my boss drunk-dialed my husband, and more questions

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

1. My boss drunk-dialed my husband

I work at a high level in marketing, and I’m supervised by Tammy, an older, moody, and somewhat unpredictable woman. Besides her, everyone I work with is pleasant. A few weeks ago, we had a massive networking event and dinner for my industry that spouses were invited to, so my boss and everyone got to meet my husband for the first time. It seemed to go well.

Then, the following Friday night, my husband told me that he received a very strange call from someone he thought sounded like Tammy (she has his number as my emergency contact). It was fairly late in the evening (I was staying at my parents’ house that night to help out, as my mother was recovering from surgery). He said he answered the phone, and a lady who sounded like Tammy asked him what he was doing that night. He said she sounded kinda drunk. He asked her if this was Tammy, my boss, and she chuckled and said yes. After a couple more moments of somewhat slurred speech, he hung up and she didn’t call back. He immediately told me about it when I got home.

The next Monday morning, Tammy seemed completely normal and didn’t say a word about it. I do know that she enjoys drinking quite a bit at night, as she has said so herself before. As long as she isn’t out driving, I figured there was no harm to it, but now I’m not so sure.

I am angry that Tammy, whether she remembers it or not, tried to come on to my husband. I wanted to confront her, but I have no idea what I would say. My husband is upset as well and thinks Tammy was out of line. Am I just supposed to try to forget this ever happened? I can’t look at Tammy the same way anymore.

I think there are a bunch of different ways to argue this one, but here’s where I come down on it: A confrontation isn’t the way to go here. This is your boss, you have to work with her, she has control over your quality of life at work and your actual job, and there’s more to lose than to gain by causing significant tension in the relationship with her.

But that doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t say anything. Why not just say, “Gavin told me you called last week. Were you looking for me?” That way, you’re putting her on notice that your husband told you about it, that you’re not going to shy away from asking her about it point-blank, and that this isn’t going to somehow fly under the radar as an okay thing to do. If she doesn’t deny it, then you can say, “Please use my number if you’re trying to reach me and don’t call Gavin.” If she does deny it, then just say, “Huh, that’s weird. Okay!”

That might feel much softer than is warranted, but you’ll have called out the behavior, and the message is going to get through … but without junking up your work life with more awkwardness than is already inherent in the situation.

To be clear, any awkwardness that results from this is Tammy’s fault, not yours. But the outcome you want here is “Tammy knows I know about this and that it isn’t okay, and thus is highly unlikely to do it again” not “Tammy feels my full wrath and learns the error of her ways.” The latter is more satisfying, but the former is more practical for work relationships.

Of course, you’re then stuck working for someone who drunk-dialed your husband.

And to be clear, if this were more than a one-time “what are you doing?” call — if it happens a second time or if what she’d said on the call was more offensive — I’d suggest a different conversation, likely with her boss or HR.

2. Can I let an employer know their job descriptions are terrible?

I’m a recent graduate looking for an entry-level job in HR. Since I’m on the job hunt a lot of what I do involves poring over job descriptions, and they vary greatly in terms of readability and overall quality. There’s one often-appearing organization in particular (a university) whose descriptions are such a pain to read. All of the information is jumbled together in separate blocks of text, and it’s split into sections that make it hard to fully grasp what each job entails.

Being in the HR field and having previously formatted job descriptions, I feel that it’s essential for companies to have a well-written job description. It acts as the face of a company, and you want to leave a good first impression. Is there any way that I could let this university know about this issue? I realize it may be rude and I could possibly be blacklisted from being hired, but on the other hand I’m not sure how else they could receive feedback. How (if at all) should I proceed?

Leave it alone; it’s not your problem to solve. If you get a job there and this is in your purview, it’s something you can bring up then. But right now, it would be overstepping — and it’s especially likely to come across that way because you’re a new grad. That doesn’t mean that you’re wrong, just that your opinion isn’t going to carry a lot of weight and you might come across as naive about the amount of bureaucracy that goes into university job descriptions.

3. My manager went through my coworker’s desk to find unfinished work

I am part of a clerical support team of four. The executive secretary, Morgana, has been on a progressive return (three days a week) due to an on-the-job back injury and hoped to be back full-time by November. Since I started in September, she’s also been sick, away due to her husband being sick, her son’s surgery, her father’s surgery, and many appointments due to her back issues.

Our company generously gives us Remembrance Day as a paid day off. She had booked the two days prior off for appointments and her father’s surgery. Due back the Tuesday, she didn’t come in all week. Then she was off a second week. We found out during the first week she was away that there were items here and there that had been assigned to her that had not been done. My boss, with my assistance, then went through all the loose papers in Morgana’s office to find out what else may be left undone … and we found stuff going back up to two months that still needed to be done. Not much of it was urgent but all the same, it was not done.

I felt awkward going through her office like that, rifling through papers like I was a cop looking for evidence (we did not leave a mess). But was our boss within her rights to do this? My feeling is yes, but had it been my desk I might have felt a bit invaded.

Yes, your boss was absolutely within her rights to do that. When someone is out, and especially when someone is out for many consecutive days and work needs to be done/statuses need to be discovered/etc., this is a normal thing to do. There isn’t really any right to privacy at work when it comes to your actual work materials, and that goes doubly when you’re out and people are covering for you and need to do things that intersect with your work. And especially once your boss found that work that she’d thought was done was actually undone — this is what happens.

That doesn’t mean Morgana might not feel a little invaded. She might. But your boss was 100% within her rights to investigate further.

4. Can I ask for advance notice before office social events?

I started a new job six weeks ago and think I’m getting to know my coworkers okay. On my way out tonight, my supervisor said, “We’re all going out for a drink. Even if you don’t drink, you should come.” I’d be up for it, but I’m dealing with some personal stuff and just don’t have the emotional bandwidth for surprise socializing. If she’d asked yesterday or even this morning, I could have prepped and been fine. And I don’t know, but suspect, there was advance planning because a part-time coworker came in to go out with them. It wasn’t the whole office, and I know there will be other chances, but is there a way to say I can’t do surprises but I like y’all and want to get to know you?

Saying you don’t like surprises is likely to land as a bit … high-maintenance with some people, but it’s absolutely fine to say that you need advance notice. In the moment you could have said, “I’d love to! I generally need advance notice to be able to swing that, but I’d love to come next time.” Since the moment is passed now, you could instead say something like, “I’d love to come next time there’s a happy hour! I usually need a bit of advance notice to make it work with my schedule, but even finding out that morning is usually workable.”

5. How do I manage my expectations about a job I’ve been told I have a good chance of getting?

I have been job searching for several months after realizing I am unhappy/unfulfilled in my current position. A couple months ago, one of my past managers let me know that she knew someone in the field who was hiring, but the job posting was not up yet. She indicated that she believed I was a shoo-in for the job and, after I told her I was interested, she put in a good word for me with the Head Teapot Specialist. Since then, the job posting has not gone up (it sounds like an issue with HR dragging their feet, despite the Head Teapot Specialist wanting the position filled already). This specific field is very niche and not in a super accessible location, so I don’t think many people will be applying.

Taking this into account plus the glowing recommendation from my former manager, as well as my own strong qualifications, I can’t help but feel optimistic about my chances. But at the same time, I don’t want to get my hopes up and then get let down if they decide to go with another candidate, which, of course, is very likely. The Head Teapot Specialist indicated to my former manager that with her recommendation I am automatically at the top of the pile, but that HR will have a big hand in hiring, so he can’t hire whoever he wants. Do you have any advice on managing expectations for a situation like this?

The best thing you can do is to assume it won’t happen for some reason — the job will get canceled, or it’ll be reconfigured into something you don’t want, or you’ll discover the pay is too low or the manager is a jerk, or they’ll decide to hire the CEO’s niece, or so forth. Any of those are real possibilities, so remembering them will help you not get too invested.

If it does turn out that the job opens up and is perfect and well-compensated and the manager is wonderful and they make you an offer, you can get invested at that point. But until then, the more you can mentally position yourself to not count on it in any way, the better off you’ll be.

{ 345 comments… read them below }

  1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

    OP#2, I write fairly useful job descriptions that I send to HR, who then send my version to central campus, who then completely ruin everything by converting it into a specific bureaucratic formula that no one can explain to me. But complaining about it is like screaming into the void—it’s not going to change, the decision-making authority to change it is way above my (and my department’s) head, and our HR folks share our frustration and also cannot do anything to change the status quo.

    As Alison notes, if a candidate then gave me suggestions on how to improve our PDs, I would think they were displaying exactly the kind of enterprising and earnest naivete that makes it difficult to succeed at a big, bureaucratic university. In addition to finding it odd and slightly off, I’d be worried that they were picking battles or solving problems that might not be the best use of their time or energy.

    1. ThankYouRoman*

      Job descriptions for universities and government positions were the first reason I’ve never been interested in working in those places. I recall trying to look through possible many moons ago, everyone told me they’re such great places to work and top tier employers, so I gave it a look. I noped all over the place, never did it occur to me to try to tell them to change their way of doing things. I just took my ball and went somewhere I felt was a better fit. I can’t imagine my reaction if someone applying for a job started handing out that kind of advice.

      My dear OP, you’re a new graduate. You need to be emerged within the workforce awhile before you start speaking out about standards and procedures. Especially since you’re aiming at entry level jobs, you’re way above your paygrade and you’re not even on the payroll yet!

    2. Lbd*

      This! Unfortunately central HR has a list of “approved job duties” and no matter how clear a job description you write, they convert it into something unrecognizable.

      1. Danger: Gumption Ahead*

        Once when I worked in a research institute at a large public university I had the opportunity to write a job description that was going to be my own (my grant, my job, stuff it other applicants!). By the time they released it, if I hadn’t had the position number I wouldn’t have recognized it.

    3. Lexi Kate*

      This, I’m not at a university but our corporate work bureaucracy changes job postings into what read as unrecognizable tax documents. Where an entry level position and senior level management have only slight differences distinguishable.

      We hire a lot of recent Grad school graduates and there are some who point this out and want it brought to our attention/changed they are our way of identifying who has not held a job where they had real responsibilities have been put upon them. Inevitably when we do hire these candidates (within finance there are alot, this isn’t a deal breaker just notice of future annoyance) they do have to be handheld more than others on the norms and how an office works. (examples: questions for the sake of questions are not helpful, sitting at the table if you have nothing to add is not a good idea, automating work when you don’t know how to do the work or how the work flows, Meeting the CEO or CFO in the hall on your first week and letting them know what you would change, etc.)

    4. CheeryO*

      My supervisor asked me for input on my position’s job description at one of my earlier performance reviews. I’m in state government, which shares some of its bureaucratic wackiness with higher ed, so it’s not like it’s a total non-starter. I definitely wouldn’t go there as a job candidate, though.

    5. Guacamole Bob*


      I’m in local government, and our job descriptions are largely terrible. I almost didn’t apply for a job that turned out to be a terrific fit for me because the job description was so different from the job itself (someone who knew my skills had encouraged me to apply). I found out in the interview that the job is in an entirely different department than the one listed in the description, which hasn’t existed under that name in quite a few years. A colleague’s related position description hasn’t been updated since 1997, and refers to software that went out of use around the time PowerPoint became a common business tool.

      Occasionally a manager will decide to take on the task of getting a job description updated and re-written, or getting the job reclassified in some way. They nearly always regret it. Many of the positions here are union, and the process of updating a list of position duties and how that affects the salary bands and whatnot is apparently a nightmare, since there are all the usual government bureaucracy aspects plus the union has to sign off on it.

      HR has launched multiple efforts that are theoretically the first step to updating all the job descriptions, but we get asked to fill out a bunch of surveys and paperwork about what we actually spend our time on and then never hear anything again.

      Leave it alone, OP. Saying anything is going to make you look pretty naive.

      1. LQ*

        Yeah, state government with a union here too. My boss went through and redid our job descriptions a few years ago (with the intent of reclassifying some of us) and it was excruciating for me. I can’t imagine the frustration of doing a bunch of them at once. And mine only got spit back from HR once, I know someone else’s on the team was something like 8 times. Now he’s able to put out better descriptions and get better candidates, but it was a real trek to get there and fight with HR every step along the way. (He didn’t have to do a bunch of union battles but I know that updating a lot of other positions around here would require a battle with HR and with the union and then back and forth, and they won’t duke it out with each other, no they’ll go through the manager to have that fight.)

    6. Antilles*

      Having been on the other end in bureaucratic organizations and actually received feedback like this, it can also be kind of insulting because it implies that I don’t recognize the job descriptions are horrendous.
      Trust me, I KNOW the descriptions are awful…because every time a candidate misunderstands the description and sends in a resume which isn’t remotely relevant, their application lands on my desk and wastes 90 seconds of my day.

      1. Artemesia*

        I had to recruit with a job ad that attracted at least 100 of the ‘well qualified but not what we want for this job’ every time we posted it. I knew how to write the description for what we needed, but for internal political reasons we could not do that. It was annoying to us and I am sure dispiriting to the well qualified people who applied and were immediately screened out because they were well qualified for what they thought the position needed, but not what we were actually recruiting for.

      2. Matilda Jefferies*

        I work in a large municipal government with several dozen supervisor positions, and all of the job descriptions are exactly the same. Basically, they have several bullet points describing what a supervisor does – supervise day-to-day activities of staff, provide input into budgets, be the acting manager when necessary, etc. Plus ONE LINE in each description that says something like “requirements specific to the program.” Which is supremely unhelpful in trying to figure out what the job actually is! Finance, communications, parks, solid waste – apparently all these supervisors do the exact same thing, if you go by their job descriptions.

        I’ve worked in government my entire career, and I know the futility of trying to change something like this. OP will get there too, once she’s been working for a bit!

  2. Sherm*

    OP#1, Tell her you will confront her by Wednesday.

    But seriously, I agree with Alison. Also, if you want a new boss, I wouldn’t blame you. You didn’t like her even before this incident.

      1. EPLawyer*

        bwahahahaha. Thank you for that early morning laugh.

        OP1 please do not do this. But the laugh might make you feel better.

  3. MK*

    OP1, don’t discount the possibility it wasn’t her at all. As far as I can tell, your husband isn’t sure, and the caller didn’t identify themselves as her till prompted by him. And they did it with a chuckle, which reads as standard prank-caller behaviour to me.

    1. ThankYouRoman*

      I’m confused why it’s a mystery. The OP should feasibly have access to her bosses number. I have mine in my phone for if I need to call in or something.

      1. Ciara Amberlie*

        OP might have her bosses mobile number, but not her home number. Or Tammy might have a work phone and a personal phone. It’s not unlikely that Tammy has a phone that OP doesn’t know the number of.

      2. MK*

        Not everyone does have their boss’ cell number. Even if the OP does, the boss could have another, personal phone, or the caller might have cloacked their number.

      3. Kes*

        But it was the husband who received the call – he may well not have his spouse’s boss’s phone number in his phone

        1. Someone Else*

          Right but presumably, she could look at his phone and compare the number from the received call to her known-Tammy-numbers. If it doesn’t match, I guess there is still the possibility it wasn’t her, but if it does match, there ya go.

          1. Seeking Second Childhood*

            Even that’s not 100% confirmation. .. drunk people revert to middle school humor. And in 7th grade it’s the height of humor to “accidentally ” pick up a friend’s phone and call someone from that phone.

    2. Ginger ale for all*

      I don’t think I would be able to distinguish a voice of someone that I had only met once in person unless the voice was extremely distinctive, like a foreign accent or the such. But the husband could after meeting her sober and then hearing a drunk voice on the phone? I am a bit skeptical about this woman being tried and convicted without even trying to match up the phone numbers.

      I once got a call at home for my dad and the caller didn’t identify himself but told me to have my dad call him back when he could. I thought it was an uncle since there was a northern accent and my uncles were from Boston but it turned out to be my dad’s best friend who grew up in New York. I had known all these people my whole life and still I couldn’t figure it out and it makes me doubt that the husband could easily identify the boss on a drunken call. You need more evidence, jmo.

      1. Ginger ale for all*

        This is not to say it wasn’t Tammy but to echo MK’s thought that it could also have been someone else.

      2. EvilQueenRegina*

        Yes, this. The only people whose voices I can immediately distinguish are my family, I’ve been known to not immediately distinguish a coworker calling in sick, even though this was someone I’d speak to every day on the phone, when he was calling from a number I didn’t know. If you greet me with “Hi, it’s me”, and we’re not related, no chance. And even they have got me – I can remember when I was a kid, answering the phone to Uncle Robert and he was pranking me by pretending to be someone else and managed to fool me for a while, and then not long afterwards accidentally calling a wrong number trying to reach Uncle Ned and thinking that Mr. Wrong Number was Uncle Ned pulling the same prank because the voice was similar enough.

        Someone I had only met once? No chance.

        1. PhyllisB*

          This. My two daughters sound very much alike on the phone, and if they are calling from a number besides their cell I sometimes have to talk a minute to figure out which one’s on the line.

          1. Kristine*

            We have two sisters that work at my company and they sound identical on the phone. Neither will identify themselves when they call, they just launch into talking. I always have to stop and ask, “Is this Emily or Sarah?”

          2. Yay commenting on AAM!*

            We recently had a family get together where it was stated that all of the women should shout out their names before speaking, because our voices were all so similar we couldn’t tell each other apart when talking in a disjointed group.

        2. JanetM*

          When I was a teen, I called a friend’s house and asked for Maria, and actually talked to a Maria for several minutes before figuring out that I had called the wrong number and somehow managed to get the right name. It was very confusing.

          1. Doug Judy*

            Back in 1999 when I was dating my now husband he called and my mom answered and he assumed it was me. Thankfully he didn’t say anything too embarrassing before she clued him in. To be fair my mom, sister and I sound extremely similar on the phone. My dad always had to ask who it was when we would answer.

            1. The Other Katie*

              Even my mother has trouble telling me and my sisters apart on the phone. Some people just end up sounding really similar!

            2. wheeeee*

              I sound a lot like my sister on the phone and a few times in the past when I’ve called one of my nieces they said, “Hi Mom”.

            3. KTB*

              YES! My sister, my mom and I sound pretty much identical on the phone. Even family couldn’t tell us apart when I still lived at home, so friends pretty much had no chance. Unless my dad picked up.

          2. Flower*

            When I was ten or so and my parents weren’t home (my older siblings probably were), I got a call from someone who sounded *just* enough like my father that it was plausible he was in a space with odd acoustics, who had a daughter with the same name as me (a not super common, but not uncommon name for girls in the mid 90’s – I didn’t have another person with the exact same first name in a class until I was 16 but I always knew others in my grade and plenty with almost the same name were in activities). It must have been the same for my voice and his daughter’s.

            I didn’t figure it out until he asked me to put “Mom” on, and of course, Mom and Dad were out together. I think he told me the number he’d *meant* to call and it was one digit off.

          3. Rebecca in Dallas*

            I’ve been on the receiving end of this! I hope that other Rebecca managed to swing by the printers to pick up extra pamphlets for that meeting. :/

        3. Armchair Analyst*

          Oh my gosh, I am remembering when I was a kid and calling my best girlfriend, and I voice I didn’t recognize answer the phone… a deep male voice, not her dad. It turned out to be her brother, whose voice had changed. I was kind of scared for her, actually. I think our parents laughed about it and now I’m enjoying my 10yearold son singing in choir and wondering when it’ll happen to him…

      3. Myrin*

        I mean, I’m totally with your conclusion – that if OP were to do anything about this (or even just if she wants to be really, really sure in her own mind that this was her boss), she’d really have to look for some hard evidence – but the voice thing, well, that’s you. I have an excellent memory when it comes to voices and faces (weirdly, not so much when it comes to voice actors, who I can basically never place) and I can pretty much guarantee I’d be able to recognise someone’s voice after meeting them once. I’m totally with you on the general skepticism of this really having been Boss, but it’s not like an inability to recognise other people’s voices on the phone is universal (although I know it’s very common).

      4. neverjaunty*

        “Tried and convicted”? The advice is for her to have a polite conversation with her boss about it, not to call in the FBI.

    3. Traffic_Spiral*

      Yeah, I’d be like 1. are you sure it was her, and 2. did she know it was him? If both of those are cleared up, then yes, mention it, but otherwise it might not be a problem.

      1. Harper the Other One*

        The did she know it was him part is what jumped out at me! A misdial is totally possible, and if he didn’t identify himself, she could still have thought she was speaking to someone else.

        1. Micromanagered*

          This is a good point, but, do most managers have their reports’ emergency contacts in their phone? I would think someone would have to pretty deliberately look that information up.

          1. Smarty Boots*

            Could have been a random prank dial, or could have been a misdial. I receive wrong numbers all the time on my work phone, home phone, cell phone. Especially if the person was drunk — less likely to get the numbers right. Even if it was Tammy, she might have hit the wrong button in her contact list. I do that stone cold sober. Unless OP 1 knows for sure it was Tammy (and even if she’s sure), it’s smart to use Alison’s script.

          2. Yorick*

            Right, and that seems like an unlikely thing for a boss to do while drinking, unless they had a longer history with the husband.

        2. LJay*

          Yeah, a misdial is what I’m thinking.

          I think it was most likely Tammy and not a random prank call.

          But, if she has OP’s husband as “David” in her phone, and she meant to call a friend or boyfriend of hers that is in her phone as “David A” or “Dave” or even “Derek” it is fairly easy to misdial (or forget who is saved as who) and she may not have initially realized it in her drunken state.

            1. Kasia*

              I once called a guy I went on a couple of dates with instead of my landlord (both Joes). That was awkward.

        3. JSPA*

          Of the opposite: Boss Tammy knows more than one guy with same name as husband. She’s too plastered to dial her phone, uses the voice command to “call [that name]” and the phone calls the wrong one. Tammy never figures it out before OP’s husband hangs up. She’s left wondering why the tinder dude she thought she was dialing hung up on her (which would be none of OP’s business, so there’s no reason she’d mention it to OP).

          If husband’s name is Murgatroyd, this is less likely than if he’s Jeff or David. And it’s also certainly possible that this was an intentional act. But there’s enough plausible deniability that OP really can’t come down on Tammy like a ton of bricks. I’d go with, “you misdialed my husband a few nights ago. He found it awkward / you woke him / he was worried something had happened to me. Would it make sense to delete it from your personal phone, so that it can’t happen again?”

    4. Stormfeather*

      Or even if it was her, there’s also other explanations, like she meant to call someone else and didn’t realize she had the wrong person due to being drunk. Especially if, say, she keeps employees’ contact/emergency numbers saved in her phone. Drunk person trying to hit the right name in a long list to call them? Can totally see the wrong one getting pressed.

      1. EvilQueenRegina*

        Yes, that was my first thought, that she was trying to call someone else with the same name and rang the wrong one by accident. Alison’s suggested wording is perfect because it allows Tammy to then say something like “Oh sorry, I did it by accident, I was trying to call a different Gavin” and it can blow over with minimal drama.

      2. WellRed*

        I think it would very weird for a boss to have an employee’s emergency contact in their cell phone. Not impossible, but unusual.

        1. Owlette*

          I don’t think it’s terribly unusual. My boss has my husband as my emergency contact in his phone. I had a huge medical emergency earlier this year and my husband had to call out for me as I was completely unable to do so. My boss saved my husband’s number and texted every couple days for updates and to make sure I was okay. We’re in a small, tight-knit office, and it was not out of place at all.

        2. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

          It really depends on the office. At all of my prior jobs at smallish (<50 employees) nonprofits, managers often had their employee's emergency contact in their cell phones because we were often on the road, and they needed to be able to reach someone without having to call the main office for that information.

        3. Someone Else*

          When my company sends a group of staff to a conference, they recommend we put not only each other, but each other’s emergency contacts in our phones so we access to have that with minimal effort while traveling together. I’m not surprised if this isn’t super common, but at the same time, it’s been normal enough for me for long enough that I don’t find it odd that the boss might have had his number there.

      3. Gen*

        Most of my husband’s coworkers are called Dave and accidentally calling each other at 11pm isn’t all that uncommon, especially if Siri is involved.

      4. iambadatusernames*

        My husband has all of his employees saved in his phone as CompanyName Frank. Since they’re on-call every so often, he has to call one of them in the middle of the night if something comes up. He has 100% called the wrong CompanyName.

      5. TootsNYC*

        wrong numbers seem to happen less frequently in the world of contact lists on our phones, but people can still fumble-fingers and push the wrong contact.

        (or tell Siri to call someone and then not pay attention to her question when she asks if she’s got the right person)

    5. Fish Microwaver*

      Yes. This is where I stand. I think OP1 would be foolish to confront her boss without more definite evidence.

      1. Sapphire*

        Which is why I think Alison suggested the CYA wording that she did. It gets the message of “don’t do that again” across if the boss did mean to call OPs husband, and allows the boss an alibi if she didn’t mean to.

        1. Washi*

          Yeah, and it also gives the boss a chance to say “huh, that wasn’t me.” If the number can’t be identified and if Tammy doesn’t have a super distinctive voice, it seems entirely possible that this was a prank call and in that case, confronting Tammy would go over especially poorly!

        2. Artemesia*

          Yeah Alison’s advice was genius on this. It is a puzzled query that fires a shot across her bow if it was her, but can be dismissed as ‘wow, I wonder who it was, weird’ if it wasn’t her. ‘oh, maybe it was another Tammy or a wrong number then.’

          1. Rumbakalao*

            I am doubtful that this is actually going to clear anything up, since even if it was in fact Tammy calling, she can just play dumb and avoid admitting to it. It may alert boss that OP knows but OP should be aware that she likely isn’t going to get the full story.

            1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

              But the point isn’t to get the full story. It’s to send a CYA shot across the field to put Tammy on notice that if she was the caller, she’s out of pocket and OP knows she did it.

            2. Ask a Manager* Post author

              Right, the point isn’t to find out The Truth, but to put the boss on notice that the husband told the OP and neither of them are okay with it, and that the OP isn’t going to turn a blind eye.

              1. Stormfeather*

                Yeah, TBH my suggestions that it might not even BE her are more for the OP to hopefully be able to interact with her more easily down the road – a mindset of “it might not even have been her, so I shouldn’t hold it against her for coming onto my husband when it’s quite possible that she didn’t” rather than “okay, I now have to go into work and deal with someone who was propositioning my husband EVERY DAY.”

                Yeah, it sucks not to know for sure, but I don’t think that the default needs to (or should) be that “OMG my boss absolutely 100% was trying to sleep with my husband behind my back.”

        3. Lyssa*

          I still think that it would be weird if the boss really didn’t call, but the husband definitively says that she did. If I were the boss, I would really worry that the husband was trying to do, well, I don’t know, but something weird.
          Better to say that he got a call from someone he thought was her, but the connection was bad and he couldn’t understand it. That way, it makes sense if she did or didn’t call (and if she was really drunk, everyone can politely pretend that they didn’t notice, due to the bad connection).

      2. Gretchen*

        I agree. I wouldn’t even bother chasing it up further. If it happens a second time that’s different and OP might need a chat with her boss. It could have been a huge mistake as others have said, similar name to someone else, and the boss may be embarrassed by the whole thing, which is why she said nothing.

    6. I Love Thrawn*

      Many years ago I got a call from a girl that I thought was my niece but it was some stranger (I asked her later if it was her). She talked to me just like she knew me; it was a strange call because I thought it was her but wasn’t entirely sure, and the caller played the role for some reason. Boredom, maybe.

    7. Just Me*

      Seconded. I had a call once that went that way and came to find out that it was just some random pervert taking advantage of my false identification.

      1. UtOh!*

        Yup, coming here to say the same, but there’s a twist…*I* was the drunk one and I thought I was talking to a good friend of mine, had a very long conversation that veered off in an oddly sexual direction…and it was not her! I don’t think that one phone call from someone your husband *thinks* was your boss is enough to try and convict her. I would leave it be, and if it happens *again*, or if you can absolutely confirm it came from her phone number, then you can pursue it.

        1. Lynn*

          I have to admit that I once talked, rather explicitly, to some creep who I thought was my then-boyfriend for several minutes before he said something way out of line and I realized it was not him. This was long before the age of caller ID. Ewwww. I am not one who generally has difficulty distinguishing voices, even over the phone. But this guy sounded like then-BF (and it would not have been out of character for us to have that type of call). So I agree that, barring more evidence, it could easily have not been boss-despite the ID from your husband. That said, the script Alison suggested allows for the possibility that it genuinely wasn’t your boss, so I don’t think the OP needs to hold off on saying something until/unless there is proof or a repeat call.

          1. Kelly L.*

            I once got a call from my then-BF’s brother, “Joe,” who rarely called us on the phone, and whose voice sounds somewhat similar to that of my long-long-ago ex-boyfriend “Joe,” who had recently popped back into my life and gotten stalkery. I answer the phone, the guy on the other end goes “Hi Kelly, this is Joe, I was wondering if I could stay at your place this weekend,” and I flipped absolute shit on him. Had to do some damage control after that…

    8. Dr. Pepper*

      Which is why Alison’s script is perfect for the situation. Polite and puzzled inquiry is the best approach this for many reasons. If it was a random prank calling, then no harm no foul. If it was the boss calling, then it’s a heads up for her that the OP knows about it and the boss wasn’t being as sneaky or secret as she likely thought.

        1. Not So NewReader*

          Totally agree. This is not a court of law and we don’t need to prove that was Tammy on the phone. However, OP does need to say something because this is her family.
          Alison’s advice is perfect. Accusations hidden in ambiguity work very well.

          I had a situation where I had to do some reprogramming. The instructions were single space on double sided paper. There were 20 pages, meaning 40 sides of instructions. It took about an hour or more to wade through it. When the programming did not work, I called for help figuring I messed up. The brilliant woman who answered my call quickly realized I did not do pages 16 and 17. I did not have 16/17. She said, well they were checked three times after being stapled together, no way should that be missing. Then it dawned on us, someone on my end removed a page so I would fail. She said watch your back.

          I knew my boss had removed the page. When my boss came in, I dragged out the story just to watch her squirm. She could not figure out how I got the programming in there correctly. (This was fun to watch.) I landed on the punchline where I was told to watch my back. I looked my boss square in the eye and said, “I told her we don’t have THOSE types of problems here and we WILL NOT have further problems.” I said it as darkly as possible.

          Point made.
          My boss never pulled a stunt like that on me again.

          OP, I never once said that I knew my boss took the page to sabotage me. I did, however, let her know that other people were aware that someone was trying to sabotage me. My tech call was probably logged somewhere also.
          Keep in mind that you also have another person involved here, your husband. When there are outsider witnesses the power tips toward the harmed party and away from the offending party. You have more power here than you may realize. Alison’s advice was perfect for your setting.

          I really doubt that you will have a second occurrence. But if you do, go right back and say, “I thought you would want to know that someone did it again. They called my husband pretending to be you. I thought you would want to know that someone is trying to make trouble in your name. You might want to check to see if anyone else here has also gotten calls from a person using your name.”

          BTW, your hubby did great by giving her a non-reaction and just hanging up. He handled it perfectly, too.

          1. Gazebo Slayer*

            WTF kind of boss tries to sabotage her own employee? Isn’t that shooting herself in the foot as well?

            1. Seeking Second Childhood*

              I’d have been with you except… A friend was assigned to build a system in software that her immediate manager had recommended against, to replace the old system built by that same immediate manager in years past.
              Manager was a total roadblock, full of delaying tactics. It got ugly before it got released.

      1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

        Agreed. I thought Alison’s script was next level brilliant (all her scripts are great, but I especially liked this one). It does all the things OP needs to do without exposing OP to undue risk.

    9. That Would be a Good Band Name*

      I’ll assume that the OP did establish it was her by checking the number. However, my first thought would be that she called the wrong person. I’ve accidentally hit the wrong name in my contact list while completely sober. I’d imagine it would be even easier to do when drinking.

    10. wheeeee*

      I was thinking that it *was* her, but that she thought she was calling someone else(?) because drunk? Unless she said the husbands name…

    11. Oxford Commander*

      I was coming to say this. It sounds like a drunk dial prank or wrong number by a random woman, not like a tipsy boss purposely went through her employee’s records to find her emergency contact info.

      I’d let it go without more to go on.

    12. Kelly Bennett*

      Came here to say this.

      Drunk people would definitely have said yes to ‘Is this Tammy’ and he just said it sounded like her? Sounds to me like a wrong number

  4. Lulubell*

    Re: #1, assuming the number popped up on caller ID, can you Google it to see if it links back to Tammy? I’d follow Alison’s advice regardless, but I’d try to do my own research beforehand.

    1. Tardigrade*

      Yeah, the husband’s phone should have the number in the call history, in case you need confirmation before going with Alison’s advice.

  5. beth*

    OP4: Why not try something like “I’ve got plans today, but I’d love to come next time! Is it a regular thing?” If it is recurring, they’ll probably tell you it’s every Wednesday, or the last Friday of every month, or whatever. If it’s not, there’s probably a discussion somewhere in advance about scheduling–it’s unlikely everyone would just happen to be available on the same evening otherwise–and it should trigger them to include you in that discussion.

    1. TL -*

      My guess is they’ll start to include her in the planning naturally, since these things are obviously being planned in advance. She’s only been there 6 weeks so right now it’s still a matter of remembering everyone *includes* the new person.
      But give it a little bit and she’ll be part of the normal group of everyone and people will include her in advance planning naturally.

  6. nnn*

    A bold option for #2: write up an article about how to write better jobs descriptions (not focusing on just this one employer’s issues – make it broadly applicable) and post it online somewhere (blog, linkedin, whatever fits into your online behaviour patterns and desired level of googleability).

    That way, people looking to improve their job descriptions can find your article, and prospective employers looking for information about you as a candidate for an HR job can see what kind of ideas you have. Win-win scenario, no overstepping.

    The risk of this idea is if it turns out your ideas would be off-putting to prospective employers that would you nevertheless want to work for. You’re better placed to evaluate that risk than I am.

    1. Aphrodite*

      Government and education are different. I mean really different than any other kind of employer. Bureaucracy is alive and well there, and job descriptions, as PCBH noted above, are part and parcel of that, and trying to change them is going to prove a head-banging exercise even if the OP was in a position to do that (and she is not). Take heed of PCBH’s words: “But complaining about it [the bureaucracy] is like screaming into the void—it’s not going to change . . .”

      1. LarsTheRealGirl*

        This kind of “bold” can come across horribly naive. Someone new to the workforce would have a hard time writing an article like this with any sort of new or useful information. People KNOW formatting is important, and job descriptions should look like x,y,z, etc., and presenting that as new and novel information shows the inexperience of the author.

        I once tasked a new employee with researching cost-saving measures. Before I could intervene, she sent IT leadership a recommendation for an enterprise account of a common software – including a particularly cringeworthy 2 paragraphs explaining *what* enterprise software licenses are.

        1. CmdrShepard4ever*

          In my current job, back when I first started, I sent our HR person an email with info about commuter/transit benefits information. It seemed so simple to me at the time, everything I read said it saves employees and employers money, it was a no-brainer. Our HR person never responded to my email, but promptly talked to our receptionist asking who the hell I thought I was, and talking about how we have great benefits (which we do but they could always be better).

          I still think getting transit/commuter benefits should be a no brainer, our branch director has tried to push for them also. But from what we have heard our HR person does not want to do the program because it is added work for them to manage it.

        2. Marketing guru*

          “People KNOW formatting is important”

          In what universe? I can’t get people to use a consistent font in one document, let alone the same margins, point size, kerning, etc.

    2. Pop*

      What? This is not a bad idea, if it’s something the OP is interested in doing and they have some good ideas, but I would not say that it is a “bold option” or that it even addresses what the OP was asking about.

      1. beth*

        It’s a bit of a bold option for a new graduate entering the workforce for the first time. It’s always a bit bold to say how something should be done when you have no experience in why it’s currently done the way it is.

        1. Observer*

          Yes, bold in not such a good way.

          A fresh pair of eyes can be a really good thing – but you need at least have some sense of what’s going on. And the way the OP describes these postings gives me a very strong sense that they haven’t the faintest clue.

          1. snowglobe*

            Yeah, if I’m a business looking for information on how to write job descriptions, I’m not taking information from a blog post by someone who has just graduated from college! What if OP includes suggestions that would be violating some EEOC regulations or other laws?

          2. OP #2*

            Hi, OP #2 here- just to clarify, I’ve formatted and uploaded job descriptions professionally in the past. Of course that doesn’t equal years of experience, but it was enough experience to understand what makes a job description truly viewer-friendly. I am aware that some things are included to satisfy regulations or an outside opinion, so my issue is more about the readability than what is actually written. For example, leaving all the text in one large block rather than separating certain items with bullet points. I may not know all the ins and outs concerning job descriptions so forgive me if I “haven’t the faintest clue”, but from my perspective I believe that correcting issues like this would bring more benefits than drawbacks. When a company has a well-formatted job posting it really makes a great first impression and makes me want to know more, so I can’t help but wish that every company placed value in the small (but effective) details!

            For those who have stated that it would be foolish to say anything, I agree with you. This is an instance where I regret hitting “send” resulting in embarrassing myself on an online platform, so there is no need to comment further on my naivety or lack of touch with the HR field because I already know. Perhaps I’ll pursue jobs that specifically deal with job description writing since it seems to be a passion of mine, but in the meantime I will gladly keep my mouth shut and say nothing.

            1. Close Bracket*

              Commentors can be a little harsh sometimes. You probably do have more learning to do, but so do people who have been in their fields for years, as evidenced by the multitude of bad job descriptions out there. I think some of the more “but EEOC!” feedback is a little much since, what? Hiring managers are all over that ish? No, they are not. Hiring managers are mostly just individual contributors who have been promoted and don’t have any more insight than they did as individual contributors, as evidenced by a large number of the letters to this site. Take Alison’s advice and be secure in your competence.

        2. AcademiaNut*

          I think you could write about it from the perspective of a new grad who is job hunting. So not a voice of experience “this is how you should do it”, but a voice of inexperience saying “this is what I find confusing/annoying”.

          1. Washi*

            Yeah, I think if the OP were to do this, this would be the way to go. Otherwise I think it might almost come across as naïve or even bitter to have a new grad who hasn’t even landed their first job out of school lecturing others about best practices.

        3. BRR*

          Yeah I think the blog post might rub some people the wrong way. I really like how it’s a different type of suggestion and I think this is what makes AAM comments great, but I’d probably suggest a recent grad not be too assertive on workplace best practices. If the LW really wanted to go down this path, I think something that emphasized what they really liked about job descriptions wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world as long as it doesn’t get too preachy.

          1. dumblewald*

            While it might piss off prospective employers (something to consider), job seekers – recent grads or not – have every right to express their opinion on job descriptions. I have had more than one interviews (I graduated awhile ago) where I had to get to the the interviewing stage to find out the job is NOTHING like the description. I have also seen multiple descriptions where there was a HTML/formatting error and everythingwaswrittenlikethis. WHO even writes these????

      2. Marketing guru*

        OP should ignore all the pooh-poohing and set up a blog or Twitter feed calling out poor job descriptions. I think it is the kind of thing that would be a viral hit (and ultimately get her noticed).

    3. The Original OOF*

      Hmmm…I think “write a blog post” is one of those pieces of advice that’s easier said than done. For example – where? Will it be findable? Is there an audience for it? If you put your post out on LinkedIn, will people engage with it, especially coming from a new grad?

      I’m not saying it can’t be done…just that it’s not easy and the LW should really think through these things, as well as test their content against those with more time in the field to make sure they’re on the right track.

      1. dumblewald*

        What you described is…how most blogs begin. Many people start writing blogs on platforms like Medium and WordPress without certainty it will gain traction. It might get a niche audience, but publishing a blog isn’t a huge sacrifice or anything.

    4. AnotherJill*

      Almost everyone associated with a bad job description knows that it is bad, and knows how to fix it. As others have said, job descriptions get mangled by bureaucracy, HR, legal departments, dim upper management, you name it.

      If you think you can discern enough facts from a job description, apply and figure out through the process if you really do want to work there. Otherwise, you’re not going to fix anything and will just be an annoyance.

  7. Zin*

    I would also steer clear of getting overly It sounds like whatever she intended clearly was not reciprocated and both you and your husband are aware she is less than respectful of personal boundaries. Nothing bad happened nor is likely to happen as a result of that phone call so use the script and let it go, if you can.

    Once my cousin openly flirted with my husband at Thanksgiving because she was so drunk she couldn’t stand up straight, much less process coherent thought. No biggie. It really said much, much more about her inability to manage her alcohol intake (she’s since been to treatment and done very well!!) then it did anything else. He looked so startled that I came over and gently disengaged her and redirected her attention elsewhere. She’s a lovely woman, just had a problem with alcohol.

    I completely understand feeling upset and what she did wasn’t okay but I think using Alison’s script is best.

    1. MK*

      I think the issue in these cases is that one feels uncomfortable just by having the information revealed. Tammy (if it was her and not a pranl) might have been drunk, but, if what she chose to do while drunk is to call the OP’s spouse, she is also attracted to him. I am sure the OP realises there theoretically are any number of people attracted to her husband, but it would make the interactions somewhat awkward.

      1. Hmmm*

        > but, if what she chose to do while drunk is to call the OP’s spouse, she is also attracted to him.

        I think many people around the world can report that their drunken behaviors, specifically regarding who they find attractive, do not always reflect their sober feelings.

        1. MK*

          No offense, but being drunk does not transform you into another person, it does not create feelings out of nothing and it does not make you do things for no reason. It lowers inhibitions so that you act on feelings that you might never have done while sober, it might bring out the worst part of you (but still a part of you) and it might mess with your reasoning. If this is Tammy and if she was trying to flirt with the OP’s husband. whom she had met only once before in her life, well, there is a reason she did that while drunk, instead of any number of other things.

          1. Bagpuss*

            True, but it might mean that someone’s sober thought of “that guy is really attractive, [employee] is lucky to have have him” into “hey, maybe I should call attractive guy”

          2. Hmmm*


            Scientifically, that isn’t true – people are more likely to find people attractive when they’re drinking. As in, they don’t find those people attractive. (articles referenced above). In fact, people find landscapes more attractive when they’re drunk – inanimate objects.

            Not to mention, alcohol does in fact create feelings and so on out of nothing, as it affects dopamine receptors.

            You are of course still responsible for your actions, regardless of whether or not you drink. But the idea that it is as simple as “releases inhibitions” is a myth, as it’s a more multifaceted drug than that.

            1. MK*

              They don’t find them attractive or they are not willing/less likely to admit they find them attractive? Anyway, I think that might make some sense if the coworker and the husband happened to be in the same place when the coworker got drunk, but intentionally looking up the number of a coworker’s husband that you met once to call them? Most drunk people would hardly remember the name of some random almost-stranger at that point.

          3. dumblewald*

            I’m also wondering…Tammy only met OPs husband once. I doubt she had his number saved on her phone (do bosses save emergency contacts on their phones?? I guess?) It means at one point she had to go out of her way to search for his number, which makes it weird.

        2. Lexi Kate*

          Being Drunk amplifies your true thoughts and feelings because you loose the ability to stop yourself. Its doesn’t bring on new ones.

          1. TL -*

            beer goggles are a thing. As is being very open to suggestion when drunk -I know I say yes to almost everything when drunk, including ideas from surrounding media.

      2. The Gollux (Not a Mere Device)*

        Or, What she does when drunk is call someone she thinks is attractive. If she went straight to “Hi, what are you doing tonight?” rather than “Hi, Dave, what are you doing tonight?” not only might she have been looking for a different Dave, she might have been trying to call Daniel or Edward and accidentally touched the wrong place on the screen. Or, if her phone displays numbers alphabetically by last name, maybe she was trying to call her old boyfriend Fergus Roberts and got Dave Ross instead. (Mine is a mix of the two, so if I touch the wrong spot “Mom” I might get Dr. Miller, not my brother Mark.)

        And yes, maybe she was trying to reach the OP’s husband, because she thinks he’s attractive; that still makes Alison’s script appropriate, because the message is “he’s not interested, and I know you called” but in a way that doesn’t accuse the boss of doing anything inappropriate.

      3. Dr. Pepper*

        While it’s icky to know your boss is very probably attracted to your husband, in and of itself it’s not that big a deal. One phone call is one phone call. If the boss starts harassing him, or calls again, or does any number of things to escalate the situation, *then* I’d advocate taking action. But for now, a simple message that “hey, I know you called Dave, he thought that was odd” is sufficient. There could be an innocent explanation, like she meant to call someone else, or it wasn’t ever her at all.

  8. TL -*

    #3 – I once had to search through a coworker’s email and papers, with other coworkers present and aware. I was just trying to figure out an increasingly odd situation but I eventually ended up uncovering a serious ethics violation on her part. I didn’t have to read any emails, thank goodness, but the email she said she’d sent wasn’t there, which, in hindsight, was a big red flag that something was wrong.

    I’d been pretty vocal about what was happening and what I was doing (just because I was so confused, not because I thought there was foul play) and my boss and manager both supported my decisions, especially once the situation was uncovered – the coworker was let go immediately.
    I’ve never had any reason to repeat that, thank goodness, but my boss was really, really glad I made the decisions I did and because I was so transparent during the process, I don’t think anyone else thought me rummaging through people’s stuff was normal.

    1. TardyTardis*

      We had a young gentleman in the office when I was in the Air Force who departed suddenly due to flunking a drug test, and we found six months’ worth of backed up purchase requests in his desk drawers. Still don’t know why we didn’t have a couple of colonels breathing fire at us before then.

  9. Observer*

    #3 – Your boss was 100% in within her rights to do this. And the fact that you found work from two months ago that she was supposed to have done, is a perfect example of WHY this is normal.

    I’d like to point out to you that in many, if not most, organizations with reasonably competent IT, anything on your computer, in your email and often even your internet usage can be searched by your boss. It’s 100% normal, and in many cases even required.

    1. snowglobe*

      I remember reading once that if you keep personal stuff in your desk, you should put it in a file labeled “personal”, so that if ever anyone needs to go through your desk to find something, they can avoid that folder. Obviously don’t keep anything *really* embarrassing if you think that’s likely to happen, but this is one way of feeling more comfortable with the idea that your boss may need to go through your desk when you are out.

      1. Cat wrangler*

        I had a manager who routinely took work off our desks to scan through (they were a bit of a micromanager). The trouble came when it wasn’t replaced on time and we didn’t always notice that it was gone so then we had to request it back, which did have some knock on effects. It was a bit annoying but it’s a way, if not the best way, for managers to see what’s going on.

      2. Où est la bibliothèque?*

        My “personal” file would have to include the coffee mug that I never remember to wash at the end of the day, and the tchotchkes people at work have given me that I stuck in a draw because I didn’t really like them, and the half-eaten snacks, and the meeting notes with little frowny faces doodled on them…

        I know that my boss has every right to go through my desk, but I definitely cringe at the thought of it happening.

        1. CAcats*

          I cover my coffee cup with my calculator at the end of the day, so no one sees inside! I too am a “wash it the morning before drinking” kind of person.

      3. Bostonian*

        Yup. My company’s data privacy policy recommends this for if you keep personal files on your computer (marriage certificates for HR, any financial documents, etc.): to prevent anyone who may need to access your files from seeing personal information that’s not theirs to see!

    2. Tardigrade*

      Yeah, my boss came into my locked office and opened my locked desk to look for some kind of supplies she needed while I was out. My coworker told me about it as though I’d be upset. I mean, I don’t exactly invite that sort of activity but it’s totally fine – it’s not actually “my” office nor “my” desk.

      1. Asenath*

        I was once away at a conference when The Powers That Be decided someone else needed my office more than I did. Someone more senior, of course. I came back to find that everything was packed up in boxes by the co-worker assigned to the job. Even my computer (on its wheeled desk) and chair sat in the corridor – useless because of the lack of connections. I sat in the corridor, too, reading novels and announcing to all and sundry that I couldn’t do anything until I had a space where I could plug in my computer. They found someplace fairly soon – they didn’t want to pay me to read novels. I wasn’t upset that someone had gone through everything in my office and packed it, although I did feel sorry for her since my office was kind of a default storage area for a lot of miscellaneous stuff so it was a big job. I knew it wasn’t my private desk or shelves or drawers, and kept only the most basic and ordinary personal items there.

        Another time, a pipe in the ceiling of my office burst while I was on vacation. I was glad that time that someone else had to clean up the mess.

    3. Ellex*

      Considering that last month I was handed a bunch of files that had been languishing in various currently occupied and unoccupied desks going back several *years*…yeah, this is why no one should be surprised if their boss goes through a prior or current employees desk. And at a previous job, uncashed checks – also going back years – were found in an employee’s desk, leading to her termination and a lawsuit by the company against her.

      1. Bibliovore*

        This. I thought I was unique. And the misery.and her affect was one of efficiency, cooperation. There was a line at my door of angry coworkers and I couldn’t say a word while she was spreading the word of how abusive I was as a supervisor.

        1. Autumnheart*

          If it’s about something like payments that vendors made as part of a contractual agreement, then that’s money that the company was supposed to have on hand for operating, that they didn’t have because So-and-so didn’t account for the check. If there’s income that doesn’t get accounted, it doesn’t get reported, and then your taxes are off, and then you could get audited…

        2. Ellex*

          The checks were payments made by clients. Don’t ask me how years of checks from clients went undeposited and no one noticed – I still don’t understand how that could happen. It was an incredibly toxic workplace where status quo was king and every department supervisor jealously guarded their smidgen of power. The company ran in the red every year and I was thrilled to leave for a better job. Not long after I left, one of the salesmen took over and gutted the company and stripped it down to selling only a software package – which was where technology should have led it several years previously.

          Autumnheart, the company did get audited some time before I was hired – which led to the discovery that the general manager had been embezzling from the company for years!

    4. Psyche*

      If someone is out unexpectedly (or for an unexpectedly long time) it is extremely normal to have to find things in their desk or office. It’s much better than trying to contact them to find out what they did with the ninja report.

    5. samiratou*

      Given all the other things the poor woman has going on, I doubt she’ll even notice. If she does, or is told, she’ll probably be rather understanding. I would be, at least.

    6. Piano Girl*

      I had a coworker who, after being extremely ill for months, ended up in the hospital for emergency surgery. Our boss needed some information that was typically received and added to the shared drive by my coworker. While going through their desk (yes, it was weird and uncomfortable) I found that several months of the information had been misfiled. I fixed it as quickly as I could and cleaned up their email, including several undeposited checks. Although I had known that my coworker had been quite ill for awhile, it was a huge shock. They knew when they returned that things had been cleaned up and were grateful.

      1. Michaela Westen*

        This is why people should be allowed to take sick time when they need it. People come to work sick and can’t do their work, but are afraid to tell anyone or ask for help… I once had a colleague at a publishing company come in sick. The next day all her work had to be done over. It had been a waste of time for her to come in that day.

    7. TardyTardis*

      And this is why I went through my rat pile and made sure there was nothing Ugly inside or on my desk before I went on vacation…

  10. ooo*

    I’m surprised by the answer to OP1. Assuming the caller was Tammy, I feel like it’s something to go to HR with right away? That’s a serious boundary violation, and doesn’t an employer have the right to know if an employee’s drinking is affecting their business?

    1. Zin*

      I think there’s a couple of things going on. For one, aside from OP and her husband feeling offended, there’s not much to say that the drinking is impacting the business. An employee and her husband being irritated by a Managers unprofessional behavior certainly isn’t ideal but it’s unlikely to be threatening to the business in any meaningful way.

      Secondly, I don’t know that drunk dialing a number that belongs to an employees spouse is spectacularly boundary violating. Asking “What are you doing tonight?” can be construed as a come on but I’ve been asked that by plenty of drunk friends and they came over, watched a movie and crashed on my couch. They literally wanted to know what I was doing. So leaping straight to “I know this woman was trying to have sex with my husband because she dialed a number in her phone and asked a potentially innocuous question” might come off a bit pearl clutching.

      But I also agree that as an employee, people have the right to expect their off time is private and that Managers won’t be drunk dialing their spouses! Which is why I liked the script given. It acknowledges the behavior wasn’t okay without making it into a huge deal. If it happened again or was more explicit, I’d likely think “That’s an HR moment.”

      1. ooo*

        I would be pretty upset if my supervisor called my spouse, whom she’d met once, drunk late at night. She had to dig into OP1’s file to get his number! That is using her position totally inappropriately. (And it’s not pearl clutching to assume she was calling to flirt with him — it’s exercising a basic familiarity with the nature of late-night drunk dials. Sure, it may be she was phoning a near-stranger of the opposite sex well past bedtime while intoxicated and just wanted to discuss Avengers 4 spoilers, but we are allowed to believe it was motivated by the same impulse most such calls are.)

        Also: If I were Tammy’s boss, I’d be pissed if she caused alcohol-related trouble down the line for the business and OP had never let me know about this.

        1. Loose Seal*

          I got the impression from the letter that OP’s husband’s number was already stored in the boss’ phone, not that she had to look it up in the files that night. If it were already in the phone, she could have mistakenly pressed it, thinking she was calling the Dave-her-ex rather than Dave-the-OP’s-husband.

          It’s hard to tell what the boss meant to do unless her conversation with OP’s husband was more involved than what we were given here. That’s why going in with guns blazing might be more detrimental to the OP. I like Alison’s script since it lets the boss know that her behavior was noticed, wasn’t cool, and needs to stop.

          1. PhyllisB*

            This is true. I just remembered years ago calling (I thought) my sister-in-law and just started talking without verifying it was her. She was single and lived alone at the time, so it was a good assumption it was her. Anyway, the other person didn’t say anything, and just abruptly hung up. Dialed back and didn’t get an answer. The next time I talked to her, I asked why she hung up on me and didn’t answer when I called back. I just got a puzzled look. I had dialed a wrong number.
            This was before the days of cell phones/caller ID so even if I had thought to check what number I called there wasn’t a way to do it. What I’m saying is, perhaps Tammy dialed your husband by mistake and didn’t think to mention to you, or just forgot about it.

    2. Nursey Nurse*

      What’s HR going to do, though? I assume that if the OP had objective proof it was Tammy who called (like a call log saying the call came from Tammy’s number) she would have mentioned it in the letter. As it is, all the OP can say is that someone called her husband and drunkenly flirted with him, that her husband said it sounded like Tammy, and that when her husband asked if the caller was his wife’s boss she giggled and said yes. That’s hardly the kind of damning evidence that is going to make HR act against a supervisory-level employee, especially if she denies making the call.

      If Tammy had called the OP, or someone else who worked for her, then maybe it would be appropriate to involve HR (although IMO even in those circumstances it would be iffy to lodge a complaint based on the information given here.) In the meantime OP has to continue to work with Tammy, and filing a complaint that HR is unlikely to address in any significant way won’t help their working relationship a bit.

      I get that OP is angry; I would be too. But I honestly think an HR complaint is unwarranted here, and that Alison’s approach is better.

      1. ooo*

        If nothing else, make a note of it in case another employee reports something similar down the line.

        I’m really surprised people are so dismissive of this. If Tammy were Todd, and Todd drunkenly called an employee’s wife in the middle of the night, after going into the employee’s file to get her number, would you guys think that was no big deal?

        1. Traffic_Spiral*

          It’d be the same thing of “firstly make sure that this was actually Todd and that he was intentionally calling your wife.”

          1. Antilles*

            Yeah that’s a key point here: *Even if* OP goes straight to HR, the first question will be “have you talked with Tammy about it? What did she say?” If OP’s answer is no, then the likely response from HR will be to suggest you talk to Tammy first and come back if it’s not resolved.
            And if that discussion with Tammy shows that there’s a reasonable explanation*, it ends up badly for OP because (1) Tammy is ticked that she went to HR first rather than simply resolving the situation directly and (2) HR mentally rolls their eyes at OP making a big deal out of “Tammy was trying to call Todd Packer instead of Todd Smith”.

          2. Nursey Nurse*

            Exactly. And this isn’t a problem where you can just flip the genders and have equivalent situations.

        2. Loose Seal*

          It’s not that it’s no big deal. It’s that if you choose the nuclear option as your reaction, then you have no other way to further escalate this. Following Alison’s script doesn’t mean that OP can’t do or say more if the situation worsens.

          1. AvonLady Barksdale*

            That’s a very good point. A one-off thing like this is a mistake (an uncomfortable one, to be sure) and should be dealt with as if it were a mistake and won’t happen again.

            Keep in mind that it’s this particular situation that is a “mistake”. Tammy didn’t grab the husband’s butt at the party or, say, corner him and make a pass. She made (if it really was her) a slightly inappropriate drunken phone call during which she didn’t say anything particularly egregious or disgusting, and she didn’t call back. This– as it stands right now– is worth raising an eyebrow, not an HR complaint.

          2. EPLawyer*

            Start small because as Alison noted, she still has to work with this woman. Going right to HR with this is a guarantee nothing will be done except make an already tense working relationship worse. If Tammy gets the message, problem solved while OP1 works on getting away from this woman. If Tammy continues, then OP1 can still escalate. Going right to HR leaves her nowhere to escalate while working on getting away.

        3. MMP*

          I agree with you about if this was the reverse situation, would that change the advice.

          My father liked to drink. I’m pretty sure he was an alcoholic. He definitely did things while drunk that he never would have done while sober, so it could be that Tammy was trying to come on to OP1’s husband or it could be a thousand other things.

          I also agree that OP1 should check the number and make sure it actually was Tammy before saying anything.

      2. WonderingHowIGotIntoThis*

        I can see another scenario. Tammy has OP and OP’s spouses numbers saved in her phone. This isn’t beyond the realms of possibility – my boss has access to all direct and emergency numbers through her work phone, because that’s how our work phones are set up. Someone female, sounding a bit like Tammy, calls a number – doesn’t ask for the responder by name, asks a flirty question, giggles and hangs up.
        So, scenario Y, does Tammy have a daughter, and it’s a prank call, picking a number at random? (In which case Tammy needs to keep better hold of her work assets – different problem)
        Scenario Z, Tammy was trying to genuinely get hold of someone else (for possibly the reasons already speculated) and got the wrong number.

        I realise that these are heavy on the speculation, but based on the information provided (OP’s letter doesn’t say Tammy would have to go through her file to get spouse’s number, only that he is listed as an emergency contact; spouse said it sounded like Tammy, and a giggle-yes isn’t concrete proof if it was a prank call) more innocent reasons are likely, and a visit to HR would possibly be a bit heavy handed. Alison’s script is the way to go.

        1. ooo*

          OK, this is fair — if husband’s number is just saved as a contact in Tammy’s phone, it’s absolutely possible she dialed the wrong person; and given that, Alison’s script makes sense.

          I’m still curious, though — husband thought it was Tammy right away. Maybe she just has a distinctive voice, but it makes me wonder whether something about his interaction with her at the party made her leap to mind.

            1. Clisby Williams*

              The OP interacts with Tammy regularly. Tammy and the husband just met for the first time at an office party.

          1. fposte*

            I’m reminded of the OP who thought her boss put toilet water (like, from the toilet, not perfume) in her water bottle. She thought that mostly because her boss was so terrible in other ways that it made sense to her (the boss didn’t actually do it, though). I’m wondering if one reason the OP’s husband thought of Tammy is because she’s a significant negative feature of the OP’s life and she’s been identified as “unpredictable.”

            1. neverjaunty*

              Or possibly because Tammy was giving off weird vibes at the party.

              Alison’s advice is spot-on and takes into account that it might not have been Tammy. It’s very weird to see people rushing in to write fanfic that makes the OP the bad guy.

              1. fposte*

                I think that’s stretching the term “fanfic” and also “bad guy,” though. As you say, Alison also notes the possibility that it wasn’t actually the boss, so I’m not seeing that as fanfic, and the OP is hardly a bad guy for thinking her weird boss did a weird thing, whether she’s mistaken or correct.

                1. neverjaunty*

                  I agree with you that the OP is hardly the bad guy, but you wouldn’t know that from many of the comments. Is it International Devil’s Advocate Day?

                2. MK*

                  Often in the comments, I think it feels like “International Devil’s Advocate Day” because when someone takes an incident that everyone agrees is inappropriate and goes full-on “REPORT THIS”. No one is defending Tammy’s actual behavior (if it was her).

                3. Michaela Westen*

                  Wanting to report something that isn’t that bad is IME an indication of anxiety. It makes a person feel threatened… what if it gets worse? Anxiety makes a person go to the worst-case scenario quickly and that’s what they’re reacting to.

              2. Nursey Nurse*

                I certainly didn’t say OP was the bad guy. She’s not, and her reaction is totally understandable. But with the information we have going to HR at this point would probably not be fruitful.

        2. Aveline*

          Yep. Just this AM I sent a text two my two besties that was intended for my husband. We have a multi-year text thread that we use to chat. Husband is he only other person I text daily. So they are always up top and next to each other.

          They are also clearly labeled and the names are on no way similar.

          Thankfully, the topic was mundane.

          If I did that stone cold sober, it’s easy to see someone drink dialing the wrong person.

          What boss said could be a come on. It could as easily be a fumbled attempt to play it cool by a woman who realized she fielded the wrong number.

      3. wheeeee*

        OP’s husband (or OP herself) could call the number and see who answers, no? Unless deleted, it will still be in his phone.

    3. MK*

      Alison’s response was informed (as she explains in the post) by the fact the OP will have to work with Tammy every day. This is not nothing, but it’s not a fireable offense either. Barring things like abuse, corruption, etc., it always make sense to try to resolve workplace disputes with the minimum of drama, and, like it or not, going to HR is a pretty heavy-handed option.

      And one really cannot assume it was Tammy either, it might well have been a prank.

      1. ooo*

        I’m operating on the assumption that the caller was Tammy because Alison’s answer did; how sure of it OP1 and her husband are is up to them.

        I don’t know that I’d go to HR asking for Tammy to be disciplined, because especially without evidence, I agree it’s a stretch. But if I felt pretty sure it was her, I would want to report it formally just to get it documented. It’s not outlandish to imagine that if Tammy’s judgment and boundaries are bad enough she drunk-dialed an employee’s husband, she might get a hair up her ass about OP if she did remember what she’d done and started to feel ashamed and embarrassed and mad about it. THIS IS WEIRD AND INAPPROPRIATE ENOUGH THAT SOMEONE SHOULD KNOW ABOUT IT.

        1. MK*

          You have every right to feel this way, but I have to say, I doubt most people, including HR, is going to think that. Even if it was Tammy and the OP could prove it, what she actually did was call the OP’s husband and… maybe try to flirt with him? A big maybe, because she doesn’t seem to have said anything explicit. Yes, this is inappropriate, but I don’t think most people who will agree that this is “I MUST REPORT THIS!” level of inappropriate.

          Going to HR is going to make the OP’s relatiosnhip with her boss very difficult. HR is more likely to think the OP is making too big a deal out of this (and yes, that would be true even if the genders were swapped). And instead of the OP being protected against retaliation (I assume that’s what you had in mind) they might view any further complaints as a vendetta.

          1. PB*

            Right. What is HR going to do? The most OP could say is, “Someone called my husband while I was out of town and asked him what it was doing. We think it was Tammy and we think she was drunk, but we can’t prove either.” The better approach would be what Alison already recommended.

          2. Michaela Westen*

            Maybe OP should just document it to her file with the date, time and phone number that called and what was said.
            Then if the situation escalates she’ll have the details handy. If not, no harm.

    4. nodramalama*

      I mean, that is a big assumption to make though. OP didn’t actually talk to her, we don’t know if it was Tammy, we don’t know if she meant to call the OP’s husband, we don’t know a lot so I think going to HR is probably an escalation I’m not sure is warranted without knowing more.

      1. Aveline*


        There are more innocent explanations than nefariousnines.

        There is no definitive proof of who it was and what their intent was.

        Even if it was Tammy and she was up to no good, she will deny it was her or deny that the conversation was sexual. She would be believed.

        The only evidence it was her was husband thought it might be. LW is interpreting the conversation as sexual. But both of these assumptions have very shaky ground.

        Simple solution: block the number.

        1. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

          I like this idea. Block the number. If it was Tammy, it’ll either somehow come out when she finds she cannot call, or she’ll get the message and not do this again. If it was not Tammy, you’ve blocked whomever it was and they cannot call again. Problem solved.

          Also very much agree with this: Even if it was Tammy and she was up to no good, she will deny it was her or deny that the conversation was sexual. She would be believed.

          1. B*

            It’s supposed to be an emergency contact so I’d be hesitant to block after a one time call which hasn’t been addressed at all

            1. Snickerdoodle*

              If it’s a true emergency, someone else could call the same number; Tammy doesn’t have to be the caller. I like the idea of blocking the number.

              1. jenkins*

                True, but if I was trying to call someone in an emergency and the call didn’t go through, I don’t think it would even occur to me to try calling from a different phone in case that person had blocked my number! I would just think shit, their phone’s turned off/has no signal, and probably keep trying to call every few minutes while also dealing with the emergency. If it’s worth Tammy having an emergency number in the first place, I think it’s worth her being able to use it – unless the flirty phone calls continue. There are so many ways that a one-off call could have been a mistake. (I once texted my best friend Louise to complain about the guy I was dating, Lewis. Guess who got the text?)

      2. Anono-Mice*

        I was thinking exactly this, we have no idea if LW is going to ask Tammy about this and Tammy is mortified because she thought it was Dave-she-met-at-a-bar not Dave-LW’s-husband.

        I’ve 100% done this before when my boyfriend, best friend, and roommate were all named Matt.

    5. Marthooh*

      The most HR can do about this is put Tammy on notice that she’d better not do that again — which is exactly what the OP will be doing by mentioning it directly.

    6. What's with Today, today?*

      A local dentist was drunk messaging married clients through Facebook about six months ago. Very suggestive messages with obvious sexual content. He was also married. One of the women was so upset she posted it all publicly and it went viral (in our area, small time viral). Any way, his wife stayed, but his practice is failing now. I really don’t know how I feel about the whole thing, but it was interesting.

    7. ooo*

      All right, in the clear light of day, I am persuaded that it makes sense to start with Alison’s script. (I hope we can all agree this would be very different if (1) OP knew for sure it was Tammy, and (2) it was clear Tammy knew exactly whom she was calling.)

      But I still wanna know if Tammy knew OP wouldn’t be at home that night, and if husband’s previous interaction with Tammy gave them reason to think she might be calling to flirt. Maybe I’m just extra suspicious because my two ex-wives are both named Tammy.

        1. ooo*

          Tammy Two once seduced a coroner and had me declared legally dead just so she could get a discount on a plane ticket.

      1. Zin*

        Just because I see this come up a lot in these threads.

        Yes. My response would be exactly the same if genders in this scenario were different.

        Also, not everyone feels excessively weird about someone finding their partner attractive. I guess to me, when I find that out it just makes sense. I find my partner charming, attractive, funny and warm. Plus there’s some amazing blue eyes that to this day make me catch my breath sometimes (after 17 years together). It stands to reason others are going to feel the same way about him. There’s nothing threatening or awkward about that.

        Having said that, I think most people were agreeing it was an unfortunate act on the Managers part and if it continues would be an HR matter.

        We’re allowed to assume whatever we like, sure. That it was a mistake, that it wasn’t, that it was a come on, that it was innocuous, that it was a prank by someone else entirely. But being able to assume any of those don’t make them true and I think Alison’s script was just acknowledging that.

        Anyways, I’ll leave it here since otherwise it feels like it starts to trend into the disagreeing for disagreement sake when I’m reality, I do agree what the Manager did was problematic. If it was her.

    8. Snickerdoodle*

      I agree that HR should know about it just so there’s a record in case anything similar happens down the line. I definitely think the OP should go with Alison’s script first and only then mention it to HR, but either way, if Tammy doesn’t have a record of similar incidents prior to this one, she will now, and it will very likely crop up again.

  11. Still MVP In My Own Mind*

    OP 2: There are often many unknowable factors at play before a job description can be disseminated publicly. These could include lawyers, compliance officers, or administrators charged with conforming such releases to policy, or multiple policies, or regulations, or internal criteria. Sometimes there are cost considerations driving the process (i.e. regulations require explicit XYZ and newspaper ads but each additional word in an ad costs $). And/or it could be, as you suspect, simply that they could substantially benefit from better written expression. But speaking as someone who works professionally with HR across many industries on job descriptions, many of my clients would love to introduce improvements but are constrained by things beyond their control.

    1. Hmmm*

      Not to mention positions at state universities hiring government employees essentially have blanket job ads for types of roles they use across the entire state. Can’t change that.

      1. pleaset*

        The position announcement is a marketing document. It need not be the same as the detailed job description. You don’t want to pull a bait and switch, where the two things are drastically different, but imagine if the production side of a company insisted that all advertising for a product be a detailed, technical spec sheet. Yes, the spec sheet/job description should available for potential customers/applicants – and in the case of applicants they should be shown it fairly early in the process. But leading with that – that’s not a good way to get the strongest applicants, and wouldn’t be tolerated in a variety of other domains such as selling or looking for investors. I mean, look at investment marketing – there are ads and then there is the legally binding prospectus or offering info. Not the same thing.

        Or in a university setting, your marketing to prosepctive students begins with the degree requirements followed by the course catalogue. That’s your main marketing pitch.


        1. Observer*

          Yes, really.

          Have you ever seen the regulations for RFPs / RFQs for many government and government funded agencies? I’m not talking about the regulations about what needs to be in the actual request, but what need to be in the solicitation and how you solicit, etc. They can be complex, dense and often counter-productive. And, almost always, HIGHLY prescriptive. You need to say X, Y and Z. A and B cannot be said, and you can only say G and H under specific condition or if you ALSO say Q.

          To think that hiring might not be any different is naive, at best.

          1. pleaset*

            Hmmm, I was recently looking at ads about RFPs for government-funded projects and positions in the Economist. They are not written the same abstract language as RFPs themselves but are distilled in ways to attract interest.

            Spend some legal time upfront to figure out how to thread the needle. Make it clear that the ad is not the JD. That separation is done in other other domains which in many organizations have more clout. Frankly, the lack of such an approach reflects the degree to which a of institutions devalue HR and recruiting. Get legal support to figure out how to make that separation.

            1. Observer*

              Please don’t apply to these types of positions. It’s not just a matter of making the effort of placing value on HR , contract management, etc. Seriously, no one needs someone who reads a few ads and makes confident pronouncements about how they can and should be made with a side helping of contempt for the people who actually are working quite hard to “thread the needle” as you put it.

              The issue is not how “abstract” the language of the ad is, and no one expects that ad to look like the rfp. As I said, I was talking explicitly about the regulations relating to the actual advertisements. I’ve been involved in a number of these processes, and the rules range fro “do whatever you think makes sense, as long as you can document what you did, that it met applicable laws, that it met general standards of the agency and that it tended to get the best price for the best outcome” to “You must get the BEST price *and* follow this dance that is so complicated that there is a whole cottage industry of advisers who help organizations go through the process.”

              We’re pretty fortunate that none of the organizations that fund staffing have rules that onerous and unreasonable, but they exist. And in an organization where even some of the jobs fall under these types of rules, these difficult to read ads may very well be the result of spending both the HR and legal time up front to avoid getting sued, or surviving the onslaught of someone who is determined to prove wrong doing.

              1. Marketing guru*

                “Please don’t apply to these types of positions”

                Ya, you should never, ever apply to high-end RFPs in the Economist. They’re all terrible jobs, and replying to them disses HR . Yup, that’s the ticket.

        2. LQ*

          I mean…the actual job descriptions are often like that too. Standard blocks that indicate that this role is a level whatever. I’m not saying you’re wrong, I’m just saying that’s not a great battle for someone who isn’t even employed at the company to decide to fight with the person who is trying to hire (and likely knows it stinks but has decided out of the 89 fights they need to pick this month to not pick that fight because you can only have so many battles at a time).

        3. Hmmm*

          I have literally worked for a state university system where the job ad is required to be the description defined by the state (pretty sure it was the state, could’ve been some other extension of them). It had mandated hours depending on which university in the system you were at. I don’t think anyone I had ever met would have had the standing to affect these, as it was done at like 7 universities. This wasn’t ALL jobs – more specialized professional positions could have descriptions – but jobs that were under the “job we have at all the universities” umbrella.

          If someone had suggested changing the ads I would’ve thought they were completely out of touch, because I literally don’t even know who writes those descriptions, and they probably aren’t even in this town. In fact, I’m not sure why you’re arguing with me about how they’re bad – sure they’re bad, but I could never do anything about them. I don’t think anyone in my entire department could have had any affect on them.

  12. NoMoreFirstTimeCommenter*

    OP#2: I think if the overly bureaucratic ads get those university people the kind of candidates they want, then the ads are just fine. Maybe people who have the kind of experience they’re looking for, are used to the style and understand the ads well. In that case it’s working fine!

    I’ve sometimes told potential employers there’s a problem with their job ads, but in one of the following situations:
    -when I’m interviewing and it turns out that something is different from what I understood from the ad. In those cases I’ve said things like “I didn’t realize from the ad that this position is so heavily focused on llama grooming” or “oh, is this position only 20 hours per week, I wonder why I got the impression that it would be 30 hours” or something like that. Not saying that their ad had wrong information, more like suspecting I somehow read it wrong, and hoping if they hear a lot of this they’ll start thinking about it…
    -also sometimes if the ad is bad but gives a phone number to call for questions (note: seems from this blog that this isn’t really a thing in the US, so if it’s not common to call in your country, then don’t), I may call and ask for more information. I may say that I didn’t really get enough information from the ad or that it was confusing.

    1. CoveredInBees*

      You’re correct that this isn’t a thing in the US. In fact, many ads explicitly ask applicants not too call. It would likely be fine if people called with questions that weren’t answered in the ad or the company website or they didn’t use the opportunity to “sell” themselves as candidates.

      I was one of the few people at my last job with an email address that was easy to find on the website and got contacted frequently about job openings totally unrelated to my work. I would have happily forwarded the emails to the correct department if they actually contained a relevant question. Instead, people wanted to know about the work we do (you found my email ON OUR WEBSITE) or to set up a time to talk to them. So, they got a canned email encouraging them to submit an application to the HR email listed in the job ad and to get to know us on our website and social media. I was the organization’s grant writer and data wrangler, so yes, I knew about everything going on but was still an odd choice.

      1. Kelly L.*

        Here, we get a lot of people who have obviously been coached that they should Show Gumption by Calling to Ask Questions, but they don’t actually have any questions, so they call and ask things like “where do I send my resume” when that’s right in the ad. There was one who asked “How do I send it to the whole committee? Can I get all their addresses?” Welp, the way to send it to the whole committee is to send it to the email address we put in the ad, because it’s a shared mailbox that they can all see. She wasn’t thrilled with that answer.

    2. Jennifer Thneed*

      I corrected a job ad once. It was a writing job and they explicitly requested it as a sort of informal writing test! Under no other circumstances would I do that or offer to do it.

  13. Hmmm*

    #3 – I understand the inclination to feel like your desk is “your space”, but it’s moreso *your work’s* space. At work, I assume that literally everything I do on a computer, and anything I leave anywhere, could be viewed by my boss. That doesn’t mean I’m a paradigm of productivity (because my boss isn’t a terrifying micromanager who freaks out if I check Facebook a few times), but it’s completely reasonable that your boss went through her stuff. Frankly, I’d assume a boss would go through my computer or things if they needed to, and there might not be warning, and if that worries you, make the changes so it doesn’t.

    1. CM*

      Same. I work in a field where it’s normal to get IT to unlock people’s computers when they’re out sick so we can find their files. I try to keep my work stuff and my personal stuff completely separate, because I assume I have zero expectation of privacy on any device my employers own. (It also helps create a clear, bright line where they have zero expectation of access to any device I own).

  14. Flash Bristow*

    Well, hopefully. But if they are happy in their existing team (dare I say clique, if there is one) then they might say “ah well, we tried, we can now return to our normal routine with no issues!” and off they dance.

    I joined a new workplace and once I’d joined in with the pub trips and pint drinking competitions (it was IT, what can I say) I was included.

    Although it seemed like most of the company went to the pub together, once we got there the techie side sat together, sales and marketing sat together too. So I still needed to be actively included by my techie team. Luckily they did and it was fun. But OP might see nearly everyone leaving together and think they’ll be automatically included next time – they might not. It’s worth explicitly saying you’re up for it, and also finding out which bars they go to, so you can stick your head in on the way home to see if they’re in there, and say hi. That also worked for me at a different job – there was a pub nearby and it was common to pop in on the way home, see who was in there, stay or not. Part of the work day routine pretty much!

  15. fort hiss*

    Question one has so much juicy potential! OP, I hope we hear from you in an update. What do you even say when you get caught doing this kind of thing…?

    1. Marthooh*

      “What? No, wasn’t me! At all! Oh, on Friday? Uh, mayyyyybe? Like, I was trying to get hold of, of, of Bob in Accounting but maybe I misdialled? Hahaha, silly me! Yeah and I got distracted when… a dog ate my homework.”

    2. fposte*

      I think you say “Geez, I’m so sorry, I’m dating a guy also named Gavin and I hit your husband’s number instead, and then I was too embarrassed to admit it.”

  16. Labradoodle Daddy*

    I would be particularly wary of how/if you approach your boss, OP1, as you aren’t certain she is the one who called (it makes sense that she would be that person, but can you imagine if you were wrong??)

  17. Triplestep*

    #5 – You mention you’ve been job-searching for several months; I have, too. I have had several instances where I thought an offer was imminent, and even one offer that turned out to be way too low to consider (and they would not budge.) The way I manage my emotions is to keep on going. Keep on applying, keep on networking, keep on looking for openings that might be a good fit. This is how you take Alison’s “move on” advice and put it into action.

    I realize how obsessive this sounds, but having a routine helps; I have certain times of day I will devote to the search, and I do a little something every day then put it aside. And what that’s meant is that every time I face a disappointment, I have something else to focus on. There’s always another possibility.

    Also, keep in mind that not every opportunity is perfect, even the one you’re trying hard not to focus on now. When you’re in a lousy situation at work, it’s easy to see another role as The Perfect Job for You, but all jobs have considerations. I am waiting to hear about something that is exactly the work I want to move into, at a salary that would be manageable (I’m willing to take a reduction to do something new) in a work from home position, which is what I’ve been hoping for. Perfect, right? Well, it’s with a huge consulting firm, and working for a consultancy comes with risks. If I’m offered the role, I would take on those risks and do my best to manage them, but if I don’t get this job, those risks are things I will not have to worry about in any of the other opportunities that are currently irons in the fire.

    TLDR: Keep going on your job search, and try to be realistic about the job you’re hyper-focused on right now; if it comes to be, this will only help set your expectations once in the role, and if it falls through, you’ll have other roles you can imagine yourself in.

    Good luck!

    1. Ali G*

      This is good advice. It took me 6 months to find the job I have now. What I started doing was, every time I made it through the next step in the process, I instantly searched for at least 2 new positions to apply to. So, had a phone interview at Company A – go apply to positions in Company B & C. Get a rejection? Apply to D&E, and so forth. Therefore there was always something to “do” and focus on, besides that one job you are really excited about.

    2. Sloan Kittering*

      I think Alison’s advice is spot on for #5 in this circumstance, especially since the OP specifically says they’re trying not to get their hopes up – and I actually personally believe that in most circumstances (dating, career, holidays), it’s better not to get your hopes up before things are set. But I will throw up a note that some people just don’t operate this way, and that’s okay too. I was just discussing this with a friend, and I was giving typical limit-you-expectations advice, and she was like, “hey, is it okay for me just to feel happy and excited sometimes? Even if I know I may not ultimately get what I’m hoping for?” And I was like – you know what, you’re so right!! Sometimes having a little hope and a little excitement is a pretty nice thing to have.

    3. Letter Writter #5*

      Hi all, thank you so much! I found Alison’s and all of your advice very helpful. My current job has been making me increasingly miserable (long story short, what I was told the job would be and what it actually is are two different things). Plus there have been very few postings in my field and location since my search began. So it’s been hard not to latch onto this newest potential opportunity as a lifeline. I usually am more practical-minded in terms of expectations and reading all of the advice has helped ground me. And of course the job got posted today so I will be perusing the AAM archives hard at work on a knock-out cover letter and triple-checking my resume. Please send some good “get that job” energy out into the universe for me! I know I’m sending some to you @Triplestep!

  18. Villanelle*

    OP 4 – when the next invite happens either accept it or don’t, depending on how you feel and what is going on that day. Sometimes you feel like going out after work…Sometimes you don’t.

    1. Michaela Westen*

      I think this would be fine after she’s been there a year, but if she says no to two or three invites in a row when she’s new, her colleagues will think she doesn’t want to hang with them. I would say yes to the next invite even if it’s inconvenient, and the next one after that too.

  19. Delta Delta*

    #4 – Definitely mention you’d like to go on the future but you couldn’t that day. It would be an unfortunate turn if you stopped being invited because you are perceived as not wanting to participate. And perhaps next time they’ll mention it earlier, but maybe they won’t. The latter will require a little flexibility on your part of you want to go. There have been times that I’ve been with colleagues and someone on the spur of the moment says, “hey, let’s go to the pub!” and off we go. Not saying you always have to go if/when that happens, but if this is a crew that operates that way, it may be good to stay flexible so you can sometimes.

    1. Liet-Kinda*

      Agreed. It’s nice if they do let you know earlier, but given that these things are often spontaneous, and also that most people do not have requirements about being invited early….it’s not going to be a big dot on the radar. Sorry.

  20. agnes*

    i hate my organizations job postings. They throw absolutely everything the person could possibly ever do into the description. Their explanation is that “we have to be transparent and upfront about everything the job is” primarily to CYA if someone files a grievance. Most of the pressure to write a job posting dissertation comes from the person hiring the employee, not HR.

    My philosophy is that a job posting is a marketing tool. You tell them enough to get them interested and you can cover all the fine print if you get serious about a candidate.

    I’m seeing some slight opening with some new management. I hope we can spiff these things up.

    1. irene adler*

      I agree with your take on job postings.
      I find, as a job seeker, that the ‘everything but the kitchen sink’ approach makes it hard to tell what are the primary job duties and what are minor things that they aren’t focusing on. I could be focusing on skills X, Y and Z -and submit a resume concentrating on such- when they are seeking skills A,B and C. So there’s no way I can win. Hence, I don’t bother to apply.

    2. The Other Dawn*

      I starting to job search and I’ve come across these types of postings. While I appreciate all the detail, I find I lose interest and move on to the next one because there’s just too much there. On the flip side, postings with very little information drive me crazy, too. I’ve seen a few that really give me no sense as to what the job is about.

      1. Triplestep*

        In my experience, these are often obligatory postings when they already have someone in mind. Typically I will wait on these and often the are gone in a few days.

      2. Lance*

        Yup, I’ve come across a few of those last ones mentioned as well. ‘You’ll be attending meetings, and you’ll need X skill’… okay, so what would I actually be doing in terms of the meat of the job? Because you’re not telling me that at all, you’ve just filled your job ad with meaningless business speak and vagaries.

        This is for a job where ‘data entry’ is part of the title. It couldn’t be that hard to say what the person in the job would actually do even in general, right…?

    3. pleaset*

      It’s stupid too. If they want to CYA just include “other duties as needed” rather than a laundry list – that covers EVERYTHING.

      1. Observer*

        But those other duties have to be REASONABLE and RELATED TO THE JOB. And *I* (person filing the grievance) get to decide that, not you (person actually in a position of authority)!

        Go back to yesterday’s update about the guy who didn’t understand why his boss wasn’t treating him like an equal and thought that it was ok to tell his boss that he thinks that Boss should do task x. And the employer…. What would you bet that he would say the above, given a chance? And what are you willing to bet that the top management there would think that this kind of CYA would make it easier to deal with?

  21. SigneL*

    #1 – there are very few situations where I would start with a confrontation, and this isn’t one of them. I’d start the way AaM suggested, in a very puzzled tone of voice. This is NOT the hill I’d want to die on.

  22. Smarty Boots*

    OP #1: You don’t in fact *know* that it was your boss calling; your husband asked and a drunk person said yes…well, that was a drunk person. Unless you have the number the call was made from, and can match it to your boss, you don’t know anything. I’d use Alison’s script because it allows for the possibility that your boss didn’t call. Angry confrontation does not allow for this possibility…

    If you don’t have the number, recommend activating caller id…

      1. Sloan Kittering*

        But what are the chances a spoofer hit on your bosses’ number in calling your husband? And is your boss really smart enough to use a spoof number when drunk dialing? I agree don’t get into it with your boss, but it should be relatively easy to prove whether she called your husband in the first place, right?

        1. fposte*

          The number hasn’t been identified as the boss’s, though. It’s just somebody who sounded like the boss and said “Yes” when asked if she was. I don’t think spoofing is likely to factor in here; the likelihood is either it wasn’t Tammy, or it was Tammy and she screwed up who she was calling because she was drunk.

          1. Sloan Kittering*

            I actually think OP should drop this, but – it doesn’t seem that difficult to me to confirm that a certain number that called a cell phone is the boss’s.

            1. fposte*

              Agreed; if I were the husband I’d probably have called the number back the next day to see who answered. Or even if I were the OP I’d do it on his phone, since I’m the one who should be speaking to the boss anyway.

              1. Sloan Kittering*

                Or use reverse lookup online, or call that number from a desk when she’s left her phone in plain sight …

                1. fposte*

                  Ooh, that last one is especially clever–I’ll definitely consult with you when I want to plan some intrigue.

            1. Kiki*

              Unless you’ve spoken to someone on the phone before or they have a very distinctive voice, it can be difficult to be sure of who you’re talking to by voice alone. Add on to that it doesn’t seem that many coherent phrases provided for OP’s husband to have based this on.

  23. LQ*

    #3 I have been the searcher and the searchee many times. Coworker out on medical leave digging for files. Heck coworker left on time and I’m there late and realize I need some documentation she has (that one has happened a lot, she’s very organized it’s the top of the stack 95% of the time). Boss in a car accident and uncovering serious ethical and legal breaches. I’m out of the office and coworker or boss needs something from me. I’m in training and someone needs something. I’ve been in meetings in another part of the building. I figure most of the time I tell the person and people tell me frequently enough that I assume they are telling me most of the time.

    It’s not MY office. It’s the office I’m using to do the work that I’m being paid to do. For me it almost always feels a little awkward (with the exception of those files on the top of my coworkers desk, I’ve stopped feeling awkward about that), but I’m never bothered when someone says they rifled through my files looking for something. Only if they weren’t able to find it and I though it was easily and obviously marked or sitting out.

    This is really common.

    1. Bagpuss*

      Yes, our office handbook explicitly sets out how files have to be set up and one of the reasons is to make sure that if someone is not available, any other person in the department should be able to pick up the file and deal with it, there is no expectation that files or papers are personal or private, even though each file is assigned to someone who will normally be the person dealing with it.

      To me, going through papers on your desk is at a similar level.
      i think it’s also relevant that your co-worker was out longer than expected, so there was more of a need to deal with the backlog, and it was less practical to wait until she got back to ask her.

      Going through desk drawers would feel more intrusive but not something I would expect anyone to have any legitimate objection to.

  24. Environmental Compliance*

    OP 1 – You really, really, really would need to 100% verify that the caller was actually Boss Tammy, looking to speak with your husband in particular, before choosing the nuclear option of confronting her.

    1) Lots of people are named Tammy.
    2) He met her once and recognized a drunk version of her voice? That’s some pretty epic hearing memory.
    3) If it WAS her, and she WAS drunk…. who’s to say she meant to call him?
    4) Drunk dialing the wrong person is very easy to do. It’s also easy to do sober.
    5) It very easily could have been a prank caller, who just agreed to be “Tammy” after Husband brought up the name.
    6) Maybe I’m a strange one, but I don’t see “whatcha doing tonight” as a come-on. Sounds more like boredom to me.
    7) You can also spoof numbers now. It’s sadly pretty common. I get calls from random numbers from my original area code all the time on my cell.
    8) Even IF it was her, and IF she was hitting on him…what are you going to gain by confronting her? Your boss? Other than a really, really awkward & possibly unworkable work environment?

    It’s just not worth the potential harm to your working environment/career to go all in for a confrontation when it’s a one-time incident that you can’t 100% verify.

    1. ThankYouRoman*

      Hallelujah, I thought I was nuts. This doesn’t sound like a come on to me either.

      I call my mom drunk and tend to start out with “whatcha doing tonight?”.

      Unless it’s followed up with some sort of invite or something explicit, I’m like “You’re boiling in jealous rage over “what are you doing tonight?””

    2. Arctic*

      Give me a break.
      In order to drunk dial him accidentally she’d have to already have his number in her phone. Why would she do that? It would be in LW’s file. She had to go find it.
      What are you doing tonight is the universal “wanna hookup” sign.
      He recognized her voice and she confirmed it was her. He had spoken to her before.
      ” 8) Even IF it was her, and IF she was hitting on him…what are you going to gain by confronting her? Your boss? Other than a really, really awkward & possibly unworkable work environment? ”
      So your position is bosses should be sexually inappropriate unchecked so as to not make things awkward?
      What is going on here?

      1. Owlette*

        No, bosses can certainly have their employees’ spouses numbers in their phones, especially if you work in a small, close-knit office. My boss has my husband’s number saved in his phone from when I had a medical emergency earlier this year. It’s not unthinkable.

        How is anything that happened in this letter sexually inappropriate? Geez, the commenters are making really huge leaps today. :(

        1. Kelly L.*

          And she never said “Hi Dave, this is Tammy.” Dave asked her if she was Tammy, and she giggled and said yes. So a random drunk wrong number caller could just as easily have gone along with whatever he threw out there, out of embarrassment or incoherence.

        2. TootsNYC*

          Agree. I absolutely would put the emergency contacts in my phone–because I may need to be able to contact them when I’m not in the office. What if we’re evacuated because of a steam-pipe break, or something?

          (of course, I probably would put them in the same Contacts listing as the employee, which might make them harder to access accidentally–or not)

      2. Danger: Gumption Ahead*

        I have Mr. Gumption’s boss’s number in my phone in case of emergencies and he has mine and Mr. Gumption and my boss have each other’s numbers. All of our jobs involve a lot of travel so it is good to have emergency contacts with you and not buried in some file somewhere

      3. Kiki*

        My boss had all her subordinates’ emergency contacts entered into her phone because if there were an emergency, she wouldn’t want to spend time digging around for a file. My boss also had them entered as an alternate number for each of us rather than a separate contact, so it could be possible boss drunk dialed LW rather than trying to find LW’s husband.

        As a person who accidentally Venmo’d Her boss at 1 am for “Good times,” I like giving people the benefit of the doubt

        1. Aitch Arr*

          “As a person who accidentally Venmo’d Her boss at 1 am for “Good times,” I like giving people the benefit of the doubt”

          Please tell us more.

          *pulls up chair*

  25. Environmental Compliance*

    OP 3 – yeah, that’s really common. I actually have all of my work files labelled very clearly just in case someone needs something from my files. That way they’re not searching wildly around and can find it easily.

  26. MLB*

    #1 – I’ve never had to report anything to HR, so not sure if this is an option but…I would be tempted to go to HR and report this, explain that I didn’t want them to talk to my boss about it, but wanted it as official record in case it happens again. I know she’s your boss and confronting her would probably not go over well, but I’m not sure if I could let this go with a casual “hey my husband told me you called him friday night”.

    1. SignalLost*

      But why? Nothing happened. What’s the actionable issue here? Someone who said they were Tammy and OP is assuming is boss-Tammy maybe drunk-dialed OP’s husband and maybe meant to drunk-dial OP’s husband amd maybe eventually planned to say something really inappropriate and now everything is completely normal. If OP goes to HR with this, it’s a thin-ass thread that MAYBE makes this look weird. (It doesn’t, it makes OP look weird.) There are many too many assumptions here, and that makes Alison’s script perfect.

      Frankly, I think a lot of people are reading into the fact OP doesn’t like Tammy as proving that Tammy did this, but OP is allowed to like or dislike her coworkers as she does.

      1. AvonLady Barksdale*

        Yup. Nothing happened. This is not HR-worthy. Something odd, non-sexual (barely even flirtatious) happened, and someone who MIGHT have been the boss is involved. It’s an odd situation, but nothing actually happened besides some drunk giggling. No one’s life or safety was threatened, no one was harassed. This is a file-it-away-for-later situation.

      2. MLB*

        Because it’s highly inappropriate, that’s why. There are questions as to what can actually be proven here, so if LW isn’t 100% sure it was her boss, then I agree it shouldn’t be reported. But if she knows for a fact it was her boss, you really see nothing wrong here? LW said the only reason she know her husband’s number is as an emergency contact, so she would have had to go through some paperwork to find it. And if she had it programmed into her phone, why??? Sorry, but if I’m drunk, I’m not calling my subordinate’s SO to chat.

        1. Sloan Kittering*

          The problem is that OP would have do more digging / investigating before she’d have enough to be actionable, and I think that digging is more likely to get OP in trouble (when the boss finds out you’re trying to look up her cell number to see who called, or whatever). Right now I’d just make a mental note that something odd happened, and see if anything else comes up.

        2. Owlette*

          Of course a boss calling their employee’s husband is inappropriate. But there’s no proof and digging more into this situation might get the OP in trouble. Here’s the thing, anyone has an issue at work, it’s good to assume plausible deniability and calmly have a discussion rather than immediately going to HR and stirring up a big fuss. If the boss calls again, then yes, it’s probably time to go to HR. But for this one-time drunk mistake? I’d lean on the side of casually asking the boss about it, and depending on the response, just letting it go. I’d even suggest this even if the OP knew 100% it was her boss, because it’s her JOB and jumping to the nuclear option might make an otherwise smooth work relationship rocky.

        3. SignalLost*

          Fantastic. What’s the action HR should take? “Tammy, Donna says someone who answered to your name dialed her husband while she was away from home for a night and he thought the caller had been drinking and intended to flirt with him. If you did that, don’t do it again. We’re giving you a writeup for an offense you didn’t necessarily commit. And don’t treat Donna, who doesn’t like you, weirdly now.”

  27. Ashie*

    #3 I agree that it’s OK if somewhat uncomfortable for the boss to search someone’s desk, but I would add that it’s probably a GOOD thing that she involved you as well. That way if anything turns up missing later on you can both vouch for each other. It’s an easy CYA.

  28. Bearhandler1*

    OP #1
    I hardly ever post in the comments and that’s because 99% of the time I agree with Allison. But this is something that you should report right away to HR. If this had been a man using confidential information, an emergency contact information, to contact a woman, it would be the start of sexual harassment case. As it was, your husband was hit on by a person with power over you. That raises all sorts of red flags. As a manager I would want to know about it. The fact is that Allison is telling you not to escalate it because she has power over you. And that’s exactly why you should. Your family shouldn’t have to put up with drunk phone calls just because you don’t want to upset your boss. In addition I saw several commentators saying it might not have been Tammy have a point, but you could just check your husbands cellphone log and see if the number that called him was in fact Tammy. If it was, report this to HR and Tammy’s boss. This is 100% unacceptable.

    1. Bostonian*

      It’s not harassment if it happens once.
      It’s not sexual harassment if it’s not sexual. “What are you doing?” is not explicitly sexual.

      The only way this would be report to HR worthy is if it was definitely Tammy and she was definitely intending to call husband to flirt: the latter of which can’t be proven.

    2. slick ric flair*

      It’s really, really not. If an investigation is opened from the thin thread presented here, and Tammy actually maliciously was meaning to go after the OP’s husband, and Tammy wants to cover her tracks, all she has to say is “it was a wrong dial and I hung up”. Seriously, it’s his word vs hers in that case, and there is no proof either way, and nothing happened anyway! And that’s all assuming that the boss actually was maliciously drunk dialing this person, which isn’t even guaranteed to be the case!

      The fan fiction and speculating here is ridiculous, unhelpful, and is not actionable or functional advice in real life.

    3. Kobayashi*

      We don’t know that it was the boss. It could have been a crank caller. The person never even identified themselves until the husband asked, “Is this Tammy?” That’s a common crank caller tactic. It could have been Tammy. It could have been someone else. Drunk people are usually home, I would imagine, when they get drunk, and emergency contact numbers are usually kept in an office.

      While it is totally possible it was Tammy, it is also totally possible it was not Tammy.

  29. University Minion*

    #2… I’m a university employee with a complete word-salad job description. The amusing/exasperating thing is that when my boss wrote the original PD, it made sense, but HR sent it back multiple times until we used their words to generate something they approved, which makes no sense. Seriously, my PD looks like it was generated by inspirobot (link in my name if you want a laugh).

    1. Princess Scrivener*

      WOW, that’s awesome! Thanks for sharing. As a business writer / editor, I always get a laugh out of word fluff nonsense. I’m making this a chrome bookmark for sure.

    2. Princess Scrivener*

      University Minion, I will forever quote InspiroBot. THANK YOU! Here’s one for today: “Marginalize wienerology.”

  30. Liet-Kinda*

    #4: I think you can make the ask, using the language suggested by Alison….once. Making it a Thing, even using Alison’s language, would come off as a little precious. While it’s totally understandable that you don’t have the bandwidth for spontanaiety right now, I don’t think you can really expect that the rest of the office will routinely plan ahead and remember to give you adequate advance notice. Sometimes they might do that, and that’d be super nice of them. But. Sometimes, someone is just like “maaan this week suuuuucked, anybody want to go grab some beers after work?” and everyone else is like “yeahyeahyeah.” And in that situation, you rally and go, or you don’t.

    1. OP 4*

      I think what was also in play was that it was Tuesday before Thanksgiving. And so I was concentrating a lot on the huge people-ing I had to do in a couple days. I can really. And they will start remembering I’m here. It just seemed huge in the moment.

      1. Liet-Kinda*

        That’s the other thing – you’re so new. It sounds weird, but people really do have to remember you’re there.

  31. Amber Rose*

    #3: In addition, always assume if you will be out, people will be going through your stuff and never keep anything at work you don’t want people to potentially see/find. A coworker being out for a while due to an injury was how management discovered she’d been stealing quite large amounts of money.

    1. ThankYouRoman*


      My old boss found out a highly regarded assistant was pocketing cash sales due to an unexpected absence and need to find more information about a sale/return.

      The only thing with my job is only authorised folks can pick through my desk and files because I handle all the confidential things. Nobody is going to rummage through who isn’t supposed to see those things. Otherwise it’s all pertaining to my job, which means it’s all my boss and grandboss’s business, dig away!

      I have had to dig on desks before and found missing orders or other assorted tasks. It’s lead to write ups and termination when it’s been egregious needless to say. Mostly it’s just a “oh darn, this got skipped, I’ll make sure that happens.” kind of thing.

      The person before me left her diary (kinda…it had positive affirmations and life goals in there, super awkward). Please don’t do that stuff at work or keep it in your purse to take home at night!!!

    2. Jennifer Thneed*

      This is exactly why corporations often require people who handle money, or are in high management, to take at least a week’s vacation at a time — it leaves an opening for shenanigans to float to the surface.

  32. Essess*

    Years ago I had a coworker that was sneaky and I didn’t trust. She was always trying to sabotage my work because I worked hard and got raises and promotions when she slacked off and didn’t do anything.
    It was over 20 years ago, so I can’t recall exactly how she ended up meeting my husband, probably at one of the office Christmas parties. This was long before cellphones, so there was just the single home phone line on our contact list to reach me. She knew I was going to be out of town for a week, and while I was gone she called my husband several times that week to “go hang out together” and several other comments about how he was probably lonely while I wasn’t home. He turned her down each time and he let me know what she’d done. The next time I was out of town, she did it again.
    I came into the office and made sure to tell her in no uncertain terms that it was inappropriate for her to call my husband when I was out of town and that it was going to stop NOW. I didn’t like her, and it wasn’t very professional but I also said this to her in front of others in the office so that they’d know what she was up to. Fortunately I could be blunt about it since she was a coworker, and she’d been pretty obvious about what she was doing.

  33. Polly Perks*

    #4: “just don’t have the emotional bandwidth for surprise socializing. If she’d asked yesterday or even this morning, I could have prepped and been fine.”

    Alison’s advice about how this could be taken as high maintenance is probably correct, even though I wish that weren’t the case. Socializing can be exhausting (I’m a huge introvert) and I understand exactly what LW means here. Outside of the rare “I am up for anything today!” days, attending a social event comfortably takes days of mental preparation.

    1. SheLooksFamiliar*

      I am an introvert with a job that requires a great deal of interaction and engagement with my colleagues, from the C-Suite to all levels below. I’m actually good at this but I’m exhausted by the end of the day. I also understand how the OP feels – I need time to recharge my batteries, too.

      However, It’s not unrealistic to ask employees to be fluid and adaptable whenever possible for work events, even social ones, so I wouldn’t tell anyone that I needed time to prepare for an event as a reason to decline. I like Alison’s suggestions – Miss Manners has said the same thing! – and hope the OP feels comfortable with simply saying, ‘Sorry, I can’t make it today – give me a little more notice next time and I can arrange my schedule.” No one needs to know why, and if they press, Miss Manners has recommendations on how to respond without giving a reason.

      Life in a world of extroverts can be challenging, but most people really do understand.

  34. Observer*

    #3 By the way, if you search here or look at any site that talks about good practice in terms of auditing and fraud control, you will find a lot of talk about the fact that people being over-protective of their files / desks at work is a red flag. So much so that many organizations REQUIRE that every person in certain types of roles MUST take a week (or two weeks) off every year, with the purpose of giving the organization a chance to go through their stuff and look for problems.

    A few years ago there was a fairly high profile case here in NYC where the Executive Director of a city-wide nonprofit was skimming funds. Someone made a complaint to the Board, and as part of their investigation, they sent him on vacation and did a forensic exam on his computer and all papers in his office. The org nearly didn’t survive because this was not the first time they’d been warned, and they did their first “investigation” in the presence of the ED, who of course made sure that no one found anything. The second time round, they just waited till he was out to launch their investigation.

  35. Prof Ma'am*

    OP #1 Let’s flip the script on this. If it was a male boss calling up a wife while drunk I think we all would say that’s totally not acceptable and super creepy. I also think we all would feel like the simple “Oh were you trying to get in touch with me?” response would be much too passive. So why is this the way to go when it’s a female boss drunk calling a husband? I’m not saying you should take the nuclear option but there has to be a way to clearly state “this is not acceptable” because it’s NOT acceptable to drunk proposition an employee’s spouse, regardless of their sex.

    1. Owlette*

      No. If we flip the genders, the response would be exactly the same. Say it’s Terry calling instead of Tammy–the OP still doesn’t know 100% that it was Terry/Tammy calling and going nuclear isn’t going to help anything. The “Were you trying to get in touch with me?” response is exactly what the OP should start with no matter if her boss is a man or a woman. It’s not passive whatsoever. It’s allowing the boss an out, and allowing their work relationship to proceed smoothly. Gender changes nothing here.

      1. fposte*

        Yes, I’d agree, especially in the absence of anything that I would consider to be propositioning. If Tammy had said “Hey, OP’s husband, I happen to know she’s working tonight–want to come over?” I’d take a different tack, but there’s too much ambiguity in the identity and the phone call to bring the hammer down on this one.

      2. Kelly L.*

        +1. We’d still be asking if (a) it was really Terry, and (b) Terry really meant to call his employee’s wife.

    2. SignalLost*

      Nope. There is still zero evidence that it was actually Tammy or Terry, and nothing happened that makes it actionable. This is, regardless of gender, a wait-and-see for something that is actually actionable to happen.

    3. Indie*

      I would agree with you if the proposition had actually been made. I think in this case, where there is still a lot of plausible deniability, an unspoken proposition can be adequately squelched with the unspoken rebuke suggested.

      If it doesn’t squelch the boss, and she tries again; they will have her bang to rights. It would be very hard to deny two phone calls were accidental.

  36. CoveredInBees*

    OP2 It might be helpful and cathartic to rewrite job descriptions that you’re actually interested in. This should only take a short time (less than 30 minutes) and is NOT for sending out. Just for getting your head around what the job ad is saying.

    As people have mentioned, education and government job ads go through many levels of bureaucracy to come out with things that only make sense to the person assembling them. This can also be true of large and small organizations. Sometimes a person in charge just gets a bee in the bonnet about what they want in a job ad. I rewrote my job description when I left and the CEO insisted on inserting all sorts of truly unnecessary things including a very aggressively-worded *paragraph* about how work done for them was the property of the organization. This was in all of their job ads, regardless of position, and in a field where these issues were unlikely to arise. I suggested this could still be effectively covered during orientation and the employee handbook but he insisted for the sake of “just in case…”. There hadn’t been any issues with this in the past (I asked), but they wouldn’t budge.

    The point being, there are many people who also have strong ideas about how job ads should be and some of them make no sense at all.

  37. LadyPhoenix*

    LW #1: I think this is a “Let It Go” moment, and least for now. From the sounds of it, your boss was heavily intoxicated and just decided to call YOU in the middle of the night.

    I have learned from WTFIWWY that people will do the craziest sh1t while blackout drunk and not remember a thing. Steal lobsters, wave their junk on a McDonald’s counter, try to climb the White House fence, and LOTS of naked rampages. (There is not context to any of these stories)

    What she did to you was boundary junping and gross, and I am not saying she should be excused because what she did was wrong. I’m just saying that trying to confront her for this is going to get you nowhere. And if she does remember she will either be too embarrssed or too stubborn to admit her idiocy. All you will get is a potential scream match where YOU, the hurt party, will lose.

    But the next time she gets to pwrsonal thanks to alcohol, document the incident.

    1. LadyPhoenix*

      I should also add that are you ABSOLUTELY sure this is your boss?

      I know iphones keep log of phones that call you, so maybe check if it was her and not some random caller with the wrong number.

  38. sourgold*

    OP1: this would raise all kinds of red flags if you could be certain that 1. it WAS Tammy, and 2. she meant to call your husband. People drunk-misdial all the time, and the likelihood of your husband recognizing the drunken voice of someone he has met once is pretty low. But as it is, imo there are far more innocent explanations than nefarious ones.

    Keep an eye out for inappropriate behaviour, though. Just in case.

  39. Mr. Bob Dobalina*

    OP#1: There is a lot of identity uncertainty here, yet you end the letter with:

    “I am angry that Tammy, whether she remembers it or not, tried to come on to my husband. I wanted to confront her, but I have no idea what I would say. My husband is upset as well and thinks Tammy was out of line. I can’t look at Tammy the same way anymore.”

    Are we missing pieces of this story? I’m a little confused on this one. You write this last paragraph as if you and your husband know it was your boss and know your boss’s intention was to come on to your husband, but the rest of the letter indicates a lot of uncertainty (and drunk dialing the wrong person is a possibility). Did you positively identify the caller’s number on your husband’s phone as being Tammy’s number? I am unclear how your husband identified her by voice (a drunken slurred voice) after meeting her once. Other than your husband’s tentative voice ID, are there other reasons to believe it was her, or that she would do this?

    All that being said, I think AAM’s script is great, and it may make you feel better simply to take action and try to address the matter, but please keep the inquiry general and casual, as AAM indicated. I don’t know that anything productive will come out of it. Likely outcomes are that Tammy denies it or says she called him by accident.

    1. Kobayashi*

      Yep, I wrote a comment below but forgot to put that it referenced #1. I received a crank call years ago where I thought the caller sounded like someone. I asked “Is this Sylvia?” and the person said “Yes.” I was sleepy at the time, and the call had woken me up. It’s a common tactic for a crank caller to talk as if they know the person, and then when the receiver asks “Cathy?” or something like that, the crank caller says “Yes.” SO while it could very well have been the boss. It might NOT have been.

  40. Mr. Bob Dobalina*

    OP#3: Absolutely agree with AAM. I wouldn’t take any offense if my boss did this in my absence. All of the documents and files in my physical work space and on the work computer/network belong to my employer. I have no expectation of privacy at work, but I do expect anyone looking through my work space to have a legitimate business reason to do so.

  41. Snow Drift*

    #4 if you do ask for advanced notice for after-work socializing, pay attention to the immediate and long-term response to your request. In past jobs, I saw this “last minute drinks” script become a way to get an exclusive demographic of employees together (middle- and upper-level men, since they had stay-at-home wives to pick up the kids from daycare or let the dog out in the evening). No need to borrow trouble, of course, but just keep your eyes peeled.

  42. I Work on a Hellmouth*

    Re: #3: Is going through an employee’s desk ever something that you can be legitimately unhappy about? I expect my coworkers/boss to go through my stuff if they need/are looking for something and have no issue with that. However, since starting my current job I have found that, if I have a scheduled day off during the week my boss will exhaustively go through my desk after the office has shut down for the day. Every single time. She often moves my stuff around (where I keep my pens, paperclips, etc) and leaves me notes complaining about things like me having post-its in my desk drawer to keep track of appointments/tasks (she banned visible post-its at our desks, and they are part of how I keep on task so I keep them where I can glance at them without breaking the rule). She also handles all of my personal items (snacks, tampons, etc) that I have in a separate cabinet and will sometimes “reorganize” them, too. I really hate all of it—especially when she moves the paperclips and such, because finding them again is annoying AND they are invariably in the stupidest and least convenient place. And also because she is HANDLING my snacks and my TAMPONS. When you open that cabinet it is very clear that it only contains personal items. Neither the cabinet or the drawers are particularly disorganized or messy. Am I super in the wrong for being bothered by this?

    1. Hmmm*

      Whoa! Your boss is crazy! It’s one thing to assume that they can access your stuff if they need to, it’s another thing to reorganize your desk and comment on your postage note usage if it is in no way affecting your productivity. Is there a reason she banned post-it notes?

      Have you tried politely pushing back? “Was there something you needed from my desk? I would be happy to help you find things, but if there wasn’t, I’d appreciate if you don’t reorganize it.” Or… something. I don’t feel like that’s perfect, but that’s mainly because I can’t imagine someone who rifles through your desk responding well to anything calm.

      Not that I don’t believe you, but are you sure it was your boss? It’s such a weird boundary violating behavior I could imagine other people doing it to you… in fact I’m sure there’s letters from others about how they’ve had coworkers mess with their stuff.

      1. I work on the Hellmouth*

        Oh, it is definitely her. In addition to leaving me often passive aggressive notes (ironically on post-it’s) and new stacks of work, she also tends to send long emails that verify the desk rummaging.

        She claims that the post-it ban came down from our regional VP (who is several states away) but she often attributes stuff to the VP falsely when she wants something. I know she thinks they look “cluttered” and this rule was handed down after she brought it up and I explained that I have a pretty severe learning disability and I use post-its to manage time and tasks.

        Pushback is NOT something she responds well to, and I have learned that she has become extremely vengeful, so I’m just trying to tolerate what I can.

      1. I work on the Hellmouth*

        She does! She has so much to do!

        Honestly, it seems like the more she has to do, the less work she actually does. Instead she micromanaged us, spies on us, tries to force us to spy on each other for her (navigating that one at this very moment!), comes up with craft or event projects to put together herself for residents, or disappears for 4-6 hours to “pick some stuff up for the property from Walmart). Then she will bitterly tell us to not disturb her because she has an important deadline to meet that day (for tasks that she’s known about but avoided for a minimum of 6-8 weeks)

        That… is more information than is probably needed. I guess I’m maybe a little frustrated, heh.

    2. ThankYouRoman*

      No. She’s ridiculous. I’m assuming super power hungry for some reason.

      No visible post its?? Sounds like she’s super worried y’all are stealing paperclips. Total loony toons.

      I hated when people used to grab pens out of my holder. So I made a drawer for my things out of the keyboard tray. So I’m grouchy about that.

      I used to clean off my bosses desk before but knew where he put things and went by his organization scheme.

      I don’t even rearrange a desk I inherit until I’m six months or so in. You don’t know how the flow is for the workspace!

    3. Lucille2*

      Your boss sounds nuts. I don’t see any reason why the personal items you mention you keep at your desk would not be ok in most offices. And I certainly don’t see any reason why a boss would need to go through an employee’s desk at the end of every single day and rearrange things. If she doesn’t trust you, that is an issue in and of itself. Going through your desk every day isn’t going to solve that issue.

  43. Going Anon*

    Years ago, the library director who was like one or two levels above me came to me the week my boss was out on vacation. My boss had an office with glass walls and while my boss wasn’t a hoarder, there was a lot of chaos in her office. The director asked me to go throw out excess stuff from my boss’ office. I hesitated, asked how will I know what’s excess and what’s important, pointed out that this felt like an invasion of privacy, etc. But the director said she trusted my judgment and was adamant that I do it. So I did.

    It felt awkward as hell and I apologized when my boss came back, but she shrugged it off and said it was the director’s right to do it.

  44. Shawn*

    OP #5….I am going to admit here that I think Allison gave terrible advice. I mean, I can see it was coming from but even so…what a negative outlook to have. Maybe I’m too “Law of Attraction” (ish) but you can’t go through life with that kind of an outlook, even towards work. I say you keep that excitement level up yet know that there may still be something even better down the road (should this one not pan out).

  45. Kobayashi*

    It was probably her, but keep in mind the possibility it was not her. Sometimes people get crank calls, and then when the receiver asks, “Is this so-and-so?” the crank caller says “yes.” I got one myself years and years ago. I was woken up from a sleep, an odd voice started talking to me as if the person knew me. My sleepy brain thought it sounded like a friend of mine, so I asked, “Is this Sylvia?”and the person said, “Yes.” I then asked where she was, and she said why? It was then that I started to wake up and realize it wasn’t Sylvia. I did ask Sylvia about it later, and she said she never called me.

  46. CleverGirl*

    #1: In all the replies I didn’t see this suggested, but my first reaction upon reading this was that Tammy had the husband stored in her phone as “OP1 Emergency Contact” or something to that effect, and was drunkenly trying to call OP1, not the husband. That would make much more sense to me because if I were keeping track of people’s emergency contacts I wouldn’t just store them by the name–I would need to be able to quickly find the emergency contact associated with the specific employee. How am I going to remember in an emergency that Sally is married to Steve and that Susan’s emergency contact is her mom Jane? Especially if these are people I’ve never met before. So I feel like it’s a bit of a stretch for the OP to decide that this phone call was Tammy coming on to her husband, unless there are more details than we were given.

  47. CastIrony*

    OP #5, I was in a similar boat, and I didn’t get the job because someone else had more experience. I am sad thinking about it, and I don’t want that to happen to you.

    1. CastIrony*

      I forgot to add that Alison’s advice is great, and to always have in the back of your mind that there is always a chance that you won’t get the job.

  48. Lucille2*

    #3 – This is exactly why I make it a personal rule never to leave anything personal in my desk at work that I wouldn’t want discovered by coworkers/boss. It’s not my property. As a manager, I have made it a habit to lock my desk drawers to keep sensitive documents secure like employee reviews, PIP’s, or any documents that are not privy to just any employee. But our facilities manager has a key and my drawers can be accessed by my boss if need be.

    I had to go out on medical leave unexpectedly and suddenly once. There was a brief amount of time when my direct reports could not get their PTO or expense reports approved until HR was able to intervene. Sometimes people need to step away from work to handle emergencies, but the work can’t wait until they return.

  49. The_artist_formerly_known_as_Anon-2*

    Musings on booze and mental aberrations….

    #1 – I once worked in an area – it wasn’t my boss, but some of my co-workers – had a chronic drunk for a manager.
    One day one of them called the internal (company) counseling service on him, for his own good, and all the other employees came down on her for calling…. man… but – I, and a co-worker who were not under his management, credited her for a good call.

    Also once worked in a place where one of the executives was bagged for DUI. In that state, if you blow over .12 – it’s criminal, and you go to jail for 14 days – not 14 days of community service, or 14 days when it’s too rainy to play golf, or 14 Sundays, it’s BRING TOOTHBRUSH, PAJAMAS AND YOU WILL SPEND THE NEXT TWO WEEKS IN JAIL, BUCKO.

    You would not believe management’s attitude – that this incarceration was a “technical nuisance” … and the poor guy, had to use two weeks of vacation to go to jail. Someone tried to explain “you know, it’s real, real bad for him. He and his wife were going to go on a cruise, and now they had to cancel it because of this foolish jail thing.”

    Yeah, I was real, real sad. BUT …. I’ll bet he never drove drunk again.

    On the matter of “drunk calling” – I got a weird call once from a former manager. I was working in a computer center and at 6 am one of the backup-dialup phones rang. It persisted – so I went to answer it. It was the former data center manager – who had retired some 16 months or so prior. “Hi, this is … (so and so).” “YEAH, how’re you doing?”

    “Fine. Is the network up and running for the day?”

    … then I learned he passed away within a year of that call, Alzheimer’s.

  50. Senator Meathooks*

    If Tammy denies the deed, and of course not that this makes it right – she might genuinely not remember if she was that drunk. However I think that she will, seeing as how she appeared to have gone out of her way to obtain your husband’s phone number from some emergency contact form somewhere. Have they ever met?

  51. Jennifer*

    I’m late but something is very strange about OP 1’s story.

    1. Her husband only met this woman once, does not have her number saved in his phone, but somehow recognized who was calling? Why would his wife’s boss that he’s only met once be the first person who would spring to mind?
    2. Tammy had to go looking for the husband’s phone number. Or did she? Maybe she already had it. OP assumed that she got it from her emergency contacts, but maybe she didn’t.

    I really hope that this woman treads carefully and takes Alison’s advice. She could end up making a fool of herself if she confronts this woman with guns blazing.

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