most popular posts of 2018

Here are the posts that interested people the most this year, via two lists: the most commented on posts and the most viewed posts.

Most commented on posts of 2018:

(doesn’t include open threads or “ask the readers” posts, which otherwise would hold many of the top 10 places)

10. Coworker was fired for a Facebook post, restricting access to a kosher kitchen, and more

9. I got in trouble because my coworker saw maxi pads in my car, and more

8. What happens if I get hired at a dog-friendly company when I’m allergic to dogs?

7. My child-free coworkers constantly complain about people with children

6. I bring my dog to work — but an anonymous note asked me not to

5. My dad is dating my boss, and they want me to go to couples therapy with them

4. Updates: the insulting gift, the employee born on Leap Day, and more

3. My intern is refusing assignments because of her politics

2. Sharing “emotional scars” as an icebreaker, I broke a desk and injured a coworker, and more

1. Organizing an all-men beach weekend for coworkers, is gossip beneficial at work, and more

Most viewed posts of 2018:

10. Employee sent out photos of a coworker’s stoma bag — what should I do?

9. Our employee is taking nude photos in our office and posting them to Facebook

8. My boss is being a jerk about my gym time

7. My coworker with imposter syndrome actually does suck at her job

6. My employee uses a wheelchair … but I found out he doesn’t really need one

5. How long should it take to hear back after you apply for a job?

4. My boss kept calling my wife to find me .. and now he won’t stop texting her apologies for all the calls

3. I paid for fake references, is it rude to shush someone, and more

2. I got in trouble because my coworker saw maxi pads in my car, and more

1. My dad is dating my boss, and they want me to go to couples therapy with them

{ 67 comments… read them below }

  1. Cotton Headed Ninny Muggins*

    That Leap day birthday one still gets stuck in my craw. The update was worse than the question itself.

    1. esra*

      The update to that was one of the most shared amongst my friends, everyone legit mad at how badly the point was missed.

      1. Lady Phoenix*

        I wonder if that manager is married/dating the one that refused to allow their employee to go to her own grauduation (and then decided to leak her tragic, personal life in order to villainize her).

        1. Liane*

          Married to each other. Forced to share the same 1 person office. Sat next to each other in sub-economy airplane seats.
          They deserve each other.

    2. Peachkins*

      That update was seriously awful. I feel so bad for that employee knowing they have to deal with that manager.

    3. Mommy MD*

      Yeah Leap Manager clearly was passed over on the Day common sense brain cells were dispensed. Still SMH.

      1. Merci Dee*

        I know lots of folks who were passed over for their common sense allotment. We have a saying in my family: common sense is an uncommon commodity.

    1. Armchair Analyst*

      This. I usually think “why can’t people just be ‘normal'” but I am also old & wise enough to know that ‘normal’ is different for everybody, and also wise and old enough to be entertained by the abnormality that is not mine.

    2. CS Rep By Day, Writer By Night*

      My favorite comment along these lines here was the person that posted “Life is such a rich tapestry.” I think of it every time there’s a compilation of crazy things on AAM.

  2. envirolady*

    Everyone was shocked by #2 on the “Most Viewed” list but we just couldn’t bring ourselves to comment.

        1. Traffic_Spiral*

          I think there needs to be some sort of debate to get to “Most Commented.” You know, some back-and-forth. Here, everyone was just kinda like “…no? No, that’s generally a no?’ And after going through 20 “no” comments, you’re sorta like “well, I don’t think another ‘no’ is needed here,” so you don’t comment.

      1. WellRed*

        Me too, but the OP was so disgusted by all the critical comments she said she wouldn’t be writing again.

        1. karou*

          Thanks, I missed the OP’s comment in the original post and went back to read it. I hope something was done about Jan after HR got involved or the bosses returned from vacation.

          1. Jennifer*

            I want to know how Jan knew where John lived and how she got the photo. If she poked through his HR records or something that is another big-time violation.

        2. GRA*

          I forgot about the stoma bag letter – that was such a terrible situation for both John and the LW. I hope everything got better for them in 2018!

  3. The Imperfect Hellebore*

    I only discovered AAM earlier this year, and I’m usually more of a lurker than a commenter, but it has swiftly become one of my favourite sites. Even when a letter doesn’t apply closely to my own workplace experiences, I’ve still learned a lot from Alison’s advice, and no less from the comments section. My perspective has definitely been widened from reading. As someone who may or may not be looking for fresh work in 2019, AAM has given me a boost in confidence, and made me realise that I’m slightly better equipped than I thought I was.

    Plus, you can’t argue with the sheer entertainment value of some of these situations. ‘Sudden fake British accent co-worker’ still makes me chuckle :D

  4. Mimmy*

    It’s interesting that most of the “Most Commented” are the short-answer posts. I don’t remember that being the case in previous years.

    1. Phoenix Programmer*

      Before the commenting modertion became so much work Alison use to break out high traffic ones from the multi question threads which I think helped reduce the traffic on them.

      However most readers don’t comment and since the commenters have grown so much it is a lot of work to manage for a small proportion of the readership.

  5. Lena Clare*

    Oh I hadn’t seen some of those before.
    And I didn’t realise that the dad dating the boss and asking his daughter to go to couples therapy was from this year!
    So much has happened…

  6. Jennifer*

    Wow, I can’t believe someone applied for job with a company they knew had a dog-friendly policy knowing they had an allergy. I missed that one the first time around. Common sense needs to be applied here. You don’t apply for a job as a skydiving instructor when you have a phobia of heights and expect to be accommodated. Did she really want to start a job being the office grinch and making every have to leave their dogs at home, maybe even prompting some great employees to quit? This boggles my mind.

    1. fposte*

      I think it’s more complicated than that, but that debate that took place pretty thoroughly in the comments on the original post :-).

    2. Arctic*

      Under the ADA being able to sky-dive is an essential function of skydiving instructing. Bringing a dog to work is not an essential function of advertising.

      1. Jennifer*

        I was exaggerating a bit. I still think it’s strange to apply for a job at a workplace where there will be dogs when you’re allergic. If she didn’t know about the dogs until after she started working there, I would have a lot of sympathy for her. There was a letter like that a few years ago.

        Yes, having dogs in the office is a perk that can be taken away at any time, but I personally wouldn’t want to start a job that way. Just my opinion.

        1. Arctic*

          I wouldn’t want to be the party pooper either. And, as someone without allergies, a dog friendly workplace would be my dream. But it’s not really reasonable to restrict this person’s job opportunities for a fun perk. It’s more and more common in some fields (like advertising) and some places (like California) so that eventually she could have difficulty finding work in her field without that.

          1. Jennifer*

            Ah, I see. That’s not common in the area where I work. Some of these companies are going to have to start investing in pet-free floors or this is going to become a real problem.

          2. Grater*

            Yep, California is going insane about pets. Don’t get me wrong, I love California and I wouldn’t live in any other state in the US but there’s some crazy stuff here. It shouldn’t be normal or expected for dogs to be in the office (or restaurants, seriously? Animals don’t belong in places that serve food), not just because it’s discriminatory against people with allergies but also because not everyone likes dogs and many people are afraid of them. California is too crazy about pets already, at least the workplace should be free of them (unless it’s a vet clinic or something similar).

            It’s enough that everything in California apparently gives you cancer.

            1. Jennifer*

              Yes, people seem to be offended if you tell them you can’t bring their dog EVERYWHERE. I love my dog, but if someone tells me that they have an allergy I’m not going to argue about my right to bring her into their home.

        2. Grater*

          So women shouldn’t apply to companies where it’s common for coworkers to visit strip clubs as team building activities? If a woman starts working for such a company and complains about the sexist culture, she is a party pooper?

          It’s a bad idea to apply for the position of a dog groomer or a vet if you’re allergic to dogs. You shouldn’t become a sky diving instructor if you’re afraid of heights (unless you overcome it). But if you’re afraid of heights or you’re allergic to dogs you can be a perfectly good accountant or a hair stylist.

          1. Jennifer*

            That’s quite a leap from dogs to workplace sexism. I’m not even going to debate that.

            I wouldn’t want to be the person that made everyone not be able to bring their dogs into work. That’s not how I would want to start things off at a new company. If you feel differently, you have every right to, as I have the right to disagree with you.

            I do agree that if you work in an area where nearly every company in your field allows pets to come into the workplace, then companies need to start coming up with ideas to accommodate people with allergies. The person who wrote the letter didn’t mention that was an issue where she lives.

            1. Grater*

              It’s not a leap at all. Sexism is discrimination based on sex, we’re talking about a company discriminating based on a disability which is a terrible thing to do. It’s simply wrong to exclude people with a certain disability from working there when their disability has nothing to do with the job duties the company is hiring for.

              And would you like to be the person to ruin everyone’s fun of going to strip clubs?

    3. bluephone*

      I think the OP stated (either in the original letter’s comments or a later update) that no one mentioned the dog-friendly policies during the application process, dogs weren’t visible during the onsite interview(s), etc.
      And (full caveat that I might be misremembering) it might have also been a case of OP and Office thinking, “welllllll just load up on Claritin, don’t *pet* any dogs, and you’ll be fine,” and then it turned out to be much harder. I play that “will this visit to my sibling’s pet-occupied house be symptom-free” game a lot in my life. Sometimes all you need is some Claritin and copious hand washing during your visit…and other times, that dice comes up snake eyes and now you can’t breathe.

      1. Jennifer*

        I think that was the other letter about the woman who didn’t know about the dogs until after she started working.

        This person was applying to a job already knowing the office was dog-friendly.

  7. Andy*

    Thank you so much for this site. Thank you for a better career and better working relationships. Thank you for me knowing my worth after years of not. Thank you for the daily inspiration and thank you so very much for the best managed comments section I’ve experienced.

    1. Observer*

      No, and we probably won’t get one. The comments on that one blew up, and the OP rally felt attacked. They responded once to say that they were stopping to read and that they were not going to comment any further.

      1. fposte*

        Yeah, I felt bad for her. She was brand new to the position and her power was really limited, and some people’s horror with the idiocy of Jan’s behavior was being taken out on her. Hopefully the right things still happened offscreen, but I think there were enough posts that would have encouraged that to happen anyway.

        1. Arctic*

          I also felt bad for her. I get that some of her word choice and tone made it sound like she was more upset with John’s reaction than Jan’s actions. But I really don’t think that was the case at all. I think she knew Jan did something awful but that wasn’t a situation she could deal with at the moment (not until her bosses get back.) But the John not working with her was something she had to be able to manage right now or else work might not get done.

          People really went hard against her when she hadn’t done anything wrong.

          1. Observer*

            Also, people didn’t believe her when she said that she had no way to reach anyone with authority.

            I can’t ENTIRELY blame people – those who said that that’s a totally absurd thing were right. But absurd things DO happen, and it certainly wasn’t the OP’s fault that management had pulled that stunt.

              1. Jennifer*

                Exactly. It doesn’t surprise me at all that the only two managers left town at the same time and left no contact info in case of emergency. I think it’s ridiculous, but it’s not surprising in the slightest.

            1. Lissa*

              Yeah – I think it’s also a matter of this OP not being a regular reader, so to her it just seemed like dozens of people yelling at her in horror, and she likely didn’t write it with an eye to how this comment section tends to treat things. I don’t blame her at all. I think it’s easy to lose sight of how aggressive some comments can come across, especially when there are loads of them.

  8. StellaBella*

    Alison, thank you for this site, your wisdom, and thanks to all the commenters, too. I have shared this site repeatedly with friends and colleagues. :) It is a treasure! Happy New Year and wow, yeah, 2018, per these letters, was a doozy as noted above.

  9. Leela*

    I used to work in HR and anonymous notes are THE WORST. First of all, there’s not a lot we can do to take action unless there’s a serious threat (like someone’s saying that a person is sexually harassing people and it’s pretty clear that the note is anonymous because it would be a target on your back, we can start looking into things here) and it’s very frequently someone who wants the office to change to their personal preferences and not face any consequences for doing so. It’s not fair to the company, and it’s not fair to the coworkers. What am I supposed to do with a note like “I don’t like how so and so talks, can you talk to her?” if we don’t already know about the problem. Is it their tone? Their word choice? Are they rudely going “uggggh.” at you when you talk to someone else closeby? What? What specifically am I going to be able to talk to this person about to ask them to modify? Am I supposed to abandon my duties and skulk around hoping to catch them in action, without specifics? And as nice as it would be if everyone 1) told the truth all the time and 2) was objectively right, because even people who believe they’re telling the truth can be off base (like the OP up there who thinks they don’t have to compensate someone with a Leap Day birthday like everyone else), they don’t. I can’t take any note that comes across my desk as gospel, if action is going to be taken we need to be able to log something because it opens us up to trouble if we just go after anyone that someone points an anonymous finger at.

    Having said that, any healthy HR office *should* understand that some notes do require anonymity like the example above, and some actions need to be looked into even without an accuser although it does make it more difficult because we can’t find anyone to follow up with. They should know that sometimes the danger is too great to come forward and the risk to not following up on certain accusations is too high. But for the love of god people, please don’t come to us like we’re the manager of a store and your coworkers are customer service people you have complaints about! It also comes off like the people who leave these notes think that the accuser will be associated with “no one” in the mind of the accused because it was anonymous, but the truth is the accuser is potentially “everyone” and it can really strain coworker relationships as people are no longer sure who they can trust, and people they were close with are now suspects for something like this.

  10. Liane*

    Re: #2 on Most Commented.
    I read 2/3 or so of the comments just on that one just now. The Broken Femur question garnered a lot of responses, MANY of which I found rude, nasty, out of line, &/or in violation of the commenting rules. Fat/body shaming, lots of it, even after being told to stop. Arguing or calling out others. Nit picking language. Even repeatedly calling out Alison–our HOST!–for writing a sentence that she had already retracted, apologized for, & changed in her reply, as soon as she saw POLITE comments that made her aware how severe the injury was.
    As my late dad would say, “I was disappointed but not surprised.”
    So, something to add to our Resolutions List–cut this out before we turn into one of THOSE :P Comments Sections!

    1. Où est la bibliothèque?*

      Seconding this. That letter, and the recent one from the grad student who brought her baby to a lecture got so many mean responses, uncharitable speculations, and personal attacks.

      There aren’t very many anger-free discussion spaces on the internet. Alison has done an amazing job curating one of them, let’s preserve it.

      1. Lissa*

        Yeah, I think this happens because many people have some issues where they feel like it’s “too important” to stay civil, or not to say something when it’s been said before. The problem is that there are so many issues where people feel this way that it kinda loses any power it might’ve had. And also I’ve never found that personal attacks or rudeness actually help the “important” issue anyway – it’d be one thing if me name calling or typing in all caps was actually going to be more likely to get people to see things my way than not doing those things was. But I don’t think that’s the case.

    2. Drew*

      In my experience with more than 30 years being online and helping moderate comment sections of various types, I’ve found that the people causing most of the problems truly don’t think they ARE the problem. They’re “just offering alternate views” and “defending their points” where most folks would say they’re whatabouting and being an argumentative [AAM-unfriendly word]. There’s some idea that they HAVE to offer their perspective because otherwise this would be an “echo chamber” or some such nonsense.

      It’s wearing and I can only admire Alison for leaving comments open in the teeth of several persistent commenters of this ilk. I think it may be incumbent on us, the commentariat, not to reply to people who don’t seem to be arguing in good faith, even if it seems like we’re letting them have the last word or get away with something. I’ll consider it training for dealing with the same sorts of jerks at the office.

    3. Jennifer*

      I think articles about “controversial” topics are going to draw people who don’t normally comment regularly.

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