update: a client sent me a thank-you check as a way to avoid paying my boss

Remember the letter-writer last month whose client sent her a large thank-you check as a way of avoiding paying her boss, with whom he was embroiled in much drama? Here’s the update.

Thank you to you and your readers for taking the time to answer my question. I thought you all would like an update. I originally gave one in the comments, but a few things have happened since then.

First, I’d like to clarify something about my pay. A lot of readers suggested that I was being highly underpaid by my uncle (who is my boss, Adam), which is why I was having to skip meals. That was NOT the case. My spouse had recently had some administrative changes at work, and unfortunately they dropped his pay to minimum wage ( a whole other letter) and that was the main reason we were struggling. Also, prior to this whole incident, I had actually asked for a raise since my role had expanded and I didn’t have one in the two years I’ve been here (thanks for the guidance, Alison).

On to the update. I had decided to give the check to Adam before your response, due to the family dynamic in play. Sadly, a coworker saw the check before I had a chance to say something, so it sped up the timeline significantly. The next day I met with Adam first thing in the morning and gave him the check. He. Was. Pissed. Rightfully so. He held on to the check (womp womp) and a war ensued in my emails between Gilbert and Adam. The hostile emails lasted about a week. Gilbert, after all this, decided to pull a project from us due to this mess, which would’ve been a multi-million dollar profit for us.

Before I left for vacation, I emailed both men and said that the situation had been escalated way too far, and that when I returned to work I wanted to meet with both men and find a solution everyone was happy with. We scheduled a meeting for first thing the day I got back. The meeting took two hours, with the first half hour being an utter waste of time (thanks, toxic masculinity). Eventually, Adam asked why Gilbert couldn’t just hire a full-time maintenance person to oversee the houses we’ve built for him (which we had suggested numerous times before). Gilbert then confessed that he didn’t trust hiring a random person to do that because of recent reports in the area that homes were being burglarized. These burglaries were also inside jobs. I almost felt silly when he said this; he had one of his homes broken into about a year and a half ago and I hadn’t even considered he could’ve had some trust issues because of that. He also said no one he could hire would know the house like me and I was the most qualified since I played a huge part in building the home.

At this point, with that revelation, everything was solved. Adam and I worked out a deal with Gilbert that during normal business hours I was to only handle work related to our current projects with him. However, after normal work hours, I would be allowed to visit the houses and do any normal maintenance tasks (light bulbs, touching up paint, AC filters etc), and anything that required bringing in a sub-contractor (broken AC, plumbing issues, roofing, etc.) I would handle that through my uncle (so he would still be rightfully paid). I am now on Gilbert’s payroll as well, with a property manager title (which is HUGE in my area and even bigger since I work for Gilbert, as he is very well known here). I thought I was going to be getting a small wage for this since the work wasn’t difficult and took me about an hour and a half each day, but he ended up matching what I make at my company per hour! Needless to say, I am ecstatic.

Finally, after the conversation me and my uncle sat down and he told me how proud he was with the solution I came up with and granted me the raise I had requested. The best thing? He gave me the check back! I nearly cried, lol. He actually apologized, saying he didn’t intend to keep it, and only realized he did when he cleaned his desk and noticed it slipped under his keyboard. The check was so large that I was able to pay off my rent through the rest of this year and even gave a big chunk to the laborer that came with me to do these tasks. Oh, and we are still doing the project he pulled from us! So it really was a win-win-win-win.

Thank you again to you and your readers for the support and guidance!

{ 172 comments… read them below }

  1. Lizzie Bennet*

    This may be my favorite update ever! I’m so happy for you and I’m glad things have worked out! Congratulations!

    1. Copier Admin Girl*

      I was just going to say that! Congrats, OP. Glad things are looking up for you professionally and financially. <3

    2. Butter Makes Things Better*

      Me too. Happy tears! Great job, OP — I love that you brought them together and got it out of Gilbert what his real concern was. I hope to implement that strategy whenever it might be applicable in my world. All the awesomeness, and standing O.

    3. Engineer Woman*

      As someone mentioned below, this might tie as my favorite update along with the spicy food stealer one.
      Awesome job to the OP for getting both men together to discuss and resolve the issue!!! It’s truly a win-win-win situation!

    4. JulieCanCan*

      Ditto – awesome update, it is literally the best case scenario and most ideal outcome EVER! I was smiling reading the entire last portion of the letter. congratulations on the raise, the other job and title, and getting that check back! These two guys (Adam and Gilber) sound like pretty cool dudes. I wish there were more like them around.

    5. JustAClarifier*

      OH MAN I AGREE, I was so excited reading this update that I did the virtual equivalent of bouncing my way to the comments section. It is so rare that we get a win/win/win/win scenario. OP, good job! You handled this wonderfully, communicated and asserted yourself where necessary, and it has more than paid off. You deserve it! Aw man, I’m just so stoked for you!

      1. Phoenix Wright*

        Make it three. Been lurking for almost two years, and this update was the first time I felt the urge to comment. Congrats OP, so glad to hear everything went your way!

    1. The Grammarian*

      This is a wonderful update! OP, good for you for using communication and mediation strategies to help fix the situation at work. You deserve the raise and the praise. :)

      1. Blork*

        Also de-lurking to say that was an AMAZING piece of conflict resolution! And what a positive outcome for you, personally.

  2. T. Boone Pickens*

    What a fantastic update! Congrats OP! Talk about a win-win for all parties involved. I never would’ve guessed that Gilbert’s trust issues were the driver of the tension.

  3. A-nony-nony*

    I’m not sure if I’ve seen an update so full of win. Yay! So happy for you, LW.

    And boo on your spouse’s company shenanigans.

  4. LessNosy*

    OMG, I’m so happy to read this. I thought about this letter often because my dad is in this type of business. I’m ecstatic for you, OP!!

  5. animaniactoo*

    That is really awesome. I especially love that you asked the question of why the previous suggestion wasn’t working for him. You managed to unravel the entire loggerheads just by asking for that simple piece of informations. Go you!

    1. animaniactoo*

      Oops, re-reading that, it was actually Adam who asked. Well, okay, but you asked for the meeting! So still go you. :)

  6. Imaginary Number*

    What an awesome update. OP did the right thing and in doing so two people actually communicated an resolved it in such a way that literally everyone involved comes out on top. I was not expecting that.

  7. BTSEducator*

    So happy for you! I’m glad everything worked out well for everyone involved. Good on you for handling the situation so well.

    1. OP*

      Thank you! The raise and extra income from Gilbert has ABSOLUTELY helped our situation. Good news is that while his hourly rate has stayed the same, he gets a small bonus check every month now AND the company has offered the opportunity to pay for school. He signed up for 3 classes, which is fantastic for his long term goals.

  8. Dee-Nice*

    I’m actually a little teary just reading that somewhere in the world, people were able to work things out to everyone’s benefit. Good for you, OP.

  9. Hallowflame*

    What a fantastic update! Thanks for sending this in, OP, I’m so glad to hear things are going well for you!

    1. Canadian Public Servant*

      I’m not sure if you meant “cheer.” But I am now going to eat cheese when I get home, and be happy for the LW, and also me (because of said cheese).

      1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

        Maybe cheesing like smiling hardcore? :)

        (This is truly an awesome update, and I’m so happy for OP!)

  10. Karen from Finance*

    Oh, wow, this is amazing! Good for you, OP! Excellently handled, and I’m so happy it all worked out so well!!

  11. ThankYouRoman*

    YESSSSSSS YOU GOT THE CHECK and a side gig that pays you for the time spent. I’m so frigging excited by this update.

  12. Cindy Featherbottom*

    I legitimately clapped when I finished reading this. I am insanely happy that this worked out so well!! And a very sincere kudos for taking charge and fixing this situation. It could have gone on so much longer if you hadn’t taken control. You deserve that raise big time!!!

  13. Detective Amy Santiago*

    Just imagine how much time and energy could have been saved if Adam had asked that question from the outset.

    I missed your original letter, but I absolutely love this update. Good for you standing up for yourself and doing the right thing. I’m glad it worked out to your benefit.

  14. Cassandra*

    OP, you have a brilliant “tell me about a time when you…” scenario for the rest of your working life. You are amazing, and you deserve every cent of that check and that raise.

    I hope the snarl in your personal finances is over for good.

    1. Family Business*

      Yes, this!! Jot down the details before you forget and keep it as a STAR story forever! Well done.

  15. ologist*

    Awesome. You sound like a great person, and work with two other nice people, though perhaps flawed. I’m glad you were able to resolve this like you did!

  16. SRRPNW*

    Your uncle is right to praise you and give the raise (and the check). Your calm head, honesty, and negotiation skills really paid off for everybody!

  17. Victoria Nonprofit (USA)*

    This is lovely, but I’m confused about the final resolution. It sounds like the LW now has a second job with Gilbert, but arranges that through Adam’s business? And somehow Adam gets paid, even though LW is also on Gilbert’s payroll? What am I missing?

    1. Sarah*

      To me it reads like this:

      OP works for Adam from 9-5.
      If Gilbert has extra tasks for her she can handle them outside those hours for the same rate of pay she gets from Adam.
      If in the course of this work, she finds things that need to be subcontracted out, she arranges that through Adam’s company as they’ve been doing for a while (since Adam’s company built the unit(s)) so Adam gets subcontract jobs and $$.

      So Adam only gets paid for jobs he has to send workers out for, OP gets to keep her normal job and do some work for Gilbert on the side as a kind of freelance client.

    2. Lance*

      Not quite, from how I’m reading it. It sounds like OP’s pay through the now side gig, of a sort, with Gilbert is getting paid out fully to OP themselves, with some other necessary costs to OP’s uncle if they need to sub-contract him for specific maintenance work.

    3. ThankYouRoman*

      Adam gets paid if there is sub contract work that is found while she’s at the properties. Like if she finds the AC is dead, she’s not asking for bids, Adam’s crew just gets scheduled for it.

      And Gilbert is no longer stealing the paid time Adam has the OP for.

    4. OP*

      Sarah got it.

      I work my normal job from 8-5, which includes the new projects we are building for Gilbert.

      After work 3-4 times a week, I will travel to his properties (there are 5 total) and make sure everything is right. Ill fix any small things I can do myself and make sure the landscaping and cleaning is done correctly (the houses we build require a lot of outdoor maintenance because we are directly on the beach). If there is an issue I can not handle (for example, yesterday the lighting control switches spazzed out due to a lightning storm and needed to be reprogrammed) and I need to get the subcontractor involved (like the low voltage contractor in this example) I will handle that normally the next day during my 8-5 job, which Adam will get paid for. Once a week, I send an email to both men laying out what Adams company needed to be involved in and the respective charges. Adam then bills him monthly for those accumulated costs.

  18. DaniCalifornia*

    This update ranks up top in my book along with the letter writer got fired/rehired + pay bump for his coworker stealing his spicy food and getting sick.

    OP so glad this all worked out for you and that Adam and Gilbert realized where they had messed up.

    1. Bostonian*

      That spicy food letter really was one of the most epic updates.

      This one is still pretty awesome, though. I like how it was part “Adam and Gilbert realized they were being idiots” and also part “OP helped them realize that”.

  19. LSP*

    Thank you for sharing such a positive update! Good for you for sitting these two men down and getting them to hash out what the problem actually was and helping them see how they were both contributing to a losing scenario for all.

    And YAY, you got more pay out of it and a nice fat bonus check!

    1. Recent Anon Lurker*

      Agreed that getting these two guys to talk to each other and hash out the real problems means that a really profitable business relationship gets to continue (which means that a lot of people win because more work comes in).

      1. Else*

        Also – they’re family. That’s probably both why this escalated so much AND why it was resolved so well, to everyone’s benefit.

        1. Recent Anon Lurker*

          Hmm, I read it as Adam (or boss) and OP were related but Gilbert (client) was not related to them. I could be mistaken however.

  20. sj*

    THIS ALL MAKES ME SO HAPPY. I’m in the middle of a stressful day, and this update jsut really lifted me up. I’m so glad it all worked out, and props to you, OP. It sounds like you really have a good head on your shoulders, and both companies are lucky to have you.

  21. Emily S.*

    Wow, this is so wonderful! I wish all the updates could be this good.

    That is so fantastic about getting the raise, and getting money for the extra tasks, and getting the big job, and (obvs.) getting to keep the check! Great job on getting the two of them to hash out that mess — that is super impressive! Congratulations!

  22. irene adler*

    Zowie!! Best update I’ve read!
    Kudos to you for taking initiative and sitting the ‘boys’ down to talk things through.

  23. Matilda Jefferies*

    I love everything about this update! And honestly, my favourite part is the image of you telling the two of them to stop bickering, and sit down with you to work out a solution. (Also, the money!)

    Seriously, OP, that is a kickass thing to do. I don’t know if I would have the guts to do something like that even now! If you ever get asked in an interview how you’ve handled work problems or difficult personalities in the past, you’ve got an *excellent* story to tell. I don’t even know you, and I’m so proud of the way you handled this!

    1. Dr. Doll*

      That was totally my favorite part too. You are my HERO today! (And for many days I am sure!) So glad the money is there as well.

    2. ThankYouRoman*

      It’s pretty typical for construction to have to tell men behaving like fussy kids to work things out.

      The OP is that good at her job and has the trust of a major developer, it’s a wonderful place to be in. It also lowers your risks of getting into any trouble pulling out the “fix yo shht, boys.” card somewhat casually.

      1. Recent Anon Lurker*

        Yup, she has credibility as a mediator between these two guys now because she has helped them navigate a big issue in the past, so can be a sounding board/peacemaker possibly in the future.

  24. SusanDC*

    I may have teared up a little at this update. I’m so glad it worked out so well for everyone-well done, OP.

  25. Rachel*

    OP I’m so impressed. You got two grown men who were acting like babies to sit in a room together and work out their issues. You are a true hero.

  26. Dr. Business*

    This is awesome! A textbook resolution — in fact, I might turn it into an exercise for my negotiation students! :)

  27. former expat*

    OP, you’re a hero. Congratulations on getting those two guys to talk it out in a way that made both of them happy, and I’m so glad it sounds like some of the pressure has been taken off your family!

  28. Adalind*

    Yay! What a wonderful update. Thank you for sharing! And kudos to you for making them sit down and hash it out. Bravo.

  29. TootsNYC*

    hooray, hooray!

    This is so great.

    And yeah, once they set their egos down, there was a CRYSTAL CLEAR SOLUTION right in front of them. And they needed you to see it.

    Go, you!

  30. Hei Hei, the Chicken from Moana*

    Huzzah! And also, huzzah to all the positive responses. Y’all have really warmed my heart on this cold, grey Tuesday.

  31. SierraSkiing*

    Wow! You turned a nightmare into a win. That took bravery, good communication skills, and remembering that people almost always do something for a reason (like a fear of break-ins.) So glad you’re on a better financial footing!

  32. Nita*

    Wow, OP, way to go! Getting them both in the same room to resolve this was brilliant. You’ve walked into a difficult situation of someone else’s making, and turned a horrible mess into a major win. So glad things worked out for you!

  33. Forrest Rhodes*

    OP, you absolutely rock. I was laughing out loud at your telling the combatants “I am now taking my vacation. When I return, the three of us WILL sit down and we WILL work it out. Period.” I heard echoes of my mom’s voice, addressing me and my battling brothers, “When I get home from work, …”
    Good on you, good for you, and thank you for making my day!

  34. LKW*

    Epic win win win win.

    Fantastic update. Sounds like everyone eventually put their egos aside and actually solved a problem.

  35. Nay*

    This is amazing, and I just think it’s the most hope-inspiring thing I’ve heard in a while…it’s nice to be reminded how quickly things can turn around when everything seems like it’s against you. OP, I am tremendously happy for you, thank you for the update!

  36. Lynn Marie*

    OP, you’ve reminded me that when people are being intractable and pigheaded about something for no good reason – it’s worth spending some time and attention to tease out and try to understand what the underlying problem really is so a creative solution might be possible. Thanks!

  37. Bostonian*

    Ask and you shall receive!

    I admit, I was a bit worried about where this was going when I got to the part about things escalating, and then Gilbert pulls that project, and then you were about to go on vacation…

    And then I was able to let out a sigh of relief because it actually worked out AND you got to keep the check!

  38. GH in SOCal*

    You are clearly a top-notch employee and both Adam and Gilbert are lucky to have you working for them. I’m glad they both seem to appreciate that, because with your skills I’ll bet you can excel anywhere you choose to go.

  39. Nessun*

    What wonderful news! Congratulations to you for the way you handled things and the recognition you rightly deserved. (Today has been a rather bumpy day, so thank you also for sharing a story to improve my frame of mind!)

  40. Bulbasaur*

    Fantastic. I think the part I like best is that you still get to solve your financial problems, but it’s down to your own efforts and awesome conflict resolution skills rather than the charity of a third party. I include the check in this, since even if Adam had given it back to you I think it would have been difficult for you to accept it until the conflict between the two men was resolved.

    I encourage you to stick around at AAM as I have a feeling people might want to ask for your advice sometimes!

    1. CM*

      My other favorite part is that the OP gave away some of the money from her windfall as a bonus to the laborer that helped her with the tasks.

  41. Barefoot Librarian*

    BEST. UPDATE. EVER. I’m seriously grinning from ear to ear. Congratulations! I like to hear about good things happening to good people.

  42. Uncanny Valley*

    Been to busy to read AAM lately . . . . excellent update . . . . context is soooooo important. . . .all I have left to say is . . . . BRAVO!!

  43. beckysuz*

    Oh OP, that is truly one of the nicest updates I’ve ever read. I’m so glad everything worked out for you, and so pleased that after you did the right thing so did they(eventually). You’re a good person and you deserve all the nice things :)

  44. Operational Chaos*

    Has Alison ever done a Best Of roundup for updates? That would be a fun way to kill an hour, if so.

    Congratulations to the letter writer. That’s a tremendous outcome!

  45. Retropiaf*

    I have never commented here despite having been an avid reader for months (years?) now, but I had to share how happy this update made me. OP handled this so well and the other two protagonists managed to have a constructive discussion (thanks to OP) and reach a situation that makes everyone happy. This is truly a career advice happy ending! Well done OP!

  46. Happy Updates are the Best*

    Oh, OP, I’m so happy for you, so happy! Tearing up a bit on this end. Internet hugs to you and everyone involved.

  47. Bowserkitty*

    This update has me almost crying happy tears for you OP!! I’m so relieved it went down so well.

  48. Amelia Pond*

    I love happy endings! I’m really glad to hear everything turned out so well, for everyone. Well done, LW. We aren’t quite to them yet, but Happy Holidays!

  49. Seeking Second Childhood*

    Oh I needed to hear good news like that today! Thank you so much for sharing–and congratulations all around for deescalating that situation.
    You shone!

  50. Another Sarah*

    Well done OP! Way to show them how to solve it like adults, and so happy that it all worked out!
    It’s so nice to read something where people are big enough to admit their mistakes and resolve something amicably

  51. Half-Caf Latte*

    My Grad School negotiations professor would be so proud of you. In fact, I’m going to send this to her.

  52. Grandma3*

    OP, you made my day! Congratulations on resolving a really difficult situation with diplomacy and tact. Kudos.

  53. Scout Finch*

    Does anyone other than me see Adam & Gilbert getting OP’s email (setting up the meeting) with thought balloons above their heads? “Uh oh. Now we’ve gone & done it!” Kinda like being called to the principal’s office? Only with days to think about the consequences….

    Awesome update.

  54. Flash Bristow*

    Wow! That just sounds like magic! (could you please sprinkle some of your fairy dust in my direction? ☺)

    What an amazing update to read. Congrats, you must have juggled that very tactfully to get that outcome – hooray!

  55. ENFP in Texas*

    It’s amazing how much can be solved if people just sit down in person and talk! What a great update!

  56. MCMonkeyBean*

    Wow! Talk about managing up! I know your boss is your uncle which may make frank conversations a little less awkward (or sometimes maybe more?) but I am incredibly impressed that you were able to corral these two men who are superior to you in the work chain of command and get them to stop being ridiculous. That is honestly incredible. Super well done and I am so pleased it worked out so well in your favor.

  57. Ben*

    I love seeing emotional intelligence actively rewarded: willingness to work past ego and bluster, and find durable and mutual solutions. Too often it’s an after thought or even discouraged.

  58. beanie beans*

    Hooray! I’m so glad the resolution was not just a resolution but an improvement for YOU! You handled it so well, which is huge considering how sticky the situation was and how those two personalities were probably very a challenge to be between!

  59. Lurker*

    I’m late, but just wanted to say how happy I am for you, LW! That is amazing, and you did such a great job handling both your bosses with empathy. You deserve every cent you’ve made in this whole thing, and more.

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