize that she needs to do something about the problem (if she hasn’t yet) or she won’t – in which case trying to force the issue by talking about the other stuff is really not going to work.

            TLDR; If you want to help her, stick to the performance issues that directly affect you and your team. It’s good for you and for her.

          5. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

            OP#1, thanks so much for coming back and clarifying. Your explanation definitely shifts the tone from how I read your original letter.

            I want to emphasize that it’s 100% ok to report the performance problems. The thing you don’t want to suggest or report is the beer buying, because you don’t really have a basis for assuming that your coworker is falling asleep because they’re drinking or drunk on the job. In terms of concerns about possible disease, that’s not an issue for your employer—that’s an issue for your coworker. If you have a functional relationship, you can kindly ask your coworker if she’s doing ok, but at this point, you definitely should not mention the beer buying because you don’t have enough information to know if it’s a factor in her work performance.

          6. Chin Up*

            FWIW, I wrote a letter that got published here a few years ago and the commenters tore into me by assuming the worst about me and the situation. I think your letter was totally fine and made sense! You have a coworker that multiple people find unreliable, you sit next to her and see her falling asleep, and you also saw her by a single beer in the morning…any reasonable person would connect the dots like you did. Also worth noting is that you didn’t go to HR or her manager (AFAIK), you wrote into AAM to ask advice about the situation.
            I think that unless you see an extreme situation, like her drinking at her desk, it is way safer to speak to your manager about her work stuff and how its impacting you. And use Alison’s script for these things, like “how should I handle things when….?” Your coworker may have already gone to HR and reported something medical that your manager can’t, in good conscience, tell you about. Just straight complaining would then be hard for them to address, whereas “what should I do…?” can be easier to answer. Good luck, OP1!

    5. HLK1219HLK*

      I think a lot of people are wrongly defending the beer drinking sleeper. She’s a poor performing coworker? Check. She falls asleep at her desk?!? Yeah that’s a HUGE Check. I have NEVER seen that happen unless we worked an 18+ hour day. Buying beer during (let me say that again DURING and NOT BEFORE) the work day? Ding ding ding, Time to go directly to HR, do not pass Go, do not collect $200.

      Seriously cannot believe the rush to judge the person being impacted and protect the badly performing slacker.

      1. Washi*

        I only agree with this if the OP works in a setting where being under the influence would put people in danger (healthcare, childcare, etc.) Other than that, the OP definitely has standing to complain if the coworker’s sleeping/general terribleness is impacting her work, but I just don’t see any need to add speculation about the cause.

      2. Anon, a moose!*

        I’m totally in favor of bringing up the performance issues, the sleeping in meetings, especially if they’re impacting other people’s work. But I think being scandalized that an adult bought a legal quantity of alcohol while apparently buying other things on break is counter productive. It neither guarantees nor excuses the problem, so why not focus on the measurable problem (which is more than enough imo!) instead of speculating?

      3. Manya*

        I’m amazed how many people are eager to go full-on Stasi informer on their coworker. The OP has presented not one shred of evidence that this person drank the beer at work, causing them to fall asleep. She may be a bad worker, but that’s her manager’s business, not anyone else’s. I don’t want to work in a place where coworkers are spying and snitching on each other over circumstantial evidence, but apparently some never got over the hall monitor mindset.

        1. HLK1219HLK*

          There’s a difference between spying and rightfully reporting performance issues impacting others. Maybe the closet drinker will be lucky enough to land at one of your offices in the future so you can learn firsthand just how disruptive having to do your coworkers’ jobs can be.

          OP1 – you are NOT out of line. Go talk to your HR or boss today. Guarantee you won’t regret it.

          1. Liane*

            “I saw So & So buy a beer earlier today” **does not** mean “So & So is now drunk/drinking on the job.” Neither the English Language nor Logic work that way.

            (HLK1219HLK, it reads like you did have experience with an actual drunk/drinking-on-the-job coworker and I’m sorry. But it’s causing you to read things into OP1’s question.)

          2. Emily K*

            It’s precisely because being drunk at work is so problematic and damaging to a person’s reputation that we should require a higher standard of evidence than LW has presented and not declare the coworker to be drunk at work as though it were fact when it’s based entirely on circumstantial evidence. We all know the saying, a lie gets halfway around the world before the truth has time to put its pants on. Even if there’s only a 10% chance she’s not drunk, it’s still an unacceptable risk of severely damaging someone’s reputation. You need to be 100% sure that’s what’s going on before you tar their name as not merely bad at their job, but also drinking on the job.

            That doesn’t mean OP shouldn’t report the sleeping and the problems their team has working with her – he absolutely should. And I don’t think OP has done anything wrong by observing these things and writing in with their question. But the answer to the question is – don’t tell management your coworker is drunk at work unless you’re absolutely sure that’s what’s going on; do tell management your coworker is unreliable and you’ve observed them sleeping at work.

          3. Parenthetically*

            Lord. I can just about imagine the conversation.

            OP: I saw Jane buying a beer before she came in to work.

            Boss: …Okay?


        2. sourgold*

          Okay, this is an example of criticism going around the loop from meaningful to absurd. Stasi informer? Really?

          1. Observer*

            That’s a good point. I don’t think that the OP should report the beer. But still.

            Maybe have a chat or two with people who’ve actually LIVED under those kinds or regimes…

              1. Observer*

                Nice indirection and obfuscation.

                For the record, I know a LOT of people who’ve lived under such regimes (more NKVD / GRU than Stasi, but there’s not much to differentiate them) and I know very well how they both despise “snitches” and would find your comparison DEEPLY offensive (at best.)

            1. Anna*

              I think you’re going a little off the rails, here. Nobody has to have a conversation with anyone who has lived under any sort of regime in this context. It’s ridiculous.

              Basically, should OP be concerned? Possibly, but without any other evidence, there’s nothing to bring up to HR about the beer. Is coworker showing problematic behaviors at work that are affecting their performance? Probably, and that’s what can and should be addressed. OP can talk to their supervisor or the coworker’s supervisor or HR about what she has observed in the office such as sleeping and being late.

              1. Observer*

                If you’re worried about her, go over to her. Unless it’s really in the moment and your boss has the capacity to do something that you don’t (eg you are in one of those workplaces where only a supervisor is allowed to call emergency services) I can’t see any reason to call the boss.

                As for reporting it? Unless you’re in school or the like, hall monitors have no place. Sleeping at work is not generally OK, but unless it’s affecting the OP, it’s just not their place to “report” it or monitor it.

                And, yes, it could be affecting them, in which case it is completely appropriate to go to the this causes X and y problem to occur.”

        3. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

          Let’s please not refer to the Stasi, or other hyperbolic and highly offensive allusions, when discussing workplace conduct where people of reasonable minds can differ on the appropriate way forward.

      4. LQ*

        I had a coworker who used to ‘nap ‘in conference rooms. (He either did it daily, or just some how every day when I was in that conference room right after the nap.) I sort of dropped it in conversation casually to my boss, who acknowledged it with a shrug and moved on so I did too.

        It was really disturbing though. Something about turning on lights in an entirely pitch black conference room and suddenly someone is there that just freaked me out every time, so I ended up putting a note on my meeting prep to expect Coworker to be there sleeping. I could absolutely see myself writing in just to check and see if I was way out of line, and to get fully attacked for noticing something like that seems absurd. The best part about advice columns is they give you a reality check. So just attacking people for noticing a sleeping coworker who buys booze on the clock and not being sure what to do about it? Why?

        1. Danger: Gumption Ahead*

          I had a coworker who did that but he would sleep under the table. Freaked me out the first time I was setting up for a meeting and the chairs started to move. Apparently this wasn’t unknown to everyone else in our office, I was just the last to clue in that you had to give a shout before walking in to wake him up.

          People are an odd lot

        2. CmdrShepard4ever*

          I have napped at work before and continue to do so on occasion I even keep a neck pillow at work for this purpose. Sometimes I do it if I stayed up late the night before, or even if I went to bed early but I just didn’t get good sleep. In my current job I am lucky that I have an office with a door I can close. But a previous job was a but in seat position, so if I wanted to nap I would usually look for an empty file room, storage room, or unused office. Sometimes people walked in on my because they need to use the room for work reasons and I would vacate, other times people would have the same idea and they would have to find a different room.

          To be clear I would only nap if I was on break or lunch. Sometimes a 10/15 minute nap can be super helpful and with an hour lunch I can eat in 15/30 minutes and then nap for a good 30/45 mins.

      5. It's a Bird, It's a Plane, It's SuperAnon*

        I am chronically sleepy, every single day of the week regardless of what is going on. This has been an issue for me for years and I know I’ve nodded off at work, which I’m mortified by but I am doing what I can with the help of my PCP to minimize that. I’ve talked to my boss, he’s aware of the issues and we’ve talked through some of my options to make sure I maintain my normally high level of productivity. This includes being an otherwise model employee – responsive, helpful, staying on top of major projects, avoiding too-long lunch breaks, etc.

        The midday beer run is not good optics (I know, I know) given the employee’s other work issues. While we can speculate on whether the coworker is or is not drinking mid day, it speaks to a pattern of substandard work ethic. Maybe there’s a good explanation, maybe not, but OP is in a position to raise concerns to their boss and see where it goes from there. OP shouldn’t try to directly intervene because maybe there is a perfectly reasonable explanation, or the coworker is already working with their manager, but that doesn’t mean OP can’t bring it to the manager’s attention that it’s causing issues.

      6. Roscoe*

        I’m not “defending” the sleeper, however at the same time, we have no evidence that they drank the beer, just that they bought the beer. Due to that fact, I don’t think you can to go HR saying they are drunk at work. Also, unless they are caring for kids or something, or operating heavy machinery, I don’t know that going to HR about someone who had a drink before work is really a valid thing to do. They aren’t endangering anyone. Hell, I’ve had a beer or 2 on my lunch break before, and I was fine after work. I’d hope no one would see that and go to HR

      7. Matilda Jefferies*

        I buy beer during the work day all the time, for the simple reason that the beer store is closer to my office than it is to my house.

        I mean, I get that there are performance issues here, which the OP might consider reporting to management if they’re impacting her own work. And the beer might or might not contribute to the problems, but it doesn’t impact the solution in any measurable way. It *certainly* doesn’t merit going straight to HR to report the coworker for drinking on the job. That’s a huge stretch from what the OP observed, which was simply that the coworker…bought a beer.

        1. Psyche*

          This exactly. Report the coworker for sleeping and not doing their job. Whether they are drinking or not is too tenuous to merit bringing up. Focus on the provable, relevant problem.

      8. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

        I don’t think anyone is defending the coworker’s bad performance or sleeping at work? Folks are just saying that there’s not enough information for OP to suggest to management that the coworker is drinking on the job.

        We don’t know if the coworker is a “beer-drinking sleeper.” We know she’s sleeping at work and has poor performance. We know the poor performance appears to affect OP, and it’s unclear if it effects OP’s effectiveness at work (it may). Folks have recommended that OP raise the performance problems, not the speculation about drinking. I don’t see how reporting specific performance problems is “wrongly defending” the coworker.

      9. Observer*

        I have NEVER seen that happen unless we worked an 18+ hour day.

        Well, you’ve clearly had fairly narrow experience. I’ve seen more people fall asleep at work for all sorts of reasons than falling asleep after 40 oz of beer. And, in general if someone drinks enough booze of any sort to put them under, it’s not going to happen 2 hours later.

        Which is to say that there really is not a strong correlation.

        The OP has a legitimate problem in that her coworker is not good at her job and is apparently sleeping when people need to talk to her. Those are things the can – and probably SHOULD – talk to her supervisor about. But, the beer is totally NOT her business. You simply do not know what she’s doing with it, much less that it’s putting her to sleep.

      10. Not Today Satan*

        I buy alcohol at work fairly regularly. I work near beer stores and I’d rather make a beer run during a break at work than after work. I’ve never drunk on the job.
        I find the Puritan-like judgment of someone who might dare to touch an unopened bottle of beer during work hours fairly disturbing.

    6. ENFP*

      Is it worth talking to the napping employee herself? She may have an undiagnosed health concern and may need to see a doctor. For example, I’m a diabetic, and if I appeared to be “napping” at my desk, the more likely explanation is that my sugar was dangerously low. I think you could word it from a place of concern and not prying.

      1. Washi*

        I think if you had to wake her up to ask her a question, you could be like “hey, are you feeling ok?” since napping at work is not really typical behavior. But it doesn’t sound like the OP is at all close to the coworker, so I think anything more than that could come off as overly inquisitive.

        1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

          Agreed that this approach would be best if OP is legit worried about their coworker’s health.

    7. Elan*

      When I was a teen working at a coffee shop, my (also underage) coworker for the shift came in and announced he was “super hung over.” He then proceeded to go to the back room and fall asleep so deeply that I couldn’t rouse him when we got the afternoon rush of customers. An off-shift coworker helped me through the rush until things slowed enough that I could call the owner (after trying one more time to wake him) and ask what to do. I simply gave the facts I had: he said he was hung over, and I couldn’t wake him and needed someone else to come in and help cover the counter. (The owner’s first question was whether I had called 911. I was such a naive kid—I had no concept of alcohol poisoning so hadn’t realized the potential gravity of him not waking. Thankfully he was fine; had just passed out). But yeah, he was fired after that, because there was a demonstrable connection between his own statement about drinking and passing out on the job. Until OP has more solid evidence, the sleeping on the job piece is the only one impacting work right now.

      1. CmdrShepard4ever*

        In that case I don’t think it was necessarily his statement about being hung over or drinking but that fact that we was passed/sleeping out in the back, essentially a no show for his shift and did not help with the rush. If coworker had stayed up for 3 days straight and had done the same thing said “I’m super tired” and passed out in the back and failed to help with the rush, I would expect for them to get fired.

        I expect if coworker had said I’m super hungover, but they managed to stay on their feet working and dealing with the rush (even if they maybe were not at 100%) they would not have been fired, or you might not have even called the owner. Ultimately it is the actions/impact on work that matters. Sleeping on the job even if it is due to a medical condition needed to be addressed. If the sleeping is due to a medical condition then accommodations need to be discussed, for some jobs a quick nap during work hours can be accommodated, but for other they can’t.

  3. Blarg*

    My agency (state gov) blocks google docs and other file sharing sites (dropbox, etc). It’s annoying and one can get a waiver, but it takes forever. If someone were to link to one in their app, we’d just discard it for not following the file format instructions. Literally no one would even look at it. Not clever. Just annoying.

    1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

      Same—my current employer won’t even let me review it if it’s not submitted through the appropriate application site and in .pdf format. And to be fair, even if I could access Google Doc, I would not—I hate when people send me their resume that way. I also dislike getting resumes in .doc (or .wpd!) format, because there can be all sorts of formatting and version/conversion issues.

      I honestly don’t understand what advantage a Google Doc resume would have for the reviewer or the applicant. If your resume lives as a Google Doc, just download it as a .pdf and send the .pdf in.

      1. Falling Diphthong*

        That last line–this is literally one step that takes seconds. If you can’t be bothered, it would send up all sorts of signals about how frustrating you might be to work with.

    2. Emma*

      There are broader security considerations, too; one of the organisations I work for has clients emailing through documents constantly, and we also get a *lot* of spam emails designed to look like an invitation to view a file on a cloud service like Google docs or OneDrive, in order to trick us into visiting a site that’s infected with malware or contains a phishing attack.

      Because of this, and because of the risks involved in busy people trying to make a snap judgment on whether such an email is legit or malicious, the blanket policy is that such emails get deleted. If it’s not an attachment in a known file type, then we won’t open it, and it’s the client’s responsibility to re-send it.

      Because of the nature of the risk and the fact that clients often send documents that don’t tell you which client they’re from until you open them, we also can’t always advise the client of what’s happened, so we just have to wait until they chase things up to work out what happened.

      You don’t want this happening to your CV!

    3. Seeking Second Childhood*

      Thirded. My company blocks Google Docs as policy. Publicly traded Fortune-ranked corporation, not government.

      1. Liet-Kinda*

        I agree. I mean, I like Google Docs and generally prefer using it, but if they tell you to email a PDF, don’t be that guy who’s like “oh but Google Docs is much more logical.”

      2. Jen S. 2.0*

        This. It’s your first opportunity to connect with a potential employer. One thing they are assessing is how well you do what you have been asked to do, which is critical in the workplace. Don’t fly in the face of what they are asking you to do at the very first contact.

    4. Elyisan*

      Yeah, we don’t use Google docs at my office and even though its not technically blocked, I have all sorts of issues accessing it. I feel like about half the time people get the permissions wrong, so that I have to log in to see it, and I’m not going to do that with my personal Google account on my office computer.

      1. Observer*

        This was the first thing I thought of. OP, you NEVER want to do something that’s going to cause a potential block for a prospective employer or client.

        I love Google docs. But when you need to get a specific document to someone who is not already accessing your account? Download and send it as an attachment. Don’t even send a link to a PDF or DOC – attach the full file.

        1. Michaela Westen*

          Agreed. I would use pdf so it can’t accidentally be changed by the recipient.
          Sending a link to the pdf means they have to click the link, wait for the pdf to open, figure out what it is, and save it to their drive.
          If you send an attachment all they have to do is download and save it.
          Don’t make them do more work for your resume than the others. They’re not likely to do it!

    5. Cacwgrl*

      I just deleted an “application” that was an auto email to pick up documents in Dropbox. No, I will not go to another source and potentially have IT on my butt when everyone else follows the announcement directions and emails their information, which is the IT approved process. The announcement is very clear. You send your package to the email listed. Don’t Dropbox me if you want to be taken seriously.

  4. Olivia Anne*

    LW #5: I understand that using Google Docs can be pretty convenient, so you could always work on your resume there, and when you’re ready to submit it, download it as a .pdf or .doc (Word) file to send as an attachment to the hiring manager.

    1. blackcat*


      Sharing a google doc instead of sending an attachment is one of those things that students do that drive me up a wall. Sometimes it’s because they don’t have access to a computer at hone (only mobile device), but this takes 2 minutes at the library computer (and I teach hours that mean they could pop into the library before or after class. Library is near with generous hours).

      Google doc is not equivalent to PDF/word. I actually only really want to deal with PDFs

      1. Manic Pixie HR Girl*

        Yes, please, PDFs always. PDF also let’s you control the formatting – if I am working off of a different version of word, for example, the formatting may be off when I download your resume, whereas that will never be the case with a PDF.

      2. LizB*

        I just had an employee do this, and it did annoy me a bit. When the instructions say “print this form OR take one of these easily accessible paper copies, and get it back to me via my physical mailbox OR an emailed/texted photo”, I’m really not hoping you’ll retype the form in google docs and fill it out with very different formatting than it originally had, then email me a link to it. I gave you four options for sending me this info! I don’t need you to invent a fifth way!

      3. Bulbasaur*

        I am so happy to hear everyone saying they prefer PDFs. I loathe sending raw Word documents, for all the reasons discussed, and would much rather send PDF.

        I can definitely recall some field/location/moment in time combinations when Word format was the norm and even PDFs were discouraged. I always wanted to be sure that what I was looking at and what the interviewer was looking at were one and the same, and I never really had that confidence with Word docs. I used to get into arguments regularly with recruiters about it.

    2. AcademiaNut*

      I’d be a little wary of converting from google docs to word before submitting – my experience with exporting to a different format in that way is that it can produce unexpected results with things like fonts and spacing. If you do so, load the exported document into Word and print it from there, to check it. Exporting to PDF however is a much safer option, but you should always view the exported document (and ideally print it) to make sure its looks the way you expect.

      1. Alton*

        I agree with checking carefully when you export. I sometimes convert Google docs to Word docs at work, and I often have to remove extra spaces or other weird formatting things. And sometimes stylistic elements like bullet points or horizontal lines don’t convert perfectly. It’s doable. You just want to be careful.

    3. TootsNYC*

      always send a pdf.

      You don’t need the hiring manager to accidentally introduce an error into your document and then blame you for it

      1. Wendy Darling*

        On the other hand I had a problem for a while where places’ ATS were completely mangling my PDF resume and I didn’t realize it until I happened to put it through a system that showed me the parsed input. It had removed all spaces between words and inserted new spaces basically at random, so instead of being made of, you know, actual words th ewho l ethin glook ed l ikethi s. As a result, systems that looked for key terms couldn’t find any of them and I was not getting calls back from anyone who relied on such a system.

        I now submit my resume as a word doc unless a PDF is specifically requested because I’ve somehow had LESS trouble with that getting mangled.

        1. Sleeplesskj*

          I’m not sure how that’s even possible – a PDF is essentially a photograph of the document. How would the formatting get mangled?

          1. gecko*

            This is definitely a sidebar, BUT it’s not actually a photo of a document! It’s essentially a list of instructions on how to create a document. Most documents are like this–they’ll have plain text for what the words actually are, but they’ll have formatting information, and it’s up to the program you’re opening the document with to render that document as an image you can see or edit.

            As a sidebar to the sidebar, Word documents are also pretty hard for non-Word applications to read, and can often end up being a weird PDF. It can take some pretty specialized programming to make all the documents we use day-to-day look perfect!

            1. Liet-Kinda*

              Yes – a PDF is basically a container format, in that it contains images and text and formatting instructions.

          2. Michaela Westen*

            If you scan a piece of paper to a pdf, then it’s a photograph of each page. If you want it this way, you have to print and scan it.
            If you convert a word doc to pdf, it’s not a photograph.
            The way to tell is to try to select text in the pdf. You can’t select text in the scanned (photograph) pdf.

            1. NotAnotherManager!*

              It depends on your scanner and PDF software. Most office machines nowadays perform OCR (optical-character recognition) on scanned PDFs automatically, and anyone with access to Acrobat Standard or Pro (or Nuance or any other number of office productivity tools) can use the same technology to make PDFs searchable. In Acrobat Pro, you can just turn on the “edit” function, and it OCRs the page you’re working with on the fly with out even asking. Even my inexpensive home multi-function (printer/scanner) machine has this option.

              1. Michaela Westen*

                Wouldn’t the photo option be better for job applications though? Then there wouldn’t be all these formatting and conversion issues.

                1. NotAnotherManager!*

                  Not necessarily – unless your resume is full of special fonts/graphics, most of them will convert or print to PDF just fine. Also, a lot of people don’t have access to document scanners, and a photo of the document (which is what a lot of phone “scanning” apps use) don’t tend to be great quality (blurry, skewed, taken at an angle, shadowed). And then people forget to OCR the picture.

                  Plus, it’s just a hassle – print it out, scan it, OCR it – it’s a lot of steps when you can just save as PDF out of the major word processors.

          3. NotAnotherManager!*

            PDFs are only a photo of the document when scanned. When converted from an electronic format, it’s a containerized document with the content and formatting rolled into one. This is why scanned PDFs are so much larger than those that are electronically converted.

            There is also a lot of variance in the undercarriage of PDFs that can lead to wonky-looking formatting – these are basically differences in encoding and decoding technologies between the generating program and the translating program. I get all manner of PDFs, by nature of my job, and we’ve definitely had viewing issues with those created in one-off software.

            This variance is also why the federal courts require that you submit documents in PDF/A format – it’s stripped down and more likely to work in 30 years when someone accesses it than a non-archival PDF.

      2. adam807*

        I’m surprised no one else has said this and it makes me wonder if it makes me a dick (add it to the list) but I consider the instructions on a job posting to be a bit of a test. If I ask for a PDF and receive a Word doc, that applicant is going to “lose points” for not being able to follow a simple instruction. So rather than “always send a PDF” (as sensible as that is for all the reasons given here), I’d say “always do what the posting asks.” If they want it in Word, send it in Word. If they ask for a cover email, don’t send a cover letter in an attachment. etc.

        1. Sleeplesskj*

          Not a dick. I’m a creative (voice actor, freelance writer, etc.) and that’s the number one rule when submitting demos and CVs: send in format exactly as specified otherwise your submission is most likely being discarded without even being looked at. If you can’t follow that very basic insruction … thank you, next!

          I kind of think of it as the driving test my teenager had to take – there was a stop sign within a few feet of the starting point. If you didn’t stop, you failed the test immediately.

          Details matter. :)

        2. Liane*

          This kind of test has been done for decades. Back in the early 90s, I worked for a very small testing lab. Ads for openings said to only call after hours (listed in ad) and leave name and phone number. Partly it was, of course, to keep the phone line open for client calls. But the lab manager told us he eliminated anyone who called during working hours, because he wanted people who followed instructions.

          1. Oxford Comma*

            It’s not a test to me. It’s an indication of an inability to follow instructions. If I see typos on a resume, that’s also an indication that the applicant isn’t a detail person and probably one that the applicant is less than interested in the job. Your resume/cv should represent your best work. And if you couldn’t take the time to proof it and send it in the format we requested…well, we’re probably not going to bother with that applicant.

          2. MsChanandlerBong*

            We have a timed assessment for people to take. I’d like to disqualify anyone who didn’t follow all of the instructions, but then we would literally never be able to hire anyone. Every single person misses at least one thing.

        3. Liet-Kinda*

          I don’t regard it as a test, but if you can’t apply correctly, you’re not going to work out when it comes time to name documents per protocol and conform to style guides and so on. You don’t really get points for doing it correctly, but it’s a DQ if you can’t.

        4. Observer*

          I think that for a lot of us that’s just so basic that it doesn’t need to be said.

          The rule, as far as I am concerned, should be put as “Always send PDF if the employer hasn’t specified a format.”

        5. TootsNYC*

          I do agree with the idea that if there are instructions, you should follow them.

          But in my own hiring, I *have* no instructions; and people approach me all the time outside of any automated system, and even when I’m not actively hiring.

          That’s what I had in mind when I said “send a PDF.”

        6. Michaela Westen*

          Yes, I was talking about when the applicant chooses the format. Of course, always follow directions!

        7. Cacwgrl*

          Nope, not at all. Or if it does, I’m on the list too. Case in point. I currently have a position up with specific application instructions. My name is on there but nothing else contact wise, except a specific email. I have received at least 50 emails addressed to me, not the address provided. They took the time to look me up, find my address and send the package. It was never sent to the correct, listed address. I reply once with a stanard line, send to x to be considered. Only about a quarter have done so. One wrote me back this morning and told me how that’s not what the listing says. He got deleted immediately. Like I said, add me to the list if forcing direction following isn’t a thing.

          1. Observer*

            Oh, Wow. This is even worse than not following directions. This person just told you that they are going to be a nightmare to deal with.

    4. Violet Fox*

      Where I work we get a fair bit of fake job application phishing spam that says it has an application and a google doc. Anything with google docs, or says it has google docs doesn’t get opened and doesn’t get read.

      Just use pdfs or whatever the place your applying to wants used.

      1. Akcipitrokulo*

        Yes… we do have access to googledocs (unfortunately… a department with more clout than us uses it… we used to ban it).

        If I opened a googledoc link that came from random job applicant, our IT security bods woild be having strong words with me, and it would probably be at least first step on disciplinary process.

        1. CAA*

          It’s interesting to me to see so many places banning access to Google Docs. I work with an agency of the U.S. Government that’s entirely dependent on Gmail, Calendar, Drive, Docs, Sheets, etc, so it’s completely pervasive in my world.

          1. Liet-Kinda*

            Weird – I also work for the federal government, and while I have access to those services for my own personal use, I can’t even access a doc on my work computer.

          2. Observer*

            There is a huge difference between a Fed level GSuite environment and random Google docs, though. Google does have all the Federally mandated security stuff in place, so if your company is managing your domain and the contents / usage of the resources, you’re in a pretty good place. But that’s totally different that letting people use their own personal Google account, since you can’t control what they are doing with it – of if they are exporting out stuff that they shouldn’t be. And yet more different from letting people open random Google Docs, which you know nothing about.

        2. Violet Fox*

          I work at a university so banning sites really isn’t a thing. That being said, I am IT and the first thing I would do if someone opened up one of those links was to quarantine their account while I figured out how bad the damage was and they had some very not fun conversations with management. Either way, stern words from me would be the least of their problems.

    5. beth*

      This is what I do. I do all my word processing in Google Docs, but when I need to submit something, it gets downloaded as a PDF (or whatever format is requested, but PDF is my strong preference) and sent as an attachment. It’s an extra step, but it means a) I know they’ll be able to view it on their software, b) I know there won’t be security issues (no questions about “Did I give them proper access to the Google Doc resume? What if they want to send it on to someone else?”), and c) I can check the formatting and make sure it all looks good before I send it in and be pretty confident that it’s going to look the same no matter who opens it, and no one will accidentally edit it while trying to pass it on or anything funny like that. That certainty is worth the extra 30 seconds to download it.

    6. Sapphire*

      Yep, that’s what I did through my whole job search. It was really easy to copy my basic resume so that I could tailor it to the job posting, and then download it as a PDF. No formatting issues.

      I usually only share Google Docs when I’m collaborating with someone on a writing project.

      1. Violet Fox*

        The other obvious thing is that if a person is sharing the same google docs link everywhere they clearly aren’t tailoring their CV for the job in question.

    7. Karen from Finance*

      I have my CV on google docs but export it before sending. Unless they specifically ask for Word, I’ll always send a PDF because I think it looks more professional. Also, in a word document they can more easily see how the file was created, formatted, etc, when I really just want them to see the final product.

    8. Enescudoh*

      Ok, I’m now worrying because I recently applied to a job with a google doc. (Have done so in the past and been interviewed – I do so because I work on public computers a lot and prefer not to download my CV and letters to them).
      The job listing is still live. Should I resend CV and cover letter in better formats? Or just chalk this one up to experience?

      1. Elizabeth Proctor*

        Did you apply in an email? If so, I would reply to that email saying:

        “I’ve learned that some organizations block google drive links for security purposes. I have attached my cover letter and resume as a PDF file here.

        Thank you,

      2. Legal Beagle*

        I agree with Elizabeth’s advice above. Also, if you’re on a public computer, you can download the docs, send them, and then delete the downloads and empty the trash before logging off. Maybe there is still some trace of your documents left (I don’t actually know!), but I doubt anyone is going to bother digging around for random deleted files.

    9. Falling Diphthong*

      Anecdatum: My high schooler sent me a link to a google doc so I could review an essay he’d written. I couldn’t view it. So I had him paste the essay into the body of an email, copied that text to a Word Doc, and worked there. (Usually he prints out what he’s working on, but we were traveling.)

      I literally gave birth to this person, so, you know, I’m willing to go to a certain level of effort to find a common communication platform with him. And he’s a known quantity–I knew he wasn’t trying to be difficult and would work with me to figure out a way to do this. You can’t expect that from random strangers when you complicate their lives out of the blue.

    10. SometimesALurker*

      In case this isn’t already abundantly clear, you don’t need to own Adobe Acrobat or any other paid software to save a Google Doc as a PDF and then open and check that it did it right. Exporting as a PDF is a built-in feature of Google Docs, and there are lots of free PDF readers. You don’t need to own Word or any paid software to save a Google Doc to a Word format, either, although as far as I know, you do need access to Word to open it and check that it looks right.

  5. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

    OP#2, it’s common, and as a religious minority, drives me batty. Nowadays I have total schedule flexibility, but when I did not, I would often try to negotiate the following:

    * Ask to work remotely on Christmas (even if the office was closed) in exchange for taking off a paid day for my non-Christian religious holidays.
    * Ask to take unpaid leave for the most important holidays that required off-site religious observance, since federal law requires a degree of reasonable accommodation for sincerely held religious beliefs that are not unduly burdensome to accommodate.
    * Advocate for policies that are more inclusive of religious minorities and atheists by building in greater flexibility in how paid days off and office closures are apportioned.

    1. valentine*

      OP2, assuming at-home childcare isn’t an option for preserving your leave, offer to work Christmas Eve (a holiday, if not federal)/Day in exchange for Jewish holy days, and look at what other office-closure days you’d be willing to exchange.

      1. Dragoning*

        I don’t know what OP does, but this wouldn’t be an option for me–if no one else is in the office working, I will likely have little-to-nothing to do. My bosses certainly wouldn’t pay me or consider it a comp day if I sat in the office or WFH on Christmas Eve/Christmas Day doing maybe one hour of work if I was lucky.

        1. WellRed*

          Yes. Too iften, “work from home” is offered as advice but lots of jobs aren’t practical for that.

        2. Chinookwind*

          Plus, if Christmas Day is considered a stat. holiday, that means working that day required them to pay the OP holiday pay.

          For the record, not all Christian holidays are paid holidays, so if your boss is a practicing Christian, they may be more empathetic to your situation than you realize.

          1. NotAnotherManager!*

            Yeah, we have to pay people at least OT when they work federal holidays, regardless of whether they celebrate those holidays or not. It doesn’t make a lot of sense for employers to spend the extra money to pay someone to work on a day there’s no business need for it. I think that’s the problem with Christmas, in particular – it’s not just a religious holiday, it’s a federal holiday, too.

            In our area, one of the major school systems is off for a number of Jewish holidays in addition to the federal holidays because such a large percentage of the school would be out those days anyway. One of my kids’ school has them off for the same reason.

            I prefer the option of offering personal days for people to use as they see fit, whether for religious observance or just to take care of life in general.

    2. Glowcat*

      +1 for your last point. The closing on Christmas may just be because remaining open doesn’t make sense for all activities, but 3 personal days seem too few to accommodate all religious needs of a diverse staff. I am not sure about the difference between “personal” and “vacation” day, but if OP is burning everything for childcare and is left with 3 it may still be an indication that the vacation policy of the company may need improvements.

    3. Triplestep*

      LW2, I used to be in the same boat as you and I started to just think of Christmas as a “Mental Health Day” – not really a personal day since you can’t get any personal business attended to.

      I work in a health care setting now, and even though I am not a provider, my hours are pretty set. While that stinks overall, we’re open 24/7 so I can officially work on Christmas and not have to take it as PTO. Is there any way you can get actual work done on Christmas and propose a trade like this to your employer?

    4. TL -*

      Yup, if you have a job where you can do it from home and/or without anyone else, you can offer to work any holidays you don’t celebrate in return for the ones you do – my Jewish friend who doesn’t celebrate Christmas has always done this so she can have extra time at New Year’s or one of the high holy days.

      One of my friends worked for a hospital that had 6 holiday vacation days on top of PTO for any holiday, so if you wanted Christmas, you had to use a holiday; if you wanted Yom Kipur, you had to use a holiday. My hospital did federal (but not state) holidays along with 3 personal days and 3 floating holidays. I found both of those systems really accommodating, but they hired a very diverse group of people so it was a necessity.

      On a side note, it would be incredibly difficult to accommodate all religions fairly, honestly. Christians have Christmas, Christmas Eve, Easter, and maybe Good Friday, so between 1-4 days off, depending. Muslims have Eid, so 1, maybe 2 days off, depending on region. Jews have more holidays – Israel has 6.5 religion-based public holiday periods totaling ~12 days (Hanukkah is a school-only holiday). And that’s just the most common practices of Abrahamic religions!
      That being said, there are absolutely some ways to make it more fair and you should ask to see what you can do.

      1. EOA*

        Christmas Eve isn’t really a holiday on the Christian calendar, though obviously many Christian cultures hold celebrations on Christmas Eve. But closing an office on that day is generally more about convenience than about the calendar.

        Also, I am not sure many places are closed on Good Friday. (My office often does a half day but not always. I usually take the day off). Easter is always on a Sunday, so for workplaces that are M-F, it isn’t a factor (I recognize that there are many workplaces that are 7 days a week).

        I don’t disagree with your overall point and think that of course Christian practices are privileged in the US. But I also think it is important to not conflate practices of convenience (like closing an office on Christmas Eve) with actual Christian holidays.

        1. Manic Pixie HR Girl*

          Indeed. It’s on a Monday this year, and most offices that have the flexibility to close on a whim (that is, not government or health and safety) elect to do so because it’s easier than trying to force coverage on a day that work is going to be at a stand still. I’m not traveling so I (happily!) agreed to come in on 12/24 this year, but in looking at the schedule it’s going to be even more dead quiet than it was on Black Friday (which I also worked – I am taking New Year’s week off).

        2. lawyer*

          The (small, uncommon) form of Christianity in which I was raised heavily celebrated Christmas Eve rather than Christmas Day – think multiple services, plus regular worship if it happened to fall on a Sunday. Christmas Eve has generally never been a holiday in the offices that I’ve worked in unless Christmas fell on a Tuesday (in which case we often got the Monday off), so I’ve virtually always had to use vacation days for it.

        3. Former Admin Turned Project Manager*

          Agreed- the only job I’ve ever had in which I could count on being closed on Good Friday or Christmas Eve was when I worked at a Catholic school. Since we don’t celebrate Mass on Good Friday, there is no required observance that would cause me to miss work (I can fast from the office). Christmas Eve is the beginning of Christmas; I usually have a family thing and I used to go to Christmas Eve Mass instead of Christmas Day, but again there is no required observance that would prevent me from working. Except for retail in my college days, I’ve always had M-F jobs, so Easter was never an issue.

      2. Asenath*

        I’m not sure that it’s possible to come up with comprehensive lists even for the major religions that all adherents of said religions would agree with! Assigning everyone some flexible days would be the way to go – we get good vacation time, but we don’t have that system.

        To explain my comment about the lists of religious holidays – I am most familiar with Christianity (although local Muslims – at least the more devout – seem to have more than 1-2 days that they spend on religious activities per year). Some Christians absolutely do attend church on Good Friday – others don’t. And there are plenty of other feast days observed by some groups of Christians – some are observed on the nearest Sunday, others not so much, and the most devout will observe them on a weekday. Technically speaking, Christmas Eve isn’t a religious holiday – for some, anyway. I’ve grown up with the idea that it is, and in spite of all the times I’ve been informed by religious experts that Christmas Day is the proper day for religious observances, I still do them Christmas Eve. And let’s not forget the twelve days of Christmas – and Epiphany. As an example (and an aside) – I live in an area in which there used to be more Christian public holidays than we have now, some of which were eliminated to make us more modern and productive. I work under a contract that had its roots before this elimination, and two holidays are allowed in the contract that were originally public Christian religious holidays. They are now, due to the change in the law, merely extra holidays we get under our contract because no one ever removed them. They are now officially “mid March” and “mid July” holidays. The first is probably easy to identify with a Christian tradition – the second maybe not, unless you’re from a certain background.

        1. Rae*

          Yes. I had a manager who was raised Catholic and tried to deny me time off for Good Friday. She claimed I just wanted a long holiday weekend (despite the fact that we were always closed Sunday anyway). She accused me of faking religious need until I pointed out that I had used my PTO for numerous other religious holidays. She then accused me of tricking her.

          We both ended up in HR because she claimed I was “passively aggressively using religion against her and making her feel guilty.” HR then requested I compile a list and note whenever I was taking a day off if it was for religious observance. Eventually, I fought back because my reasons for taking non-blackout PTO were none of my managers business…we had a general policy that it was first-come-first-serve time off and that except for blackout PTO wasn’t to be denied. She tried to find other reasons for denying me, but eventually, she gave up.

          1. Asenath*

            That does sound nasty – I can’t imagine someone who was raised Catholic being unaware that Good Friday was an important religious day and making such claims. My own branch of Christianity places a lot of emphasis on Good Friday, too – but I also know enough about Catholicism, having lived in areas with lots of Catholics, to know that they have services on Good Friday too.

            1. Rae*

              She knew it was Good Friday–she just insisted that I didn’t “have” to go to services, period. That it was a want and a nice thing and therefore not a religious request.

          2. EOA*

            It’s really odd that someone raised Catholic would not see a religious need to take Good Friday off. That’s usually a pretty big day in the Catholic tradition.

            1. Rae*

              If you look at CARA studies–the Catholic research institute for Catholic practices– you would see that many people raised Catholic only observe mandatory Mass attendance on Christmas and Easter. A few more will attend Ash Wednesday (FYI not an actual Holy Day of Obligation) and Palm Sunday. In church colloquial, we refer to these folks as CEO’s and CAPE’s. (Christmas & Easter Only, Christmas, Ash Wednesday, Palm Sunday and Easter). Churches tend to double or triple services offered these days to accommodate.

              A number of these Catholics believe they are filling the requirements of the religion and consider themselves “fully” Catholic despite picking and choosing other things –and thus earn the term “cafeteria Catholic” or “lapsed Catholic”. This is despite the fact that every Sunday and every Holy Day of Obligation is to be observed by attending Mass. Most find days outside of Christmas and Easter entirely optional.

              1. EOA*

                Believe me when I say I am well aware of what CARA is and what the religious practices of most Catholics are (I’ve been involved in Catholic reform movements for a long, long, long, loooong time). All I am saying is that someone raised Catholic is usually aware of the importance of Good Friday to the Catholic tradition, even if they themselves are haphazard in their own practice.

                I am not doubting your story, I am sure this person was being ridiculous. But it’s just weird that she would try to hang her hat on the idea that Good Friday has no religious significance.

                1. Rae*

                  She felt that it was not required to take the day off when it actually is. She knew what day it was….but took it upon herself to determine what the best way to observe it was since she was also Catholic.

            2. Riley*

              I can see someone raised Catholic calling in technicalities though. Good Friday is not a “holy day of obligation”, a day where you are required to go to mass in addition to Sundays (and also not work but I don’t know anyone who does that). There are generally 6 of them a year – the Ascension into Heaven, All Saint’s Day, the Feast of the Immaculate Conception, etc. Good Friday is actually the only day in the Catholic calendar where mass is NOT allowed to be celebrated and is not a holy day of obligation, so I can see a Catholic jerk boss not allowing another Catholic to take the day off for that claiming the religion doesn’t require it.

              However, in Catholic tradition Good Friday is also a day of fasting and many, many people spend the day in quiet prayer and contemplation and attend services so it’s still completely reasonable to want the day off for that.

              1. EOA*

                It’s also traditionally the day where people observe the Stations of the Cross, which is no small thing. I mean, yes, like Ash Wednesday, it is not a Holy Day of Obligation but even on that technicality, any Catholic knows it is among the most significant religious days in the liturgical calendar.

                1. Riley*

                  Of course. I’m sure the Catholic boss *did* know that. I’m just saying I can see how they could be a jerk about it by taking the liturgical calendar literally and ignoring the cultural traditions.

              2. Rae*

                While Mass isn’t celebrated it’s still a solemnity and you are required to refrain from servile labor. You’re not attending Mass, but you are required to fast and abstain.

            3. Hobbert*

              Latin Rite Catholics (aka Roman Catholics, the largest Catholic contingent in the US) don’t consider Good Friday a Holy Day of Obligation so, while it’s important in the overall story of Catholicism, it’s not a day we consider it necessary to take time to attend Mass. That said, most American Christians aren’t Catholic so it’s super weird that she didn’t think Good Friday was important to anyone.

          3. Myrin*

            That is so strange – Good Friday is one of the most important Catholic holidays; one would think she’d be understanding of your wanting to take time off!

            1. Rae*

              In hindsight, given her later reaction, I think it was the fact that I had requested it off and she had not, while in other social work circles being a bit of a martyr about being Catholic and being dragged to Mass a whole twice a year. She was very immature and needed a few more years of training before she actually was competent at being a manager.

      3. Works in IT*

        My hospital started off with lots of holiday days, but as the area around it has gotten more developed, fewer and fewer of those days have been considered “official” holidays. Now all we have is New Year’s Day (not Eve), Memorial Day, July 4, Labor day, Thanksgiving, and Christmas (not Eve). I suspect it won’t be long before they start trying to cut Labor Day and Memorial Day from the list too, it’s really quite frustrating. Then again we are an open 24/7/365 organization, so people don’t get ANY days off unless they use pto.

        1. Asenath*

          Oh, that wouldn’t work here! I work M-F, 8-4 (or some hours resembling that; it’s a bit flexible) but a closely associated institution – we share one of their main building complexes – does provide service 24/7/365, and while I’m not fully familiar with their contracts (different unions, different jobs), I’m certain they get days off in addition to their PTO. They don’t get as many as I do (one major difference is that we essentially close down between Christmas and New Years, which they obviously don’t). They quite often don’t get them on the official day, especially when junior. They are paid for all public holidays – and can choose between extra pay or time off in lieu – at time and a half. They do have to report for work, unless there’s a state of emergency declared, and never get sent home early in bad weather, while we’re far more likely to have a storm closure. As you can imagine, when two different institutions share facilities and work closely together, comparisons of working conditions, pay etc do occur!

        2. Rae*

          Which, New Year’s Day is a religious holiday…..so…..it’s just also a holiday that the vast majority celebrate secularly.

          1. Asenath*

            The same could be said of Christmas, and, to a lesser extent, Easter – people often celebrate them in a secular fashion. I always think of New Year’s Eve as the big, and very secular, holiday – not that I participate. I fall asleep early, and I find it far too cold to go out watching fireworks even if I could stay awake! But many secular people have a big family dinner New Year’s Day, too. The line between religious and secular holidays is sometimes kind of blurry, with different people celebrating the same days in different ways.

            1. Rae*

              Which is why I understand why it would feel grinding to other persons of faith that Christians get Christmas off at the federal level but my point is that while they make mention of Christmas they almost never make mention of New Year’s Day–and thus it’s about the optics of the practice and not the meaning since completely non-religious Christmas Day has huge secular value.

      4. Rae*

        I’ve never worked anywhere where Good Friday was a paid holiday. I’ve never gotten Christmas Eve as a paid holiday either, although I have been forced to use PTO when the building closed. (I could have also chosen unpaid but that wasn’t really a choice financially).

        The only non-Sunday Holy Day of Obligation I’ve ever gotten professionally was Christmas–and that’s only one of about 8-10 non-Sunday HDO’s a year. Yeah, it helps, but not that much. I would happily give up useless federal holidays (presidents day, etc) for other religiously usable holidays.

        1. Asenath*

          Well, I’m in Canada, and in my province, Good Friday is a paid public holiday – it didn’t get take off the list when others were. We have New Year’s Day, Good Friday, Canada Day (Memorial Day), Labour Day, Remembrance Day and Christmas Day as provincial paid holidays, “Shops closing days” in which many (but not all) businesses are closed, and a civic holiday which also isn’t necessarily a paid holiday. And then you have the federal holidays – similar but not identical to the provincial ones (New Year’s Day, Good Friday, Victoria Day, Canada Day, Labour Day, Thanksgiving Day, Remembrance Day, Christmas Day, Boxing Day). It all gets confusing – it’s not unusual for different employers to have different holidays. I don’t think we (ie my province) gave holidays for the Holy Days of Obligation, even back in the days when we had more religious holidays than we do now. Personally, I take any holiday I’m given – but I’m in a position in which I can usually take time off if I did need it for a religious observance.

          1. Rae*

            I didn’t really think of Canada or know that Good Friday was federally protected in Canada.

            The addition of Boxing day, however, seems to indicate that Christmas is likely being celebrated in a secular, non-religious way. Although Boxing day would make no sense if the shops are closed.

            1. Asenath*

              Oh, many – maybe most – people celebrate the holidays in a thoroughly secular fashion. What surprises some people who come to my province is that Boxing Day is also a Shops Closing day. In most areas, Boxing Day is best known for the sales, and stores are open. Our Boxing Day sales start the day after Boxing Day! In our family, when I was a child, Christmas Day was a family affair – well, family and invited guests; it is of course quite appropriate to invite people, especially those with no local family, to Christmas dinner. Boxing Day was when the partying with the larger community began. My mother offended a new arrival in the community by turning down an invitation to a party on Christmas Day on the grounds that Christmas Day was spent with the family. And the socializing traditionally went on for the 12 days – we didn’t have the American tradition of starting decorating in November, but decorations stayed up until Twelfth Night (day before Epiphany; traditional name “Old Christmas Day”). Nowadays, people put up the decorations earlier than Christmas Eve, and take them down earlier.

              1. Haligolightly*

                Here in NS, our “boxing day” sales also start on the 27th as stores are closed by provincial law.

                One small point of correction, tho: there are only 5 federally-mandated paid statutory holidays: New Year’s Day, Good Friday, Canada Day, Labour Day, and Christmas Day. (Québec does not recognize Good Friday as a federally-regulated stat day, which is weird when you consider the religious demographic.) All other traditional holidays are observed/not-observed and paid or not-paid either according to each province’s legislation or the industry’s norms (especially if it’s a federally-regulated industry).

                1. Asenath*

                  Hi from NL! I’d forgotten, if I ever knew, that NS also closed the stores on Boxing Day. I’ve been in NS, but only in the summer! And yeah, the holidays can be quite complicated when you work in the different provincial and federal laws, and the different categories in the provincial laws and so on and so forth. I think it’s banks (federally-regulated) and federal government offices that almost never close – except, of course, when you happen to hit one of the days they do close. And I didn’t even get into civic holidays, which in my province are set by the city/town – and one of those depends on the weather!

          2. londonedit*

            In England we have New Year’s Day, Good Friday, Easter Monday, the first Monday of May (known as the May Day or Early May bank holiday), the last Monday of May (which used to be known as Whitsun but is now more usually called the Spring bank holiday), the last Monday of August, Christmas Day, and Boxing Day (December 26th) as public holidays.

            Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland have slightly different ones, such as St Andrew’s Day in Scotland (November 30th). If Christmas Day, Boxing Day or New Year’s Day fall on a weekend, we get the following Monday as a substitute holiday (and the Tuesday if December 25th is a Saturday and 26th is a Sunday, or if the 25th is a Sunday).

            Bank/public holidays don’t have to be given as paid leave, and employers can choose to include them as part of a general holiday entitlement. In most cases they won’t be included, though – don’t quote me but I think the minimum is usually 20 days’ holiday, but around 25 days is more usual, and then you’ll get the public holidays on top. Where I work, we get 25 days, but we have to save 3.5 to cover the period where the office shuts between Christmas and New Year (the half-day being the afternoon of Christmas Eve, as the office shuts at lunchtime). I’ve also worked for companies that only give 20 days, but shut over Christmas and don’t require employees to use any of their leave for that time.

            1. Asenath*

              How many holidays my employer offers depends partly on seniority. Everyone gets 14 paid holidays, including some from the provincial and federal list and some specific to the employer like the two extra Christmas/New Years holidays. Then there’s the 1.25 days per month up to 15 working days per year. The rate at which it increments and the total allowed to be taken each year increases at 10 and 25 years. Some vacation time can be carried over to the following year. I have sometimes suspected that some long-ago union organizer negotiated extra holiday time in return for lower salary increases, or maybe no increase at all. I mean, I don’t think our salaries are bad – but if our employer is giving us generous time off at really slow times of year (especially Christmas-New Years, which are very very slow), they must have gotten something in return.

              Christmas Eve isn’t a holiday. There is a “surprise” announcement that they are going to close down about mid-morning on Christmas Eve. If you don’t show up at all, you need to take a full day from your annual leave. So everyone shows up for 2-3 hours, until the surprise announcement. Depending on when in the week Christmas Day and New Year’s Day fall, I can usually be off from partway through Christmas Eve to the third day in January by using only one of my vacation days.

              1. londonedit*

                Christmas Eve isn’t a public holiday here either – I think a lot of companies also tend to do a ‘Surprise! Everyone can leave at lunchtime!’ thing. But then you do get people being annoyed because they took a full day of leave and everyone else got a ‘free’ afternoon because they showed up in the morning, and with people always wanting to fix travel plans at that time of year, the ‘Surprise!!!’ thing can be frustrating. So in my experience a lot of companies will now just make it official that they’ll close at lunchtime, which at least gives people time to plan even if they do then all have to take the afternoon as annual leave.

                As Christmas Eve is on a Monday this year, where I work we’re still having to take the afternoon as holiday, but the company has stated that the office will be closed all day and we get the morning as a ‘free’ extra bit of paid time off. Which makes sense – no one wants to bother trekking into the office for one Monday morning, especially not on Christmas Eve!

            2. Niki*

              Scotland actually vary their public holidays by region – Aberdeen has one in September and that Edinburgh doesn’t, for example, although in practice so many people in Aberdeen work for either English or international companies that most just have the equivalent number of days added to their annual leave allowance and ignore the set public holidays (with the exceptions of Christmas Day, Boxing Day and the 1st and 2nd of January).

              Scots do get one more day than English people overall – Hogmany is a big deal and requires two days’ recovery time!

        2. Liane*

          I recall Good Friday being a (public) school holiday for students, teachers, and staff at least some places when I was a kid, and even when my children (early 20s) started school. Now, I think most school districts arrange their spring breaks to include Good Friday, so they don’t have to worry about complaints that they do or don’t observe it.

          For both Good Friday and Christmas Eve, I have only ever seen services at night (I am Protestant), although my current church has the sanctuary open for prayer all day Good Friday. For the record, I have never, even in retail, had a problem getting off in time to attend evening services that start between 5 & 6PM.

        3. Arjay*

          For most holy days, the obligation and the celebration both are limited to attending Mass. It’s seldom necessary to take the day off when extra Masses are conveniently scheduled to allow us working stiffs to attend.

      5. Clay on My Apron*

        Hmmm… My husband’s Christian boss closes the company for Ascension Day. So I think there’s a bit more diversity in Christian practice than that.

        And my husband used to work on Ascension Day, in exchange for a paid day off for one of the Jewish holidays… But he’s not allowed to any more.

  6. Mike*

    #5: Just FYI for anyone wondering: You can download a Google Doc as a PDF and you can also email it as a PDF attachment (along with other document formats but I hate sending editable documents like that).

    1. Claire*

      This. This is why I love Google Docs, because they are so flexible. You can use them and still submit documents in the formats people prefer.

    2. Just Employed Here*

      Yeah, I don’t get the whole sending editable documents (whether Word or something even worse) at all. Send a pdf, and you can be (reasonably) sure that what-you-send-is-what-the-hiring-manager-sees.

      1. Goya de la Mancha*

        PDF’s. Always. Plus the added factor that if your version of Word doesn’t match theirs, then it is almost guaranteed to be a format nightmare when they open it.

    3. cheesesticks and pretzels*

      Thak you for posting this. As one who will never personally own a Microsoft OS machine again, using Google docs is super simple and you can convert into whatever format you need. :)

    4. Wendy*

      Yup. I primarily work from a Chromebook, and I honestly prefer Google Docs anyway, but sending things out as a PDF or whatever format is required is never an issue. You can work in Google Docs all you want – just make sure you’re downloading and attaching things as a PDF/DOCX/whatever before sending.

  7. Geoffrey B*

    Re. #5: some workplaces (including mine) block access to Google Docs, because it’s commonly used for phishing attacks.

  8. Nameless Wonder*

    #3 – My name is Natalia, but I have gone by Tasha for most of my life (Russian nicknames are weird). I started using Natalia for work after I graduated college because I was honestly not used to my legal name! I just didn’t connect with it and I wanted to feel like it was *my* name. It’s been weird. I have even more of an identity crisis now because I don’t know which name to use when I introduce myself to new people outside of work!

    I’m happy with my decision though. I do like my name, but it feels weird if people call me both so they’ve remained pretty separated. I also truly hate being called shortened versions of Natalia and make sure to tell people when it comes up. “Just Natalia, thanks, I’m not a fan of shortening my name.” And there’s always the NataliE phase I have to squash out of people…

    If the use of your full name makes you feel better and you won’t have an identity crisis, use it!

    1. Just Employed Here*

      Re Russian pet names: I once had a Russian colleague who went by Lena with friends and family, Jelena in more official Russian contexts, and Elena at work (because that’s how we read her name when spelled out because of the Russian “je”). A bit complicated, but she could handle it.

    2. Nerfmobile*

      This reminds me of a friend from college. Her first name was a common French version of a name, combined with a Russian surname. something like Sophie Abramov. But when she married someone with a Celtic last name, she ended up with something like Sophie Murphy, which she felt was faintly ridiculous and too singsongy (and which led to various misspellings and even mispronunciations). So she started going by a distant variant of her first name that didn’t rhyme – akin to Sonia Murphy.

    3. Glowcat*

      I have always gone by “Glow”, but then I moved in another country and here, apparently, shortening names is not that common, so people call me full “Glowcat”. It does feel a bit strange and you do need to get used to it, especially when combined with a brand new professional title: when I received an email for “Dear Dr. Glowcat Twinklepuff” I was like OMG, who’s this person???
      But I think in most industries is common to use the full name in professional settings, so people should understand the reason for the change.

      1. Marthooh*

        Please start your own advice column. I don’t care if it deals with business matters, or relationship woes, or Anglo-Saxon attitudes, or what — the world just needs more letters that start “Dear Dr. Glowcat Twinklepuff…”.

    4. AliceBD*

      Yes! I went by my full name until I was 9, then switched to my nickname and was really insistent about it, so even all the people at church who have known me since infancy switched and my entire family switched. When I started working I started going by my full name again just at work, but my nickname in all social contexts. I have totally had an identity crisis. But my full name a) sounds older and more professional b) does not lend itself to infantalizing versions like my nickname does c) has people call me the correct name instead of people thinking my nickname is short for something else (like if 90% of the people call Beth had the full name Elizabeth and only 10% had the name Bethany, but 90% of the people who heard Beth then called the person Bethany; obviously not my actual name and probably an unrealistic example but to give an example of what happens) and d) is never misunderstood on a voicemail machine or otherwise over the phone. My first few jobs were very very phone-heavy and I left a lot of messages for people and people would call back and mangle my name, but my longer full name doesn’t have this issue. If people I know in my personal life call me by the wrong full name it only takes one correction and they never do it again; I have had issues at work where people repeatedly call me the wrong full name despite multiple corrections, my email signature and desk name etc. I would rather be called my full name than another name people are guessing at based on a misunderstanding of what name my nickname usually is for.

    5. PhyllisB*

      We have a lady from Germany in our congregation at church. Her name is Natalia. I didn’t realize it at first because everyone calls her Natalie (even her own husband!!) The way I realized is, she sent me a friend request on FB. The next time I saw her I apologized for calling her by the wrong name and she said Natalie was fine; but I asked her how to pronounce it (I’m the world’s worst at mispronouncing names.) I feel like everyone deserves the respect of being addressed correctly.

      1. SarahTheEntwife*

        Why is it weird that her husband uses her nickname instead of her full name? Plenty of people almost never use the full form of their names other than on official paperwork.

    6. Smarty Boots*

      Many of my students (college) go by a middle name or a name that is not in any way connected to their given name (international students do this rather more often). And then there are the fellows who go by Trey because they are a III. Interestingly, I’ve never in 25+ years of teaching had anyone go by “Junior”. That’s too young-sounding.

      1. JanetM*

        My husband has an uncle who is a Junior, and who apparently spent his life being called not merely Junior, but June.

      2. Hobbert*

        My brother is called J.R. if my dad is around because they (obviously) have the same name. Otherwise, we just call him by his name, Mike. It never occurred to me how weird it must be until my husband and I had been dating a few months and he asked me what the heck my brother’s name actually was.

      3. Temperance*

        The only person I’ve ever met who went by Junior was my great-uncle Junior. (Yes, I called him Uncle Junior).

    7. Liane*

      I have always gone by Liane, but on Discord where I do roleplaying games with friends, several of whom haven’t met me in person, I am registered under my usual online name, Lia Surname. So everyone in that group calls me Lia. Even my son, when he joins a game, calls me Lia there instead of Mom!

      Back in college, a good friend had a lab job, working with a lovely German researcher named Waltroud, which is pronounced something like Wall-Trout. (Sorry I don’t know German.) Friend felt like she was “calling her a fish.” So Waltroud told friend to pronounce her name as it looked in English, Wall-Trod. (I know that not trying your best with names from other cultures/languages is rightly considered rude now, but this was 30-odd years ago, Friend had tried, and it was Waltroud who suggested the alternate.

  9. mark132*

    @lw1, if work starts at 8am, and she is buying big beer at 9:45 am. That’s a bit of a wtf moment for me. I wouldn’t report her. But I would keep my eyes open. And see if anything more reportable happens. I’m not encouraging you to follow her, simply to be observant.

    1. Mookie*

      I don’t understand the reactions (“confused,” “WTF”) to catching sight of a colleague’s shopping during a break. I, too, will buy stuff I’ll be using / consuming after a shift and, like the LW’s co-worker, when my break is over I’ll stash it out of sight rather than clutter up my workspace with it.

      1. (Different) Rebecca, PhD*

        ^^This. I work close enough to a corner store (and I’m not on a dry campus) where buying a six pack or a bottle of something on break wouldn’t be given a second thought. We need to not lose sight of the ‘on break’ portion of things–the LW was obviously not at her desk/was out buying things also, and, alcoholism aside, it’s just beer.

        1. Arjay*

          Sure, but a 40 does carry that image of people drinking it out of a paper bag in their car. I think there’d be less speculation about a six pack or a bottle of liquor because they aren’t a “single serving” size.

          1. Charlotte Collins*

            Unless you need it for a recipe. My mother dislikes beer, but she uses it for some recipes. She might just be one of those people who could go to the store at 9:45 am and buy a single bottle or can. (She’s retired and was never the type of person who fell asleep at her desk at work, but the purchase and the performance are two separate things that may or may not be related.)

            I’ve bought brandy in the morning. It’s what I soak raisins in for Christmas cookies.

            1. PhyllisB*

              Yep. I don’t like beer either, but I have a recipe for beer rolls and one for a mosquito repellent that has beer for one of its ingredients. (Works, too!!) I have been known to go to my near-by convenience store at 9 a.m. to buy one beer.

      2. LKW*

        Corporate/government office norms means no alcohol is to be brought to the office (which sounds like the case as the bag was not brought into the office).

        I’ve worked with dozens of clients over the years and all of them have restricted alcohol on premise to very specific cases where they have an event with some wine/beer and food.

        It’s not a punishable offense but I’ve never seen beer in the fridge in 25 years.

        1. Manya*

          Definitely not true in all corporate settings. Many people I know keep a bottle of something at their desk, and it’s not unheard of to have a drink at work. I buy wine on my break for the evening all the time. If some Carrie Nation of a coworker thinks I’m going to imbibe it all while at work, that’s her problem.

          1. Michelenyc*

            +1 In my industry (fashion) it is normal to see bottles of wine under someones or beer in the fridge. Sometimes we do have a or 2 drink during the work day but we are all adults & don’t over do it.

          2. Les G*

            Seriously? In most places outside a mad men set, it is very much unheard of to have a drink at work. Jesus, just when I thought I’d heard it all.

            1. Lexi Kate*

              Its really not since moving to a consulting firms, this is the norm. The 4 consulting firms I have worked for have kept an alcohol fridge stocked. For Thanksgiving I was at work late and was able to pay my Office manager a restocking price to take home 4 white wines, a bottle of bourbon, and 4 6-packs of corona so that I wouldn’t have to make a late night run to the liquor store.

            2. Friday afternoon fever*

              That’s so office- and industry-dependent. Believe people when they talk about their own lived experiences, even if different from yours.

              That said, i don’t think this is super relevant to whether someone can purchase alcohol on their break outside of work and not appear to consume it at work.

            3. Manya*

              I don’t know what to tell you–I work in publishing, and at all three companies I’ve worked at people have drunk at lunch, at work, and have had little private impromptu drinks parties in their offices.

              There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy.

            4. Aveline*

              I’ve worked in multiple states and foreign countries. My experience has been that having some wine or whiskey in stock at work is the norm. Not the exception.

              Don’t universalize your experience and I won’t universalize mine.

              Where I live and work now, even the attorneys who don’t drink themselves keep whiskey on hand. It’s not consumed by anyone working or anyone who will be in court later in the day. It’s kept for after work conversation, clients, and special occasions. Being drunk while on duty as a lawyer is a huge deal. Having a glass of bourbon after hours is normal.

              1. lawyer*

                Yeah, it’s super common in my office for people to have a bottle of scotch or whiskey for special occasions (for example, someone passes the bar/announces an engagement/has a child/closes a huge deal/gets promoted) and to keep a set of nice glasses in the office. It also sometimes comes out when it’s just been a damn long/hard work day.

              2. Anon From Here*

                As a lawyer I’ve been in offices at both extremes: one had an actual drinks cart and a selection of spirits, as well as beer in the fridge; the other was in-house counsel for an international construction contractor, and the onsite zero-tolerance alcohol policy extended to the corporate office.

                1. Aveline*

                  Yep. My post is only intended to show that having liquor in the office isn’t something only out of tv shoes depicting the 50s.

            5. Phoenix Programmer*

              I work in healthcare at a hospital and the corporate policy is clear that you can have one drink with lunch so long as it does not impact your functionality and you do not have any surgery duties scheduled or on call.

              Most of us just don’t drink and poke fun at the policy.

              In banking drinking was common and it was far from a mad men place to work. I have fond memories of the companies pride week party where vps and tellers alike were knocking back rainbow shots and rooting for marriage equality to win on the ballot.

            6. Sk*

              I think this depends on the industry. I work in a creative field and all 4 professional offices I’ve worked at had alcohol at work, usually beer and wine in the fridge. It’s not uncommon to have a drink at your desk on Thursday or Friday afternoon or a drink with certain clients. It’s really not that big a deal because people only have 1 or 2 and can still function just fine at work. It’s not like anyone is getting wasted on tequila during lunch.

            7. JulieCanCan*

              At a few of the talent agencies I’ve worked in, we had “mimosa Fridays” or “Fireball in your desk drawer ANY days”……or just “let’s get some 12-packs of beer for the afternoon” when certain owners were out.

              Entertainment might be a bad example to hold up as “the norm” but it’s not alone in its practices.

            8. NotAnotherManager!*

              Nope. I’ve worked in legal much of my career, and having alcohol in the office is not verboten. I worked in a practice area that had buttered rum and beer Fridays for a long time. It doesn’t get brought out to actually drink as much these days as it once was, but no one’s calling HR about seeing a bottle in someone’s office and receiving (or sending) gifts of alcohol from vendor to/from clients is not weird.

            9. Sarah N*

              I don’t think it is that weird. I work at a university and we frequently have alcohol served at faculty events (sponsored by the university).

        2. The Cosmic Avenger*

          We’re a bit more relaxed and independent than a lot of workplaces, but we’re also government contractors, and so we’re not exactly beer-pong-playing tech bros either. (Not that there’s anything wrong with that either IF it’s done responsibly and without any pressure.) I occasionally go to a craft beer and wine store within walking distance of my office and get singles — individual bottles or cans of beer — so that I can try new beers without having to buy a six pack of each. The guy who owns it is very nice, and always seems to be working by himself, so I don’t mind that his prices are a little higher than what I could find elsewhere, because he’s not only convenient, he’s also very helpful.

          Anyway, the point was that I regularly buy beer during the work day and bring it back to the office. I’ve also been known to bring in beers that I like to share with coworkers with whom I discuss craft beer. We usually keep them hidden, as we don’t want it to look like we’re drinking during the work day, but it’s not a big deal to have it at the office if you’re not drinking. And, as others have said, some office cultures are OK with drinking at work very occasionally, although I don’t think that happens at our workplace.

              1. Les G*

                So I assume on job interviews with a dinner component, you wouldn’t look askance at the candidate who pounds vodka shots while everyone else orders a glass of wine? After all, alcohol is alcohol.

                1. Manya*

                  That’s drinking at a work event. There’s no proof this alcohol is being consumed at work. And I would object to the quantity of alcohol (multiple shots vs one glass of wine). If someone wanted to drink a shot of vodka, I wouldn’t have an issue with it.

                2. Amtelope*

                  Why would you object to someone drinking one vodka shot — or one cheap beer — while other people are drinking glasses of wine? Can you provide a reason for your objection that isn’t based in prejudice against people from particular cultures or social classes?

                3. Les G*

                  Where did I say I would object to someone drinking cheap beer when others drank wine? My point was to highlight the absurdity of this commenter’s insistence on “alcohol is alcohol.” They are being either naive or deliberately misleading–as are you.

                4. Roscoe*

                  Realistically, you shouldn’t look at them different. Its just that shots, in some peoples minds, are “worse”. The reality is that a shot of vodka and a glass of wine have the exact same amount of alcohol in them. People just like to feel morally superior by drinking one over the other. Now if you are doing 5 shots and everyone else has 1 glass of wine, that is very different.

                5. Courageous cat*

                  Don’t agree with this vodka shot nonsense – if someone got a glass of vodka neat or whatever, and sipped at it, that’s different, because you’re drinking it for the pleasure of drinking it (such as with wine, beer, etc in this specific context). There is absolutely no other connotation to a shot of vodka other than to get drunk, which is what makes it more inappropriate.

              2. Mookie*

                Exactly. It was classist when the LW speculated about a “homeless” person being the logical and safe recipient and belowthread commenters are cementing that impression.

                1. Charlotte Collins*

                  It actually disturbed me more that the LW seemed to think that was the appropriate reason for the co-worker to buy the alcohol. People can spend money on what they want, but that didn’t seem especially helpful.

            1. Amtelope*

              Are you really arguing that buying cheap beer and bringing it back to the office (but not drinking it there) is different from buying expensive beer and bringing it back to the office (but not drinking it there)? Really?

              1. Les G*

                Again, you are building a straw man out of snow, and it will melt. I mentioned craft beer only because the commenter I was originally replying to did. This is not about price, it is about serving size and perceived purpose.

                1. Aveline*

                  Well, considering that there is a cache in drinking 40s in some youth cultures, I think you are applying outmoded norms.

                  As an old, I’d perceive a 40 differently if it was someone my age than I’d it was a 20 something. Cause I know several younglings who enjoy 40s as hip and antiestablishment. They aren’t drinking it for the same reasons someone my age would drink it.

                2. Aveline*

                  There’s a gourmet restaurant in my city that serves 40s alongside $25 hamburgers.

                  This isn’t the 1970s. People drink them to enjoy them. Not because they are alcoholics.

                3. Les G*

                  Now you’re accusing me of calling everyone who drinks 40s an alcoholic? Let’s cool it with the projection, please.

            2. Elsajeni*

              But not very different from having the craft beer store fill up a growler for you, which I think would also be pretty unremarkable — again, assuming you tuck it away somewhere to take home at the end of the day.

              1. Les G*

                Yes, because a growler (like a six pack or a bottle or box of wine) is intended to be consumed by multiple people. Are we really pretending we don’t have strong cultural associations with 40s, now? Fair or not, they’re there.

                1. Elsajeni*

                  You just said it was about the size, not about class or price. Now I see it has nothing to do with the size, it’s about the “cultural associations,” which, let’s be clear, are about race and class.

                  If the OP’s coworker had written in, I think it would be reasonable to advise her “hey, people perceive 40s a certain way, it’s probably not a good idea to buy one on the way into work.” I do not think it’s reasonable to tell the OP “hey, people perceive 40s a certain way, so you should definitely roll with that perception and make assumptions about your coworker that you wouldn’t make if she had bought a different type of alcohol in the same size bottle.”

                2. Les G*

                  It’s almost as though cultural perceptuons are complicated and informed by many factors, including race and class. Personally, my primary issue was size (as in, i’d balk at a craft tallboy even though i think the cultural connotations are different) but I’m horrified by everyone pretending they think a 40 is somehow culturally (as in: socioeconomically or racially) neutral. That’s up there with “I don’t see color.”

                  Tl;dr: don’t tell me the 40 has racr and class connotations. Tell it to the commenters acting like there’s no perception differencr between that and a bottle of wine.

                3. CmdrShepard4ever*

                  As a craft beer and growler lover I disagree with growlers being intended to be consumed by multiple people, maybe for some people. But I see growlers being intended to be consumed by people who want draft beer taste at home/on the go. Most growlers are 64 oz, the equivalent of 4 pints (16oz). 4 pints can easily be consumed by one person in one sitting, or by one person over two days. I would not recommend keeping an opened growler more than 2 days. But even a six pack can easily be enjoyed by one person over a few days, even in one sitting. A 40 is only 2.5 pints or 3.3 12 oz beers so not that much.

                  I think what Manya was saying regarding the alcohol is alcohol comment is that it is the amount one is consuming rather than the type that matters. If a job has a policy were a few beers are permissible during/after work, it shouldn’t matter if coworker A consumes a 40 and coworker B consumes 3 fancy craft beers.

                  Similarly if coworker A is spotted buying a 40, they should not be treated differently then coworker B buying a six pack of craft beer.

                4. CmdrShepard4ever*

                  I agree there are certain cultural associations with 40’s that I don’t agree with. But just because they are there we should not play into them and work to break down those associations.

        3. Anon, a moose!*

          Yeah, without more information this seems like too big a generalization. In my office and at least three or four i’ve been in, it’s not unusual for people to have something on their desk if only because vendors, clients, etc. like to give it as gifts. I wouldn’t assume any of those people are ever drunk at work because of that. I know OP’s situation is a little different, but I don’t think it’s enough to assume that just because coworker bought a beer they immediately drank it.

          1. anon for this*

            Yep. I’ve seen coworkers and bosses out having an occasional margarita at lunch (and done so myself occasionally), and had coworkers bring bottles of wine or certain other beverages as gifts for other people. I’ve had beer or wine when traveling with coworkers or attending conferences together. Unless she has damned good evidence that the other person is drunk on the job, OP1 needs to m ind her own business.

        4. Asenath*

          My workplace – and previous one – are/were really, really strict about drinking alcohol in the workplace – it was absolutely forbidden unless you’d gotten all the permissions to hold a social event on site, which wasn’t easy and came with restrictions. Most on-site events were totally dry. But bringing in alcohol that you’d bought and were going to bring home? Or having a bottle in your office someone had given you at Christmas? No one would blink. Now, it probably wouldn’t be stored in the fridge – office fridges are too small and too filled with people’s lunches. It was just drinking it that wasn’t allowed. Even if you HAD organized a social event following all the rules, you (or your guests) couldn’t remove your drink from the room in which the event was held.

          1. Hey Nonny Anon*

            I’ll go one step more strict- my newly-implemented company policy states that we are prohibited from even possessing alcohol on property (including parking facilities), at a company event (even offsite) without express executive approval, or on business travel and any alcohol consumption at all means not returning to work. So, I can’t walk across the street to the good wine shop on my lunch hour and leave my purchase in my car or my briefcase. I can’t permit a bottle of wine to be put in the holiday gift exchange. My colleague the home brewer cannot bring in a growler of his work to take home to my husband, unless we go off property for him to hand it off. Technically, I can’t have a drink with dinner at my annual conference, since I am on business travel. (I expect that people are going to start pushing back on how the policy is written, since it comes across to draconian.)

            1. TheFacelessOldWomanWhoSecretlyLivesinYour House*

              The car thing might run into snags. In many places, a car is viewed as an extension of your home. Therefore, the car falls under the protection of your home. We were the example of a handgun. Even though a company may forbid it, it could be perfectly legal to have in your car on the company’s property. It’s not something you probably want to test without talking to a lawyer but why couldn’t you tuck the wine under a bag in your car? Is your car inspected?

      3. Cat Fan*

        If the co-worker was normally good at her job and happened to be buying beer, the letter writer probably would not have thought twice about it. However, her work habits were already known to the letter-writer when she saw her buying beer and then later sleeping at her desk. I think most anyone here would come to the same conclusion or at least wonder about it.

        1. Washi*

          Right, it’s not the buying a beer, it’s buying beer, coming back without it, and two hours later being asleep at work. I agree that the OP should only talk to her manager about the coworker’s performance and not speculate about the beer, but this seems like a really reasonable thing for the OP to wonder about.

          1. Les G*

            Exactly this. Everyone is fixated on playing gotcha about my personal taxonomy of alcohol preferences when the crux of the matter is just what you’ve said here.

            1. Czhorat*

              The type and timing does say something, though, and can inform assumptions.

              A single can at a pharmacy? That’s usually a purchase to be consumed right away, or at least soon. This isn’t “stocking up because there’s no beer in the house”. It at the very least raises an eyebrow.

              I’ll agree that it isn’t actionable, but I ALSO agree that this doesn’t look good.

              PROTIP: Don’t buy a single can of beer at the pharmacy during work hours.

          2. Phoenix Programmer*

            Reasonable to wonder about? Reasonable to report to HR? No. At best it will make it look naive and overly invested in coworkers personal lives. At worst op could be fired.

            I will have to search for it but I vaguely remember a aam letter similar to this except op reported the sleeping or some other transgression and was fired because it turned out coworker had an ADA accommodation for the nappingand HR felt op was harrassing the coworker.

            Everyone agreed HR was wrong to fire the person but I am bringing it up because it’s not outside the realm of possibility for op.

            1. Czhorat*

              This is another great point.

              Your coworker fell asleep at their desk. They work a second job to cover the rent, and haven’t been getting enough sleep.

              Your coworker fell asleep at their desk. They are caring for a sick child or spouse, and can’t get enough rest at home.

              Your coworker fell asleep at their desk. They go out partying every evening, and sometimes it catches up to them.

              Your coworker fell asleep at their desk. They have a chronic illness, including chronic fatigue or similar.

              Your coworker fell asleep at their desk. They day-drink when they should be working, stumble to the office in an alcohol-induced fog and sleep it off.

              Some of these are acceptable. Some aren’t. The fact is that you often DON’T know anything other than “Your coworker fell asleep at their desk”. We all need to be careful about filling in the second sentence, without knowing more.

      4. mark132*

        For me it is. Not so much the shopping part, but buying a large beer. And based on the posts from lw1 they are in nyc so likely no car. So I’m wondering where is the bottle? I would actually expect to see the bag at their desk for that reason. But it’s not. So where is it? That combined with sleeping at her desk, etc. Would make me think twice. ( But still not report it)

        1. Roscoe*

          Maybe the bottle is in her purse or another bag. Maybe she knows that her coworkers are busybodies so she hides it so people don’t think she is drinking at work

      5. Roscoe*

        Yep. I’ve totally bought a bottle of booze on a break that I planned on enjoying later because I’d rather shop when its slow than after work. Sucks to know that some busy bodies may just take that to assume I’m drunk on the job.

      6. Liane*

        Yes, Mookie, if we see 1 coworker buying condoms at the drugstore & another walking out of the adult shop before work–there must be a Duck Club chapter at our office!

      7. Oxford Comma*

        This. I buy wine and liquor on lunch breaks because that’s when I have time to shop. It’s not like I’m swigging out of a fifth of rye in the car.

        To my way of thinking, it’s entirely possible the coworker just bought the beer for later. If there are concerns about sleeping on the job, etc and since the OP has said they work in an open office environment, surely this should be left to the manager?

    1. Just Employed Here*

      I think you’re trying to be facetious … but since we have no idea what time OP starts work or takes breaks, it’s not really working out.

    2. gecko*

      I think that’s not the issue. Running to the pharmacy for some morning Bugles is not the same as grabbing a 40 (and then patently sleeping a couple hours later).

      1. WellRed*

        Yeah, they call them pounders for a reason. I drink but wouldn’t be putting one of those in the work fridge.

        1. Les G*

          Thanks for injecting some common sense into this situation. Folks are acting like buying a 40 is even remotely the same, optics-wise, as buying a sixer of craft brews to bring to a dinner party after work.

          1. Manya*

            Why are you so hung up on it being a 40? If she’s not guzzling it at work, what does her taste in booze matter?

            1. Les G*

              Because 40s are intended for personal consumption, specifically intoxication. You get a 40 to get drunk and no other reason. That makes it work inappropriate on the face of it.

              It’s by no means a perfect comparison, but if you saw someone clipping a cigar or rolling a blunt at work and someone else said “but I have a pack of camels in my purse!” you’d know it wasn’t the same thing.

              1. Manya*

                But there is no proof it is being consumed at work! I sometimes purchase condoms on my lunch break, should I refrain from doing so in case a coworker sees me and assumes that I’m going to bang someone at the office?

                I don’t smoke cigars or cigarettes and have no preconceived notions of the differences there. And marijuana is still illegal in most states, so that’s a complete straw man.

                1. Charlotte Collins*

                  Also, I associate cigars with rich white dudes. And I’ve seen one of them hanging out in a bar drinking whiskey during work hours. And it sure wasn’t his first. (The COO where I worked at the time.)

              2. Amtelope*

                Having a cigar at work is EXACTLY the same thing as having cigarettes at work. You are basing your criticism of 40s — and cigars — on the fact that they’re not typically white middle-class ways of consuming alcohol or tobacco, and that’s pretty unattractive.

                1. PennyParker*

                  absolute agreement; the argument as to which is better, beer or wine, is a totally classist argument. And, somewhat racist as well. This one needs to be laid in the ground; alcohol is alcohol.

                2. Les G*

                  At no point have I argued that one is better than the other. I’m simply arguing that the vast majority of office workers would perceive a difference and that the widespread argument on this thread that they are the same is misguided and probably based on some serious woke olympics training.

                3. Amtelope*

                  It’s “woke olympics training” to point out that negatively stereotyping people’s consumption of items based on race and class is racist and classist? Okay.

                4. John Thurman*

                  I feel like you’re arguing right past eachother.

                  Les G saying “But This is what Society will think!” and everybody else saying “It’s a problem with society, not a reason to change.”

              3. Manya*

                This seems a specious argument to me. I sometimes purchase condoms on my lunch break; should I refrain from doing so in case a coworker sees me and jumps to the conclusion that I’m going to bang someone back at the office?

                I smoke neither cigarettes nor cigars and don’t have any particular opinion on their social acceptability. And marijuana is illegal in most states, so that’s a total straw man.

              4. Aveline*

                Um, Thinking on this is really outmoded and Narrow.

                There are a lot of people who drink cheap beer now, including 40s, For reasons other than what you are putting out there.

                A lot of young hipsters in my city drink them because they enjoy them. It’s not uncommon to see a bunch of rich tech dude sharing a 40 on a park bench. They’re not doing it to get drunk.

                You’re fixated on this, But refusing to consider the fact that what you think this beer is for and what the person buying it was using it for, might actually be different. That is, assuming that the purchaser even drank it.

                1. Les G*

                  Allow me to summarize your comment as I read it: “a beverage previously associated with poor people has now been adopted by some hipsters. Therefore, it is now work-appropriate.”

                2. Aveline*

                  Wow! Less, you’re being really rude and rputting words in people’s mouth’s and then turning around and accusing them to do it to you. I don’t know what your deal is on this topic but I’m done engaging with you because you are not arguing in good faith.

              5. Audrey Puffins*

                I rarely buy beer but when I do, it’s a 40, and it’s because I’m making a big batch of chilli, and the beer makes it extra delicious. But even if I were buying it to get drunk, if you had no evidence that I had pounded it back before work rather than was buying it in the morning to have it in hand for when I got home, then it’s literally none of your business.

          2. Anon, a moose!*

            Buying a 40 isn’t inherently immoral in some way. Drinking either that or a fancy craft beer on work time is probably a problem. But without knowing that’s what coworker did, harping on the specific alcohol being bought doesn’t make sense to me.

            1. Les G*

              Not about taste in booze and I’ll thank you to avoid imputing beer snobbery to what is an extremely reasonable observation that anyone with common sense is equally well equipped to make.

              1. Sapphire*

                But the only proof OP has that co-worker is drunk at work is that the co-worker bought a beer. They didn’t say the co-worker smelled like beer or there was an empty beer can in the trash. The buying beer and poor performance may be related, but we can’t assume that from the information given in the letter, and it’s not actionable anyway. Alison’s advice to just let the boss know about the poor work performance and let boss do their job is spot-on.

                1. Les G*

                  This is not a reply to what I wrote. I agree the OP should not say anything. I also think people who have, on occasion, stored some two buck chuck under their desk are being dangerously misleading to suggest this is at all the same.

              2. Danger: Gumption Ahead*

                I buy 40 oz all the time to wash my hair with them. No way am I wasting good beer and 40 oz is perfect to get 2 washes. All we know is she bought a 40 oz. Maybe to drink the, maybe to drink later, maybe for beer bread, maybe to wash hair. We don’t know and neither does the OP. If the sleeping at work and being blah at her job are causing problems, the OP should take that to management. Otherwise it is no one’s business

                1. Done with this.*

                  (Off topic but I’d love it if you shared more about washing hair with a 40 in the open thread this week! Never heard of it and would like to know more.)

                2. Danger: Gumption Ahead*

                  Sure thing! It is great for adding shine, at least with my frizzy, generally dull hair texture

            2. Aveline*

              Apparently, Les and a few others have missed the over decade old trend of hipsters and other young subcultures reevaluating 40s. Colt45 in brown paper bags has been a thing for over a decade. And not to pound it.

              1. Just Employed Here*

                I was even amazed at the whole “pharmacies sell beer?!” thing … And then I converted 40 oz to litres and was even more astounded! The things one learns on AAM.

          3. scorpysuit coryphefuss arterius*

            But this isn’t about optics. The issue of what buying a 40, in a classist society, on break, during work hours, may look like to others would be relevant if the 40-purchaser was writing in to ask about said optics. But they aren’t the ones writing in, and that’s not the question.

        2. Aveline*

          That’s you.

          Look, I think everyone who thinks that 40s are only for pounding and getting drunk quickly needs to spend some time googling. Apparently, there’s a lot of people on this site whomdo not realize that Many beers that are cheap and were previously considered only useful for getting completely drunk are now considered worthy of enjoying.

          A local craft beer store has Pabst, natty light, and a bunch of “cheap “beers by the bottle or a can. A lot of people, Particularly the young hipsters in our city, enjoy drinking them.

          Hey local gourmet hamburger place serves 40s with their hamburgers

          1. Aveline*

            Also, husband just reminded me that even 10 years ago in Los Angeles, there was a trend of drinking Colt45 in brown paper bags.

            To me, that’s the ultimate pounder. But that wasn’t the purpose of the place selling it for $15 a pop.

    3. LKW*

      No one said the person couldn’t take a break. If the co-worker had a big ol’ Arizona tea the OP wouldn’t have written in.

    4. Reba*

      This is rude! The rules of this comment section mean that we treat LW’s kindly and assume good faith.

      And look at the letter. LW1 is not like, mwahaha I want to report my coworker, how many crimes will I find? She is checking her reactions with an expert and ASKING what is appropriate to do. That is the point of the site.

      1. Matilda Jefferies*

        This. It’s reasonable for OP to speculate – we’re all human, and I bet most of us observing the same behaviour would at least wonder what was going on. And I would argue that it’s not even unreasonable for OP to draw the conclusion that she did. It’s not necessarily the *correct* conclusion, but it’s not an illogical one.

        Then, she didn’t know what to do next, so she wrote to an advice column to ask for help anonymously. Also a reasonable thing to do, and her comments on this thread seem to indicate that she’s pretty open to taking the advice. There seem to be a lot of very big reactions to a relatively small chain of events here!

    5. NotAnotherManager!*

      I think I’m missing the point. What is wrong with being in a pharmacy at 9:45 a.m. for non-work-related reasons?
      This seems to imply some sort of nefarious intent on OP’s part that is not supported by the facts in evidence.

      1. Middle School Teacher*

        To me, I read the original comment as “just as you OP were there at 9:45am for an innocent reason, I think it’s fair to assume your coworker was too.” In other words, OP1 should probably MYOB.

        1. NotAnotherManager!*

          Well, now, THAT I agree with. It’s so common for me to run into people with whom I work at the pharmacy across the street, I couldn’t figure out why that would be a big deal.

          But, yeah, MYOB, indeed. And address the performance issues separately from the beer purchase.

  10. Be Positive*

    #1 unless you saw her drinking the beer at work, right before work when impairment would be likely or smell it on her you really cant say anything. Sounds like you already have enough due to her performance issues to escalate with.

    1. HS Teacher*

      On an almost daily basis AAM reminds me how much I don’t miss about working in offices. I go days without seeing most of my coworkers, and it makes me happy. I can’t imagine seeing a coworker buying a beer and taking the leap the OP is taking.

      The performance issues can be addressed separately. OP should mind her own business with regard to what the coworker is buying at the store. I’m a teacher, and it’s not unusual for me to pick up a six pack or a bottle of wine on my way to work. I wish a coworker would say something to me about it if they’d seen me! Ridiculous.

  11. Seventh Knight*

    As someone who gets Google Doc links from applicants more and more frequently, please don’t.

    It is aggravating to have to click a link that takes me external to the system I am using, and to then have to download it myself when we have explicitly asked for emailed resumes. In many cases, if I have any other good applicants at all, I won’t even bother.

    Its not worth the risk of having yourself screened out before anyone even sees your qualifications.

  12. AcademiaNut*

    The unofficial comp day approach is popular in my job for the foreigners and local holidays. Because if you don’t have local family to visit, the lunar new year holiday is deadly dull, between everything shutting down in the city, the dreary weather, the tiny apartment you’re probably living in, and the fact a significant fraction of the Chinese speaking world is attempting to travel at the same time. But you can get quite a lot of work done when there’s nothing else to do and no-one’s interrupting you.

  13. Amelia Pond*

    #3 You definitely can push back when people start trying to call you by a nickname, be it cutsie or not. It’s not rude to enforce that- really, it’s not. Giving someone a nickname and calling them one without asking is. But my condolences as a fellow baby faced person.

    Bonus points for spelling the example name with an H. I know there’s no “correct” way to spell a name but I’m rather partial to mine, especially since it’s a more rare spelling. (I had a teacher insisted that I was spelling my name wrong as a kid, that it didn’t have an H. Mine does, tyvm Miss Teacher.)

    1. Possibly Enough Detail to be Identified?*

      Definitely push back if people give you a nickname you don’t want, but be aware of where you are spending that capital in the workplace.
      My name is Nicole, so I’m known as Nicole or Nikki. My husband, parents and siblings call me Nik – they are the *only* ones I feel comfortable with using that diminutive form as, to me, it’s quite an intimate shortening. You have to know me *very* well to shorten my name *that* much. But, despite this, my boss does keep using Nik, and (for various reasons) I can no longer afford the capital to correct her. I just have to grit my teeth and sign my name in full on any reply email that is addressed “incorrectly” – a touch passive-aggressive, but with multiple cc’s it’s usually the path of least resistance.
      (One former colleague took the mickey and refered to me exclusively as “N” in all our work emails – it made me laugh, so long as it was just between the two of us, he got away with it)

      1. Alice*

        I’m sorry about your boss, but I think he’s unusual in that he keeps using the wrong name. I hope that OP realizes that correcting people, even bosses and higher-ups, will usually work. You might have to do it more than once – indeed you probably will – but you can succeed. I have. And personally I don’t think it’s ever taken capital – I used capital when I negotiate with my boss about a changed schedule or something else that depends on my good reputation, not to factually, calmly, and politely correct someone about my name. I hope (and suspect) your boss is more like mine than Possibly’s, OP. (And Possibly’s teacher too)

    2. NotoriousMCG*

      I have a name that – for some reason – everyone just *wants* to use a nickname instead of the name. When I tell people my name is Madeline one of the first questions is ‘Oh, do you ever go by Maddy?’

      It’s grating. I accept people calling me that if they’ve known me a while, but I absolutely hate strangers calling me that and I haven’t yet figured out why my name specifically is one that nobody wants to use.

      I also attempted to add on my husband’s last name after we got married, introduced myself as Madeline C G, had e-mail signatures of Madeline C G, topped resumes with Madeline C G…and almost exclusively was addressed as Madeline G. I’ve now dropped the G out of frustration.

      1. Smarty Boots*

        That’s because most people will assume the C is a middle name, unless it’s hyphenated. I have a colleague who’s done that with their name — they have trained everyone in the office to call them M C G and not M G.

      2. AnonEMoose*

        Room for one more on that bench? My real first name is one of those that has a million “official” variations attached – think “Elizabeth,” although that’s not actually my name. And I loathe being called ANY of the variations. Hate it with a white-hot passion, and have since i was 12. (I went by a nickname until then, but then switched to the full version of my first name and have never looked back).

        It doesn’t happen so much now that I’m a bit older, but when I was in my 20s and first entering the work force, there were a number of people who would be introduced to me and say some variant of “Do you go by Liz?” “I’m just going to call you Beth” and so on.

        When I would reply with “I go by Elizabeth” or “Please call me Elizabeth,” most were ok, but the really pushy ones would start whining about it. “But that’s so FORMAL,” or “I’m just trying to be FRIENDLY,” and my personal favorite “Well, what does your mother call you?”

        That last one was particularly infuriating, because a) you’re not my mother, so what does that even matter?, and b) my mother is actually very respectful and uses the name I prefer. My spouse either uses an endearment or uses my name.

        Although the “mother” comment was also useful, in a way, because it helped to illuminate that it wasn’t really about them wanting to be friendly or whatever they claimed, it was a power thing. They felt like their desire to use a nickname was more important than my desire to be called what I wanted to be called, and they were attempting to claim an intimacy to which they had no right. (Did I mention that most of the worst offenders were men? Is anyone surprised? And no, it wasn’t even close to all men, but most of the worst ones about this were men.)

        Be firm and persistent. Most people won’t be jerks about it, although the ones who do
        choose to be jerks are likely to be big jerks about it. But stick to your guns, because if you let the jerks get away with it, others will pick it up and soon you’ll be “Meggie” to everyone, like it or not. And do not let them gaslight you that they’re “just having fun,” or that you’re “too uptight and can’t take a joke” or whatever. Never doubt that the ones being jerks about it know perfectly well what they’re doing and are doing it on purpose, and let that knowledge stiffen your spine and increase your willingness to stand up for yourself. Don’t be afraid to turn it back on them, either. Like asking “why do you keep calling me Meggie when I’ve asked you not to?” “Why is that fun for you when it isn’t for me?” A genuinely inquiring demeanor is essential, here, but this can work. You just have to be persistent and quietly insist on answers.

        1. Kristine*

          “What does your mother call you?” Holy Toledo. The real question is what my mother would call such a pushy person.

        2. Lady Kelvin*

          “My mother purposefully gave all her kids names that couldn’t/shouldn’t be shortened because she didn’t want any of us to go by a nickname instead of our given names.”

          In my family, at least, its true. All three of us have always gone by our full names and just stopped responding if someone refuses to stop calling us by a nickname. I’m also really careful about making sure I call people by their preferred name, because I get it.

          1. Former Admin Turned Project Manager*

            My parents gave me and my siblings names that did not have standard nicknames so that we could avoid their lifelong struggle of having to get people to call them the right thing (“Katherine- do you use Katherine or do you prefer Kathy?” “Neither, I actually go by Kate.”) All three of us end up being colloquially called by only the first syllable or initial because so many people have a pathological need to create nicknames.

            1. Charlotte Collins*

              My given name is a nickname, and people feel the need to shorten that!

              I silently judge people who shorten my name without checking with me. (None of my family members do so. In fact, any nicknames they might give me are all longer than my actual name.)

        3. NotAnotherManager!*

          My mother calls me something that no one else does because one of the joys of being Southern is that you apparently have to name your children after someone alive and well and in their lives so that they have to go by their middle name (or a nickname of a middle name, MOM) within the family but get tired of correcting everyone else and end up being called their first name everywhere else.

          Not that I’m bitter or anything. Not that this is something my siblings and I bitch about when we get together. :)

          But, yeah, if my mom said my first name, I’d assume that she was talking to the older relative I was named after and not me. And, if anyone at work called me what my mom does, I would genuinely have no idea they intended to speak to me.

    3. Labradoodle Daddy*

      I had a coworker who thought I was rude for constantly correcting her when she called me “Hal” (I go by Hallie and only my family really calls me Hal, anyone else does it and it feels overly familiar)

      1. EddieSherbert*

        She’s got a strange view on manners – constantly calling someone something they *don’t want to be called* (as in, they constantly tell you they don’t want to be called that) is very obviously rude to rest of the world!

        1. AnonEMoose*

          Right?! I kind of got the same thing from a few people when I was younger, though – they’d try to call me by a nickname, I’d politely correct them, and they’d freak out. Somehow I was rude or rejecting them or something because I wasn’t willing to let them call me something besides what I wanted to be called. It was really weird to me.

    4. Ellex*

      I go by the name “Lex”, which I realize is somewhat unusual for a woman. The number of people who automatically change it to “Lexi” (which I really dislike) and can’t seem to remember that it’s “Lex” no matter how many times I correct them is annoying and disappointing. Even though I like to introduce myself as “Lex, like Lex Luthor”, for some reason it doesn’t stick. I’m sure my youthful face isn’t helping.

      At a certain point, you start feeling like you have to let it go or risk being tagged with one or more of those unpleasant terms assertive women get in work settings.

      1. AnonEMoose*

        Sadly, it can be a risk, perception-wise. Which is all kinds of screwed up. I decided pretty early on that this was the one issue on which I wasn’t going to give…it was a hill I was willing to die on. But it’s one of those things where everyone has to decide for themselves, based on their own situation.

        1. Ellex*

          To be honest, the perception issue didn’t actually bother me, although a couple of people – other women – have advised me to let it go for that reason. I started letting it go because there were just so many people who apparently couldn’t remember – or couldn’t be bothered to remember – no matter how many times I reminded them that “It’s Lex, not Lexi.”

          After you’ve told more than 10 people more than 5 times each, it gets tiring. And to be fair, it’s not just me – I’ve seen the same thing happen to others, both male and female.

    5. Goya de la Mancha*

      Our newest hire tried to cute my name up recently (ex: Bethy instead of Beth) – I raised my eyebrows, and I’m assuming that my face was not exactly friendly, but it stopped that one dead in it’s tracks!

  14. Cat wrangler*

    Ha! My middle name is hyphenated. The amount of times the hyphen gets attached to the wrong part of the name or a redundant letter inserted instead. Even my university managed to misspell it at enrolment which took months for them to correct as they kept insisting that it was ‘right’ and why was I making a fuss?!

    1. Doctor Schmoctor*

      I have two common, ordinary Dutch names. They both end in “-rik”, but most people misspell them and make it “-rick”, “-ricke” or “-rique.” The worst is when you write your name down on a form, and they still get it wrong.

      When I was 7 or 8 my mother started calling me the German version of my name for some reason, and I hate it.

    2. Mongrel*

      “Don’t take this wrong, but are you sure? Because it is very unlikely the system would make a mistake like that.”

      Ahh, Better off Ted – you were taken from us too soon

      1. Ermintrude*

        All 3 of my actual names are common and they all have variant spellings. I also didn’t remember which order the two pairs of double letters went when I first learned how to write my first name. :-9

    3. Red Reader*

      When I got married, I went from two middle names and an O’Lastname to one middle name and a hyphenated last name, where the second middle name (my maiden name) became the first half of the hyphenated last name. Philomena (Middle Maidenson) O’Lastname became Philomena Middle Maidenson-Marriedname. Between double middle names, apostrophe and hyphenation, I’m well accustomed to the ways systems can mangle names. (The social security office also got it wrong when I did my name change, they changed it to Philomena (Middle Maidenson) Marriedname the first time and I had to go back a second time.)

    4. NotAnotherManager!*

      My first name is hyphenated, and I have the same problem. My own mother addresses my mail to First-Second MyLast-HusbandsLast, which is not my name. Work has me as First S[econd’s Initial] MyLast. Kid’s school has me as First Second-MyLast HusbandsLast. I did not take my husband’s last name.

      I also get a lot of people addressing me by my second name. I will sign something, for example, “Thanks, Anne-Marie Jones” and will get a response back that says, “Marie, thanks for your email…”.

  15. Cat owner*

    Meg, I feel ya, I have a lot of angst about people thinking I’m younger than I am but I kind of want to hug you for the way you feel like you need to change so much down to the way you speak to stop it from happening.

    Thoughts that have helped me: No one thinks less of you because they accidentally thought you were younger. No one is thinking “oh she looks like one of the children, she must be a terrible teacher”. If they make the mistake, it is their mistake and they aren’t going to blame you or not promote you or not treat you with respect because they made the mistake. They aren’t going to think you aren’t qualified just because you look young once they find out you are a graduate.

    I guess I’m trying to say: reframe it and figure out why being mistaken for younger embarrasses or worries you and then go through and figure out if people mistaking you for younger really aligns with those worries.

    1. rj*

      Hey OP, I also apparently look young and like this poster, want to give you a hug.

      I am a professor, and in my first few years people always confused me for a student. (I taught at a tiny school, there was no way people did not know who I was). I don’t think it’s a compliment, which is how people often tell me to reframe it. Sometimes I tell people that oh, I can’t wait til I get old because I know so many amazing older women (true fact, gets laughs). Sometimes, if I want to make it really awkward, I tell people that I think it’s part of a disturbing cultural obsession that women should look like girls (I am more selective about when I use that one).

      As for the name thing, I go by the full version of my name – but lots of people manage to be professionals with its super common nickname – so I’d use whichever version feels more comfortable and helps you feel like you will be the best teacher you can be.

      1. Project Manager*

        I have looked people in the eye and asked, “Why do you think it’s a compliment to tell a mature adult woman that she appears not to have experienced puberty?” (Usually in response to having been told that I “ook twelve”.) I asked in a curious voice, as if I really wanted to know. The response was usually a long pause and “I never thought about it that way.”

        Now that I am almost forty and have wrinkles and a few grey hairs (thanks to my children), I don’t get these comments anywhere near as much. I can tell people still think I’m late twenties or *maybe* early thirties instead of late thirties, but at least they no longer think I’m a prepubescent.

        1. PhyllisB*

          Same. I’m 67 and people are still shocked when they find out my age. I had someone tell me the other day they thought I was about 45. When I was young it used to really irritate me but now I just roll with it. The ironic thing is, when I was 21 I had to show my ID to prove I was old enough to got to clubs/buy alcohol, now I have to show my ID to prove I’m old enough for a senior discount.

          1. Washi*

            It’s super usable socially, but I think it could come across a little intensely at work. I usually go with “huh, I get that a lot” nicely but without too much smiling. My hope is that people will take the hint that they are not being funny or original in their “compliment” but it’s probably too subtle for that….

      2. Anon, a moose!*

        When I taught (in my mid 20s) I was often mistaken for a high school student by staff that I hadn’t interacted with much. It was kind of awkward, but on the bright side once I corrected people the awkwardness passed quickly and things were fine.

        I didn’t dress up as much as I could have (it was a fairly casual place overall) which might have helped, and i’m not a makeup person. I think if I’d gone a couple notches fancier and cut my hair shorter it would’ve helped, but that wasn’t a trade I was willing to make at the time. Now i’m going fairly grey but still have a baby face, and I love confusing people who can’t tell how old I am.

    2. Calpurrnia*

      I taught high school for a year, starting immediately after finishing undergrad when I was a young-looking 21-year-old. I was mistaken for a student more times than I can count, sometimes even multiple times in a single day.

      I was at a boarding school, where the vast majority of students live in dorms on campus, as well as most faculty (in apartments attached to the dorm buildings, but usually with a separate entrance). There were curfews for students based on which school year they were (if I remember right, the latest was seniors had to be back in their dorm by 10), and I was an astronomy teacher who was regularly working at the observatory well past the student curfew.

      You would not believe the number of times I was stopped by campus security on my way back to my apartment from the observatory after 10pm because they thought I was a student out past curfew. The same guard stopped me about six times within a month, and never managed to recognize me before asking for my ID. Every time I’d show my faculty ID, the guards (invariably older men, for whatever reason) gave me a lecture but no apology: “oh, fine, okay, but you shouldn’t be out on campus this late on a school night…” (Even though I was teaching astronomy at a school with an observatory, so it was absolutely my job to be out on campus that late – if nothing else, to close and lock up the very expensive telescopes and computers and scientific equipment after the students were dismissed. Y’know, campus security and all.)

      A few times, I forgot my ID in my apartment, and the guards gave me so much hassle for “lying” until I insisted that they follow me back to the dorm where students and other faculty could identify me as a teacher. Or if it was particularly late, to the teacher apartment entrances where I could readily let myself in with my apartment key. Still never got any apologies from the guards for their mistake, and was always treated as a misbehaving student, I guess because I was “guilty until proven innocent”.

      So, uh. Based on my experience, I *strongly* disagree that “nobody is going to think less of you or not treat you with respect because you look younger”. Plenty of people will do exactly that given the opportunity, and many will make doing your everyday work a hassle precisely because of it. It entirely depends on the context. There are certainly jobs where things will be exactly as Cat Owner describes, but there are also plenty of jobs where your stress or embarrassment about your age is entirely reasonable based on others’ treatment of you and not your own anxiety.

      OP, I feel you. I’m sorry.

      1. Cat owner*

        That experience doesn’t sound like what I was describing – it sounds like you forgot your ID (an important security issue on a high school campus) and benefitted from looking young because you were treated as a student instead of a predator. Security guards are always going to be dicks to people without IDs when they should have IDs, it’s probably part of their strategy to make sure you don’t do it again, which for some reason didn’t work on you.

        Honestly, I think a lot of these examples are because there is bias against young people, not bias against people who look younger than they are when other people know their age. Meg *is* young, the problem is not age bias, it is being mistaken for a student. And this person is clearly pretty stressed out by this – I was trying to be helpful with the kind of ways of framing this that have helped me personally, having gone through a lot of obsessive anxiety over this.

    3. Reba*

      I would push back a little here on the idea that no one will treat you any differently because they perceive you as being younger. I agree that it’s unlikely any colleague has the conscious thought “younger people are bad at things,” but there is definitely unconscious bias at play in the way many folks will interact with people they perceive as younger, *especially* younger and feminine. In my experience it’s not about being embarrassed, but about not being taken seriously by others.

      It does suck that OP3 feels like she has to modify her presentation as as result, but I actually think she is smart to give some thought to this–with the caveat that there isn’t that much she can do to magically make people treat her as a peer through name and appearance alone, and acknowledgement that in a ideal world she shouldn’t have to. Good luck OP3!

      To the topic at hand, I changed from a nickname I grew up with (that I never liked) to the full version of my name when I moved away after college. Natural switching point. And yeah, some people still know me by the old name, but they all also know it’s a nickname. So far I’ve never had any issues with “actually, I prefer FullName! thanks!” to over familiar nicknaming.

      1. AnonEMoose*

        So much this. Unconscious bias is a much bigger deal than people generally think it is. It was so frustrating to me when I was younger, because it was so difficult for me to be taken seriously, and things (like height and looking young) that were impossible or difficult to change about my appearance were a big factor in that. No, it’s not fair and it’s not right, and most people weren’t being actively malicious, but it still happens and it’s a real barrier.

      2. Kit-Kat*

        Yep this!

        I encounter this a lot, most of the time people are trying to pay a compliment and/or making awkward small talk and/or are curious (aka benign). But there is a significant minority where this is not the case.

        One of my favorite ways to reply to “you look like you’re twelve!” Is “Well, I’m not” — coolness varying how I perceive the interaction. At the least it’s just… an awkward thing to say (like, why??????). And people don’t expect me to deny them, so they usually don’t know how to reply and it’s a great time for a subject change!

  16. Nat A. Lee*

    Re: #5 I would also strongly recommend only sending PDFs rather that Word docs. Sometimes you and the employer have have different versions of the software or, fir another reason, your neatly formatted version may get a bit jumbled or the indents become out of sync on their side. PDFs insure they can see it in exactly the way you’ve intended.

    1. NewHerePleaseBeNice*

      Absolutely. I was sent a batch of CVs to review recently and because the company I’m contracting at for uses a really elderly version of Office for Mac, lots of the Word CVs had been messed up in terms of fonts (defaulted to Times New Roman or – ugh – Courier) and line breaks (a perfect 2-page CV shuffled over onto a third page by one line) etc.

      Always send a PDF!

    2. Birch*

      Yes this!

      I’m interested in why anyone would send a Word doc electronically. Maybe I’m extra paranoid or extra picky, but PDFs seem much safer and more professional–not totally secure, but much less chance of them getting changed between computers. And if I want to look at a CV someone’s sent me via email and maybe highlight and take notes on it, I don’t need to spend 5 minutes undoing the changes I’ve accidentally made because “track changes” was on when it was sent to me. IMO it’s messy and unprofessional to send Word docs–just looks unfinished.

    3. pleaset*

      “PDFs insure they can see it in exactly the way you’ve intended.”

      Many people say this, and it’s usually true. BUT if you create a PDF from a Word or other document with fonts that are not on the recipients system AND you don’t embed the fonts, the appearance can change.

      This is not an issue with common fonts. But it can happen.

      But your overall message – that PDFs have more fidelity than Word docs – is certainly true.

  17. Anonomo*

    Op3 I started using my full name once I entered the workforce for the same reason. I dont know if it actually has made me seem older or more professional but I *feel* older and more professional. The only caution I have is if your nickname is one that, while common, isnt a direct derivative of your name (Like Betsy to Elizabeth) to make sure any references you use are aware that you’ll be using your full name while job searching, because getting a call about Elizabeth P. Smith might not connect in the moment to Betsy Smith.

  18. mkaibear*

    OP#4 – Good on you for wanting to deal with this in an appropriate and helpful way. Altogether too many stories about bosses doing things like, as you say, calling an all-staff meeting for people on their day off to come in and hear that they aren’t going to get a benefit…

    Speaking as one who works for several organisations with a problem with communication – the more comms the better imvho. You don’t want people to think they haven’t heard because they’re not valued as much as the full-time employees, so have you considered writing to them? That way you can guarantee that they have all been “told” at the same time, and if you couple that with one or more of Alison’s suggestions then you should be able to cover all your bases.

    1. Sally*

      I was an on-site contractor for 15 years, and there were some benefits I was able to take advantage of – for example, the subsidized on-site cafeteria – and others I wasn’t able to use – for example, the on-site gym. Sometimes I would receive all company emails that had a notice on them saying that this was for employees only. Other times, I would hear about a program or something new about which I had not received an email because it didn’t apply to me. I think either option would be okay. I also think getting the information by email is helpful because then the employees who are eligible for the benefit can refer back to the email if they have questions. Of course you’ll want to make it crystal clear in the email (probably near the top) who is eligible for the benefit so there’s no confusion.

      1. Ren*

        This would be the straightforward option — except I’ve worked at restaurants from very small family diners to megachains to high end and not one had company email accounts for wait staff, bartenders, and kitchen staff. It’s just not part of how the floor staff workday runs.

    2. Reba*

      Maybe OP4 could print a half-sheet flyer with the basic info on it for all staff to see, and schedule info meetings for full timers the week after the news has been shared with all the staff (assuming everyone will have been to the restaurant at least once during the week).

  19. Smile... It's The End of the World!*

    Just as an aside from #5: we seem to be getting a greater push for Google Docs with the younger crowd because it’s free and convenient, but no one is getting real training or instruction about how to convert it to a real file.

    I run IT for some Catholic schools, and I’m fairly certain the statewide goal is to push all students to use Google Apps and Chromebooks in the not distant future.

    As someone dealing with elementary students entirely using Chromebooks, going into a sister high school with a mix of varying technology (mostly Windows based, some iPads and Chromebooks) it worries me seeing the lack of actual computer skills these kids have.

    We seem to have a generation of kids who we *assume* know how to use technology because they’re given iPads at a young age and do all their homework digitally, but have no real expertise in actually using a real operating system or office suite.

    It terrifies me.

    IT rant over. I’ll show myself out.

    1. Laura H.*

      That is terrifying (but also interesting).

      I was school-aged in the late 90s and early 00s and I consider myself computer literate but not an expert. And while I love the cloud and my iPhone- as someone taught on PC systems early on, I enjoy the idea that every file on my computer has a permanent home and is under a bit more lock and key if I so choose.

      I can’t imagine doing ALL homework digitally though, that just kinda begs for disaster.

    2. Beth Jacobs*

      Eh. I think most word processor skills can be self-taught in the first two semesters of college, the rest can be picked up during a part-time student job. I’m born in 1993 and computer classes at school only covered the bare basics of MS Word, but I picked up most of it myself, had an advanced course paid for by one of my student jobs and now consider myself to be proficient. I also can use Google Docs, Dropbox, and Adobe Pro to the extent I need, including file conversion. I don’t think there’s anything that worrying about kids not learning how to format a table, compare versions or work in revisions when they’re 11.

    3. Jason A.*

      We are seeing the same thing at the university level. What is particularly concerning to me is that few students are coming in with *any* experience using the technology that their careers will ultimately require. Many of the students (not in design majors) come in with a Mac and Google Docs and expect that everything will work just fine for them.
      * Insert rant about students who don’t understand that setting up a printer and wifi on a university network will require more than two clicks

      1. Violet Fox*

        We use home directories(no local storage on clients) and RHEL. Trying to explain to people that your files and your computer are two different things, but neither has anything to do with the cloud is often frustrating.

        This isn’t a problem for everyone, but for enough that it’s become worrying.

    4. Birch*

      I would argue that the ability to wrap your mind around working with computers (metaskills) is more important and ultimately more useful than individual platform skills. It’s easier to teach kids who know how to interact with computers and have had experience using different platforms than the so-called computer illiterate who don’t understand even the mechanics of things like clicking, highlighting, hotkeys, etc. even if they can use certain programs because they have experience with them–it’s the flexibility in the end and the ability to learn new computer skills.

    5. Violet Fox*

      Honestly we’ve already been seeing this for a few years or more at the university where I work, to the point that we have had to document basics that we never used to. People use tech more, but understand what they are doing less in ways that are really not transferable.

    6. Midwest writer*

      My husband taught at a 1:1 school a few years ago. He was prohibited from asking students to print out their (multi-page) essays for English class — all were submitted through Google Docs and using Google Classroom. It was a nightmare. One, students actually didn’t know how to use Google Docs. Two, reading 50 four-page essays on a screen was headache-inducing. He also spent half of the semester (in a block class format, so essentially half of a year) just trying to get 9th and 10th graders to understand what are appropriate online sources and what is unacceptable.
      In my job, I increasingly have high schoolers sending me photos attached inside of a Word document. No one, apparently, has told them that those photos are almost unusable at that point, at least for newspaper purposes. I agree with other posters– we assume kids are learning good skills when they have access to tech, but no one is actually teaching them how to use these tools.

      1. Chinookwind*

        I am having a panic attack on behalf of your husband. I am an ex-junior/senior high school teacher and I can’t imagine what type of torture reading 50 essays a weekend on a screen would be. I mean, how would you mark them up in any useful way? (I ask this as someone who actively uses the “edit” ribbon on Word because that doesn’t work the same way for a teacher). And how likely are the kids to review those markups if they never pass back into their hands? At least when I physically handed back their essays, they had to actively chose to throw them out/file them in their binder without reading them (and may have noticed a giant green or purple circle or two while doing so which may peak curiosity). When they are submitted back via Google Drive, they have to actively choose to look at them and, knowing students like I did, that isn’t gong to happen.

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

      I agree, sort of. Technology changes and at some point the concept of a “real operating system or office suite” is also going to change. Apps and cloud-based computers are probably going to replace “real files” pretty soon the same way modern Windows and Apple OS replaced DOS. Right now there is a bit of a transitional disconnect but I imagine the younger crowd is going to win out. I’m old school and uncomfortable with the seemingly impermanent nature of cloud-based software and collaborative documents, but that’s probably the direction computer systems are going to keep moving. At least I don’t need to keep backing up all my files on to floppies anymore.

      1. Violet Fox*

        What people don’t see behind the scenes a lot is that when a place transitions to say, Office365 and their cloud storage solution, a lot of times it’s essentially our lawyers and Microsoft’s lawyers hammering out deals about how access works, where storage can be/is restricted to server-farm-wise, what sort of documents the place is willing to put in that service etc.

        Where I work we have color-coded security levels and only things up to and including yellow can be put in a couple of the cloud based solutions we have agreement with. Orange and red, we (local and central IT) have to have physical access to the disks and backups incase any of the information needs to be destroyed.

        There is also, in the general case a decent difference between an enterprise based cloud solution that’s done with actual contracts and agreements, and private accounts especially for things like google and dropbox (iCloud is different). Properly set up enterprise solutions – rock on with it, using private google etc accounts for business – nope out of there.

    8. Goya de la Mancha*

      As someone who’s employer is hoping to make that MS to Google leap permanent, it makes me shudder. Google docs it all well and good, I use it a LOT for my personal needs – but it is no where NEAR as good as the MS programs it is meant to replace.

  20. Meg (not OP)*

    If you go by Meghan they’ll just call you Meg anyway. Might as well stick with Meg if it’s what you prefer. Push back on Meggie, though. That’s annoying. If you smile and say, “Not Meggie, just Meg,” that gets the message across without causing future tension.

    1. Où est la bibliothèque?*

      Counterpoint: noooooooooo do not let people call you by any name you don’t identify with!

        1. Où est la bibliothèque?*

          “If you go by Meghan they’ll just call you Meg anyway” is what I have an issue with. Don’t just shrug and go with “Meg” because it’s easier for other people than “Meghan.”

          1. Meg (not OP)*

            I’m clearly not saying what I mean very well. If she prefers being called Meg, there’s no point in her wasting energy correcting people away from Meg.

            1. Où est la bibliothèque?*

              Ah, I gotcha. I do think that if she elects to be Meghan, even if she doesn’t feel too strongly either way, then Meghan is worth standing her ground for, but I get where you’re coming from.

              1. Someone Else*

                The letter read to me like OP prefers Meg, but hates Meggie, and doesn’t mind Meghan. So the goal of going with Meghan was partially because it seemed LESS likely to result in Meggie (but may still result in the actually desired “Meg”) and might help with the perception of age. Like others, I don’t think it’ll help with the age perception issue. It may or may not reduce the occurrence of “Meggie”, so since what she really wants is Meg, just stick with Meg and correct people as needed.

      1. Meg (not OP)*

        If she likes Meg better than Meghan then there’s no reason for her to tell people to call her Meghan. It won’t make her seem older; she’ll just be stuck being called by a name she doesn’t prefer. Meggie can be nipped right in the bud. I had to do that once when a colleague decided to call me Meggers. Hard no on that one.

    2. Charlotte Collins*

      I’ve never assumed that a Meghan was a Meg. (I think of Meg as a nickname for Margaret.) In fact, almost every Meghan I’ve known has either gone by her full name or by Peg.

      Also, Margaret is a name with a ton of nicknames, so I would never assume that I knew which one a woman used.

      1. Meg (not OP)*

        How interesting! All the Megs I know are Meghans/Megans/Meganns (including me) and the Pegs are Margarets.

    1. Labradoodle Daddy*

      “I wasn’t sure if I should have approached her (I didn’t want her to think I’m being nosy). I do not want to jump to conclusions because I also thought she might have bought the beer for someone else (i.e., a homeless person in NYC or whatever).”

      1. You’re already being nosy
      2. Assuming she’s buying it for a homeless person (instead of the infinitely more reasonable and likely “it’s for after work”) is honestly kind of an insane leap to make, I think you’re already too overly invested in this coworker in a way that is affecting your reason and judgement. CHILL.

      1. Guy Incognito*

        I want to take both of these comments, marry, them, and have little baby comments that are as perfect as these two comments. THANK YOU, and I wish you have the best week you can possibly have because of them. Like.. may you make all your green lights, and may your favorite TV Shows all have new episodes.

      2. gecko*

        Hmm, I don’t think calling OP irrational and overinvested is a proportionate response—she happened to catch sight of her coworker-who-falls-asleep-inappropriately buying a 40, and figured, well, that might be an explanation.

        Life is a rich tapestry, but I reeeeallly can’t blame OP for hearing hoofbeats and figuring that the “horse” is “my coworker who fell asleep two hours after getting a 40 has drunk that 40.”

        Still, not something OP can or should “report”.

        1. Micromanagered*

          I don’t really think it’s disproportionate. I occasionally buy a bottle of wine during lunch, intended for after work.

          If someone from work happened to see me and report it (or be thinking of reporting it so much that they wrote to an advice column about it), I would feel they were being irrational and overly invested in what I’m doing. I don’t have the falling asleep at my desk thing going on, but that could be for lots of reasons other than drinking at work.

          Also, beer doesn’t typically come in “40 ounce cans” as the OP says. It comes in 40 ounce bottles, but the “tall boy” cans are usually 24 ounces–so something is already misstated or exaggerated here. It’s not a huge leap to me that maybe OP1 is not reading this situation well enough to report anything.

          1. gecko*

            Well, I think OP knows very well that she could be wrong! Which is one of the reasons she wanted to wrote in for a reality check. I think telling her, you’re obsessed, you’re nosy, you’re making insane leaps, you’re exaggerating because you have it in for this woman–is pretty nasty.

            Rest assured that buying a bottle of wine at lunch and working at a normal pace for the rest of the day raises no red flags; buying a 40 (or a tallboy as the case may be) and then sleeping _does_.

            It’s great to emphasize that we should view this coworker generously, but I think we should also extend that courtesy to the OP!

            1. Les G*

              This. Folks are raking OP over the coals and the cynic in me thinks it’s so they can collect their weekly woke points (for yelling at a stranger on the internet that alcoholism is a disease) and move on.

              1. gecko*

                And in turn I think you’re being too cynical on the other side ;) I think most folks’ first impulse is to relate to the coworker and say “hey, I do that too, I sometimes buy booze on breaks and sometimes I feel sleepy at work,” which is a kind impulse if a little misplaced in this case!

            2. Micromanagered*

              I feel like it’s becoming fairly common in office-culture for people to lose sight of what is and isn’t their business. I think a lot of Alison’s advice to readers supports that as well; a lot of her answers involve not tracking coworker’s comings-and-goings, sick time usage, lunch hour purchases, and so on.

              I think what you’re seeing is not readers being intentionally unkind or “obtaining woke points” or whatever someone else said downthread… But I think some of us feel a very visceral reaction to this “should I report every little thing” line of thinking. At least I do–and I’m definitely approaching that, again, as someone who buys a bottle of wine during the workday who’s had that “what if someone sees me and thinks….?” anxiety while checking out!

              1. gecko*

                To be clear, I was responding directly to Labradoodle Daddy’s comments! I think yours didn’t display the kind of vitriol I was commenting on.

                That said, I understand that visceral reaction, but it definitely led a lot of folks down a nasty path and is not actually responding to much that’s represented in the letter. OP knows her coworker falls asleep and doesn’t do good work; saw a possible explanation; was wondering if that explanation was something she should bring up. The answer is, probably not. OP isn’t surveilling her coworker or eager to tear her to shreds. Buying single-serving alcohol and falling asleep soon after, with a history of falling asleep, is *not the same* as buying some booze and working normally for the rest of the day.

                Letting that visceral reaction and those projected anxieties justify nastiness like this happens all the time on the internet and it’s still not cool. Again, not particularly what you did, but that’s what I’ve been commenting on :)

                1. MicroManagered*

                  No, ok. I can see what you’re saying. I definitely reacted out of the pocket of “well shoot I buy alcohol during work for later all the time” mindset? I can think back now and I’ve certainly wondered all kinds of things based on observing thing-X and thing-Y the same day, and wondering if I need to “see something, say something.” As an example, I had a coworker who was near/possibly-overdue-for retirement and would forget things, tell stories repeatedly, and just in-general not seem “there.” I struggled big time with wondering what if I’m the person who happened to notice this guy needs help? There is this piece of working with someone 40+ hours a week where, maybe we see a problem that others in their lives do not.

                  I definitely saw “I buy wine at lunch but I don’t DRINK IT at lunch!!” first but I can see what you mean as well.

              2. LKW*

                Well it’s shifting isn’t it? A few years ago most wouldn’t ever speak up if they saw harassment. Now with opinion moving towards more transparency, we’re giving the side eye not only to the perpetrator(s) but to those who enabled them as well. Harassment is a crime where as sitting in an office, possibly after a beer, is not.

                So I don’t think it’s a matter of sticking one’s nose in to other’s business but rather – If I see something, do I say something? The woman’s inability to get her work done is the issue, so the advice is focus on that issue and that issue alone. If the woman was a school bus driver, I’d likely encourage saying something.

              3. LQ*

                I feel like it’s the other way around. It’s becoming more understood that you should keep your eyes on your own work and not care about coworkers. I don’t think that it’s true that people used to in the past not care about what their coworkers did and are now caring more. I think that focus on you is the thing that’s changing. Yes, a lot of answers include stop tracking, but I think that is the newer trendline. (Most of the coworkers I know who keep diligent notes on when people show up to the minute are not brand new to the workplace folks.)

                1. MicroManagered*

                  Yeah wow. This is very eye-opening too… very eye-opening. If I think on the people at my workplace who would possibly have an opinion on seeing-me-buy-a-bottle-of-wine during a 63-minute lunch… I could say that yeah, those are likely more seasoned coworkers…

          2. Yorick*

            Right, but 1) a bottle of wine is different than a large single beer (of whatever size), in that it seems more like something you buy for later, and 2) would you fall asleep at your desk soon after a coworker saw you buy it?

            1. Labradoodle Daddy*

              Maybe this is an NYC specific thing, but it’s possible she was buying the beer for the train. It’s not uncommon to see people with tall boys on the Metro North (assuming that’s how she commutes in, of course).

      3. BadWolf*

        I think this is very location specific. Where I work, this would be a crazy assumption. But that’s because you could leave stuff in your car and there aren’t really any other people to give it to.

        If I worked in a busy downtown where I commuted in on public transit and there was a visible population of people living mostly on the street, not so weird.

    2. MLB*

      While I agree that the witnessing of the beer buying is nunya, her job performance (if it’s affecting her colleagues) is most certainly LW’s business. But it seems she wants to stir the pot more than address her job performance.

    3. 12345*

      If you meant this in the “nicest way possible” you would have actually said it nicely, imo. Like many others before you already had.

  21. Asenath*

    OP 1 – As others have said, you don’t have enough evidence to say that this person is drinking on the job. If you have evidence of work-related problems (you can’t do your work because she doesn’t get hers done on time, you have to wake her up to discuss work with her), sure, those things you can act on. And as an aside, I was surprised this purchase occurred in a pharmacy. I eventually remembered being in a very small town in which a single business sold alcoholic beverages and was a pharmacy, but normally here you would never ever do that. Beer is sold in special stores (often conveniently attached to supermarkets – one stop shopping!) or convenience stores. Your local licensing laws must be different!

    OP 3 – Lots of people use different versions of their names (or even different names) in different parts of their lives or among different groups of people. The only exception is that nowadays, government offices and banks and other official entities are getting more and more strict about having the official version of your name on file. For the rest – pick the version of your name you prefer, and use it. You will probably run into a few people who insist on using a nickname instead of a full name (or the reverse), but most of them will be courteous enough to use your preferred name, once they’ve been reminded once or twice.

      1. Asenath*

        We don’t have either business here. Most pharmacies do sell a LOT of non-drug things, too – almost everything a convenience store does, plus more, but no alcoholic drinks are sold in pharmacies. Well, except in that very small town store I was in many years ago. I always assumed there was something in the local licensing laws that didn’t allow it, but maybe most of the pharmacies don’t want to get into the booze business.

        1. Amtelope*

          I get that, but it’s common enough in the United States for chain drugstores to sell alcohol. It doesn’t happen in some states where alcohol can only be sold in liquor stores. But in places where you can buy beer in the grocery store, you can usually also buy it in a chain drugstore.

        2. gecko*

          The broad strokes are state-dependent. For instance, in Pennsylvania, you can buy liquor only at state-run stores, and those same stores don’t sell beer; in Wisconsin, basically anywhere can sell anything.

          1. Jaid*

            My local ShopRite supermarkets (Philadelphia) sell beer and wine. Mind you, this is fairly recent and certainly the WalMarts here don’t sell beer, unlike what I’ve seen in Texas…

          2. fposte*

            And even locality dependent–a municipality can’t create permission that the state doesn’t, but plenty of towns and counties add all kinds of restrictions for alcohol sales.

    1. Oxford Comma*

      Every state is different. Where I live, you can buy beer and low-alcohol content wine in drug stores, supermarkets, etc. But anything else must be purchased at a liquor store. I’ve been in states where you have to go to a beer store to buy beer and states where you can buy hard liquor at a Walgreens or CVS.

    2. Liz*

      OP1 implied they are in NYC, where beer can be sold in drug stores or anywhere else (but wine and liquor must be sold in liquor stores).

  22. Rae*

    #2. If it helps at all, many of the holidays given to “Christians” don’t match up with what some Christians follow. For instance, a Catholic isn’t supposed to work on Good Friday, Holy Days or Solemnitys unless the perform essential duties. Getting one holiday of many is a help….but all the others are civil (with the exception of New Years DAY which tends to be both civil and religious).

    I have no reason to take off MLK or Columbus Day…or heck…even Thanksgiving. They are way less important to me than actual holidays.

    This leaves many personal days needed to observe…or half-observe, really. And yes, I’m aware “most Catholics don’t”…but that tends to be in the US and UK and not in places like Poland or Italy.

    1. Almond Oil*

      I think at this point in the US at least the holidays observed with companies for profit are based on workload. We had a analysis done to give us an idea of what we would be looking at if we gave people floating holiday days to use as they see fit, however based on the analysis for the Christian holidays the cost was too high to take the chance of having a large amount of staff in the office for thanksgiving and Christmas(we would also need maintaince, security, etc.). We substituted with giving out 4 personal holidays in addition to PTO, and took away veterans day, Columbus day and the other holidays that the school/post office/banks observe. This way employees could decide what holidays they wanted to be off, however mine are dictated by the school schedule as I imagine most people are as well.

      1. Rae*

        Given that in Jewish majority communities they have Jewish holidays off, that’s true. However, I take issue with the term “Christian holidays” when, in fact, Christmas–now secularly celebrated–is the only holiday that people regularly get of that is religious. Even though it is, I’m not going to say New Year’s day is religious because most Christians don’t even know Jan 1 has a religious meaning.

        Which is partially my point. OP 2 was annoyed with Christmas but made no mention of the religious holiday a mere week later. To me, that shows they are more concerned with the idea of another religion getting their holiday off rather than an understanding of religions that take that day.

        “Personal” holidays are a better use of resources than any state/government holidays with additional “blackout” sort of days where not enough of the clientele needs work done. There are 10 common paid federal holidays.

        My point is that as an employee there tend to be several paid holidays. People should have greater flexibility with their time off but that doesn’t mean that somehow the current system is in any way adequate to meet the relgious needs of many Christians just beuase Christmas is among the chosen 10 days off.

        1. fposte*

          The point isn’t adequacy, though, it’s fairness. Even if Christians want to take more religious holidays off than Christmas, they’re still starting with a one-day advantage.

          1. Rae*

            At this point, however, as with January 1, the advantage is basically coincidental. According to the last PEW research study, less than half of people (46%) who celebrate Christmas are doing so with religion in mind. While it an advantage, Christianity is kinda known for jamming their celebrations onto those that are already state affairs….which I don’t think other religions tend to do. To me, it winds up being a chicken and an egg kinda thing.

            1. fposte*

              So that’s still a whole lot of Christians getting an extra day off that other observant people don’t, and the reason those days are state affairs in the first place was the predominance of Christianity.

        2. Chinookwind*

          Point of record – for Catholics, the day of obligation on New Year’s Day is not to celebrate the new year but the Feast of the Holy Family (and can be celebrated as early as 6 pm the day before).

      2. KC without the sunshine band*

        Yep, this right here. Our mandatory paid days off (holidays) are based on workload. For instance, last year my company added Black Friday to our holiday list because we didn’t have any business on that day for the last few years. We also started closing at noon on New Year’s Eve, because work slows down dramatically. We do however work Veteran’s Day, Columbus Day, Good Friday, and many other “bank” holidays due to the demands of our customers.

        In the end, the decision of what days to close is not religiously based at all. It’s a business decision. This may be true for your company as well, in which case, for you to infer that it is a religious decision may be too confrontational and seem like you are out of touch. Just a thought.

    2. Femme D'Afrique*

      New Year’s Day is a religious holiday? I’ve never heard that before. Any particular reason why?

      1. Rae*

        It’s the Solemnity of the Blessed Virgin Mary and a Holy Day of Obligation. It’s also the Octave of Christmas. A solemnity HDO is like a holiday on steroids. Most of the other ones fall on a Sunday (Pentecost, Trinity Sunday, but a few do not. Some take the entire week before Easter (Holy Week) as a Solmenity also. In general, most are transferred to Sunday which is an obligatory day to attend Mass and not do servile work anyway.

        The other ones that people aren’t aware of are Jan 6th, November 1st and Dec 8(In the US especially). Getting Nov 1 off is near impossible because of the optics of being out of the office the day after Haloween–as if you’ve indulged too much.

        1. Femme D'Afrique*

          I have literally never heard this before. My Catholic friends have a lot of explaining to do (not to mention the nuns at my Catholic school) ;)
          Thank you.

          1. Chinookwind*

            If you were in Catholic school, you probably were celebrating them in the school without realizing they were solemnities or days of obligation. That is what happens in Catholic schools here – they even let the greater community know that all parishioners are welcome at the school mass.

            As for Nov. 1st (All Saint’s Day) and Nov. 2nd (All Soul’s Day/Day of the Dead), the optics make it really hard to explain to your boss that you really need to go to church or the local cemetery (especially the latter when culturally, everyone else was doing that 2 days earlier or appropriating the feast day with sugar skulls and not knowing what they mean). It is doubly hard when one of those also happens to be your birthday but that is not the reason you want to take it off.

            1. Charlotte Collins*

              Also, even those of us raised in pretty devout Catholic families often didn’t go to church on all the days of obligation.

            2. All Saint's Day*

              Coming in (very) late, but my birthday is on All Saint’s Day, and it took me *years* at Catholic school to figure out why our regular weekly mass (Thursday) was always rescheduled to my birthday. That was a revelation.

    3. pamandjana*

      If your company is generally flexible, inclusive, and kind, ask about swapping holidays. I swap Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, which I do not celebrate, for Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, which I DO celebrate. I work from home now, which obviously makes that easier, but even when I worked in the office, I got the okay to swap the days and work at home on the official holidays (since the office was closed, obviously). We also get Good Friday off, which is really unusual. I swap that for whatever day the Passover seder is, so I can cook… (really would rather be working …). I’m not the only Jewish person at my small company, but the other one (!) doesn’t take the holidays. It’s never been an issue. And yes, I know that I am fortunate to have nice people running the show .

  23. sheworkshardforthemoney*

    My name is “Ann” which is almost impossible to shorten. So I’d get the opposite, Annabel, Anastasia, Andrea, etc. none of which are my name. However, I always shut ‘Annie” down, it was way too childish and the only person who called me that was my late father.

    1. Almond Oil*

      My name is Sarah and I get people who add on an extra name Sarah Jane, Sarah Beth, Sarah Belle, etc or they start singing songs when they call out to me. Or better yet the amount of people who can’t spell Sarah, and I’m not talking about spelling it sara. I mean they add in a lot of extra a’s and h’s, I get so many people who come to my desk because they can’t find my name in the Instant messenger or on email because they can’t spell sarah.

  24. Madeleine Matilda*

    #2 – In the US Federal government, employees are allowed to use what they call religious time instead of using leave for religious observances. The way it works is that I can request time off for religious observance and then make up the time within the following two pay periods. For example, I can take off two hours to attend a Good Friday service and then over the next four weeks I will work two hours of overtime to make up for being out attending services. I can of course choose to take leave if I want, but I like having the option.

    1. Not Today*

      Thirty two year fed here. We call that “credit hours”. They can be used for any purpose. We can actually accumulate up to 24 credit hours.

  25. Jessica*

    OP3: I’m not sure that going by Meghan will make that much of a difference — it’s a name that’s become more common in the past 40 years. Meg actually strikes me as sounding older because it could be a nickname for Margaret, which is more old-fashioned.
    As a woman who taught in elementary school at age 22, and taught college at age 27 (to students who were sometimes older than me!) I feel your pain. When I taught college, I *always* wore my hair in a French twist — a hairstyle that would be very unusual for students. I also never wore jeans, even dark wash, until late in the semester, if ever. I know another college professor who always wears glasses to teach, even though she doesn’t need to wear glasses all of the time, just to look more academic. I’m not saying you have to change your whole appearance, but maybe think of one or two elements that could make you look older/more formal and make them part of your everyday work “uniform.”

    1. LemonLyman*

      A well cut blazer sharpens a outfit. I wear it often with flats and jeans. It’s doesnt feel “marmy” but you wouldn’t find a kid wearing a blazer so there shouldn’t be any confusion.

  26. Raven*

    OP#3 – In my first job out of law school I was introduced to my managing partner on the first day by HR. As I entered her office I noticed that she and I shared the same first name. I said something like “So your name is [something-fairly-normal] too!” She replied “I hate that name, NEVER call me that, only call me [totally-different-name]”. I wasn’t really sure what to make of it. It turns out “our” first name was a little too feminine for her so she chose something tougher (she was older than I was and she began working when female attorneys sometimes needed to be extra tough). It was awkward, though, because it made me wonder if she thought I should change my name as well. In fact, I’m pretty sure she would have suggested that so I never asked. I’ve moved on with my real first name and no one else has ever commented on it or told me it would hold me back.

  27. JB*

    OP2 -> Alison’s suggestion basically boils down to extra days off. I don’t really understand this. If the employees are given another holiday to use as they see fit, how is that any different from the vacation days they already receive?

    OP got the same vacation days as everyone else. If they want to spend their personal vacation days on a religious holiday, that is up to them.

    1. Alton*

      I think the point is that as it is right now, employees who celebrate Christmas are getting that time off in addition to being able to use their standard leave however they want, whereas people who celebrate other holidays have to use their leave for that. It’s being assumed that time off for Christmas is an additional benefit (and for many people, it is).

      Depending on how you look at it, the suggestion of giving everyone some floating holiday leave might still technically mean that Christian employees have more leave at their disposal than employees who observe other religions. But it would make the Christmas closing more of an “extra” thing or a cost of doing business in a country where Christmas is a major (and legal) holiday than a benefit, per se.

    2. EPLawyer*

      Because those who celebrate Christmas get the same vacation days as everyone else AND their religious holiday off. They don’t have to dip into vacation days for their religious holiday. OP2 does.

      I know it can difficult to accomodate every religious holiday. But companies could at least try. A floating holiday works better than nothing.

        1. fposte*

          That doesn’t take away the fact that closing at Christmas means Christians have a day’s advantage. Plus a lot of Christians who observe another day are celebrating Easter–also a day when businesses tend to be closed.

      1. Doreen*

        They’re going to have to dip into something, whether it’s PTO or a floating holiday. And the Christians still won’t have to dip into either PTO or a floating holiday for Christmas. Since I don’t see how you can give the people different amounts of time off depending on their religion or lack thereof, you end up with the same problem – instead of everyone getting X days of PTO and Y holidays the company is closed, now everyone gets X days of PTO, Y holidays the company is closed and Z floating holidays. And people who celebrate Christmas still don’t have to use PTO or a floating holiday for it. Everybody gets an extra day or two off but you still end up in the same place.

    3. Person of Interest*

      Because the office is already closed for Christian holidays, and I’d rather use my vacation days for actual vacation than say, fasting and praying all day. I raised this with my company when I was proclaimed the “self-care champion” for using all of my vacation days last year, and reminded them that 1/3 of that went to celebrating religious holidays that happened to fall on weekdays. I have advocated to the PTB for a floating holiday or two that can help cover the Jewish holidays, Good Friday, etc. Supposedly this will go into effect in January but I haven’t seen details yet. But every job I’ve had has had the same problem. I used to sometime arrange to make up the time when the office was closed between Christmas and New Years, but a lot of times companies don’t want to give you free time off in September on a promise that you will make it up three months later.

  28. penelopeorpenny*

    @OP #3
    My name is Penelope (or Penny)
    I am also a petite, very short, young looking woman.
    As Allison as said, my coworkers call me Penelope, unless I am extra close with them and my family/friends know me by Penny. It took a little getting used to, creating that separation. While in professional setting, I have to be clear to introduce myself as Penelope only. And I was clear with my coworkers who call me Penny, only do so when it’s just us while working on projects (this was surprisingly easy– they would ask if I prefer Penny or Penelope, and I say that Penny is fine for an informal meeting between us, but Penelope is what I prefer in the workplace).

    The result is awesome, actually! I highly encourage you do this, because now it’s super easy to know when the situation is relaxed, when I can be informal, or on the flip side I know automatically when to be more mindful about my presence.

  29. Alli525*

    OP3: I too have gone by a shortened version of my legal name for the majority of my life. As a short, young-looking woman, I tried going back to my full legal name at my first job out of college, but I’ve never liked my full name and got sick of hearing it (felt like my mother, who is the only person in my life who still insists on using the full name, was in the office with me every time I heard it), so I went straight back to my nickname after the job ended.

    Your name won’t make you seem more or less young, it really won’t. A polite, professional demeanor goes much farther than it seems like it will, and Alison’s advice/language is perfect for when people trying infantilizing your nickname.

  30. anon for identifying details*

    My name is Allison (no relation to our wonderful overlord) and I’ve used different names in different parts of my life without much issue.

    I go by Allison in most contexts – at work, with casual acquaintances and most friends. But my college friends mostly know me as… a nickname that corresponds to my college email alias (too identifying for this comment, since it contains a chunk of my surname as well). My boyfriend and his family exclusively call me Allie, which I’ve never gone by in any other context than with romantic partners, interestingly. And my parents and certain very close family always called me Al, which is a privilege only for the people closest to me who’ve known me since early childhood.

    The only time this ever could’ve been mildly weird was a brief period of a few months when my dad and I were working in the same office. We were both contractors for the same government agency, so we had totally separate projects and companies, but happened to be temporarily located on the same floor of that agency’s office building.

    He was pretty good about only referring to me as Allison when speaking in the third person, but slipped when addressing me and called me Al in front of other people pretty frequently. I wasn’t worried about it, since I tried to be transparent with anyone I was working with (when it was relevant, I’d say something like “my dad, James, actually works on XYZ; he sits a few rows over that way” – not his real name but you get the idea). And I couldn’t for the life of me remember to address him as James in front of his coworkers either. His neighbors readily understood me walking over to say “hey Dad, ready for lunch?” and didn’t start addressing him as ‘dad’; my coworkers likewise got that hearing him call me Al didn’t mean they should do the same. :)

    1. londonedit*

      Hello, I am also an Alison (just the one L, though, which is the more usual UK spelling)! I kind of have the opposite experience to you, as no one except for my elderly great-aunt, who refuses to shorten anyone’s name, and my mother when she’s telling me off, calls me Alison. I’ve been Allie since I was about 11 years old, I’ve never liked Alison, and to be honest after over 25 years being Allie, I don’t even really connect ‘me’ with the name Alison.

      In my first ever job, I didn’t really know that you could ask for emails to be set up with whatever name you most regularly use, and I also had this new-to-the-workplace idea that your CV had to have your actual proper legal name on it, like a passport or bank account, so I used Alison on my CV and then arrived on my first day to find I had an ‘alison.lastname’ email address. I always signed emails off as Allie, and it was in my email signature, but because of the disconnect between the email address and the signature, people would call me Alison which just felt really weird. Since then I’ve made a point of using Allie for all professional correspondence, and making sure I ask for my email to be set up using Allie as my first name. I now have a lot of friends and colleagues who aren’t even totally sure what my ‘full’ first name is, so as far as I’m concerned this approach has been a great success!

      The only people who call me Al are my sister and father, and they know it annoys me! In fact, my sister jokes that the song ought to go ‘You can’t call her Al (don’t call her Al)’ :D

  31. That's Not My Nickname*

    OP#3 I’m Danielle, or Dan to family and close friends. I often have people refer to me as ‘Dani’ in an attempt at ‘friendliness’ and I absolutely loathe it! However, I’ve never received pushback when I internally grimace, smile and point out ‘It’s Dan or Danielle’ actually….’ I don’t think you’re being silly to fixate on this at all when moving into the professional world – I’m also baby faced and it definitely effected how seriously I was/ am taken when asserting myself in my career. I’d agree – go with whichever variant you’re happy with and politely but firmly push back if anyone tries to use a cutsie version or anything similarly patronising.

  32. Jaybeetee*

    I was the one inquiring about Question 5 on Friday – thanks for the input everyone, it’s quite enlightening. I’ve clearly been in my own bubble for quite some time – at some point I was educated “Send it as .doc/.dox or nuthin'” (maaaaaybe RTF if you’re really stuck) and thought you could basically only send resumes as Word docs. I didn’t even know PDFs were widely accepted.

    At present I’m a cheapskate who hasn’t bothered paying for an Office license for my home computer (I don’t really need it for anything anyway), so I use gdocs for my personal purposes. Simply converting to PDF and sending that way isn’t a big deal at all, should the situation arise. I do suspect the younger crowd can use this advice, as gdocs/cloud computing in general is free and probably becoming more popular. Thanks for the input!

    1. Elise*

      My daughter is assigned a Chromebook (in 1st grade) along with kids from all other grades in our pretty large school district. I’m thinking the acceptance of Google docs will be changing eventually since this seems to be pretty common in schools these days.

      1. Observer*

        I doubt it. While I really like GSuite and I agree that it’s getting more common that’s different from it becoming acceptable to send links in lieu of a file. Not from GSuite, not from DropBox, not from OneDrive. It creates all sorts of problems for the recipients and no one needs the hassle.

        Every kid who gets these ChromeBooks should be taught, among other things, how to send an actual file to other people.

    2. Meow*

      I review job applications for an in demand entry level position. We frequently get 500+ applications, and anything that’s not word or pdf is immediately rejected.

      We then pull from just the list of applications with machine readable pdfs, because an eye for order and a fluency with formatting is something that’s helpful — word often will mess up the formatting when you open on a different computer, and we like to look for candidates *first* among people who will put the thought into how formatting will render.

      Then we look through the word applications, but after the hundreds of applications we’ve already reviewed, these need to stand out especially well to make it to an interview.

      Always export as PDF, and always open locally to make sure it appears visually as you intended it to.

  33. Lara Cruz*

    Guess I’m the only one who wants to get the guillotine out for #4 who wants a gold star for “finally” offering health insurance despite knowing most of the staff is too poor to afford care and “can’t justify” half a premium for someone who “only” works part time.

    Because screw that noise. You are the problem.

    1. Labradoodle Daddy*

      I mean…. I agree with the general sentiment that every person deserves affordable health care no matter their job, but I’m not sure OP4 is in a position to create money where there isn’t any. Which is, of course, part of the problem.

    2. fposte*

      I think the problem is a system that expects health insurance to come from employers in the first place. What does the one have to do with the other?

    3. Beehoppy*

      Our country’s policy of tying health insurance to employment and skyrocketing insurance costs are the problem. If a small business can’t afford it-they can’t afford it. What would you have them do-impose layoffs? Shut down? Health insurance premiums even with a group discount are insane – if someone works one day a week, paying that premium for them might in fact double the cost of their compensation.

    4. P*

      You want to kill an employer who’s trying to provide more benefits to employees and struggling with the best solution to make it financially viable; I certainly hope you are the only one who feels this way.

    5. Arctic*

      That is absolutely ridiculous. First of all, insurance should not be provided through work at all. It’s a ridiculous system. THAT is the problem. Second, they couldn’t afford it. If they can’t afford it they can’t afford it. What are they supposed to do about that? Have you ever run a restaurant (I’ve had several family members who have) margins are very tight. Especially in the first few years.
      She’s doing the right thing as soon as she could afford to. In a sane world it wouldn’t be her responsibility in the first place.

    6. Genny*

      Yes, because if a small business can’t provide benefits for everyone, the obvious solution is they should shut down thus ensuring all their current employees lose their jobs. That’s just what someone who can’t afford insurance needs – losing a (only?) source of income.

    7. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

      This is not helpful to anyone. OP is not the problem—our for-profit system of healthcare (which conditions healthcare on our employer) is the problem. OP is just trying to make it work in an already dysfunctional healthcare environment.

    8. Observer*

      It apparently has not occurred to you that actually YOU are the problem. Not only won’t you accept a solution that is not perfect, but you actually express hatred and extreme violence to people who TRY to improve. Because better that we don’t help ANYONE rather than try to help who we can.

    9. Temperance*

      Pretty much, yes. It’s extremely expensive for out-of-pocket costs for a small business owner. OP is trying to do the right thing, and the best she can.

  34. IL JimP*

    #4 – is there a way for your part timers to buy into your group policy without you subsidizing the premiums? This might soften to blow because it can lower costs for people or at least give them options.

    I like having the meetings to announce and like Allison said have a big one for the full timers and a series of small ones for the part timers so everyone can hear it directly from you. Then follow up with an email with the details.

    1. nonymous*

      I would also add, that maybe there is a middle ground for part-timers? For example, could there be a $ that the employer is willing to contribute to HSA? So part time staff gets $1/hr (or even $0.50/hr!) that staff can use to cover copays (assuming that they are getting insurance through other sources) or put towards OTC remedies.

      I was recently surprised to discover that my HSA spending covers feminine products (pads and tampons).

  35. LadyPhoenix*

    LW1: There are 2 sayings that can apply to your situation.
    “Correlation is NOT Causation.”
    There are just as likely many other factors that put her to sleep besides alcohol: narcolepsy, bad sleeping patterns, sickness, medication side effects, and others.

    “When you assume, you are making an ASS out of you.”
    Self explanatory.

    If her lack of contribution is such a big issue for your team, let your boss know on THAT.
    “We have to work around [coworker] because she never returns out porjects and we notice she is sleeping a lot. Could you do something to let us continue working around her?”

    1. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

      All I could think when I read that letter was “heaven forbid a coworker ever sees me buying condoms during work hours, because that apparently means I’m about to start a duck club at work, and needs to be reported to my management”.

      OP1, the performance issues you describe are legitimate work-related issues that impact your coworker’s teammates ability to work. Those need to be addressed. “I saw her buying X” is not a work issue, and does not need to be addressed.

      1. LadyCop*

        I think you’re being a bit harsh…sounds like the OP already had some legitimate concerns about their coworker, and now that they have seen something that could be a reasonable explanation, they want to escalate the previous issues. While this is hardly concrete evidence of alcohol abuse, it’s worth noting that the OP is unlikely asking simply because they saw the alcohol purchase, but rather, the “totality of circumstances” as it were ;)

        1. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

          Nah, I really do not like the precedent this is going to create if coworker’s purchases, that she made outside of the office, are being reported up the chain and (heaven forbid) taken seriously. From the sound of it, there’s more than enough Coworker is doing at work, related to work, that can be reported (sleeping at her desk, not answering people’s questions to the point where they stopped going to her). I see no need to bring her shopping habits into this.

          1. LadyPhoenix*


            Alcohol on the job is a huge thing (at least here in the US). If OP were to insinuate to the boss that Coworker is drinking, then Coworker could suffer a whole lot than just being fired.

            And if OP is wrong… then OP can suffer hoirrbly too. Not to mention their integrity and trust would be shattered between Coworker, Boss, and possibly their coworkers.

            This is why “assuming makes an ass out of you” exists. With very big issues like alcoholism, making hefty assumptions with unfounded claims can lead to a massive hole in the foot after one shoots it (and no coverage to treat it).

  36. The Reflex*

    Regarding #1, just to add that in some countries, drinking beer/wine at lunch during a work day is not uncommon practice. And I don’t mean in hiding, I mean for example cafeterias in factories serving such beverages.

    In some jobs in said countries, even drinking several beers during work hours is considered normal.

  37. LadyCop*

    #2 Coming from a half Jewish half Christian family…Christmas Eve -is- a holiday. It’s actually when my family celebrates Christmas, as the day itself is more like any other day off, it is not an uncommon tradition where I live. While I definitely understand your frustration regarding personal days, it is, as Alison said, not unusual. This year, I had a co-worker take off two weeks because fasting for Ramadan made him too ill to work. I also know others who use vacation for Good Friday etc. I think it’s less than ideal, but it’s also difficult to make a one size fits all policy actually fit all.

    1. fposte*

      My employer gives a couple of floating holidays that are neither sick days nor vacation for just this reason. Since we’re closed Christmas it does give an extra day to those who celebrate Christmas, but at least it means people who have other holidays don’t have to use their vacation days.

  38. hiptobesquared*

    Re: #1, every time I get groceries on my break/before work, or have them delivered to work and straight to the car, I am always really worried about someone saying something… that said I don’t fall asleep in meetings.

    Talk to your boss about her falling asleep in meetings – though I would imagine at this point others have noticed.

  39. SechsKatzen*

    #2: I don’t think it’s all that unusual, although it’s not the best practice if it can be avoided. That said, even most Catholics I know have to use personal time to attend Mass during Holy Days of Obligation if they can only attend during business hours (granted they usually only need a half day but nonetheless, that’s part of their personal time rather than paid holiday time). Orthodox Christians observing Christmas on January 7th run into the same issue; every year it falls during the week it’s a hassle to make sure I don’t end up in court. Usually the first reaction is along the lines of “why do you need more time off when we just had this holiday two weeks ago.” I could see giving up to 4 holidays or floating holidays (basically a day you could use for any holiday) and then anything beyond that has to be through paid time off.

    1. Czhorat*

      The calendar is not religiously neutral; it’s hard for employers to be sensitive to non-majority religions, but that is effort they should take.

      Even here in New York, I’ve seen distressing numbers of people think that 4PM on a winter Friday is an acceptable time to schedule a meeting. We all really, REALLY should find ways to do better. I think it’s absolutely reasonable that OP#2 expect to have off the High Holy Days, the same way that Christians always have free days off on their major religious holidays.

      1. Madeleine Matilda*

        Czhorat – Christian don’t “always have free days on their major religious holidays.” That is an over generalization. Christians typically have to use PTO for Christian holy days such as Ash Wednesday and Good Friday. Christmas is the only Federal holiday that is also a Christian holiday. But I do agree that employers should offer some flexibility to allow everyone to practice their religion.

        1. Czhorat*

          True, but the most important Christian holidays – Christmas and Easter – are almost always days off for employees with “standard” office hours.

          The most important Jewish holidays – Yom Kippur and Rosh Hashanah – are often not. Ditto for Muslim and Hindu holidays.

          The Sabbath as observed by most Christians is on a day off. The Sabbath as observed by Jews begins sundown on Friday, which conflicts with standard work hours.

    2. Quickbeam*

      As a pagan my religious practice involves full moon celebrations once a month. That runs late at night and my pagan religious sanctuary is 2 hours away. I finally sat down with my supervisor and worked out an “ok to come in late the next morning” deal without using PTO. I am salaried and work a lot of extra hours but it was refreshing not to have to use PTO. It’s the first time I’ve been able to wrangle this.

      Since the Christian church assumed most of the pagan holidays, there is usually something for me to celebrate (Yule, Ostara) when my office is closed. But I feel OP#2’s pain.

  40. dumblewald*

    Ugh, the city I grew up in was majority Catholic and Jewish, and the school board designed the school calendar in such a way that all the Teacher Planning days coincidentally fell on Jewish and Catholic holidays (Passover, Rosh Hashanah, etc.) If you were any other religion, you had to be excused absent from work and still make up for all your classes and homework, etc. It’s not fair, but it is common.

  41. Octopus*

    It sounds like the holiday question is being handled the best it can be, unless the LW’s employer would let them work remotely Christmas Eve/Christmas Day in exchange for other days off. My workplace gives us X vacation days per year, depending on how long you’ve been here (which roll over) and everyone gets 3 personal days a year which don’t roll over. Those 3 personal days can be used for religious observance (as can vacation days, but it allows people to not go into their vacation bank). It sounds like this is what the Letter Writer’s employer already does?

    I also want to respond to “it rubbed me the wrong way that we are all getting an extra day off for a day that isn’t a holiday”… in my family’s culture, Christmas Eve IS a holiday. We start celebrating Christmas at sundown on Christmas Eve, including our big holiday meal followed by midnight mass. I often take the 23rd off so I can travel and be home all day on Christmas Eve to help my family with meal preparations and then be there to celebrate that night. Even in families/cultures that don’t celebrate Christmas until the 25th, many people still need time to travel home so they can be with their families on the 25th! Giving people the 24th off is a kind, generous thing for employers to do. And it especially makes sense this year when Christmas Eve is on a Monday. I’m sorry this doesn’t benefit the letter writer personally, but please understand that Christmas Eve is an important day in many cultural traditions.

    1. Czhorat*

      True, Octopus.

      I’ll aside that to an observant Jew, the Sabbath starts at sundown on Friday. Every week.

      Sundown this time of year is half-past-four. This means that if you have typical work hours you will miss part of your religious observance *every week*

      It’s easy to forget how our annual and weekly calendars benefit the majority at the expense of everyone else.

    2. nonymous*

      One of my previous workplaces operated on a nontraditional workweek: some people were scheduled Su – W and others W – Sat. So depending on the year, holidays (which were staffed at lower levels) might be on a person’s “weekend”.

      The solution that the org used was to include company paid holidays in our [measly] PTO allotment. Then, if your regular workweek included a designated holiday and you chose to take the time off, there was the option of taking it as PTO or LWOP. If you worked that day, there would be a premium and company provided a catered meal. It usually worked out that there were enough people traveling for the holidays that everyone who wanted to work could.

  42. KylieHR*

    LW #1: My extremely Southern Baptist teetotaler MIL used to buy a 40 of Milwaukee’s Best once a month or so as a hair care product. Hops have good haircare properties. So purchasing a 40 in the morning means absolutely nothing. Definitely adhere to Alison’s advice and mind your own unless you actually see some concerning behavior in the workplace.

    1. I Work on a Hellmouth*

      Hahahahaha, my very first thought when I started to read #1 was “Somebody wants some volume and bounce.”

      1. KylieHR*

        Yeah, she was super secretive about it as well. She didn’t want any fellow church members spotting her buying *gasp* alcohol. But she really wanted great hair, so…

    2. Ellen Ripley*

      My step-grandmother used to buy cheap beer to put out in her garden in a dish to kill garden pests. And she was a religious teetotaler, so I’m pretty sure she bought it with as much stealth as possible in her small town.

  43. I Work on a Hellmouth*

    OP#5: Yay for being able to offer healthcare! That’s so great! Your full-timers are going to be so thrilled

    I know you crunched the numbers and it isn’t feasible now, but if you ever want to offer healthcare to more employees in the future there may be a way to do so without breaking the bank. I once worked for a company that started offering benefits to part-timers, and in order to afford that they implemented three categories for employees–full-time, part-time, and casual. If you worked less than (I think) either 15 or 20 hours a week, you were considered a casual employee and thus didn’t qualify for benefits (so no one was shouldering costs for someone only working one day a week). It worked out really well! It encouraged great part-timers to keep up their hours, really boosted retention, and was great for morale. I know you’re not there yet, but maybe that’s a model that could work for you in the future.

    1. Goya de la Mancha*

      My college job was structured like this. Full-time & part time got benefits (not sure if it differed between the two), and anyone who worked under 17 hours/week was considered flex time and ineligible.

  44. LemonLyman*

    OP3: I don’t think formalizing your first name is going to matter much. Teachers are most often called Ms. or Mr., so you’d end up being Ms. Op throughout the day. But you do what’s most comfortable to you.

    I worked in K-12 in my early 20s (I’m now late 30s) and I also have a young face (I could still easily pass for 20s and am carded a lot). I’d often be told I looked like a middle or high schooler. But my professionalism set me appart as did my teaching.

    But I do understand that you want something that could immediately help set you apart from the kids. I mentioned above that a blazer can polish up an outfit, even jeans. I have a couple in my closet right now that’s I throw on if I need to go in to the office (I mostly work remote). And what middle or high school would wear a blazer to school? Someone else mentioned hair styles. I’m trrrible at doing hair so I, personally, wouldn’t go that route. Work clothes and bag, subtle jewelry, classy makeup all go a long way. And attitude. Walk and talk with purpose. I hate telling women to change their voice, so instead I suggest being careful of the tone/authority of your words. Don’t add a question mark tone if you’re making a statement. Be careful of verbiage that takes away your authority as a teacher or adult. You will no longer be a student teacher. You will be a colleague.

    Use your youth to your advantage. You’re up to date on what’s new in education. You’re probably more inclined and more apt to be able to integrate/experiment with new tech tools into your lessons (my SO did this and it got him noticed by the superintendent which got him tagged as the teacher who was given all the new tech tools to experiment with). And I ids may be more inclined to connect with you than older teachers.

    1. Manic Pixie HR Girl*

      All excellent tips – I did a lot of this myself when I was in my 20s. You can definitely get a few key pieces for your wardrobe that don’t cost a lot of money that will help with this. If you don’t like doing your hair in the morning, a smart bun or twist is easy and will make you look polished.

  45. Manic Pixie HR Girl*

    LW3: I, too, have a long version, a short version, and a -y version of my name, and I also appear much younger than I actually am. It’s only in the last couple of years that this has started to soften for me – I still look a lot younger than I am, but that now looks “appropriately” mature now, but more importantly I’ve busted my tail on my work reputation. It took years. It’s exhausting. I think it would be worse if I was in a school and not a regular office where teens aren’t typically around. (Except interns, and even that is VERY limited.)

    To use your example of “Meghan,” (I’d rather not use my real first name, though it is equally common!) I have always gone by “Meg” with friends and family, and even at work! But after I finished grad school, not long after I received a snide remark in an elevator from someone in another unit that I “looked like [I] was in high school” (I was 25 with a Master’s degree and had been working at this particular office for close to a year), I started to make a point to address myself as “Meghan” with new colleagues. Now, people refer to me by both “Meghan” and “Meg” at work. Most people will ask me what I prefer, and I typically say I’m fine with either, just NOT “Meggie,” and that people got one chance. (The sole exception is a supervisor I worked with briefly who sometimes calls me that ONLY because there is another woman in his office that goes by “Meggie” so he slips up. I know it’s not intentional and he almost always catches himself so I let it slide.) Being called by the diminutive of my name is the equivalent of nails on a chalkboard for me, and has been since I was little, so I’m pretty forceful about it. Cordial, of course, but forceful. (I think I have actually used the “It’s like nails on a chalkboard for me, please don’t call me that,” or, if they are somewhat more familiar, “Oh, haha, not that name! You get one pass, and that’s it!” with enough bite that they know I’m not really joking.)

    I will say this: I never thought I would get used to “Meghan,” and yet, while I am absolutely fine being referred to as “Meg” at work, I do find if someone refers to me as “Meg” without asking after I’ve introduced myself as “Meghan,” I get really irritated at the presumption. (If I’ve been introduced as “Meg” to them or they know of me from other circles I don’t mind, it’s brand new people. I find it’s typically salespeople, and more typically men. But at least they don’t usually try “Meggie.”)

  46. Kenneth*

    LW#2, at a previous employer, HR allowed us to “trade” holidays. Basically come to work (or work from home) on company official holidays and instead take that time off another day. One of the managers on my team used that to work 4th of July (which fell on a Wed that time) while taking off the following Friday, so it wasn’t just for the Christian holidays. Management needed to approve it, but I knew of coworkers (one is Muslim, and several are Hindu) who took advantage of that to work from home on official holidays (there were audits that could be done to ensure they were actually working, if necessary) and take their own religious holidays off without having to use PTO or personal days for that.

    So along with “floating holidays”, you could also ask about being able to “trade” the holiday time off based on your own religious observances. It would mean you may be in the office by yourself (or perhaps not, depending on the religious diversity in your office), but it should also help you avoid using PTO or personal days for religious holidays.

  47. Lucille2*

    #4 – Your news probably isn’t going to come as a blow to your part-timers. Assuming you’re based in the US, health insurance isn’t often available to part timers, or if it is, there is usually a minimum number of hours worked required before it can be offered. Consider who your part timers are, and if they are likely to even use this benefit. Those working one shift a week may have some other income source and source of benefits. Like students, those working a second job, or parents who’s spouse is the primary source of income/benefits.

    You’re right not to require them to come in on a day off to announce a benefit not available to them. I’ve been in those shoes before, and it’s pretty frustrating especially when you have to make adjustments in other areas of your schedule to accommodate a mandatory work meeting.

  48. voyager1*

    First off I think a lot of people on here are being pretty rude and mean to you.

    Second, I don’t think you did anything wrong noticing a coworker falling asleep at her desk. Additionally to falling asleep at meetings. Lastly the coworker does bad work.

    The beer purchase really isn’t relevant past maybe the coworker might have a drinking problem.

    I think you should tell your manager what you saw, but you should explain the beer purchase could be irrelevant but that the you felt management had a right to know and do with information as they pleased.

    So sorry you are getting torn up on here.

    1. OP1*

      Thanks for your comment.

      I tried to read all the comments but quite frankly, the mean reactions kind of got old.

      For all the harsh commenters: there was no ill intent about me wondering about what I saw, hence why I reached out for advice instead of immediately acting upon it at work.

      For those questioning as to why I was “keeping track of the time”, would it also be an issue if I said “half hour later, I saw her walk back to her desk” and “two hours later she was asleep”…I am guessing it wouldn’t be. I couldn’t help but notice the time that was on the monitor and the phone in front of me…I guess it’s my mistake for being too specific about the time that people misinterpreted me for “tracking” people’s schedule.

      It is so unfortunate to be torn up on a site like this when all I wanted was to get advice from a professional. If I was “a tattletale”, “a stalker”, “trying to dig up dirt” and whatever other harsh commenters want to assume that I am/was trying to do, I would have gone ahead and told someone at work about it. It was merely a lightbulb / WTF moment for me and I wasn’t sure what to make out of it.

      As I said before, I will follow AAM reco and will mind my own business on this.

      1. Observer*

        I hope that I didn’t come off too harsh.

        I do want to reiterate something here – There IS something here that IS your business and it really is ok for you to talk to your manager about it.

        If you already have and / or you know for sure that they are aware of the problem, then it’s a good bet that telling them about the beer isn’t going to be helpful in any meaningful way anyway.

      2. KylieHR*

        Sorry that you’re getting ripped apart about this. I’m glad that you asked the question instead of just defaulting to going to management or HR over the beer purchase. That alone says that you’re interested in doing the right thing, and not just the first thing that comes to mind, and that you’re mindful of the possible consequences to everyone. Alison’s advice on this one is pretty sound. You saw a possible correlation, but since you can’t prove that it’s the cause of her performance troubles, it’s better to just concentrate on those things directly observed at work that are causing issues for your work. Good luck with this, and I hope everything works out for you and your co-worker.

        1. The Other Dawn*

          I agree. There have been many times in my career where I’ve stumbled upon information or saw something I shouldn’t and just didn’t know what to do with it, or even IF I should do something with it.

      3. tangerineRose*

        Sorry people are being mean. I think you should talk to your manager about the coworker’s performance issues and sleeping at her desk, but I’d leave out the part about the alcohol.

  49. Ellie*

    #2 I second AAM’s suggestion of floating days. You could also see if your office is open to either/or days. For example in my office you can take off either Good Friday OR Rosh Hashana, not both.

  50. Beth*

    Simple rules for sending a resume, or submitting work for publication, or any similar request:


    If they say send it in Word, do that. If they say send it in Word with a .doc extension, do that (and keep the eyerolls to yourself). Do not send in Google Docs unless they actually specifically ask for that, which they aren’t likely to do.

    I once had to send in a resume and cover letter in an Office 97-compatible format, which was spelled out in the instructions. I didn’t get the job, but I did get an interview, so at least I know they had been able to read my stuff.

    1. fposte*

      Yeah, I just had a candidate who submitted links to her writing samples instead of submitting her writing samples. Knocked her down considerably in the running.

  51. JJ*

    Op1 – it could be something else causing her to fall asleep at work, like anemia. Usually people who get to the point of drinking at work are not going to be passing out at work because they have a high tolerance.

    1. Charlotte Collins*

      Narcolepsy is another possibility. Also, maybe she’s caring for an ill family member, which is adding to stress and causing her work problems.

      Unfortunately, we don’t know where her performance issues stem from, but they should be addressed.

  52. The Cleaner*

    To specifically address the part of #3 that includes “to seem older,” I wanted to chime in that I don’t think it makes much of a difference.

    When I started working, I was very young, and looked even younger than I was, so I decided to switch from a nickname to my full name “to seem older.” It seemed very obvious to me then that Katherine sounded much older than Katie.

    As time went by, it was increasingly obvious that the professional world is full of older people, in senior roles, who go by Kate, Katie, or Kitty professionally. Thinking that Katie sounds like a young person’s name, as opposed to Katie actually being a young person name in any objective sense, is more indicative of being young. Really and truly, most people in professional settings aren’t making a lot of assumptions specifically about nicknames and age.

    So definitely switch if you prefer the longer form, absolutely let people know if they are calling you by a name that you dislike, and go ahead and use another form on more formal documents if you want! I don’t think, though, this is going to have a tangible impact on how your age is perceived.

    1. Temperance*

      Not in all states, but yes. Pharmacies here also sell snacks, household needs like toothpaste, makeup, etc., and not just medications.

      1. Doreen*

        There are different types of pharmacies in my area- there are the smaller, independent ones that fill prescriptions, sell health and beauty products, greeting cards and stationery and that’s about it. Then there are the chains, which are more like a combination discount/convenience store with a separate pharmacy department. It’s the latter that sell beer, milk, groceries, cleaning products, some clothing, small appliances etc.

    2. Octopus*

      I grew up in a state where it’s not legal to sell beer in pharmacies – including the big ones like CVS and Walgreens that sell things other than medicine, as others have noted. In that state, some grocery stores had beer and wine, but not all, and you had to go to a liquor store for anything stronger. It was a shock when I moved to my current state, where they do have alcohol in pharmacies! I felt like I was constantly surrounded by alcohol because you could pretty much buy it anywhere. I hear some states further south have drive-through liquor stores but I’ve never seen one of those. The way that alcohol is sold varies state by state with regards to where in can be sold, what times of day it can be sold, etc.

  53. Sarah/Sally*

    Advice for what to do when people don’t believe your nickname actually comes from your full name? I can’t count the number of times I’ve had to tell people that I didn’t randomly choose the name Sally, that Sarah isn’t my middle name, that the names are historically very connected etc… It’s really frustrating and is made all the more so by the fact that anything legal will have Sarah on it, and people genuinely don’t believe that I’m the same person – and don’t bother to read my email signatures to see I prefer to be called!

  54. Word Kween*

    #5 You can send Google drive files as an attachment though (Drive icon > find your file > click “attachment” for the “insert as” option on the lower right of the popup). It sends it as a .doc file.

    Just make sure the file name isn’t something embarassing.

  55. Humble Schoolmarm*

    Hi OP3! I think switching from ‘Meg’ to ‘Meghan’ in a school setting might help you to be seen more professionally if it makes you feel more authoritative, but I’m not sure it’s going to make a huge difference. Feel free to disregard any of these that you’re already doing, but I think it’s going to help a lot more to have very, very clear boundaries, especially with the students (and to a lesser extent your colleagues). For example, unless this is really going against your school culture, you should always be using Ms (or Miss, or Mrs) Lastname with the kids. I’m sure in you’ve been hearing a lot about relationship building, and that’s important, but you always have to be really clear that you are a caring adult and not a peer. It can be really tempting to try and make friends because kids that age loooove to be treated as equals by adults but it will not end well, especially if you seem young anyway.

    For colleagues, many will probably stop awkwardly mistaking you for a student once you’ve become a familiar face. To help, I would try and spend time in the staff room observing more than you talk and being polite and professional even in the “inner sanctum”. How you discuss kids, families and the profession usually walks a really fine line. It’s not great to be super cheery and insist everything is going swimmingly at all times in your class (If it is, yay you and give yourself a private high five) because you may look really naive. Likewise, being too vocal about being overwhelmed and how awful everything is will also create a poor impression. If someone asks you how your day is going, you might try something like “Oh, you know, they had a bad case of the Mondays in Math today! Do you have any insight on Fergus? He doesn’t seem to be engaging as much as I’d like.”

  56. It's Pronounced Bruce*

    #1 reminds me of something that happened to a teacher of mine in high school. She was buying a six pack of some crappy beer (I think Lone Star?) at like 8am with her son in tow and the cashier refused to sell to her on the assumption that she was an alcoholic who was about to endanger her child.

    What was actually happening is that she was heading up one of the anti-underage-drinking programs at my school that involved some goofy stuff like leaving meat sitting in various alcoholic drinks overnight to show it breaking down. She figured she would grab the beer she needed for it on her way to the school when she stopped to get gas in the morning. Poor woman was mortified, and later worried that someone in the store might be a parent who would recognize her and think the cashier was right.

    I think of it every time I take my dog to get groomed, the place has a dropoff window of 7-9am and is directly next to a liquor store. A few times I’ve stopped in because I’ve been meaning to pick something up, but I usually wait until I’m picking her up in the afternoon entirely due to the (kind of irrational?) fear that anyone who sees me will judge reaaaal hard. The optics wouldn’t have ever occurred to me otherwise, because like, what other item can you buy where people assume you’re gonna use it immediately? Not much.

  57. nodramalama*

    OP1 while I don’t blame you for noticing your coworker’s behaviour, I would not mention the sleeping unless it is directly affecting your work, and I certainly would not mention the beer. I know there are some in the commertariat that don’t think ‘tattling’ is a thing in the work place, I think bringing this up without actually seeing them drink, or having any evidence they did drink it at work does veer kind of close to that area. I tend to err on the side of- is this affecting my work? As they’re not your team member and you’ve only overheard complaints, I think this is not really your business. Besides, if sleeping on the job is an ongoing issue and it’s an open office as you describe the likelihood is someone else who is affected by the slacking off will also notice and report it.

    1. Observer*

      You can believe that “tattling” is not a thing in the workplace and also believe that you keep your nose in your business.

      The bottom line is that “tattling” is just a useless paradigm. A more useful way to look at it is what is your business and what is not. If you it’s affecting you or your ability to get your job done, it’s your business and it’s appropriate to escalate it. If someone is being hurt, harassed, threatened or something illegal is going on, it’s your business and it’s appropriate to escalate it. If something poses a danger, same. If something poses a threat to the business or someone is doing something like stealing from the business AND the boss(es) wouldn’t have a reasonable way to know about it, same. If none of the prior apply then it’s NOT your business and not appropriate to go to your boss.

      In this case, the bosses have enough information about the co-worker to be aware of the sleeping, if they care. The purchase of a can of beer does not pose a risk to anyone – and the OP absolutely does NOT know that she is drunk at work. So, it’s not her place to go to anyone’s boss about either item. On the other hand, the poor quality of her work is affecting the OP’s ability to get their work done, so it IS appropriate for them to go to their boss about it.

  58. DM Farmer*

    #2. I asked some family members (one who is a nurse) that are active Jews (I hate the term practicing). Basically, what she does is they use Christmas day as another day of Rosh Hashana. She has found that asking for days off to observe the Jewish Holy days will actually backfire on her in subtle but very real ways. So sadly, she has to be careful about it. One of the things she did tell me is that her family looks at Holidays the way that pilots and first responders do. AS they often cannot be home on the actual holiday; they celebrate it when they can. After all it is not the date that is important, but the reason for the holiday.

  59. Mr. Bob Dobalina*

    OP#1: “I saw a co-worker buying a beer!” So? I must be grouchy today, because this one struck me as a wee bit juvenile. My perspective: I have purchased alcohol on my lunch break multiple times because the grocery store next to my office has a great alcohol selection, and I can easily purchase it at the same time that I am buying lunch there. I bring the alcohol back to the office, then take it home. I don’t hide it, nor is there anything wrong with an adult purchasing alcohol. Wait, there’s more! My office has a formal “beer hour” that is at 4 pm every Friday, in the office kitchen, with free unlimited alcohol from the big office “beer fridge” that is kept fully stocked by my employer. The beer fridge is also used for work social events, at which alcohol is standard. And employees have impromptu beer hours around 5 pm any day of the week, in the office kitchen. My prior employer had the same weekly beer hour thing in the office, with a stocked beer fridge–this is not as unusual as you might think. So you can imagine that OP’s observation about the co-worker buying alcohol bounces right off me as a non-event. I happen to have a no-drinking-alcohol-at-work personal policy–just my personal preference. But I *do* drink outside of work.
    As AAM pointed out, if there is a performance issue that impacts OP, that is an entirely different matter.

  60. Kitty*

    Always funny to me that you can buy beer at pharmacies in the States. I guess we’re a bunch of prudes in Canada…

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