open thread December 28-29, 2018

It’s the Friday open thread! The comment section on this post is open for discussion with other readers on anything work-related that you want to talk about. If you want an answer from me, emailing me is still your best bet*, but this is a chance to talk to other readers.

* If you submitted a question to me recently, please don’t repost it here, as it may be in the to-be-answered queue.

{ 1,097 comments… read them below }

  1. Meredith Brooks*

    We have a new hire. He’s roughly my age (35+), so he’s been around the block and yet there are certain things about his demeanor, his ability to focus and proactive-ness that is immature. I knew he was eager when we hired him, but his eagerness is also couched in a kind of naivete that I can’t wrap my head around. He’s been here three weeks and literally every conversation we have goes back to his previous employer and how things are the same or different.

    The thing is, he’s not complaining or comparing, he’s just sharing redundant stories. Perhaps as a way of demonstrating his skills, but all it does is annoy the heck out of me.

    I’m hoping I’m just going through a bah-humbug stage with the holidays.

      1. Meredith Brooks*

        Hard to say, he’s been here 3 weeks. Not enough time yet to determine, but I don’t anticipate him being incompetent, just annoying. Hopefully, he just needs a little time to settle down. But, there are a few quirks here and there that will probably remain. He likes to share his opinion, a lot. About how things work, about how he would react to a situation, advice about meetings
        — which seems arrogant, given how new he is. But generally, he’s not bragging, it seems to be more of a way to make himself relevant to a particular conversation or activity.

        1. Hey Karma, Over here.*

          Someone needs to explain to him the “you have two ears and one mouth for a reason” philosophy.

        2. Lady Phoenix*

          He might just be trying to see his place in the job or just trying to transition mentally from old job. I would wait and see if he truly is a problem. Right now, it is too early to say.

        3. Yvette*

          Is it possible that OldJob was his first ‘real’ job (real in terms of full-time job as an adult) and he is a little out of his comfort zone? He may be 35 but if he were hired out of college or in his twenties and was there for 10 years, this could be his second adult job ever. If that is the case, 3 weeks may be a relatively short amount of time for him to acclimate himself.

          1. Meredith Brooks*

            Unfortunately not. He’s had a handful of jobs previously. Generally seems well-liked by those he worked with. Perhaps I’m just a Scrooge.

    1. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      I wonder if he’s a nervous talker. Trying to always seem talkative since he’s new and doesn’t have much to contribute.

      I have a long memory and repeated stories grind my brain gears. I’ve learned to sometimes go “oooh right, you mentioned this yesterday, how your old job used blue on Monday instead of Tuesday’s, funny how that happens.” most smile and realize I am listening. Every so often they scowl and think I’m a jerk…I’m at peace with that too.

      1. shep*

        I’m hugely introverted and normally don’t talk much to coworkers I don’t know well. I can respond pretty adroitly when asked a direct question, but every once in a while when I’m really uncomfortable and/or nervous but feel like I have to make a good impression, I’ll find myself babbling. It doesn’t happen often, and honestly, people probably don’t notice like I think they do, but it’s mortifying to me both in the moment and in retrospect.

        Hopefully this is all the new hire is doing and it’ll sort itself out. But if it’s constant and doesn’t abate soon, I could definitely see it becoming an issue.

      2. Booknerdiest*

        Ha! I used to try this tactic on my grandma when she told the same (long, long) stories over and over. She’d just smile ans say “Oh, good! Then you REMEMBER how… blah, blah, blah…” and she told it over anyway. LOL

        1. The Man, Becky Lynch*

          My mother is the same. My favourite response is “I know, I was there…”

          It’s probably why it’s a peeve of mine. I love old timey stories or at least a laughable, even the first time story kind of deal. But I’ve got my limits lol

        2. Meredith Brooks*

          Oh, bless the grandmas. When my grandmother hit her late 80s, she would often be reminded of her favorite stories, promptly tell them and after we commented on them for a minute or two, she would be reminded again about the same favorite story and repeat it. (We learned not to discuss the story after she had shared it or risk having to listen to it 2 or 3 more times.)

      3. Jadelyn*

        From those of us with memory like a slice of swiss cheese, I apologize – I know I do this, because my memory for conversations is AWFUL, but it’s really not a matter of trying to take over the conversation or whatever; I really do think I’m contributing because I don’t remember having already told that story (or I don’t remember who I told it to and who I didn’t tell it to).

        I’ve started trying to preface stories with “I may have already mentioned this, but -” which gives them a chance to get a couple sentences in and go “Oh, yeah, we talked about that,” and I can go “Oh okay!” and shut the hell up.

    2. Kaybee*

      I’ve experienced that a lot (and I’ve been that person before). I think it’s because people want to contribute but at three weeks, don’t have a lot that’s specific to your organizations, projects, etc. to contribute, so fall back on what they know. If you have the energy, you can try refocusing his comments to questions about your organization. For example, when he says, “oh my last organization filed hard copies of documents in purple file folders” you can try redirecting to something like, “so do you have questions about our blue file folder system?” But I’ve found in most cases with experienced workers, referring to past organizations subsides over time.

      I feel you that it gets annoying though! (And again, that’s with being that person.) It’s particularly grating for me with interns and folks brand new to the workforce who have no experience, so they tell us the textbook way to do things that they learned in an “Introduction to X” class four years ago. I just smile, explain why we do what we do, remind myself that this too shall pass, and vent to my friends over a glass of wine after work. :)

      1. matcha123*

        I kind of agree. If you’re new and want to show that you DO have experience with something, how else are you going to do that if you aren’t immediately engaged in a project related to whatever thing that is?
        I do that at my job now, not because I think that my old job was better, but because it is in the same line/type of work and I want to demonstrate that (1) I have experience with the topic, (2) I tackled this problem before and solved it this way, maybe that is something that can work here, and (3) because some of my coworkers want to act like I was literally born yesterday and have no standing to discuss the issue at all.

        1. Friday afternoon fever*

          >> If you’re new and want to show that you DO have experience with something, how else are you going to do that if you aren’t immediately engaged in a project related to whatever thing that is?

          To a certain degree yes you can reference your experience at your old job. But it sounds like her coworker is doing it incessantly and not always in scenarios that are relevant.

          It’s perfectly fine to say “I have experience with x from my job at y” or “I did z at my last job and would love to do some of that here” but you also don’t have to establish your entire professional reputation/competency right out of the gate. The fact that you (general you, not necessarily you specifically) were hired means they believe you have the experience they want. Like MB said below, show, don’t tell. It takes time and demonstrable good work and build up a new reputation at your new job as someone who has a ton of experience and knowledge — and that’s OK.

    3. mr. brightside*

      Is it a very different kind of industry? I had a guy like that once, who was ~40 and kept talking about his last job constantly, and that lasted about a year. He’d come from 10 years in consultancy to the absolute opposite of consultancy, so I wonder now if some of that was settling in nerves.

    4. Mazzy*

      Is this really as bad a thing and people think it is? I know I did this when I was new at my current job. I had had a high level individual contributor job at a very, very similar company, so I always felt my stories from the old company were helpful.

      1. Friday afternoon fever*

        Highly context and frequency dependent. Sounds appropriate to your role. In other contexts it can be super annoying.

      2. Meredith Brooks*

        I don’t mind hearing about how things worked at another organization. And I understand the thought of wanting to demonstrate understanding or skill, but to be honest, I don’t need to hear about how things were the same at LastJob. Show me. Don’t tell me.

      3. Not So NewReader*

        From what I have seen IRL people generally have a very low tolerance. It doesn’t bother me but that could have been tempered because of working with someone who would tell the offender to stop it.
        I also see that people who feel pressed for time will have a very low threshold for tolerating descriptions of procedures at Old Job.

        OP, perhaps you can pretend you see it as nerves pushing him to make conversation out of something/anything. Then you can tell him privately, “Just so you are aware, you seem to mention Old Job a lot and it’s wearing a little thin with some people. If you have done a particular task before it’s fine to say, ‘I have done Xs before’ and just let the rest go about where you did X.”

    5. Lisa*

      My DH is like that. Just soooooo eager to please. In DH’s case, anxiety based, for sure. If people validate him and say you’re doing a good job, how are you feeling here, are you okay, it might help. Not saying that’s your job. Just saying it might help.

      1. Meredith Brooks*

        Yeah, I’m afraid of that. I’m not a $#@&$*, but I also feel that this kind of validation isn’t productive and just generates an overdependence on praise, which then starts to mean less the more you have to do it.

        1. Elspeth McGillicuddy*

          Maybe try the praising and validating. Give it say a week, and if it doesn’t help, you can stop. A bit of extra validation in the beginning, when he’s trying to find his footing and doesn’t actually know if his work is good, is not major coddling.

          Plus a week of looking for good points to praise will probably diffuse some of your annoyance with him.

        2. Not So NewReader*

          It’s a fine line.
          A person who has not been told they are doing okay can really flounder and struggle. This is unnecessary and preventable.
          My thought here is to go one step at a time. Step 1 is give HONEST praise when work is actually good/impressive.

          Step 2 is IF the person morphs into a praise needy person then deal with that once you see it.

          I have trained a lot of people. Very, very few people are needy from what I have seen. What I have seen is people quitting because NO ONE in the place bothered to compliment them. EVER.

          Alison can probably write a whole article on productive use of praise. But there are lots of things you can do. For example, New Hire is working on Widgets. One Widget is different than the rest and he does not know how to handle it because of the difference. The point of praise here would be that he caught on that one was different from the rest. So praise could look like, “Nice catch on that. Yep, it is different so in this case we do ABC with it instead of the usual XYZ.” If you want you can add, “Any time you see something not similar to the rest feel free to show me and I will tell you how we handle it. After we run through some different examples, you will just do it on your own.” Notice the praise part is just one sentence, “Nice catch on that.” I don’t repeat it again in that conversation.

          I guess it’s a situational praise? I know I have seen new hires come up with an idea for handling their work that I had never seen before. So I said, “This is a really good idea. As a matter of fact, I am going to change our whole group over to do it this way instead of what we have been doing.”

          But empty praise does nothing. For example, it’s foolish to praise them for doing something on a par with hanging up their coat. That’s kind of condescending, too.

          When I have supervised, I made sure I praised the unusual things that I wanted to see more of. This goes back to handling tasks in an efficient manner like my example above. I wanted to see them come up with ideas to make their work easier. So as individuals showed me what they had figured out I definitely would praise them for it. Praise can be an opportunity to encourage desirable behaviors.

          But yeah, very seldom have I seen people get needy/clingy because they wanted me to praise them. While it’s good to be aware that can happen, I don’t think you need to worry about that too much. I definitely would not avoid complimenting people (sincere compliments) when it fit the situation.

          1. Miss Pantalones en Fuego*

            Yes, I think this is a good approach. I know I have been that anxious new hire who keeps bringing up old jobs and it was exactly for the reason that I felt extremely insecure about my qualifications and skills. I was in a way trying to reassure myself by mentioning that I’d done something similar before, even if the exact methods were different at the new place. I know that seeking approval or praise is one of my major flaws as a person and that tiny little praise comment (“nice catch”) would be very helpful for me.

    6. Slartibartfast*

      I do this, because I’m socially awkward and just trying to relate. A gentle, private request to cut down on the talk about X would be greatly appreciated in my case.

      1. Meredith Brooks*

        Appreciate you sharing your experience. It’s not at the point where I feel I need to tell him to stop, but is something that I think I have to keep an eye on. So, it helps to know how someone similar would like to receive feedback.

    7. MP*

      I guess – what else is he supposed to do? If he has experience, he doesn’t need to go back to square one just because he’s at a new place, right? I’ve struggled with this, in my past, and didn’t handle it well. I went from being a pretty high-level person in a private consulting firm to more of an analyst position under a controlling boss (this was a bit of a bait and switch situation, and I’m not proud I didn’t see this coming). I was SLAMMED for any mention of my previous job or any show of assertiveness that had to do with my previous position. They wanted me to act like I had no idea what was going on and needed to be taught everything, like I was right out of college. I look really young, and I was female in a misogynist place, so that was even worse. My situation is a bit different, but maybe he’s still missing his role in his previous place.

    8. H.C.*

      That reminds me of a colleague who still references her job from 2+ years ago…

      That being said, as others have mentioned, doing this three weeks out isn’t that bad. And there’s the possibility that his OldJob may have a better workflow/process that’s worth considering, too.

    9. Bad Hare Day*

      I started at my current job at the same time as a colleague, Julie, who was like this. Julie is in her 50s and coming from a small (5 full time employees) to a large (500+ employees) org, and from a generalist to specialist position. Practically every sentence out of her mouth started with “At old job X, we…” If I recall correctly this lasted for over a year and still comes up occasionally in year 4. She also tends to suck up meeting time by asking long, detailed questions or sharing anecdotes that are irrelevant to most of the other participants.

      I don’t have a lot of specific advice for you, mostly commiserating. But after getting to know Julie on a personal level (mostly through lunches) it bothers me less. She is a lovely person and very competent at her job. I still roll my eyes at her from time to time but I see her as a quirky personality rather than immature or annoying.

    10. dumblewald*

      I started my first “real” job 2 years ago, and I think I may have been guilty of this behavior. I have since quieted down, but have also observed this type of behavior in new hires we have had straight out of college/grad school. I think part of it is excitement in a new position, to put it simply. In my personal experience, I think I was trying to forge relationships with my new managers/team members, and just enthusiastically observing everything around me/also trying to sound smart and impress people (cringe haha). Since this guy is 35, it might just be his personality as well, but I think it’s harmless and he will settle down.

  2. Girl from the North Country*

    I just got promoted to a high-level position at my company, to a position that my boss (who reports directly to the CEO) handpicked me for. It’s been a little over a month now and I have almost NOTHING to do all day. I’ve tried asking my boss for some guidance on what I should be tackling, but he just gives me vague tips (e.g. “spend some time educating yourself”), and now occasionally says things like “remember when you had nothing to do a few weeks ago? Isn’t it so much better now!” without any reason – I never indicated that my workload was suddenly substantial. What should I do? Talk to him again? I feel a lot of pressure since he chose me for this job and I don’t want to look like a failure.

    1. Psyche*

      You should probably talk to him again. You aren’t a failure if you aren’t being given enough to do. There may be a miscommunication somewhere.

    2. Meredith Brooks*

      Did they give you any direction about what they wanted the job to accomplish? And if not, is it possible that you can create your own projects/tasks/work load to help define the job further? Your situation reminds me of a job I had as a very yound 20-something. I was given a project, but no real direction about what it was supposed to look like. So, I formed my own opinion, shared my outline with my boss and she was perfectly happy to have me move forward with my plan. I won’t lie, it’s somewhat disorienting not to have much direction, but since they haven’t given you any, this is a good opportunity to practice some proactivity, ingenuity, and creativity.

      1. Girl from the North Country*

        Well that’s another issue – before I accepted the job, he told me I’d be responsible for running XYZ. Now that I’m in the job, he said that I actually have no direct input into XYZ, and that I’m only collecting what other people are doing for XYZ and saving it. I almost feel like a secretary (no offense to secretaries!), which is baffling since that’s not how the job was sold to me at all, and the team he poached me from does very high-level, critical work. I know there’s gotta be MORE to this but I keep asking and getting nothing. Even when he schedules long meetings and I finally think real work is coming, it ends up being me watching him type something for 5 minutes and then it’s over. So I guess what I’m trying to say is there’s nothing to really get creative with – I’m literally just sitting at my desk waiting for people to send me documents :(

        1. bored_at_desk*

          It sounds like there might be some crazy bait and switch going on! What do you mean a team was poached from you?

          1. Girl from the North Country*

            Oh a team wasn’t poached from me, I was poached from my team. I was a top performer on my previous team at the company, so my boss handpicked me for this role he had been saving for me. This boss that I currently have also managed my prior boss, so it was easy for current boss to snag me.

            1. bored_at_desk*

              Oh, thanks thanks – sorry about that. Anyway, if it’s a new position (in general, or even just to you), you need a position description, some kind of work plan, some kind of list of goals and priorities for the next six months. I’ve always gotten that my first week in a new job, in a sit-down with my boss (after understanding the basics of it before accepting the position) – if it hasn’t happened, or if you’re getting mixed messages, that needs to happen! Shouldn’t look weird to ask for that.

        2. valentine*

          Have you asked him why the job changed from running XYZ to archiving and what your day-to-day is meant to look like? Is there a written job description? Is it possible to return to your previous team?

          1. Girl from the North Country*

            I’ve asked him about my day-to-day, but haven’t yet asked him why the job description changed. I’ve been hesitant because I’m not sure if a month is enough time to make that judgment and bring the issue to him. I don’t wanna look impatient, and what if the problem is that *I* misunderstood the job description? (I don’t think I did, but as I mentioned, I’m feeling the pressure since I don’t want to be a disappointment)

            1. Jadelyn*

              If it had been a week, I’d say maybe give it time, but after a month? Talk to him again. Make sure you’re being suuuuper clear and not softening the message (look at how many times managers write in thinking they’ve told their EEs to stop doing something, only to have Alison ask “okay but did you actually say that?” and the answer is no). “When we talked about this role before, I had understood it would be doing XYZ. Now it seems like I’m just archiving X and I’m not seeing Y or Z at all, which is not what I had expected, so I need some clarification from you. What, exactly, is this role supposed to accomplish long-term? What are my goals for 6 months out, or a year out?”

              Try to pin the boss down to concrete goals. If he gives you vague stuff, keep asking: “I’m not sure I understand what you mean by that – can you be more specific?” Or offer your interpretation: “When you say “educate yourself”, should I be going to classes and conferences? Networking events? Just reading articles?” and see what he says.

            2. Autumnheart*

              Would it be possible/an okay move to talk to the people in charge of XYZ team, and do a deep dive with them to learn about their processes and tasks? Maybe there’s something they could have you take on immediately.

        3. The Man, Becky Lynch*

          Wait…

          It’s a new position? I’m not quiet sure if I’m falling well. That can lead to a slow start itself.

          Also he sounds scattered and unaware of what he wants from you exactly. I agree he may have poached you and baited you with one thing only to make you his EA.

          1. Girl from the North Country*

            Yes it’s a new position. I knew going into it that things might be slow at first, but so far everything I’ve seen points to low-level work that doesn’t require much skill. One thing my boss told me before I took the job was that I’m technically not qualified for this role, but I’m the right person for it and I will learn a lot. NOTHING I’ve done seems to fit this description. What qualifications does someone need to save a file online?? :(

        4. Yvette*

          Can you spend your time learning what other people are doing for XYZ, finding out as much about the process as possible? (if you are already doing that my apologies)

          Or since you were poached, could this be a more political thing? More about hurting someone rather than helping you? Taking away a key person from a team in the hopes it will fail? Or maybe he knows the team is about to be “restructured” into non-existence and he was hoping to save you from a layoff?

    3. bored_at_desk*

      I don’t think bringing this up will make you look like a failure! Just say, “Hey, as we enter the new year, can we do some planning and priority-setting for the coming season? I’m still finding myself with a fair amount of down time and I’d love to get your list of our goals and to-do list.” Maybe there’s a work plan he can share? Is there a position description you can glean details from? I guess it’s also possible that something just shifted (e.g. the amount of returns of unloved teapots just increased post-holidays) and you’re now supposed to be doing something that you’re not doing/are unaware of (e.g. analyzing the reasons for all of the returns and making recommendations.)

      1. fposte*

        Yes, I agree. Ask for longer-term goals in the position, not just what you should be doing right now. That may help illustrate to him that stuff needs to happen now for you to get to the longer-term places.

    4. Cassandra*

      This is setting off my evil-bees meter. It just sounds weird to the point of wondering which closets here hold skeletons. Questions I have:

      * Who else was involved in your promotion process? Anyone? Or was this your boss acting unilaterally?
      * Do you have a position description? Who besides your boss has seen it?
      * Does your boss have an executive (or other) assistant already? Is it possible that’s what you’re supposed to be doing?
      * Who is actually leading project XYZ? Who else is working on it? Can you (quietly!!!!) get any information on their view of all this?
      * I hate that I even have to ask this, but: any indication of a more personal interest in you from your boss?

      As a defensive move, I suggest updating your resume (maybe not hard, if you already did so for this promotion) and keeping an eye on transfer opportunities within your org. It might also make sense to (quietly!!!!!) ask your former team whether there might still be room for you there.

      1. Girl from the North Country*

        *It wasn’t a unilateral promotion. My old team was planning to phase out some of our work to another team at the company, so we were all in the process of moving around our roles a bit anyways. During this transition, my current boss told me he had a role that he’d been saving for me (he’s very high up, so he knew about this transition from months ago – that’s how he was able to “save” the job for me).

        *I do have a job description that he wrote up and had approved by HR and the CEO.

        *He doesn’t have an EA but it’s 100% NOT what I’m supposed to be doing. To give you a better idea, my role was basically sold to me as the head of Compliance for a specific branch of our company.

        *XYZ involves processes all the managers at the company need to perform to be in compliance with financial rules/regulations. My boss told me I’d be running this process, but it turns out all the managers have their own processes in place and I’m not to interfere with it at all – only save the docs they send me.

        *Definitely not a personal interest from my boss in that way! He’s very professional and highly respected. It feels like he has this idea in his head that this job has a lot of responsibilities, but his vision isn’t the same in reality.

        Hope that helps clear some things up. It’s been a very stressful few weeks trying to live up to my boss’s expectations of me even though there isn’t much to work with.

        1. Shark Whisperer*

          Are you sure that you aren’t supposed to interfere ever? Maybe you aren’t supposed to interfere right now as you are learning more about the processes and where there may be inefficiencies or things being done wrong. Can you spend time learning more about the rules and regulations and meeting with the managers to learn how they implement them?

          1. Girl from the North Country*

            Yes, I’m sure. I know this because my boss literally said the words “you will not have any say in this – your only job is to save their paperwork.” I was surprised in the moment so I didn’t say anything, and I feel like I can’t say “I want to be involved” because that’s not my place to decide that.

            I’ve tried meeting with the managers many times, but they’re almost always too “busy” or half listening. Sometimes they flat out ignore my requests and I have to chase them around all day begging them to do their jobs. I feel like their babysitter!

        2. Danger: GUMPTION AHEAD*

          If I were in your shoes and at loose ends, I would document all of the different departments’ processes for XYZ to see if there were some efficiencies available and just to have a process description available. If everyone is doing XYZ a different way, but it is all for the same reporting requirements, I can see why they would want someone in an overarching XYZ role. Once you have that done, you might see a direction to take or at least something to discuss with the boss to get her to point you in the right direction.

      2. Girl from the North Country*

        Oh I forgot to add – I recently got a pretty hefty bonus, pay increase, and equity payment, so I don’t really wanna leave the company since I’m in a nice spot financially. I thought about going back to my previous team, but A) I don’t know if that’s possible after a short period of time, B) I don’t want to burn the bridge with my current boss, C) my current boss also manages my former boss, so there would be some awkward political maneuvering to do to pull it off.

        1. ket*

          Is there any chance (being cynical here) that they want someone in compliance who won’t, um, make people comply?

          1. Cassandra*

            Speaking as someone who watches organizational behavior around information security… this sounds unfortunately plausible. Some orgs are all about the Potemkin compliance.

          2. Girl from the North Country*

            No it’s definitely not that, thankfully. We do have a separate Compliance department who oversees the whole company – my role is supposed to be tailored to a specific branch of the company. We’re a financial firm that’s regulated at the federal and state levels, so non-compliance is not an option even if we wanted it! We’d all be out of jobs lol.

    5. LQ*

      I don’t think this is always that unusual when the position is brand new and the person isn’t super experienced and the boss isn’t crystal clear what they want. I’ve had this happen to me a lot or at least a few times. The thing I’ve always done is just start basically grabbing the work I wanted and doing the best I could until someone told me no. (It’s in fact what I’m doing right now. No one has told me to stop so I’m going to keep doing this stuff because it needs to get done, I think it’s important (and my boss does too), and no one else is stepping up to do it. So I’m going to step up. And if it’s not perfect, so be it, at least something is happening.)

      I also think that the educate yourself makes me think that the initial thing that the boss wanted he isn’t crystal clear on. Good news, you may be able to help shape what it looks like. Bad news, it may be still changing and it’s not clear because the XYZ isn’t actually set in stone yet.

      Absolutely talk to your boss. Propose ideas, go out on a limb, try something crazy, grab the work you want to do and insert yourself into it.

      And be entirely ready to back down or away from the thing if you step on toes. If you do it graciously and apologetically and you were acting in good faith…mostly I’ve been fine.

      1. AvonLady Barksdale*

        I agree with this. I have had two positions so far that were, essentially, created for me, and they were both VERY slow going in the beginning. At one company, I did about 30 minutes of work a day for over six months, and I was brought in as a director. I ended up leaving that place after just over a year. It was the most boring job I have ever had, but I was paid nicely and had great benefits.

        In my current job, it took a long time to be independent, so there was a lot of thumb twiddling. It’s been two years now and I still have slow days. I’m more experienced now and have established my own projects, so I’m in a much better place.

        Bottom line, don’t beat yourself up over this or feel like you’re useless. It doesn’t even sound like a bait and switch to me. It sounds more like they wanted someone in this position but they didn’t really think it through. They should eventually!

      2. The New Wanderer*

        I’m in the same position right now. The job description was literally created for me but there has been no concrete guidance as to what I’m expected to do other than answer specialized-topic questions when needed. I’ve asked a few senior people about what would be the most valuable thing(s) for me to work on so they know I want to be working, but everyone is off for the holidays so I didn’t expect much progress until after the New Year. Fortunately some side projects seem like they’re picking up speed so I’ll have work to go back to. I expect I’ll keep asking every few weeks until I get some concrete goals or deliverables set up for my main role.

        Incidentally I’ve also had the job of “manage the compliance documents from everyone” without the ability to help put content in the documents (requires specialized knowledge) or the authority to get team leads to supply those documents to me. I think eventually I was intended to review the docs and make sure all aspects of compliance were addressed, but as this was a 2+ year process and I left after 6 months, it never got that far. Literally the only contribution I made was to inform the team leads of where on the server to upload the documents. OP I hope you’re able to get tasked with something more substantial soon!

    6. Coder von Frankenstein*

      I would go to your boss and say, “When you created this position and put me in it, I assume there was a problem you were hoping I would solve for you. Can we talk about what exactly that problem is, so I can make sure I am in fact solving it?”

      And then ask “Why?” over and over like a five-year-old, until you really, fully understand the thought process that led to you being hired. That should be your first goal: Understanding, at a high level, how your boss got to the point where he said “I need GftNC to leave her team and come work in this new position for me.”

      Once you understand what your boss was trying to accomplish by hiring you, you’ll have a better picture of what you need to do to make it happen. And it may turn out that you don’t have the necessary authority to do it – or that it’s a trivial task that takes up minimal time – or that it’s actually impossible to do. But those are all specific issues you can bring up with your boss and work out a solution. Right now, you are trapped in the Abysm of Vagueness, where you can’t even formulate the questions to move you forward because you don’t know which way “forward” is.

    7. Kathenus*

      Maybe you could proactively write up a document with proposed work responsibilities and short/medium term goals, then ask for a meeting with your boss to review it and get his feedback on it. It can be based on what you were told the job would be and/or what you may want to do now that you’ve seen the role for a few weeks. He may not go with everything on your list, but at least you’ll be able to have a discussion about specifics not just generalities, and even if those exact responsibilities and goals aren’t the ones he agrees to you’ll hopefully get some set things to move forward on out of the meeting. I’d suggest waiting about a week to get past the holidays, that always slows everything down and people are generally just trying to go do what they have to before being off or whatever holiday plans they have.

    8. Earthwalker*

      I had this job. The description was wonderful. I would report to a fairly senior manager and I would make projects successful. Until I got there. Same thing: nothing to do now, just get some training. Don’t get involved with the work directly, just maintain the documentation. I thought at first that it was just that I was new. Later I was told by project team members that I was an Affirmative Action quota headcount who was supposed to keep busy by myself but not bother the men doing real work. I knew Affirmative Action had worked like that in the 90s and didn’t anymore, but then, this was a strikingly old fashioned company culture. I counted workforce statistics and found that there were 14 men per 1 woman at my level, and concluded that I was indeed a token of some sort. Are you a woman at a high level? Is that common or suspiciously rare in your company? Is your company culture up to date or does it have a sort of last century, your-father’s-company vibe to it?

    9. Not So NewReader*

      This would drive me nuts. If the boss has no work for me, then send me home, I have a ton of work at home I could be doing.

      I think you need to speak more clearly with your boss. Say things closer to what you are saying here. I don’t think he is understanding the particular set of words you are using. Find a new set of words. If I got desperate enough I might even go with, “Look, Boss, I do nothing 6 hours a day and draw a paycheck for it. At some point, someone will figure that out and I will be out a job. I need to you to give me more work to do.”

      So when he says, “I have been giving you stuff to do” then you say, “Right. I was doing nothing for 7 hours a day. now I have one more hour of work. We need to keep going here and we need to keep getting more for me to do.” (Notice the use of “we”. It makes things sound collaborative rather than accusatory. )

      At the end of the conversation, make sure you say indicate you will keep following up on this. You could say, “I want make sure I am doing 8 hours of work for the 8 hours of pay I get. So I will let you know when we reach the 8 hour mark.” OR “I need to know that I am making a contribution here. So I am going to keep mentioning this until I have a full plate of work in front of me.” Do this so he knows the door on this conversation has not been closed.

  3. Bee's Knees*

    Thoughts about knitting/crocheting while on conference calls?
    I have at least one call a week that lasts 30 minutes to an hour, just audio, no visual. Thoughts on how appropriate it would be to knit or crochet while on the phone? I have an office to myself with a door that shuts, so it’s not like it would be out in the open, and I am not presenting at these meetings/ don’t need to take notes.

    1. Psyche*

      I don’t see a problem with crocheting if there is no visual so long as you can drop it at a moments notice if you do need to write something down. I would avoid knitting because it can make noise (or maybe my friends are just noisy knitters).

      1. Red Reader*

        Your friends are noisy, I think, or maybe conversely I’m just really quiet? :) but also, if one is on a conference call and not actively speaking, one could (and arguably should) mute oneself.

        (A love letter to all the people I work with who take other phone calls while on conference calls and don’t bother….)

        1. Susan K*

          Yeah, I think on most conference calls, etiquette is to mute yourself unless you are speaking or actively involved in a conversation, so I don’t think the noise would present a problem.

          I think knitting or crocheting would actually be a good way to pass the time without distracting you from listening to the call. My problem with conference calls on which I don’t have much to say is that just listening is boring, so I tend to start working on stuff during the call, and I end up not paying enough attention to the call and missing stuff I should have heard.

          1. Bee's Knees*

            Yeah, I always mute mine. I was trying to get some stuff done last time, and zoned out until the person speaking mentioned Vegas. Did he just go to Vegas, are we going to Vegas, I have no idea, cause I was emailing someone about ordering the right kind of pens.

            1. Guacamole Bob*

              Often a few of us from my agency have to be on the same call, and I sit with others with the call on speakerphone whenever possible, because if I’m at my computer and the call is boring then I tend to tune out.

        2. JustaTech*

          If you’re really fast and using metal needles you can get quite the click-click-click going. Bamboo or bone are much quieter, and the only sound I’ve ever heard from a crocheter is swearing when they’ve messed up!

      2. Falling Diphthong*

        Yeah, if people ask what the click-click-click noise is, you don’t want to be the answer.

        I think of it like playing a simple solitaire game during the call. Sure, you can match cards and it doesn’t take much attention and it keeps your hands occupied… but no one should be able to tell you’re doing it. Because it reads as not being engaged.

    2. Karen from Finance*

      As long as nobody sees you (in your office or through the computer) I think you’ll be fine. I actually understand how this could be super useful! Doing something with my hands helps me focus on conversations.

    3. Knitty Gritty*

      I’m more than a little biased (hence the username), but knit/crochet away! Bamboo needles for knitting can help control the clicking and clacking.

    4. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      Since there’s no optics to worry about. Go for it.

      I play cellphone games during webinars in my office alone.

    5. Phoenix Programmer*

      If I saw you knitting I would assume you were not paying attention. If I saw you knotting then you had a question about something covered in the meeting then I would be annoyed and if I were your manager I would ask why you were knitting and if you thought you did not need the meetings.

      1. I work on a Hellmouth*

        Yes, but Bee’s Knees is in a private office with a shut door. So that scenario doesn’t actually apply. Also, keeping your hands occupied can improve focus and retention, and help keep you from drifting off.

        1. Liane*

          AND Bee’s Knees doesn’t need to take notes, present, or–the way I’m reading it–have her camera on. So no problem.

          1. Bee's Knees*

            Don’t even have a camera. The phone is a throwback from the 90’s, and I’m so grateful it has a mute button. No caller-ID, but I work with what I’ve got.

          2. Phoenix Programmer*

            If she doesn’t need to pay attention the she probably doesn’t need to attend vs attending and doing something else.

            I know it’s unlikely she will be seen but I have a private office and people pop in.

            It’s a problem to be so tuned out in a meeting you are knitting – we’ve literally had aam letters about knitting coworkers.

            In general if the answer is – yes as long as no one knows you are doing it then it’s probably not OK at work.

            1. Seeking Second Childhood*

              I think a lot of people miss the point that an experienced knitter is using muscle memory not conscious thought. I’m not an expert and can knit while walking and listening to a nonfiction audio book. I’m not missing anything….and honestly with my ADD, the knitting keeps me focused.

      2. Bee's Knees*

        It’s actually not usually manager calls. Well, some managers are on the calls, but there’s not one here that I report to, and it’s usually a training we’re watching on the screen, or people at my level talking shop. I’m old hat enough at knitting and crocheting that I don’t have to pay attention to my hands.

    6. Dasein9*

      I draw to keep myself focused during meetings when I need to know what’s going on but am not actively doing anythin. It’s quite helpful. I imagine knitting or crocheting works much the same way.

      1. Bee's Knees*

        It does for me. Not if I’m trying to do anything complicated, but just the normal stuff helps me feel productive when I’m otherwise sitting there trying to pay attention.

        1. I don’t post often*

          I work from home and have several “information only” hour long conference calls a week. (That’s not really true. But I’m only expected to talk for 10 of the 60 minutes.). I had a price of ribbon I play with, like a fidget spinner, the same concept or colored pencils to draw. I can imagine crocheting is the same. I would use the ribbon or pencils in the office but I’m not sure I would crochet. I think it’s becuase the crocheting is a “productive task” – you are making something versus being a “wasting time task”. That’s just my opinion though.

    7. Zona the Great*

      I think it’s totally okay. I color during conference calls or else I’d not be able to pay attention.

    8. Headshrinker Extraordinaire*

      As another person who focuses better when my hands are busy, I say go for it. If other people could see you I would want to make sure you weren’t distracting, but since they can’t I don’t see a problem.

      It might be best to work on something that’s relatively simple, where you don’t have to pay too much attention to a pattern.

      When I was in grad school we had a lunchtime seminar that the program director decreed was a no-laptop zone. It was in a room that was often crowded and too warm, and this was grad school where no one is getting enough sleep. For 3 years in a row I would work on a scarf after I finished my lunch. I never fell asleep, and no professors ever mentioned it as an issue.

    9. RandomusernamebecauseIwasboredwiththelastone*

      Agreeing with others. I think it’s ok as long as the following conditions are true:

      -No one can see you knitting/crocheting
      -No one can hear you knitting/crocheting
      -You aren’t distracted by knitting/crocheting
      -You can switch focus instantly when needed (to comment/take a note/suddenly share your screen, etc)
      -You are actively engaged in the meeting
      -You aren’t actively presenting

      Honestly, I do this because all of the above things can be true for me. There are meetings where this would be totally be a nonstarter and I wouldn’t do it.

      I also keep plain no thought projects just for this purpose (one of them is a 2000 yrd hexigon, knit only, 2 row (1 knit, and 1 knit with a regular increase), small needle, lace weight). Nothing that I have to reference a pattern for or pick up put down immediately.

      1. Bee's Knees*

        Yeah, I think it’d be true. I mean, my office does have a window into the hall, but no one pays attention to me unless they need something, and it would be hidden by my desk until they stepped in. We’re still learning to knock when the door is shut, but that’s an issue for another time.

        1. RandomusernamebecauseIwasboredwiththelastone*

          Depends on the window, honestly. I have solid doors and walls so there really isn’t a way to observe me if I have my door closed.

    10. mr. brightside*

      I think it’s fine so long as no one sees you, and you’re also not doing something like fair isle or where you have to pay a lot of attention to your fingers or count stitches (hey, if you count it 3 times and get the same answer twice, you’re fine, right?)

      1. Bee's Knees*

        Yeah, I wouldn’t do something like granny squares, which I’m learning to do and take a lot of concentration. And I think so long as the number is close, just add stitches later. Which explains so much about how my early projects went so, so wrong.

        1. mr. brightside*

          The best part is you’re doing a pattern in repeats and then you get to the end of the row on the wrong stitch, that one’s fun ;) I just slip in an increase or decrease and pretend it never happened.

    11. Liet-Kinda*

      I mean, if you want to knit, knit. But this speaks to me of a meeting/teleconference that basically does not need to be happening, or which at least does not need your participation.

      1. RandomusernamebecauseIwasboredwiththelastone*

        Yes and no, I’m on some calls/meetings not as an active participant but so I can provide support or guidance as needed. Some meetings, I’d agree I’m not needed, but my boss wants me there anyway. I’m not going to argue. Other meetings are structured as receiving information from others, where I’m not active, but instead getting the information that I’ll need for later.

        I used to sit in on 3+ hour development daily calls. Now I wasn’t necessarily a key member as I was on the business side, but it proved very valuable for me to understand where the development was heading and answer questions and provide clarification real time. The same with requirements calls. My boss and I split our areas of ownership, but the sections that were developing had to be cohesive, so we both needed to be involved in each area, one of us active and the other passive.

        So it could be that the meeting isn’t necessary, or it could be that it is, generally most don’t have a lot of say over which ones they can pick and choose to go to for a lot of different reasons.

    12. Mel*

      So I regularly knit during meetings of some of the big volunteer organizations I’m part of. (I’m even being recognized as “that knitting lady” at meetings, and being memorable in these settings is a very good thing.) It helps keep me from getting bored and I feel is it far more polite than playing on my phone. I also impressed friends during our book club (ahead of the first Women’s March, so I was knitting like crazy to prepare).
      However, I’ve only done this at work a few times (and it was to prep for the Women’s March). I made sure it was something I could drop in a second without problem, and that my knitting wasn’t obviously visible. If you can shut your office door and happily and easily take part in the conference call, this knitter thinks it would be okay. But the second it interferes with the call (like if it delayed your finding something you need to reference), it’d be dropped in a second. I also recommend using bamboo needles, as they’re practically silent compared to metal ones.

    13. Be Positive*

      I used to fold origami in meetings. (Sigh, my young inexperienced self) At least no one will see. Why not?

    14. Seeking Second Childhood*

      As long as it’s simple straight stitchery thst you will NEVER find yourself counting out loud.
      I used to do this while on conference calls while working offsite, just to keep my hands busy so I don’t catch myself reverting to an old nail-biting habit. But no doors at the office, and no TC anymore. I try to walk around instead now…although I have less space to pace than before the move.

    15. Emily S.*

      Hi there! The only thing to watch out for is with knitting, if you use the metal needles that click, then be careful about keeping the phone on mute (but you said you do that). I use wood and bamboo needles when I knit (which is rarely!) and those are pretty quiet.

      I hope you had a nice Christmas!

  4. I Work on a Hellmouth*

    Here are the Hellmouth holiday happenings:

    It has been a pretty short week for me as, in addition to being off on Tuesday, (possibly because of the Bronchitis Bunch last week) I got hit pretty hard by an upper respiratory infection and wasn’t feeling better by Wednesday and had to call in that day. Fortunately(?), my boss also called in, so no one went through my snacks and tampons this time, or installed any new surveillance devices. Unfortunately, my boss is pretty mad that I wasn’t able to do her pre-closeout tasks for her. Alas. I mean, I still have to do them, I just wasn’t able to complete them so she could send them ahead to corporate and look like she got them done early. Darn. My heart breaks.

    My boss is now actively plotting against a group of children on the property. Their crime? Playing on the playground, quietly watching YouTube gaming videos in the computer lab, and, um, existing. It’s really mean. She’s identified all of them and has begun sending letters to their parents about them playing unaccompanied on the property. They’re all in the 10-12 age range.

    Bees literally covered my lunch on Monday when I sat down at the picnic table I’ve been using since the angry squirrel drove me away from my previous table. That was… new and interesting. I have since chosen a new lunch spot.

    In addition to the war on children, my boss has started a war on outerwear, specifically hoodies. Since it has gotten colder, many of our residents (some kids, some adults) have taken to wearing them and, if it is particularly cold/they’re out running/etc, they sometimes pull the hood up. My boss is livid about this flagrant hood wear-ery. She spent 30 minutes instructing the new Courtesy Officer to keep hoods DOWN on property, and gave him a script to use when he indicated that he couldn’t really tell people they couldn’t utilize the hood function of their hoodies. It was… special.

    Another building was struck by lightning yesterday, and we experienced some flooding. Fun times!

    The most dramatic happening would have to be the resident who came in to pick up a package at the end of the day last Friday and, upon being told that we had no package for her, drove to the post office where she was told that her package was “left with a receptionist” (no) and then given a rundown of “the conversation that was being had in the office” (totally fabricated). So the resident sped BACK to the property office, which had been closed for about 15 minutes, spotted my car pulling out, and decided to follow me and force a truly aggressive interaction on me at the first red light I stopped at. I texted my manager to let her know it had happened and it was not okay, but got no response and basically just got a shrug when I brought it up on Monday morning.

    One nice thing happened! A sweet resident came in with a giant pyramid of fancy chocolates and said they were for all of us since we work so hard. Of course, shortly afterwards my boss came back from her four hour lunch, spotted them, cried out “What’s THIS?!”, took them back to her private office, and shut the door. But for a brief moment, there was fancy chocolate and good feels, so… Christmas miracle?

    Tune in next week, when we are short staffed due to one of the leasing consultants quitting and my manager probably starts eating the flesh of preschoolers or turns into a bat or something.

      1. Karen from Finance*

        Hey can you please tell us the full story that ended with “wall full of dead squirrels”? I swear, that phrase just got stuck in my brain forever.

        1. I work on a Hellmouth*

          Oh god. From what I understand (this occurred about 8 months before I started, while the previous manager was still there), some residents had been complaining for some time about scratching in the walls and ceiling. Then about a bad smell. Then one specific resident complained that their dryer was not working. And some time passed, and they complained that the dryer was not working AND smelled foul. Long story short, a deceased squirrel was found in dryer’s connector hose, but it’s removal did not get rid of the bad smell. And then there was a bad leak, and maintenance went to cut a hole in the wall for some reason, and out tumbled… well, a wall full of dead squirrels.

          1. I work on a Hellmouth*

            Oh, and the maintenance workers didn’t want to deal with the ex-squirrels, so they made the leasing consultant handle/remove them. I forgot that part.

          2. Karen from Finance*

            OH MY GOD.

            Thank you! I imagined the squirrels ON the wall, like some sort of bizarre ritual by one of the tenants. I was not expecting the wall to actually be FULL of the squirrels, as in IN there.

            Seriously, these stories are amazing. Horrifying and hilarious in equal parts. Wow.

            1. I work on a Hellmouth*

              Ack! All of a sudden I’m glad you they were just IN the wall, hahaha.

              Although now that you mention it, I DID once walk an apartment with a few creepy doll heads stuck to the wall. I did not linger.

      2. Diana Barry*

        +1! Also I shared your initial Hellmouth story with my dad who used to be a property manager and even he was flabbergasted. Good luck!

    1. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      Ohhhhh…war on children!!!!!!! That hits so close to home.

      They must be the reincarnation of the scummy property managers from my youth. They got almost all of us out…except my parents by turning to a 55 and older setup. Only my dad never signed a new contract and kept his month to month. The rules were such that they couldn’t evict willy nilly or due to the age changeover due to grandfathering.

      So man…as a childless 30 something, this still enrages me that property management still gets so drunk with power like that.

      1. I work on a Hellmouth*

        Yeah, it really angering. And there’s nothing in the community rules or lease about any of the things she’s complaining about. She’s just harassing the parents and being a bully.

        1. Phx mom*

          We work with a lot of property managers, and this sort of behavior is sadly, NOT uncommon. Weird power trips and crazy requests.

    2. Four lights*

      “another building go struck by lighting” Please keep writing everything down for posterity. Hope you get out soon.

      1. I work on a Hellmouth*

        Even more noteworthy was my manager’s reaction to the rising water:
        Me: We should check the property and see if we need to sandbag anything.
        Manager: WHAT? No. We’re not sandbagging anything. Let them all wash away.

        1. Autumnheart*

          OKAY. *move manager’s car to most flood-prone area of property* You could solve all your problems with one act of nature.

          1. I Work on a Hellmouth*

            Heh! Alas, my manager actually drives this huge, gas guzzling tank. It is so high up it can’t fit through some drive-throughs/in some garages. We thought we might have a hurricane a few months back, and I pressed her as to when I would know if I would need to come in to work or stay home–she told me that if there was a hurricane she would just come and pick me up since she could drive through any flooding and she wasn’t worried about the wind.

            The silent screaming in my head didn’t stop for at least half an hour.

            1. Little Miss Cranky Pants*

              You have *got* to write all of this stuff down and then write a Devil Leases Hellmouth tell-all novel that will make you millions! This shit is unbelievable, and editors will think it’s fiction. Seriously, write the book! :)

        1. Seeking Second Childhood*

          So …former amateur beekeeper here. Do you mean yellow jackets? Because if you had a honeybee swarm, you should be aware that buildings with cracks can have honeybees move in. I can make suggestions if that’s the case.
          Yellow jackets and wasps, I nuke from orbit.

          1. I Work on a Hellmouth*

            We actually have all three. Also red velvet ants. The honeybees have previously made themselves at home in a few apartments, but we had them extracted when that happened. The honeybees normally don’t bother me (unlike the wasps and yellow jackets), I guess they just thought my lunch looked super tasty?
            Fun fact: Today after my initial post I went to walk an apartment and discovered a brown recluse in the bathtub! So the spiders are stepping up their game, too.

            1. Seeking Second Childhood*

              Oh dear lord…such a healthy environment!? Honeybees shouldn’t be swarming at this time of year (unless maybe you’re down south or in the southern hemisphere). I’m at a loss. Watch out for the walls where they’d set up shop before, because the hive smell will attract them back if it’s st all accessible.

    3. I Love Thrawn*

      You have.the.best.stories. But I’m very concerned for you – the BEES are plotting against you and there is LIGHTNiNG. This is not good.

        1. Venus*

          Maybe buy a jar of honey, or package of sugar, and leave a small spoon full at a distance (25 feet?) just before you sit down for every lunch?

            1. Bagpuss*

              You may end up with more bees than you bargained for if you do that. But if you do, use sugar water, not honey. Giving bees honey (other than their own) is a bad idea and can spread disease

    4. Fibchopkin*

      I love these updates so much! I can’t wait to tell people that I read the original stories, in real time, on this blog when your best-selling novel gets adapted into a box office smash!

      1. I work on a Hellmouth*

        Believe it or not, I actually cut a lot of stuff out. Or forget about stuff because so much happens.

      1. I work on a Hellmouth*

        Thanks! I actually had a great phone interview for a position that I’d be super interested in if I WASN’T trying to escape a Hellmouth. They’ve been stalled and aren’t setting up in person interviews until the second or third week in January, but I’m hopeful about my chances once that happens.

    5. PB*

      Man, how dare those children act like children. And, from the sound of it, quiet and unobtrusive children. Between that and waging a war on hoodies, your boss clearly deserves a chocolate pyramid to herself. Argh.

      I hope you get out soon.

        1. I work on a Hellmouth*

          Sadly, no. Just a giant pyramid of fancy truffles intended for 4-6 people.

          She took it late yesterday afternoon. When I went into her office right before lunch it was already down to the pyramid base. I don’t think we’ll be getting any chocolate.

          1. Seeking Second Childhood*

            Oh my god does she know what that’s going to do to her insides!? It’s not going to be pretty! Maybe that bit of schadenfreude can be your consolation prize.

    6. JustaTech*

      What’s amazing about your stories is the terrible-but-mundane (manager hates children and anyone who wears clothing she has associated with teenagers) ride along with the utterly bizarre (building struck by lightening, the bees!).

      As to the microphone at your desk, have you considered a tiny Faraday cage? (I mention it because I once had a technician suggest I “fix” a possessed instrument by putting it in a Faraday cage to protect it from the bus lines. Seriously.)

      1. I work on a Hellmouth*

        I have to admit, I do not know what a Faraday cage is. But I will be googling forthwith. So far my strategy has been to “accidentally” unplug the devices (oh yes, they are all corded). I just work the plugs back and forth until they are dangling from the outlet but are not actually plugged in.

        1. Venus*

          Faraday cage is a metal cover. I admit to not knowing the details for microphones, but often wrapping things in tinfoil (covering in metal) is an option. Might be hard to do this if your boss is nearby, but something worth researching…

    7. SJ*

      Although I’m sure all of us would love for you to get a new job and GET OUT while still alive….we sure do LOVE these updates!

    8. ideasoflight*

      God, this feels like a glimpse at the alternate timeline where I never escaped property management. The good news is that once you’re out of there, you’ll get to horrify people with these stories for the rest of your life.

      (I still have a checkbook where the backside says BACK OF 2613 – COVERED IN BEES because I was frazzled and couldn’t find a better thing to take notes on in a pinch one day.)

      1. I work on a Hellmouth*

        I am so glad you got out!
        So far my best unconventional material frazzled note was when I wrote “218 Dog loose DO NOT APPROACH” on the back of my hand and forgot it was there until halfway through dinner with my boyfriend’s parents.

    9. LGC*

      …I can’t believe you’re giving us a Hellmouth Holiday Special. You’re too good to us.

      Your boss sounds delightful, though! I mean, getting huffy at children existing in the complex, banning the tenants (residents? Are they interchangeable?) from wearing hoodies, and stealing a ton of chocolates? Is she covered in green fur and is her heart two sizes too small?

        1. I work on a Hellmouth*

          Well, she started off by saying “This is what the previous courtesy officer would say” (this is a fabrication, the previous courtesy officer never addressed hoodies, and this is a brand new fixation of hers) and went on to say something along the lines of “Excuse me, do you know why I am stopping you? Your leasing contract requires you to abide by certain community standards. As such, it is not acceptable to have your hood up, as this is a style of dress typically associated with criminals. We would not want law enforcement to mistake you for a criminal, and we are sure you do not want to make your neighbors uncomfortable. Thank you for taking your hood down.”

          1. Karen from Finance*

            I’m not from USA but… is associating hoodies with criminals kinda racist? Or am I wrong?

            1. LGC*

              Oh man. I’ll try to provide the (not too long) form, since others have provided the short form (yes, it can be pretty darn racist and even if the residents in question aren’t people of color (PoC), it’s still pretty problematic).

              Disclaimer: This hits pretty close to home for me, since I’m a black man and…I’m pretty aware of these issues. So I’m certainly a bit biased. Also, I’m not properly educated, but I am opinionated.

              The biggest issue is that she’s saying that the residents could be mistaken for criminals if they…wear their clothes in the intended manner. Just typing this out this way makes it look insane (which it is). On top of that, she’s using the specter of police violence to force compliance with her demand. Read that way, she’s essentially saying, “You look like criminals, and the police would be right to bother you for looking that way.”

              (Also, the Trayvon Martin shooting from about five years ago, where (and I’m REALLY giving the short version) a teenager was killed by one of his neighbors, who then used Florida’s liberal self-defense laws as a cover, successfully plead self-defense, and became a minor right-wing celebrity. Which – if the Hellmouth is anywhere around where that happened – is another layer of OH LAWDY frosting on this HELL NAW cake.)

              That said, I am hedging somewhat on the question of whether she’s racist or how racist she is – because we don’t know the race of the residents Hellmouth Boss banned from wearing hoodies. But…regardless, it’s still really, really bad that she’s saying that, because it easily feeds into a harmful stereotype (that people can just look criminal, which is far too often used against black men).

              Outside of that, the other part is that she’s also telling people how they can dress in their own home, basically. Which also sounds bonkers. (Granted, they’re in common areas, but also – it’s like saying that people can’t wear leggings when they take out the trash!)

              1. I work on a Hellmouth*

                Yep, yep, yep! It is SUPER FREAKING BONKERS. And she wants the courtesy officer (who is law enforcement) to be in uniform when addressing them. And a good percentage of the people in hoodies are POC. And it is nooooooot ooooookaaaaaaay!
                The courtesy officer is also a person of color, and I wish I knew what he actually thought about all of this. He gave a lot of lip service and stroked her ego a lot, but… I can’t help but wonder if he privately is less cool with it. God, I hope so.
                Oh! Also not in Florida, although public opinion where I live was (sadly) very divided on Treyvon Martin’s death.

              2. Miss Pantalones en Fuego*

                Heaven forbid you use an article of clothing for the intended purpose of keeping your head warm.

                This person is a… Well, I’m struggling to find the right word. Yeesh.

          2. Bee's Knees*

            I mean, this sounds exactly like something a robot or the like would say in a sci-fi movie. I can hear the robot cop at the beginning of the new Star Trek reboot say this. I almost want to meet this woman. In incredibly small doses, I think she would be fascinating.

      1. I work on a Hellmouth*

        No green fur, but the heart is definitely undersized or missing. Funny thing—she is actually SUPER into Christmas. She’s been blaring Christmas music in the office non-stop since before Thanksgiving (and appears to be planning to keep that going indefinitely), had us turn the office (inside and out) into a Christmas fantasyland (while she watched), and has been visibly aggravated/agitated with us for not being appropriately jolly and into “the Christmas spirit” at all times.

    10. MCsAngel2*

      Hi Hellmouth Chick,

      I would like to know whether your series is being picked up by Netflix, Amazon Prime, Hulu, or a pay cable station? Thx in advance for the info!

      -A Fan

      1. I work on a Hellmouth*

        Whichever cuts me a check and promises me both a puppet episode and a stop motion holiday special. I’ll keep you posted.

        1. MCsAngel2*

          Given this information, I think you should hold out for a collaborative project with Wes Anderson.

        2. Singing bees!*

          And a musical ep! There must be a musical ep where people sing about bees!
          Or the bees sing about people!
          Either way!

          1. Miss Pantalones en Fuego*

            Definitely the bees should sing about the people. I’m thinking of a Bauhaus inspired goth number, or maybe metal.

    11. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

      It’s all so horrible, but I just can’t get over the war on hoodies and trying to order residents to de-hood. These updates are wonderful and epic—thank you!

    12. Wishing You Well*

      Whatever your future holds, I really hope you’ll consider writing a book! I think you’ve got a best seller here!
      Great stuff!

    13. SansaStark*

      Was anyone else struck by “the most dramatic thing…” – because EVERYTHING above that was already so dramatic? Please keep us posted on the bees and your job search!

    14. Earthwalker*

      You should save every word that you write here until there’s enough to sell to Hollywood or Netflix. Then you can tell them that there’s a built in audience because we’d all watch and Alison’s community is huge. You could be rich and move to a place where there’s nothing to write about.

      1. Three Pines Visitor*

        Another person who will have mixed feelings when you finally escape (yay, IWIAH escaped!/Alas, no more updates!) In the meantime, please please please keep on keeping detailed notes!

        1. Blarg*

          I think she could make a normal job entertaining. Good material helps, but she’s also an amazing writer. I think we’d all enjoy reading her take on a totally mundane office situation.

  5. LQ*

    So many people are out this week that I’ve had a fairly quiet week. 2 days with only 1 meeting! When most days it’s about 8 meetings per day.

    I’m starting to feel a little despair about the amount of work that needs to be done long term and the impossibility of getting all off it done when there is not a lot of appetite for change.

    Mostly though, I requested a half day off today and I haven’t heard back from my boss and I’m trying to decide if I care enough to bug him about it when he’s out of the office today.

    1. LQ*

      Boss just approved the afternoon off. WOOOOOOO! I’m going to go grocery shopping and clean at home! I live such a glamorous life.

    2. Jennifer85*

      I don’t have any advice but I’m with you on the despair of having too much work for the available time*. If you’ve raised it up the line then there’s not much else you can do except make it obvious why things aren’t being done up to standard/on time/both.

      *The last time my manager spoke to me about this he said ‘we don’t want you to have a feeling of impending doom, we only expect what’s reasonable’ – which is somewhat reassuring but given lots of the project reports to other people who do constantly pressure me for results and work done yesterday ‘impending doom’ is relatively accurate.

  6. Amber Rose*

    Our Christmas party this year was, for a change, not full of WTF. There were no games, just food and dancing. I taught some people how to line dance, which everyone who lives here should know how to do. It was a required part of school for most of my life after all. Anyways, it was a nice change of pace. There were some drunken speeches saying goodbye to a retiring manager, but they were pretty heartwarming overall. I drank way too much, but so did everyone else.

    I’m at work today bored to actual tears. A solid 75% of the staff are not in, the phones don’t ring and the silence is oppressive. I should have brought a radio or something.

    Any ideas on how to make the time go at least slightly faster? I have actually no work to do.

    1. WhoKnows*

      Can you watch something on your computer or phone (with headphones)? Or get started on any busy work that you normally have no time to do for the new year?

    2. Meredith Brooks*

      There are literally four people on my office floor. (There’s usually 50) Can you download Spotify or google youtube music videos?

    3. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      Radio dot com? That’s my go to.

      But that’s assuming you can use your computer and it has speakers.

    4. Susan K*

      Clean/organize your desk? You can probably kill at least an hour with that. Clean out your keyboard, dust behind your computer/monitor, go through old files to see if there’s anything you can throw away, etc.

      1. The Man, Becky Lynch*

        It takes people an hour to do that……

        It takes me less than an hour to clean and sanitize my not small office. Y’all must never have downtime except for clutter and dirt to build up that high.

        1. KR*

          Or we have desks with lots of nooks and crannies, or we have difficult to clean materials in our office, or dismantling the monitor/PC set up is a pain in the butt. Different people take different amounts of time doing tasks!

        2. LQ*

          Eh, I went through my files yesterday to clean up and it took me a while, not quite 2 hours, but close. Which pile, where does this get filed, did I pull all the questions/future tasks off of them?

      2. Tort-ally HareBrained*

        Thanks for this. Feels good to dump a bunch of old unneeded files and it took up some time in my day while feeling productive.

    5. Hey Karma, Over here.*

      I think it’s LGC who posted below, “does anyone have major goals for the new year?” You can make a list of all the things you want to do, from try the new Thai restaurant to learn computer animation. Really spend this time you have to yourself on yourself.

    6. iceclown*

      I accidentally posted this below and can’t delete my comment, but:
      – watch YouTube videos or find a free online class on some skill or aspect of your job that you’ve always wanted to investigate
      – clean your desk
      – rearrange your office decor
      – games/apps (personal time-sucking faves include 2048, Plague Inc and Survive)
      – podcasts
      – e-books
      – voluntarily entering a Wikipedia reading loop

    7. Tris Prior*

      Oh god, this was me Wednesday – everyone else was off, anything I might’ve been able to work on was with someone else (who of course was off) for approval. I read a book. Not even kidding.

    8. RandomusernamebecauseIwasboredwiththelastone*

      I’m working from home today and in the same spot. Although at least I have cats and sound, I guess. My job is 95% meetings and ad hoc disasters (I haven’t had an email since 8:19am) . With no one being around and all the meetings cancelled, I literally have nothing to do. I only have 4 people on my staff in the office today, and they are a totally self sufficient bunch so I’m really just here because I have rule about one manager always being ‘on duty’.

      Fun times… Monday should be just as boring.

    9. JustaTech*

      If you read Sci-fi the publisher Baen has a ton of their books up on their Free Library. I’ve killed many a dull day with that. (Baen dot com)

    10. JennyFair*

      Write a short story or poem or blog post
      Make all your new year’s lists (that you won’t actually do but hey, a person can dream, right?)
      Research something you’ve been considering
      Clean out purse/backpack
      Perfect your paper airplane folding skills

    11. Autumnheart*

      Listen to an audiobook! There’s just something so enjoyable about a well-narrated book that really makes the time go by, even if you have nothing else to do. For fiction readers who haven’t read it, I always recommend Stephen King’s 11/22/63. It’s a stand-alone novel and is just super interesting. tl;dr: someone discovers a stable wormhole in which he can travel back to 1958, and ultimately attempts to save Kennedy from being assassinated. Hijinks ensue.

    12. Amber Rose*

      Update: I am broadcasting music and we are having a small, quiet office party.

      The two of us who are here, that is. xD

    13. Seeking Second Childhood*

      Down days like that I purge old emails and audit my group”s SharePoint pages.
      There’s a reason I put in for thsee 3 vacation days in January….

  7. Mimmy*

    Freelance vs. consulting vs. self-employed (i.e. having your own business)

    I’m pretty sure this has been covered before, but I forget if Alison did a standalone post or if it was someone’s Open Thread post.

    Anyway, am I correct that these terms are not interchangeable? I don’t think I could actually have my own business – I don’t think I’d be very good at it. However, I *can* see myself possibly doing projects or offering advice related to my skills and interests. I am aware that I’d probably need experience as an employee first. I’m beginning to feel a little disenchanted with traditional employment situations (I guess I’m reading too much AAM :P ), but if that’s what it takes, then I’ll do it to get to my long-term goals.

    Thoughts or suggestions are welcome!

    1. WhoKnows*

      While I am not any of these things, I believe these terms are similar but all slightly different, though it depends on your industry. For example, in my industry, freelancing usually means you work for one company for a specific period of time under a contract. Also in my industry: consulting/owning your own business are a little more similar. Consultants usually have clients, and similar to owning your own business, are always trying to drum up business/keep already-established clients. They are usually paid on a monthly or project basis whereas freelancers tend to receive a regular paycheck for their contracted period of time.

      Can I ask what you do now, and how long you’ve been doing it?

      1. Mimmy*

        It’ll be two years in March that I’ve been at my current job. I’m an instructor in a vocational rehabilitation facility. I am not looking to stay with this type of role though. I am exploring steps on learning / refreshing skills that I do want to use though.

    2. Tipcat*

      If you are freelancing or consulting, then you do have your own business, even if it’s not full time. Also, consulting is freelancing, isn’t it? I don’t get the distinctions you are making. In any case, you would need to talk to an accountant to make sure that you are paying taxes properly.

      1. Someone Else*

        I would not use consulting interchangeably here. There are plenty of companies that are consulting firms, where they have their own employees who are all consultants. Consulting describes the relationship with the client, not the relationship with one’s employer (or the absence of having an employer other than yourself). You can be a self-employed consultant or a consultant with an employer.

    3. Ask a Manager* Post author

      Self-employed = you work for yourself. Depending on the type of work you do, you may have clients who issue you 1099s, or you may have customers (who do not).

      Freelancing = You’re self-employed and you have clients (as opposed to being, say, a self-employed store owner). Most commonly you’d have (or at least want) multiple clients. Not every field uses the term “freelancer” though. (For example, I don’t call myself a freelancer, but I work for myself with multiple clients.)

      Consulting = You can be a self-employed consultant or you can be a regular W2 employee who does consulting work for the firm that employs you. Contrary to the posts above, “consulting” does not inherently indicate that you’re self-employed; it can be either. There are lots of W2 consultants.

    4. Nacho*

      Not interchangeable, though most (possibly all) freelancers are self employed. A lot of contractors work for a firm that hires them out. They’re basically temp jobs, but higher ranking, if that makes any sense.

  8. PunchDrunk*

    Hi Everyone, 

    I wrote in waaaaay back in March, but since it’s update month, I thought I’d check in. (Link to my original post is in my username) 

    When I posted in that open thread, I was having trouble with a toxic boss as my mother was dying of cancer. I ended up not being eligible for FMLA at that point, but the meeting with HR was fruitful- just not in the way my boss was hoping for. I came out fine, but she apparently got called into a “conversation” with her boss and HR about how to treat employees going through a difficult time. She was not happy, but did ease up on the demands that I share my mother’s private health information with her and the rest of the team. 

    I did go on FMLA when Mom went into hospice a few months later. Toxic Boss tried a few more tricks; like attempting to deny my leave, and suddenly bringing up supposed performance issues on my part. I mostly just let it slide off, since I was out of fucks to give. 

    Mom died this summer, and I gave myself 6 months to grieve and get my head on straight before starting my job search again. Just before the six months were up, a friend sent me a job description that seemed almost too good to be true. I applied, crushed the interview, and am happy to say that I was able to give notice at my Toxic Job this month. 

    I just wanted to say thank you to everyone who commented on my original post, the Commentariat in general, and Allison. I have learned so much from Ask a Manager over the last few years. You all really helped me stay grounded as I was dealing with the weird toxicity of my job, and you helped me find the confidence to advocate for myself. 

    Here’s to new beginnings in the new year! 

    1. Hey Karma, Over here.*

      Outstanding. Way to go high when they (boss) goes low. If you have an exit interview, you should mention that your boss told you that to use FMLA, you had to tell all your coworkers that 1) you were going to be on FMLA; and 2) why you were. This is completely untrue. You don’t need to inform your coworkers at all and neither the boss nor the coworkers need to be told why. I would just share this as, “perhaps some training for management would be helpful because my boss seems to misunderstand the process and the rules.”

    2. Detective Amy Santiago*

      It sounds like 2018 was a very difficult year for you. I hope that 2019 brings you peace.

    3. Laszlo Whitaker*

      I’m so sorry for your loss of your mother. Your old boss sucks. Good on you for going to HR, and I’m glad they did something, even if it wasn’t as bad as old boss deserves. Congratulations on the new job!

    4. tink*

      My condolences on the loss of your mom, but I’m beyond thrilled that you’re getting away from Toxic Boss. ♥

    5. Observer*

      I’m so sorry for your loss.

      I’m glad that things worked out with the new job.

      If you haven’t done so and you have the energy to do it, I’d send your former HR documentation of your Former Boss tricks, because what you describe actually veers into illegal territory. Being a jerk who drives people out is bad management but it is legal. Trying to deny people FMLA leave and suddenly disciplining someone when they dare to take FMLA leave actually is illegal. And, since SOMEONE in HR seems to have at least some shred of competence, this might be the thing that gets them moving.

    6. Yvette*

      So sorry about your mother. I have been there, 4 or 40 losing a mother is hard.
      I am glad you have a new job, not just because it is better but after an experience and a loss like that it can be good to have a fresh start.

    7. Coder von Frankenstein*

      I’m so sorry to hear about your mother, but congratulations on escaping and on the new job.

    8. Windchime*

      I’m so sorry for the loss of your mom. Best of luck in your new position; I’m glad you’re out of that toxic place.

    9. Ltrim Press Club*

      I’m sorry for your loss and all that you had to endure. I’ll never understand how entitled and jealous people are of others, especially in instances of family.

      My story has different facts, but still invoked weird behaviors from many. People making up stories about what I was doing by needing to excuse myself for a couple of phone calls, then exhibiting butthurt later when all the personal details of the dying weren’t brought to them first.

      Glad you are able to start 2019 with a different course. I’m hoping the new adventure goes well and that the year brings you smiles and joy.

    10. PunchDrunk*

      Thanks for all of the kind words, Everyone. I’m looking forward to a fresh start in 2019, and I hope each of you has a wonderful New Year.

      1. NoLongerYoungButLotsWiser*

        My condolences, and I am so grateful that you were able to get out of the ToxicOldJob. And hoping you have a peaceful, comfortable 2019.

    1. Not Maeby But Surely*

      Wow, your manager sucks, and belongs in a Dickens novel. My sympathies to you for the loss of your grandma.

    2. Observer*

      It sounds like you need to start looking for a new job. Your manager is disgusting. But this is NOT normal!

      1. Labradoodle Daddy*

        I have been, I just have shitty luck and severe executive functioning issues due to depression (not at all helped by shitty job)

    3. WellRed*

      Sorry for your loss. I don’t suppose your manager was actually in the office? So that you could regularly ask, “what would you like me to work on?” “What can I help you with?” Just to reinforce that you really don’t need to be there.

      1. JustaTech*

        I would have been tempted to sob audibly at my desk all day, but that’s probably very passive aggressive and not very professional.

    4. Liet-Kinda*

      Could your boss potentially need coverage on minimal warning? Are there already a bunch of people out? This just strikes me as so shitheady that there must be an extenuating circumstance that explains it.

      1. Labradoodle Daddy*

        I’m not exaggerating when I say there was *nothing* to do. And without going into a long winded spiel, there is no emergency that could have come up two days after Christmas that couldn’t have been handled by someone who isn’t me. I’m a receptionist at a hedge fund, the biggest “crisis” would be, like, an unexpected lunch meeting. BUT THE CONTRACT DEMANDS THAT WE BE THERE!!! (also, if my manager for some reason wanted me there in case of an emergency bc she didn’t trust other team members ability to handle something coming up, she should have listened to me over the 6mos where i kept pointing out that mediocre hires would screw us in case a scenario exactly like this one came up). So in short, fuck her.

    5. GenXChick*

      I’m sorry for your loss, Labradoodle. I mainly lurk here, but have followed a lot of your posts. Your employment agency sucks. I have a recommendation in NYC but am not sure I’m allowed to post specifics.

    6. Not So NewReader*

      FWIW, I hate your job,too.

      I am very sorry for your loss of your grandmother.

      I hope that very soon, I am typing congratulations to you on your new and shiny job.

      1. Labradoodle Daddy*

        My company only gives 3 days for extended family members, and you only get paid if the day off is directly related to funeral services or arranging the funeral. I can’t afford unpaid days.

  9. Not in HR*

    Question for the Commentariat who work in salaried exempt positions — how do you log sick time?

    Due to a local law change and upgrade to our payroll system, we’re now required to log our sick time. While our system allows us to log hours, rather than full or half days, there’s some debate as to when to log any time off as sick. What do you do in these situations – log time or no time, how much time?
    * You call out sick, but attend a meeting by phone and answer a couple of emails
    * You stay home with a sick kid, and get about half your normal work done in between child care & comfort time
    * You come in a couple of hours late due to a doctor’s appointment
    * You start feeling crummy at lunch so go home for the day

    1. Bubbeleh*

      Caveats: We have no ability to work from home. If we did, that would change my answers for the first two.
      Caveat 2: I am speaking literally as to what I’d do

      The first I would log all 7.5 hours as sick
      Same with the second — although my employer differentiates between sick (self) and sick (child)
      Third I would clock how many hours/partial hours (we can go in 15 minute increments) I was late
      Fourth I would clock how many hours/partial hours I left early

    2. Phoenix Programmer*

      It depends on what your fomaony wants. Basically when except if you have worked at least some hours that day they cannot have you take the day uboaid if you are out if hours. That said there is no legal issues in most states around docking your PTO if you have it.

      Good employers don’t nickel and dime salaried exempts PTO because they know overall staff are willing to work more hours if yge employer gives some back.

    3. Formerly in HR*

      In our company (in Canada), there are different rules for how to log these scenarios:
      1. If you call out sick, then you log sick time. Should not have to take calls/ attend meetings if sick. If you do, you only log the remainder of day (8 hours – calls time) as sick leave.
      2. Cannot stay home with a sick kid and work. When people ask to work from home they must have childcare arrangements. So this would have to be coded as vacation/ paid time off.
      3. Either make up the time or log the missed hours as paid time off/ vacation.
      4. Log the afternoon hours as sick leave.

      1. Venus*

        Same for me, although the exception is that my employer typically does not require us to take sick leave for routine ‘preventative’ medical appointments (usually a dental and GP visit per year) as those should benefit them long-term.

        And totally agreed that staying home with a child is not sick leave. I am lucky that my employer has ‘family leave’ so hours are set aside for sick children and/or parents.

    4. WhoKnows*

      As far as I’m concerned, if you attended meetings and answered emails somewhat regularly, you worked. If you already requested a sick day, I would talk to your manager and say that you ended up working for X amount of hours during the day, so you’d like to only use only X hours of sick time. Same for #2 (though if it was possible, I would ask to “work from home,” because you’re still available and working, though maybe not as productive).

      The third situation, I don’t count as a sick day. If you’re gone for fully half the day, maybe log it as sick or PTO for the amount of hours you were gone. If it’s like, 2 hours? Nothing. IMO, that’s the cost of doing business and having salaried employees.

      For the fourth, yes, I would log a half a sick day.

    5. anna green*

      #1 – If you only “worked” for an hour or two with those things, I would take at least half sick day, but it would also be reasonable at some places to not take any if you got some stuff done.
      #2 – I wouldn’t take sick time for this.
      #3 – Nope, wouldn’t take sick time. Although weirdly, if I left a few hours early, I might?
      #4 – I’d take half a sick day.

      This is for my current job. At previous jobs, I would have approached it differently and been more specific because I had to fill out a timesheet for billability purposes. There are no “right” answers really, it depends on your manager. Hope this helps!

    6. fposte*

      We don’t require leave to be used for absences under 1/2 day. Does your office have a policy about leave use for partial-day absences? Sounds like it might need one.

    7. Ali G*

      For all of them* I would log the hours I wasn’t working as sick and the rest as normal working hours.
      *#3 I wouldn’t use sick time typically. If I just missed an hour or 2 for an appointment, I would just make it up during the pay period at some time. We have flexible working hours, so this isn’t difficult to do.

      1. Shortie*

        Same here. Our system allows us to log by the hour instead of day or half day, so I just log the hours I wasn’t working as sick. I take a holistic view, though. If I worked a 14-hour day for a big project earlier in the week, I’m not going to log any sick time for a 2-hour medical appointment. We have flexible scheduling, so this approach makes sense where I work.

        On the flip side, if I’ve worked exactly 7.5 hours every single day that week and need to leave early for a medical appointment, I’ll log those medical appointment hours as sick.

      2. Washi*

        Same. I’ll also say that when I’m working from home because I’m sick, if I do everything that needs to be done and that only takes 5 hours, I’ll just log it as a normal day. My work has a lot of peaks and lulls, so if I’d just be doing busy work at the office and waiting for someone to need me, I figure doing the same thing at home shouldn’t be penalized.

    8. Susan K*

      1) Sick leave all day
      2) Sick leave all day
      3) Sick leave for the hours of the doctor’s appointment (OR stay a couple hours late to make up the time)
      4) Sick leave for the second half of the day

      I might say differently if you have official “work from home” privileges, which I don’t, so any time I’m not physically at work during my scheduled hours, I would log as vacation or sick leave, even if I am doing some work at home.

    9. OperaArt*

      At my job, we subtract any hours worked from our mythical 8-hour-day, rounded to full hours. A half-day is prorated to 4 hours, regardless if the actual amount of time. So the amount of sick leave charged would be:
      1. 8 – the length of the meeting
      2. 8 – 4
      3. 8 – 2
      4. 8 – 4

    10. Person from the Resume*

      This is really an individual company decision as influenced by laws.

      If I log sick leave, I don’t work. (I “announce” my sick leave at the start i,e, I’m sick and I’m not working today.)
      If I log sick leave, I don’t work. (Also my organization is very clear that you can’t work while caring for a child.
      I log a couple of hours of sick leave. This has been requested in advance for all planned appointments.
      I log half a day of sick leave. (I “announce” my sick leave at the start i,e, I’m sick and I’m going home for the day.)

    11. Ella Vader*

      * I call out sick, but attend a meeting by phone and answer a couple of emails – I log 7 hours as sick and 1 hour as work (if possible, billed to a chargeable project account)
      * I stay home with a sick kid, and get about half my normal work done in between child care & comfort time – I don’t actually have any family members requiring recurring care, so I don’t know. But I imagine I’d be sensitive about being perceived as unreliable or taking advantage, so I might count everything as sick that can’t be justifiably billed to a project. (Like, in a normal day I might have 4 hours of project work and 4 hours of overhead, so if I was home due to sickness, mine or someone else’s, I’d prioritize the client work and even if I do some of the usual overhead stuff I wouldn’t report it. I dunno. )
      * I come in a couple of hours late due to a doctor’s appointment – If I don’t stay late to get caught up, then I log 2 hours sick and the rest of the day as work. Or I might end up staying late to get caught up, so it could be 1 hour sick and 7 hours work anyway.
      * I start feeling crummy at lunch so go home for the day. 4 hours sick time.

    12. kittymommy*

      My company doesn’t really have strict rules with this situation (exempt salaried), mostly it’s more of an individual or individual department preference. For me in these situations:
      – if the meeting was short (an hour-ish), sick leave all day
      – I don’t have kids, but probably sick leave all day (we don’t really have much of an ability to work from home though)
      – no sick leave
      – probably no sick leave, but in all likelihood I wouldn’t get out of there til 2ish anyway.

    13. RR*

      When I worked for a government contractor (US-based non-profit) with separate sick and vacation time, we had to account for all hours. Salaried, exempt, could work from home. I’d handle your scenarios as follows:
      1) we charged time by 15 min increments, so I’d charge work time for the little bit I did do, the rest to sick leave
      2) working from home required proper arrangements for dependent care. For the situation you described, though, it would be pretty typical for folks to charge 1/2 time to sick (care for immediate family members was a qualified use of sick leave according to our policies) 1/2 time to work
      3) did I work extra hours in the pay period? If so, I’d charge 6 hours work on the day I came in late, and 9 or 10 hours on the days I worked 9 or 10 hours. No charge to leave. If I didn’t work extra hours, or I was at a place that required accounting for 8 hours every day, I’d charge 2 to sick, the rest to work
      4) half day sick leave

    14. Coder von Frankenstein*

      I would estimate the amount of time I didn’t work, and report that as sick time in the system; being more or less precise depending on how much anyone cares.

      You call out sick, but attend a meeting by phone and answer a couple of emails: Subtract the length of the meeting from 8 hours, and mark that as sick time (assuming the e-mails took no significant time to answer).

      You stay home with a sick kid, and get about half your normal work done in between child care & comfort time: If you got half your normal work done, call it 4 hours.

      You come in a couple of hours late due to a doctor’s appointment: Mark off those two hours.

      You start feeling crummy at lunch so go home for the day: Mark off 4 hours.

    15. Canonical23*

      I’m in a salaried exempt position with pretty straightforward sick time rules – you log it if you aren’t going to make it up somewhere else. My manager and I (the only two exempt workers in the company) are pretty flexible if it’s less than an hour, since at some point we’ll have to come in a little early or stay a little late to cover for hourly staff that’s out.

      What I would do for each situation:
      – Log a full day of sick time and dip out a little early on a slow day later in the week. (Or, if I didn’t have flex time, it would be 8 hours minus the length of the meeting)
      – Log a half day of sick time. Tbf, my company considers care of sick family members as “allowed” for sick time use.
      – Either log those hours I missed with the appointment, or just make up that time within the pay period.
      – Log however many hours I miss by going home early.

      The caveat to this is that I almost always work 8 hour days, give or take a half hour here and there. If I was in a position where I consistently worked much more than 40-42 hours a week, I’d be much less likely to log half or quarter days.

    16. Kathenus*

      For exempt at my organization, sick time can only be used in full day increments. We also don’t have any WFH here. Basically if you’re at work at least half a day and then leave (sick or doctor appt) you don’t use any, if you don’t come in at all it’s sick time, and if you come in for a short time then leave you’d use a day’s worth of sick time.

    17. Minocho*

      I was trying to log anything over an hour and a half, to the nearest hour or so, but my boss has let me know that anything less than half a day can safely be left off.

      I still feel like I should mark two hours or more, but I have to let my boss guide me on what is appropriate here. This would be a good conversation to have with your manager, if they’re reasonable.

    18. MoopySwarpet*

      The way we log salaried exempt sick pay (and vacation) is in half day increments with 6 hours in the office being considered a full day.

      As such, we would log each of those as half days except the appointment, which would just be made up at another time. If a person has a large number of 2 hour appointments in any given week/month, we would take every 2-3 as a half day if the time wasn’t being sufficiently made up.

      I think you can dock sick/vacation/PTO however your policies dictate as long as you are fair across the board. When the time runs out, though, each one of your scenarios would mean you got paid for the full day/week (legally) because work was done. I *think* in a 5th scenario in which you stayed home and didn’t do any work, you could be deducted a full day of pay if you had no other PTO/sick time left.

    19. Basia, also a Fed*

      My answers are similar to Formerly in HR.

      1. I would figure out how many hours I worked, then only take leave for the hours I didn’t work.
      2. We are not allowed to work at home while caring for a child. Therefore, I would take the entire day as sick leave.
      3. I would take a couple of hours of sick leave at the beginning of the day.
      4. I would take the afternoon as sick leave.

    20. Gatomon*

      What my manager told me was for sick leave of an hour or two to not mark it, because we often work odd hours/OT. If it was more like a half day, that I mark down. So my usual rule of thumb is <2 hours of leave/appt, I don't mark sick leave. More than that and I do, and then I stick to the actual hours. I normally mark 8 hours every day (we only track OT if you get OT pay).

    21. AcademiaNut*

      I used to work in an exempt position, and my current is something similar in a different system.

      1) Full sick day. But I’d only attend the meeting if it were something vital – I wouldn’t call into a routine meeting.

      2) If possible, it would be a work from home day, compensated by working at lunch/in the evening to get close . If I had to take a sick day off, I wouldn’t work any more than in case 1, and would use the extra time to do other things (cleaning, cooking, laundry).

      3) I wouldn’t take sick time, but would work late or through lunch to compensate. I can also work in waiting rooms – I did a lot of that when I was doing fertility treatments.

      4) I would take a half day and go home and sleep.

      In general, if I take a sick day I go to bed and don’t attend meetings or monitor emails. If I’m feeling a bit crummy, I’ll work from home if possible (ie, I don’t need resources at the office), but be able to hack and blow in peace, and take a nap after lunch. Our schedule is flexible enough that we can come in late/leave early and compensate by working at other times. It’s also acceptable in our office to work from home with a sick kid – it’s not peak efficiency, but better than nothing (we get three weeks of sick leave and 5 personal days a year, so being able to take sick days is generally not a problem).

  10. ditzy in denver*

    I interviewed for a job three-ish weeks ago, and haven’t heard anything. They told me I would hear within a week, so now I’m assuming I didn’t get it. But I want to follow up at least! Especially since it’s the holidays, I’m holding out hope. What is a good email template for this kind of thing? I’ve no idea how to approach it

    1. Hey Karma, Over here.*

      I would wait until after the new year. Nobody is in the office today. If they are, they are covering for multiple people and not able to get info from people because NOBODY is in this week. Next Friday send a text asking about the timeline for second interviews, when you should expect to hear from them, if you are indeed selected. Thanks,
      Sincerely etc.

    2. WhoKnows*

      My suggestion would be something like the below, but my industry tends to be a bit more casual than formal.

      Hi X,

      Hope you had a happy holiday and some nice time off! (*if this applies)

      I wanted to follow up with you regarding the Teapot Painter position. I know initially you mentioned a timeline of about a week, but with the holiday and offices being closed, I wanted to check in to see if this was still the case. If the position is open, I am still very much interested in the role.

      Thank you for your time and I look forward to hearing from you!
      ditzy in denver

      1. Liet-Kinda*

        Precisely this. But around the holidays, I feel like everything takes three times longer than it should. I’m waiting on something that’s hung up by one guy who has so much leave banked he just apparently takes most of December and early January off.

    3. bored_at_desk*

      Ditto the comment on no one being in the office right now. I’d wait to send anything until Jan 3 at the earliest! Also, following up won’t change the outcome – if you’re their top choice (for the job or for another interview), they’re going to get in touch with you. If you’re not, they’ll eventually tell you they hired someone else. You sending an email won’t change their mind – but it could get you more info.

    4. The Other Dawn*

      I hear ya! I applied for a general posting around the same time as you and it’s killing me to not hear anything or for me to follow up. I’m just trying to keep in mind that most offices are operating on a skeleton crew at this time of year, and that they’ll need a few days to catch up when they get back after the new year.

    5. ditzy in denver*

      Thank you all so much for the advice! You’re right–me following up won’t change the outcome/everyone is gone this time of year. Still keeping my fingers crossed!

  11. Furloughed fed*

    It’s my third workday of the shut down! Anyone else stuck home as non-essential? How are you feeling? What are you up to? Contractors welcome and you havr my sympathies too.

    1. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      I got a lot of OOO replies to our emails the last 2 days about the shut down effecting the people the email was for. So I can’t speak personally but I’m hoping that this nonsense stops soon and you’re back at work.

      1. Furloughed fed*

        I had to return emails to several people at work during our 4 hours for shut down activities, confirming that I’d completed specific activities, and it was one OOO bouncing off another. Almost funny. Sorry for any delays you are experiencing as a result of this, I also hope it ends quickly.

        1. The Man, Becky Lynch*

          The impact is minimal for us. We send parts and the only issue is we won’t get paid on time. I’m sad for the receiving, purchasing and accounting people who will come in to a landslide of less understanding vendors.

          I’m just marking things as “GOV SD” and then now in 30 days why it’s still pending not to start collection calls etc.

      2. CrazyPlantLady*

        I’m a contractor who basically serves as an FTE in my agency. There are two major contracts that provide FTEs for the agency. All of us are forward funded for at least a month, so we’re all still working while all except the most senior federal employees are furloughed. This will be completely fine for the next couple of weeks while we continue the projects we’ve been working on, but problems will come once we need someone to sign off on things, since the people who would normally sign off are furloughed.

        I’m keeping my fingers crossed that the shutdown ends before our forward funding runs out. Contractors traditionally have not gotten back pay in past shutdowns which means we’d all be on forced unpaid leave. Thankfully I’ve been saving to buy a house so can dip into my down payment fund to support myself if need be, but I’m sure not all of my colleagues are in the same situation.

    2. Jaid_Diah*

      LOL, I’m learning a new sleep pattern, now that I don’t have to be up at 4 am. It’s gonna suck when I get back.

      My cat’s pretty damn happy, though.

    3. Marillenbaum*

      Stuck at home—I’ve only been at my agency for about six months since graduating in May, and was still in the process of building some savings before it hit. Trying not to freak out and whatnot, but really hoping things end soon.

    4. Not All*

      For the first time in a couple decades of shutdowns, my financial situation is precarious enough I decided I needed to file for unemployment. Took me almost 4 hours to get the application submitted yesterday (site kept crashing) and I still haven’t been able to talk to anyone about whether furloughed feds are exempt from the requirement to apply for a certain number of jobs each week. I wish (like everyone else) I knew how long this one was going to last…I actually wouldn’t mind getting a temporary job. My personal cynicism predicts this will end up being the longest one ever.

      On the upside, I have a full chest freezer & pantry so at least I don’t NEED to buy groceries.

      1. The Man, Becky Lynch*

        If you’re temp laid off, you don’t need to apply for jobs for the first few weeks. You just need up regularly check in about updates to your job. My dad was laid off temporarily a few times prior to his forced retirement during the recession. He never had to look for jobs…but then again the laws and regs change. Sadly you’ll need to talk to the employment dpmt in your state for the updated requirements…

        1. Not All*

          Unfortunately it depends on state. Nebraska’s official policy is that you must apply for jobs unless you have an official recall date from your employer within 120 days. I cannot imagine that this will last 120 days but the paperwork doesn’t have a date on it for obvious reasons and rumor mill is that Nebraska defaults to rejecting claims. Also, they do almost everything through a website now which has no options for “furlough”…only quit, fired with cause, or fired without cause. When I was based in Oregon during the 16 day furlough, coworkers who opted to do unemployment said the entire process was very easy & only took a few minutes. Nevada and North Dakota were also very easy.

          1. The Man, Becky Lynch*

            Argh. Nebraska. I’m sad that I’m not even shocked.

            I’m PNW and therefore, I’m used to the employment laws being in favor of being lenient and employee oriented.

          2. Miss Pantalones en Fuego*

            That’s bonkers. What if you’re laid off? That doesn’t fit any of those categories.

      2. Liet-Kinda*

        At least in Colorado, temporarily furloughed workers are exempt from the job search requirements. Check your local workforce center to be sure.

      3. Furloughed fed*

        I hope you’re wrong on length but I’m not confident. Good luck with the unemployment, hope it is helpful and smooth.

        1. Liet-Kinda*

          It’s kind of a unique predicament he’s placed himself in – and I’ll try to keep this as factual as I can. If Trump caves, he loses his base and makes a gigantic fool of himself. If he doesn’t cave, he loses everyone else; he’s in Charlottesville approval ratings right now, and we’re not even a full week in. The Senate has already sent him an appropriations bill and could easily muster the votes to overturn a veto, but he’s not vetoing – he’s just refusing to sign. There’s no mechanism for the Senate to override that. So it’s 100% in his hands. There’s really no way he wins here. It’s just a question of how long it takes a man who cannot tolerate losing to pick how he wants to lose.

          1. AngelicGamer, the Visually Impaired Peep*

            Wait, if he’s refusing to sign, doesn’t something kick in after x amount of days? I feel like this was in a West Wing episode where the President didn’t want to sign something, even though he officially agreed with it, because it went against his moral issues.

    5. JustaTech*

      My furloughed friend went skiing with my husband and has declared that she will ski as much as physically possible until work starts again. (She had already bought a ski pass, so the money was spent so it’s just gas and food.)

    6. Liet-Kinda*

      I’m feeling guiltily lucky as I’m a DoD employee and we’re funded through FY19, but y’all have my complete sympathy. Backpay will be a thing, but the grocery store and daycare don’t take no IOUs. Hope it’s not too hard on you, and if I can treat any Colorado feds to an adult beverage, let me know.

      My USFWS liaison has been skiing every day. His wife is a doctor, so they’re okay for now, and he’s just justifying that Epic Pass. Can’t say I feel tooooooo bad for him.

      1. Furloughed fed*

        I’m OK too, have an employed spouse whose salary covers the big bills (rent and day care) and a healthy emergency fund to cover the rest. I would be on preapproved leave with the kid this week anyway as day care is closed, so I’m glad NOT to be essential. But a friend’s wife was recently laid off and they are not in a good place. Going to invite them over for dinner to cover at least one meal and sympathy.

      2. JustaTech*

        My furloughed friend said that by Wednesday everyone out skiing with an Epic Pass will be a fed who’s not allowed to work. (I’m assuming that your health insurance keeps going through the shut down, even if you’re not getting paid? I sure hope so.)

      3. Working Fed*

        I’m also feeling guiltily lucky. I work for Congress and we’re also fully funded (seems ironic, doesn’t it?). I think most folks are assuming we’re furloughed because the phone has only rung twice today, and one of the calls wasn’t even regarding The Wall or the shutdown. It is funny to send emails and have everything bounce back with an OOO message.

    7. DCR*

      This is my first furlough, and I’m not quite sure what to do with my time. My flight back to DC was on Wednesday cause I was suppose to cover work this week but no one else I know is back in town yet from the holidays. I’ve been trying to get some stuff done around my place, but don’t really want to spend much money (my emergency fund is fine and I’ll be OK. But without knowing whether we’re getting back pay I’m trying to conserve)

    8. Mrs. Carmen Sandiego JD*

      My new job may be delayed due to shutdown, and depends essentially on whether a teapot wrangler can be found to hand me a laptop. Old/current boss let me know I could stay at current job longer, but I want my new job. Oh, and I have till 5 pm to let O/C boss know. Plus it’s the holidays, so 80% of folks are out of the office.

      No idea. What. To. Do. Everything hinges on a teapot wrangler and January 3rd.

    9. Basia, also a Fed*

      We are not furloughed due to our funding source. As Liet-Kinda said, I feel guilty that we are here and our paychecks aren’t impacted. There are some things we can’t do because we coordinate with other federal agencies regularly (I have two things right now that I’m working on with the Army Corps of Engineers and the National Park Service), but it has been a good time to clean up other loose ends.

      My thoughts are with everyone how is struggling right now. I hope it is over soon!

      1. Nana*

        For those who are worried, or are in a bad financial place, the Orange One has suggested that you trade handyman work in exchange for the next rent payment. Easy-peasy/s

  12. LGC*

    Okay so – I know a lot of people are going to hate this but…since it’s the end of the year, do you guys have any professional goals for the new year? (Or heck, even to use the r word, resolutions?)

    For me, I want to do a couple of things:

    First – Further my analytics skills (I don’t have that many, so I want to get that touched up). I want to learn how to use Tableau, for starters.

    Other than that: I want to get a better handle on my work-life balance (that is, not trying to work 50 hour weeks, commute an hour each way, and run 75 miles like I did this fall)! Let’s just say I identified STRONGLY with the person who wrote in about being the office jerk.

    1. Overeducated*

      1. Get promoted! I’m eligible for one to a more senior level in the spring, just need to make sure performance is spotless and documented as I’ll be getting a new boss about two weeks before (aaargh).

      2. Put the first steps of a new outreach strategy into place. A lot has changed since I came on board and we almost have to start from scratch defining and reaching who we serve. This is not a short term effort, and it’s always a struggle to prioritize since it’s beyond the minimum of what we HAVE to do and,we barely have staff for the minimum.

      3. Get some supervisory experience (likely with interns) and training and/or experience in compliance with a specific environmental law so I have more options where to go in future.

      4. Do a few informational interviews to figure out what direction I might want to go long term.

      1. LGC*

        Oh man, that is so awkward that you’re changing bosses right as you’re in line for a promotion. Good luck and I hope the transition goes somewhat smoothly.

        1. Overeducated*

          Thanks. It won’t even be the last time in 2019, unfortunately – we’re looking at a new temporary boss after current temporary boss returns to regular job this spring, but before a permanent new boss can be hired in the 6-12 month range. I hope it won’t impact the promotion, but being very conscious of the cliche that “people don’t quit jobs, they quit managers,” I definitely want to keep the resume shiny and up to date in case things take a turn for the worse.

    2. KR*

      I want to respond to issues people email me with in under a week. I do a lot of purchasing – when I get requests to buy things I want to have asked around for a quote in under a week. I have a major problem putting this stuff off and then all of a sudden it’s been a month since I promised someone I would get back to them ASAP.

    3. Meredith Brooks*

      Honestly? Leave my career. While my job is perfectly fine, I have hated my career since I started it over a decade ago. And now that I’ve gotten a degree in my chosen professoin, I think it’s time to step out. Come fall, I will have taken care of all my mandatory commitments and can come and go as I please.

    4. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      Take over yet another task to add to my “sack o every thing” skills. This year it sounds like I’ll be doing marketing, I’m excited.

      I’m also still looking into getting a degree. That’s always on my list but I’m often shoving it off to the next year.

    5. tink*

      1. learn enough spanish that i can at least semi-effectively communicate with people that come in (i’ve started on this, but holiday madness means i wasn’t able to finish the first set of courses my job offers for it).

      2. pick up some tech programming so our One Person That Does Tech isn’t constantly swamped like they are currently.

    6. Kittymommy*

      Not really a professional goal, but a goal none the less. I’m going to try to push to get my evaluation done in a shorter time frame than the ten months it took last year! Right now it’s only a month behind!

    7. Labradoodle Daddy*

      Try not to collapse in on myself due to rage, inadequacy, depression, and lingering effects of PTSD. Yay.

    8. Middle School Teacher*

      Also get promoted, or find a new job. I love mine but I’m starting to get a bit stir-crazy, if that makes sense. I’ve been at the same place for 13 years.

      Also look into work abroad opportunities. I did that in my younger days and enjoyed it.

    9. LQ*

      I’d like to get promoted into an actual management role. I’m working in that role but not actually with the title right now. I’m getting a whole bunch of OT that I won’t get when I am a manager so it comes out to be I am getting paid more now (assuming I will continue to work all those hours), but there are a lot of things that people get snippy about me being included on or listed as manager for and I’m really sick of this role based snippiness and the title would resolve that.

      I also want to start moving toward handing off work that should be handed off to someone else/some other department. That means I have to document and structure it and create training and tools for it. But that means it will be something I don’t have to do that makes me grumpy every single day.

      I love this question too, thanks for asking it…I will likely ponder it a bit more…

      1. LGC*

        It sounds a little like the situation I’m in – like, to be honest, quite a bit of what I handle is management-level, but I don’t technically have the title. (Or the authority. It’s a mess, partly of my own making.) In my case, I have few illusions about actually getting a promotion – they don’t really promote (like I basically won the lottery getting promoted to where I’m at now) and although my bosses kind of danced around it because they think I’m sensitive, I get the sense that they think I’m not suited for a higher management role.

        And thanks! I actually ended up thinking about it because I had way too much free time a few things floating around my head on my week off.

        1. LQ*

          I’ve gotten my boss to be a lot more direct over the last year by getting a bit pushy about getting feedback and then always, always being relieved and saying thank you when he actually said anything bad. (And then coming back and fixing that thing.) He’s not very direct, and I do think he’ll give me a promotion at some point, but I think he’s not concerned because I am being paid more, and I haven’t been bringing it up. They’ve now given me several people who report to me but they are all contractors so I don’t have any staff who report to me hence the not technically a manager thing.

          I’ve seized the authority and just started doing it. One on ones with people who don’t report to me? SURE! Giving them feedback on their work? SURE! Assigning them tasks? SURE! Who’s going to stop me! MUAHAHAHAHA….(Honestly I’d be very grateful if the person who should be doing this stepped up and started doing it, but until then, it needs to get done and she’s basically abdicated her job.)

    10. Mimmy*

      1. Complete the required credits so I can sit for the exam to be certified as an ADA Coordinator (ADA = Americans with Disabilities Act) – hoping to meet this goal by early Spring.

      2. Refresh my MS Office skills so I can be employable beyond what I’m doing now – I used to be really good in MS Office but my skills are very rusty

      3. Build on other skills and knowledge that I keep saying that I’m going to build on but keep procrastinating.

      4. Find ways to break out the cycle of negativity that I’ve gotten into at my current job so that it is at least tolerable while I’m still there

    11. Trixie*

      I love the idea of looking back at previous year when considering goals for new year. Instead of resolutions, I use “intentions” and treat them as ongoing challenges to aim for. And if they don’t happen, no guilt or shame because life just happens.

    12. gecko*

      I want to figure out what my next move is. I think I’ll be leaving my current company in the fall, hopefully to a larger company so I can ride out the coming recession with less worry; but I’m in tech and…I don’t love many of the larger & flashier companies in the industry. I also don’t know what my 10 or even 5 year career goal is (other than make some money), so I want to make some strides on figuring that out too.

      1. LGC*

        Wishing you the best of luck – and…like, you’re not alone with not having a set 5-year career goal. (I mean…*ahem*)

        Honestly, like, I don’t know that much about the tech sector (or…anything, really), but I can see why you’d be hesitant to jump to one of the larger companies. (Especially given that a lot of them have problems themselves!)

        1. gecko*

          Yeah–maybe my goal is to be honest with myself here and acknowledge that my real career goal is being an eccentric amateur poet in a well-appointed garret who hosts literary salons and who, despite being universally beloved, is only published and truly renowned posthumously.

          Haha! A far-off dream for a fairly solitary programmer. Being realistic, maybe I’ll try to cycle into a well-paying job for a couple years and save up to cycle into a less immoral job later on.

          Good look with your own goals!

          1. LGC*

            Yeah–maybe my goal is to be honest with myself here and acknowledge that my real career goal is being an eccentric amateur poet in a well-appointed garret who hosts literary salons and who, despite being universally beloved, is only published and truly renowned posthumously.

            Hey, it’s more realistic than mine (which is, “Hey, if Bernard Lagat is still an elite runner and Eliud Kipchoge is about my age, I’ve still got some time…”)

            Thanks – and hopefully you’re able to find something that both pays well AND fits with your morals.

    13. Decima Dewey*

      After jumping through hoops this month trying to get staff from other branches to keep this branch open, I’m realizing that it doesn’t make sense for me, the second in command at the branch, to feel more of a commitment than my boss, Mr. Lastname, who is the branch manager.

      I’m also going to try to get out of being in the middle when staffers are having issues with Mr. Lastname’s policies and ccing me on the emails back and forth.

      I’d like to do more outreach, to get more adults and teens into the branch, and more programming for adults and teens.

    14. JustaTech*

      I guess my “intention” for 2019 at work is to be more pro-active. My company’s really been through the wringer in the last 5 years (wow, that’s longer than I thought) and I’d gotten so used to the answer being “no” every time I asked about a new project or conference or whatever that I just stopped asking. (Like I stopped asking for Neon Colored Sugar Bomb cereal as a kid.)
      But then this year my director said “you must all go to more conferences!” (how about any?) and I managed to get him to agree to the conference I wanted to attend (industry) rather than the one he wanted (pure research).

      So maybe now the answers are more likely to be yes, so I’m going to ask about joining a professional society to get access to a lot of information I didn’t know existed. It’s not exactly my job, but it’s adjacent, and the person who is supposed to do it is just not any good (but has been at it for 6 years, so if change is possible on that front it will be glacial).

      And I am framing it in my mind as “be more proactive” rather than “don’t procrastinate so much!” because 1) positives are nicer than negatives, and 2) it’s not really about procrastinating on things I need to do, it’s about finding new/different things *to* do.

    15. The New Wanderer*

      I did a lot of thinking about my career before getting my job back, and I realized I had gotten too complacent before. So, this coming year I want to be more proactive about getting involved in a wider range of projects and position myself for a level-up by the end of the year. Attend at least one conference, possibly two. And finish this darn Capstone for the Data Science Specialization!

    16. Raia*

      1. Get promoted
      2. Learn Tableau or Alteryx, any analytics program I can get my hands on really
      3. Devote 1-2 hours weekly to development

    17. Seeking Second Childhood*

      Update the resume and start looking for a new job closer to home.
      After 18 months it is painfully obvious that the telecommute policy is not going to be reinstated. It may get their attention when enough 10- and 20-year veterans have jumped ship. There are other reasons, but that’s the one that added insult to injury.

  13. Beatrice*

    I’m so ready for the week to be over. 1/3 of my direct reports have the week off, which spreads us painfully thin from a coverage standpoint. I didn’t do this to myself – I inherited half of them a few weeks ago and it’s all previously approved vacation. I’m covering someone else’s job in addition to my own, and all kinds of weird stuff is coming up because of the holidays. On top of that, I have a headache and feel like I might throw up. This suuuuucks.

  14. Funny Cide*

    How long is your commute? For those of you around 1 hour, do you hate it?

    I’m looking at a potential move from 10-ish minutes from one side of large town to the other, to 1 hour-ish from small city across essentially countryside to the large town where I work. Long days and weekends are occasionally involved for my position but not super common. I might be able to work out a flexible schedule and some work-from-home, but I am also about to be transitioning managers, so I’m not sure how much the new one loves these kind of things yet.

    1. bored_at_desk*

      I went from a 20-25 minute commute to a 35-50 minute commute in March and I haaaaaate it. This job pays $15k more a year but it’s not worth it – I’m gonna try to last a full year…

      1. Quiltrrrr*

        I did the same thing with my commute (and in March too), but the job pays $7k LESS. I HATE my commute, and even though this was the job to save me from ‘Really Toxic Old Job’, I’m looking again.

        1. bored_at_desk*

          Nice to meet someone else in a similar boat! Cheers to us both finding something awesome with a better commute soonish!

          1. Funny Cide*

            I should have provided more background in the original post! I really appreciate my 10 minutes, but my partner just got a new job and would be doing at least 1.5 hours to the small city depending on traffic from our current home in the large town. Whereas if we move to the outskirts of small city, I’d be doing about an hour with essentially no chance of traffic, and he’d be doing about 30 with traffic to his job in inner city. I don’t really see him handling a long commute well, to be honest. There’s another small town that might be about halfway in between but it doesn’t seem to have many living options. We rent, so our lease is up in about 6 months, but we want to start looking really early – if we found a place, he could move in early and we could move stuff slowly, which would be nice.

      2. Luisa*

        Same change for me, but it was because of a move, not a job change. I, too, haaaaate it. I was already pretty sure this would be my last year with my current employer for many reasons, but the increase in my commute was really the final nail in the coffin. Gearing up for a job hunt starting in March, with the goal of having a new position by June. (I’m a teacher and this is, fortunately, a highly reasonable time frame in my area.) I’ve already been tipped off to an anticipated opening by one former coworker, and I’m planning to speak to a couple of people I know in other buildings who know my work well and (hopefully) would flag my resume for their principals.

    2. Augusta Sugarbean*

      Mine is 45 minutes. It works for me because I work 3-11 so I’m missing rush hour. (In fact, I’m on medical leave and I’m afraid they are going to find light duty at the main office for regular bankers hours for me which will double my commute time.) The drive home at least works pretty well as time to decompress. I also hate being in urban areas (and am looking for a new job in our nearest small city) so it’s worth it to me to be able to live where we do out in the boonies. Another benefit is that I also have gone through a ton of audiobooks from the library over the years. The only real downside is I have to be on the lookout for deer and other critters on the way home.

      1. Funny Cide*

        I moved from an area with lots of deer where I grew up…here we just have armadillos, really. :)

    3. WhoKnows*

      I have to say, unless the new place is SUPERRRRRR worth it, do not do this. I used to commute about an hour and 15 minutes each way. It sucked and I was miserable. Now I commute 40 minutes each way and it still sucks.

      Do not give up a 10 minute commute unless absolutely necessary (like, your dream home is on the other side of the city, or your job is a nightmare).

      1. Overeducated*

        Even the dream home thing is questionable. I’m casually house hunting and debating on whether it’s better to raise kids in a small condo with no storage and a 45-60 min commute, vs a good sized house with yard and a 60-90 minute commute*, and it’s not an obvious choice. Nightmare or unstable job, or compromise to live with a partner, are the best reasons i can think of for taking a longer commute.

        *estimates based on online calculators and require testing alternatives.

        1. Aunt Vixen*

          I left a job where I was miserable (and, because of the nature of the position, not entirely secure in the long term) and had a 45-60 minute driving commute for one where I am happy and secure (but took a not-insubstantial pay cut; four and a half years on, I’m *almost* back to where I started at the miserable job) and have a 60-minute walking-and-transit commute. I’d make the same decision again, but even though in my present job I’m happy 95% of the time and closing in on a milestone hire-date anniversary that will boost my leave accrual by 1.5x vacation and 2x sick, the two-hour-a-day commute is rough. I have a two-year-old whom I’d really like to spend more time with, and there’s just not a way to squeeze more hours into the day. Before he was born the long commute was a drag (but better than driving for the equivalent length of time); now it’s a bummer.

          1. Venus*

            It has been shown in studies that people who walk, cycle, or use public transit on their commute are happier than those who drive.

            My commute is 40 minutes, and in some ways I wish that it was shorter but I also walk, cycle (in good weather), and use public transit so I’m generally happy with it. I wouldn’t even mind if it was a bit longer, but only if it didn’t involve waiting around for a bus (there is nothing worse than a long commute because the buses are bad).

            1. Funny Cide*

              I should have provided more background in the original post! I really appreciate my 10 minutes, but my partner just got a new job and would be doing at least 1.5 hours to the small city depending on traffic from our current home in the large town. Whereas if we move to the outskirts of small city, I’d be doing about an hour with essentially no chance of traffic, and he’d be doing about 30 with traffic to his job in inner city. I don’t really see him handling a long commute well, to be honest. There’s another small town that might be about halfway in between but it doesn’t seem to have many living options. We rent, so our lease is up in about 6 months, but we want to start looking really early – if we found a place, he could move in early and we could move stuff slowly, which would be nice. No public transport available unfortunately!

              1. Overeducated*

                In that case I think in between makes sense. It’s not fair to make you do ALL the commuting, and IMHO 30 minutes is really noy unreasonable or in “long commute” territory. Again, I’ve never had a short one, though.

                My spouse and I also work in different cities and our current strategy is to try to distribute the extra hours semi-equally. Currently my commute is shorter but I work longer hours so our days are roughly similar length. One of the reasons we’re looking at homes where I’d commute over an hour is that we’d get more space and spouse would have under an hour, though I’m not thrilled about being the parent who’s objectively around less at that point.

            2. Luisa*

              The idea of the commute type mattering rings true to me. I used to commute about 90 minutes each way via publis transit (train with two line changes, bus, walk), and it wasn’t fun, but I was generally more relaxed than I am now on my 35-50 minute (usually ~45 min) drive. (I do have a higher-level, higher-stress job now, though, so there are other variables at play. I think it’s a combination of the two factors.)

              1. Miss Pantalones en Fuego*

                Back in the dark ages I drove to work through a major American city and it was such a pain (and about 45-60 minutes). Currently I’m getting a ride and it’s about 40, but mostly free flowing highway so not so frustrating. Depending on where my job sites are I often take the train which is the best (if you can get a seat) because you can just zone out or even nap.

    4. Schnoodle HR*

      I would only do this if this was either a position or company I really really really want to work for, like a dream come true type deal; or if I had to run away from a bad work situation.

      Commute impact your daily life pretty hard in my opinion. I’m married with a kid, and I went from a 35 minute commute to a 3 minute commute and it literally saved my marriage and I’m a much better mom. You’d think an hour a day difference wouldn’t be much but it is. I also get to go home for lunch. I’m able to workout regularly, take time for me regularly, have time for my husband, and time with my toddler that previously was multitasking now is more quality time.

      I’d think hard on this before pulling the trigger.

      I do know some people enjoy it, catching up on podcasts and such. And where I live, commute means driving, if it was train/bus I may have a different opinion (you’d get to catch up on some sleep or read at least, it’s not fully lost time).

      1. Funny Cide*

        I should have provided more background in the original post! I really appreciate my 10 minutes, but my partner just got a new job and would be doing at least 1.5 hours to the small city depending on traffic from our current home in the large town. Whereas if we move to the outskirts of small city, I’d be doing about an hour with essentially no chance of traffic, and he’d be doing about 30 with traffic to his job in inner city. I don’t really see him handling a long commute well, to be honest. There’s another small town that might be about halfway in between but it doesn’t seem to have many living options. We rent, so our lease is up in about 6 months, but we want to start looking really early – if we found a place, he could move in early and we could move stuff slowly, which would be nice. We don’t have children other than fur children, so this seems like the time in my life to do a commute if I have to.

    5. sometimeswhy*

      Mine’s about an hour but utilizes public transit. When I get a seat, I read. When I don’t get a seat, I listen to podcasts or audiobooks. I find it’s a decent way to gear up for and wind down from work but moving farther from work (I used to have a <20min commute) did affect a lot of other wrangling of other things like gym and dinner and weeknight socializing that's taken a while to sort out.

      Pre-smartphone, I had a job that was 1.5-2 away that I had to drive to and I made heavy use of my library's books on CD. It was not great but there are ways for it to not suck.

      1. hgc*

        I’m about an hour door-to-door but it’s half driving (podcast time!) and half transit (reading time!) so I really don’t mind it. I started out driving to this job but it was 45-90 minutes (traffic is extremely variable) and parking in the city was crazy expensive. The pretty reliable hour with a built-in half hour for reading is perfect for me.

      1. esra*

        This, so many times. I went from an hour commute to a half hour commute and I had no idea how much it was low level getting me down until it changed. I feel like I have so much time back, even though it only adds up to an extra hour a day.

        1. Funny Cide*

          I should have provided more background in the original post! I really appreciate my 10 minutes, but my partner just got a new job and would be doing at least 1.5 hours to the small city depending on traffic from our current home in the large town. Whereas if we move to the outskirts of small city, I’d be doing about an hour with essentially no chance of traffic, and he’d be doing about 30 with traffic to his job in inner city. I don’t really see him handling a long commute well, to be honest. There’s another small town that might be about halfway in between but it doesn’t seem to have many living options. We rent, so our lease is up in about 6 months, but we want to start looking really early – if we found a place, he could move in early and we could move stuff slowly, which would be nice. Public transport doesn’t exist in my area, unfortunately.

    6. Shark Whisperer*

      I think it depends on how much traffic there is on your route. I had a commute that was 45minutes – 1 1/2 hours depending on traffic and I haaaaated it. Sitting in traffic and dealing with angry traffic drivers is awful. On the other hand, a friend of mine had an hour commute that was almost completely through the countryside with no traffic and beautiful scenery and she loved it and says she kind of misses it now that she’s down to a ten minute city communte.

    7. Four lights*

      I’ll put a note in on the pro side of commuting. My dad commuted 40 minutes each way every day for 40 years and was fine with it. I did the same commute for several months and liked it. Especially on the way home, it gave me time to decompress from work.

      I think the type of driving plays a big part. 1 hour in stop and go traffic means a lot of paying attention, but if you’re not in traffic the driving is not as mentally taxing.

      1. Lucky*

        I’ll add to the pro side. My morning commute is only 20 minutes because I go in early, but afternoon/evening is at least 45 minutes unless I stay super late (traffic is heavy from 5-7.) I’m lucky in that I commute from a city to a smaller city, so I’m able to run errands, grocery shop and go to the gym in smaller city in order to shorten my commute. But when I do hit traffic, I plug into a good podcast (SSDGM) and arrive home fully decompressed.

    8. Miley Hemsworth*

      I lived in a fairly large urban area in Texas. My commute started as 10 minutes but the office moved so it became more like 25 minutes. That was not an issue because it was a straight shot on the interstate to the office. But, as time went on and urban sprawl encroached on my suburb, my commute became a minimum of 50 minutes. If there was a fender bender, I could be on the road for over an hour. If a major accident occurred (and they did, at least weekly) I could be stuck on the road for 2 hours or more.

      So, essentially, I hated it. 1 hour 1 way equals 10 hours per week in a car. I just couldn’t sacrifice that much of my time.

      I’ve since taken a 100% work from home position and moved to a smaller town. My commute to work is now literally from my bedroom to my home office, which is right down the hall. I can get to anywhere in town within 10 minutes. I love it.

    9. k8*

      My commute is 30-45min long, but i take the subway and don’t have to change trains at all. i typically get most of my reading done so I don’t mind it, but if I was driving i imagine it’d be different.

      1. Washi*

        Yep, I went from a 40 minute public transit commute to a 20ish minute drive commute somewhat recently, and I would say that they are about equal to me. If anything, I miss my transit commute because I got to relax and read, plus got a good walk in. I hate driving, so I would never want to live more than maybe a 30 minute drive from my work, but I haven’t minded commuting up to an hour on public transit, as long as I don’t have to change lines, because I find it fairly relaxing.

    10. The Rain In Spain*

      My current commute is 6-8 minutes, 10-15 if there’s bad traffic or I leave during school pick-up time.

      My PAST commute was 30 min there (I’d go in super early- leave the house by 6:30 to avoid traffic) and if I was lucky, 45 min home in not-horrible traffic, but up to an hour and a half if there were accidents along the way.

      I didn’t realize how draining I personally found the drive to be until I changed positions. I am much happier with my current position and would probably be willing to have a longer commute for it.

      I think a lot of it depends on how you like to spend your time while driving (is it decompression time for you, do you listen to podcasts or chat with friends, or do you find it stressful). For me, it was usually fine, but also often stressful because of terrible drivers. Freeway vs. not-congested inner streets may also make a difference for you. I have several coworkers who commute 40 min to an hour and half each way but they don’t seem to mind because they enjoy their work.

    11. Overeducated*

      Mine is 45 min – 1 hr going, and 1-1.5 hrs returning home (depending on mode of transit and whether I’m stopping at day care). I don’t hate the commute itself since I’ve mainly worked in major cities and have never been able to afford to live close to work, and podcasts, radio, and books are nice, but it does take a chunk out of free and family time. For me, the tradeoff was that once I had a kid I basically gave up working out before/after work or I wouldn’t see said kid. So that was the loss. What will you be gaining if you take this commute?

      1. Funny Cide*

        I should have provided more background in the original post! I really appreciate my 10 minutes, but my partner just got a new job and would be doing at least 1.5 hours to the small city depending on traffic from our current home in the large town. Whereas if we move to the outskirts of small city, I’d be doing about an hour with essentially no chance of traffic, and he’d be doing about 30 with traffic to his job in inner city. I don’t really see him handling a long commute well, to be honest. There’s another small town that might be about halfway in between but it doesn’t seem to have many living options. We rent, so our lease is up in about 6 months, but we want to start looking really early – if we found a place, he could move in early and we could move stuff slowly, which would be nice. Public transportation is nonexistent in our area, and we only have fur children, so I wouldn’t be missing out on dance recitals or anything like that.

    12. Seifer*

      I have a rule that I can’t live more than 20 mins away from where I work. I used to live a hop, skip, and six exits on the expressway away from my work and I hated that I was basically signing up to work a couple hours more a day because it’s not like I could get other things done while I was driving to work. Plus, I found out very quickly that one hour was the minimum, and anything happening on the expressway meant that I could easily be stuck for two hours or more. I also am anxious and hate driving – there are far too many unpredictable variables. On the other hand, our very chill intern had no problem driving an hour and crossing state lines on the daily, so this very much depends on who you are as a person.

    13. traincommuter*

      I have an hour-long commute and it works okay for me. I think the ONLY reason that it works is because I take public transit – my commute is a half mile walk and then about 45 minutes on the train and overall it’s quite pleasant, especially if I have a good book from the library.

      If I was driving, and traffic was an issue, it would be much more stressful.

      There are two major drawbacks – I already work fairly long days, and it means I have even less time at home. This is okay with me because I don’t have kids or a dog or anything that particularly depends on me to be home at a certain hour, but it is kinda annoying. Also, I have a 7:30 start time and the hour-long commute means a much earlier waking time than I’d like

    14. Joielle*

      I used to have an hour commute by car and HATED it. It was so expensive and irritating, and bad weather could bump it up to 2 hours or more (where I live, lots of snow is common). Now, my commute is 45 minutes to an hour by public transit, and even though it’s basically the same amount of time, it’s way less stressful. I absolutely hate driving, though, so for me it was more about that than about the amount of time.

    15. Anonygrouse*

      My commute is an hour (has been for about 6 years across 2 jobs), but public transit. I am also near the end of a line so in the mornings I pretty much always get a seat. Most of the time I enjoy it — great built-in reading and podcast time, plenty of time to get my brain in gear in the morning, feel very separated from work by the time I get home. However, when there are transit issues (which is not infrequent) it becomes super painful since the time can double, trains are crowded, and everyone around you is even more stressed than usual. If my commute were an hour but I had to stand in a crowded train the whole time, or if it were a one hour drive, I would probably be looking to move by now (even though I love my current apartment).

    16. Person from the Resume*

      This is a personal decision. I wouldn’t do it.

      That doesn’t sound like the worst commute. Countryside commute sounds like you’d be moving at a good pace and not stuck in traffic jams (which is awful).

      However I very much value my time and 50 extra minutes one way adds up to 8+ hours extra in the car a week. What are you giving up for those 8 hours? I don’t think I would personally find a new home (that’s what you’re describing, right? Keeping the job; moving residences?) that valuable without some wonderfulness I can’t imagine.

      1. Funny Cide*

        I should have provided more background in the original post! I really appreciate my 10 minutes, but my partner just got a new job and would be doing at least 1.5 hours to the small city depending on traffic from our current home in the large town. Whereas if we move to the outskirts of small city, I’d be doing about an hour with essentially no chance of traffic, and he’d be doing about 30 with traffic to his job in inner city. I don’t really see him handling a long commute well, to be honest. There’s another small town that might be about halfway in between but it doesn’t seem to have many living options. We rent, so our lease is up in about 6 months, but we want to start looking really early – if we found a place, he could move in early and we could move stuff slowly, which would be nice.

    17. Susan K*

      I worked for about a year with a 50-minute commute (but I had to leave more than an hour before work to leave time to get through security and to my desk one time), and I hated it. I ended up moving to a place that was 10 minutes away and it was heaven. Since then, I have not had more than a 15-minute commute. At this point, I can’t even imagine going back to a 50-minute commute long-term. I would be very hesitant to live more than 20 minutes from my job.

    18. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      I have had a lot of different commutes.

      I had 45 minutes for 10 yrs. I liked it.

      However commutes depend on how you like driving as well as if it’s city vs rural. My old commute was all fast freeway. That was great. A 65 minute commute in Seattle DT traffic was enough to make me want to die regularly. So many variables!!

      1. Funny Cide*

        It would be essentially all rural unless there was an accident on the very edge of the small city, but I’d also be heading the opposite direction of the majority of commuters which should help control the chances of that.

    19. an infinite number of monkeys*

      For me, it makes a big difference how much traffic you’re dealing with. For the same amount of time, a steady-flowing commute through the countryside is much less stressful than a stop-and-go commute through heavy traffic in town.

      A year and a half ago I (renter) gave up a <10-minute commute to move in with my now husband (homeowner)… my commute now takes me 45 minutes or so on a normal day. The time is entirely due to traffic, too – it only took 15 minutes to get here this morning. For me it was well worth it (you'd hope!), but if he lived much further away I might be looking for a different job!

      1. Funny Cide*

        I should have provided more background in the original post! I really appreciate my 10 minutes, but my partner just got a new job and would be doing at least 1.5 hours to the small city depending on traffic from our current home in the large town. Whereas if we move to the outskirts of small city, I’d be doing about an hour with essentially no chance of traffic, and he’d be doing about 30 with traffic to his job in inner city. I don’t really see him handling a long commute well, to be honest. There’s another small town that might be about halfway in between but it doesn’t seem to have many living options. We rent, so our lease is up in about 6 months, but we want to start looking really early – if we found a place, he could move in early and we could move stuff slowly, which would be nice. My traffic would be all rural unless there’s an accident on the very edge of the city and I would be heading the opposite direction of the majority of commuters so the chances are slim.

        1. Seeking Second Childhood*

          I live on the edge of rural. Weather can be worse for country roads than city roads–they prioritize the heavier roads. So if you have snow, factor that in.

    20. It's me*

      I used to work 5 minutes from home. Due to a variety of circumstances I took a job with a 55 minute commute each way. I actually don’t hate the drive itself, but just know it will take time to adjust to losing 2 hours of your day. I end up doing most house chores over the weekend so the house is a bit messier than it used to be. But the benefits (money, but other things as well like room for growth, etc.) far outweigh the time I spend driving. I personally really enjoy podcasts and audiobooks and listen to them during my drive to keep me sane.

      1. Jennifer85*

        This is nice to hear… I currently have a 10-20min commute (10 cycle, 20 walk) and tbh it’s the main thing keeping me in my job, as if I wanted to go anywhere else I’d be looking at 45min minimum, on a sweaty packed commuter train. At the moment the job is okay-ish (usually pretty great, last 3 months q hellish, will reassess soon) so it’s nice to hear from one person who doesn’t regret taking that hit(!)

    21. Always Tired*

      I commute about an hour each way (about half of that time is on a train, the other half driving or walking). I also have three small kids at home. It is HORRIBLE. I have to leave by 7:15 and don’t get home until after 6:00. It is a nightmare getting dinner on the table and I feel like I only see my kids at their absolute worst (fighting with them to get dressed, get backpacks, etc. or fighting about dinner and bedtime) during the week. I appreciate the 30ish minutes of reading/phone time to decompress, but it’s awful.

      Please, if you have any personal responsibilities, interests, etc., tread very lightly here…

    22. LGC*

      I have an hour (okay, a little over an hour) commute, but it’s public transportation. It sounds like you’ll be driving, so…that’s a little more difficult.

      But also, I manage! I’ve had my current job and basic commute for nine years now (lived with my parents, moved up to my current area with them when I started, then moved a couple of towns over five years ago). It’s a pretty large sacrifice – I need to leave by 6:20 (I start at 8, so I need a buffer), and often I won’t get home until after 5.

      I’d ask about working remotely if possible. If not…I cope with podcasts (shout-out to Alison for making Wednesdays awesome).

    23. Nesprin*

      Would not recommend. 45 min each way- so it’s like I do an additional 1.5-2 hrs work each day. I love my house+ neighborhood and I love my job and the only redeeming grace for my commute is that it’s against traffic.

      1. Funny Cide*

        I should have provided more background in the original post! I really appreciate my 10 minutes, but my partner just got a new job and would be doing at least 1.5 hours to the small city depending on traffic from our current home in the large town. Whereas if we move to the outskirts of small city, I’d be doing about an hour with essentially no chance of traffic, and he’d be doing about 30 with traffic to his job in inner city. I don’t really see him handling a long commute well, to be honest. There’s another small town that might be about halfway in between but it doesn’t seem to have many living options. We rent, so our lease is up in about 6 months, but we want to start looking really early – if we found a place, he could move in early and we could move stuff slowly, which would be nice.

    24. RandomusernamebecauseIwasboredwiththelastone*

      My last place was about an hour commute (35 miles) when we moved it cut the distance in half and now my commute is about 30-40 minutes. My previous location was somewhere just more than an hour but with a longer distance. I haven’t minded any of the commutes.

      For the longer commutes I was living downtown and commuting to the suburbs. So the traffic was mostly easy, except that I passed our baseball stadium, so I would declare summer hours around the game start times. Some days I worked later if there was an early afternoon game or I would leave early if the game was due to start in the evening. There’s also a big festival that happens for 2 weeks in my city, and I would get stuck in that traffic. Those days I was pretty grouchy because it could easily add an hour to my commute.

      The last thing that happened to me was a huge multi-year interchange construction project before we moved, it just finished when we bought our new house. The bad news was the year after we bought our house they started a second multi year interchange project. We are currently on year 4 and they are getting close to finishing. In other words, I’ve been commuting through major construction for the past 8 years! (Think total redesign of interstate exchanges) (We’ve promised all of our friends we won’t move too close to them in case the DOT has their eyes on a new project!)

      I like a little time and distance between me and work to get my head in the game or out of it. There are days that it’s a bit of a bother, but on the whole it’s not bad.

    25. Melody Pond*

      I think the length and type of commute you have, can have a HUUUUUGE impact on your overall quality of life. I intentionally decided to live in a residential city-center type neighborhood, so that I could be very close to a large number of businesses/organizations I might want to work for.

      My current job is only 1.5 miles away, but it’s on a light-rail transit line that goes right by my house. Since it’s dark this time of year and the route is a little less populated, I’ve been taking transit (which my employer completely pays for), and it’s maybe 10-15 minutes each way. When it gets a little lighter/warmer, I might switch to walking or biking, since that will have other benefits for my overall health and happiness, even if it takes a little more time each day.

      Personally, I wouldn’t make the move you’re describing, unless I could for-sure work from home (and the new home was well-set up for it, where I could have a dedicated office space) at least 3 days a week.

      I’d think of it this way. If the potential new commute adds 10 hours to your time away from home each week, how much of an hourly pay cut are you taking, to make this move? Take your total compensation over a week, or two weeks, or a month, or whatever, and divide it by the number of hours you’re now away from home for work, over the same time period. And then also rate/estimate how much you’re going to enjoy/not enjoy those extra hours spent commuting to work. Is it worth the hourly pay cut?

    26. Ranon*

      I don’t mind a long-ish public transit commute, but driving commutes are huge time sucks for me- I’m not reading, I’m not exercising, I’m not getting anything positive for me in that time. Heck, I recently went from a ~40 minutes round trip driving commute to a ~45 minute round trip walking commute and my life has improved substantially.

      I’d also run the numbers- driving gets pretty expensive, pretty quick. The IRS mileage reimbursement rate is a good back of the envelope starting point- how much is that additional driving going to cost you?

    27. Lindsay*

      I’ve commuted 45 mins (total of 1.5 hrs) every day for 5 years. I don’t love it, but since it’s mostly rural roads, I don’t have to deal with much traffic. I like having some distance from work, but I do wish I were closer/had the option of public transportation because of the gas cost.

      I think hating/loving commutes depends greatly on how you fill the time. Like others have mentioned, I’ll listen to podcasts or audiobooks or stream music. Since my biggest hobby is fiction writing, I’ll sometimes compose stories in my head while I’m driving if I’m bored with my other options.

    28. A CAD Monkey*

      I say try the route if you can before your first day at the time you’ll be driving it to see if you like it.
      I had a 12mi/1.25 hour driving commute to Previous Toxic Job and hated it. It was in one of the worst congested parts of the city. My new ~20mi/1 hour long commute is outside the outer loop of the city and is so much more relaxed. I actually drove the route I planned out before I started working to see what it was like and prepare myself for going in every morning. It took me ~45 minutes (summer, no school zones).

    29. RabbitRabbit*

      I live in the suburbs of Chicago. My morning commute is an hour door-to-door, my evening is a little longer because of train availability/shuttle time in rush hour traffic. (Commute is 5-10 minute walk from home to train station, train ride just over a half hour, wait for work shuttle bus, then take shuttle to work.) I don’t totally hate it because I take public transport, so I can read/play games/nap on the way home/whatever. If I had to drive I would loathe it.

    30. ToodieCat*

      I have an odd situation. For the first year of this job, I took an efficiency apartment and lived away from home, leaving Sunday afternoons for the apartment and then leaving to return home after work on Friday nights. (Two hour drive each way, but only about a five minute walk from the apartment.) It was terrible.

      Then one of the honchos at my office heard about it, and suggested that I telecommute from home on Mondays and Fridays, and work from the main office Tuesday through Thursday. So on Monday I WFH and then drive to the main office location (two hours), then on Tuesday through Thursday I have a five minute walk to work, then Thursday night I drive home (two hours) and then on Fridays I just WFH. This is much better.

    31. Kaybee*

      My commute ranges from 45 min to 1h 15m depending on traffic. I can work a flexible schedule so I can beat the morning commute and not be in the midst of the worst of the evening commute anyway.

      I live in the countryside with roads that have a fairly high speed limit, and drive into a large city to work. There’s a huge city in the opposite direction, so for the countryside part, I’m driving opposite the super commuter traffic. (That does mean, however, on country roads with one lane each direction, I have no shortage of close calls with head-on collisions with a-holes discontent that the line of cars in front of them are “only” going the speed limit and decide to pass 5-10 or even more at a time – no hyperbole. In a few cases, my willingness to steer my car into a ditch is the only reason I haven’t had head-on collisions with these folks.)

      Potential for accidents aside, I like my commute. It may be long, but in the mornings I’m doing it at the speed limit all the way in, so I’m moving fast. In the evening, I’m not moving at the speed limit but I’m usually moving, and that makes such a huge difference compared to a long commute that involves sitting in traffic.

      Also, because I live out in the sticks, I do all of my shopping at stores directly on my commute home, so I don’t feel like commuting is a “wasted” trip – I do things on my commute that I would have to do anyway. Because of this, on weekends I only have to leave my house and drive into civilization to do things I want to do instead of having to go to the grocery store, dry cleaner, etc.

      I also use the time to blast my music and sing along, which is my way of relaxing and helps my mood. I can wake up cranky or have a bad day at work, and singing along to my tunes while driving generally results in my arriving at work or at home in a pretty good mood.

      So my commute works for me. That doesn’t mean that there’s no bad days. Once a year or so there’ll be an accident that leaves me on the freeway for 3+ hours. Or when I’m sick or tired, I hate myself for living so far away. But in general, I like it. I think whether a long commute would work for you depends on the speed of traffic, as so many here have said, and your own personal preferences.

    32. JustaTech*

      Mine is about 20 minutes each way, all surface streets, and I am grateful every day. Even if it means that I am the one who comes in when alarms go off and whatnot.

      I had a 45 min each way commute for most of middle and high school, then an hour and a half commute (but on a train) for the rest of high school and I work hard to avoid having long car commutes. Although podcasts have made an amazing difference (*I* control what I listen to, no ads and no politics if I don’t want!).

      One thing to think about with your commute is how much of the duration is dependent on traffic? Like, is it 20 minutes at 8pm but 2 hours at 8am? Or will it be about the same no matter what time of day? I find that traffic is a real misery multiplier on commutes.

    33. Minocho*

      I went from a 25 minute commute to 35-1 hour (traffic to downtown houston stinks!), and I am looking at doubling my housing costs to get back that 10-35 minutes each way. Don’t forget, that commute difference doubles! If I could get back to a 30 minute commute in the evening, it would be like getting an hour back every day. I would have energy to cook dinner again, have more energy to do the things I need to do, or get home in the winter when there is still a little sunlight and I could walk outside or exercise a little.

      The commute is a huge drain on my day and the energy I have.

    34. Windchime*

      My commute is 40-45 minutes in the morning and closer to an hour on the way home. I drive, and it would be longer if I took public transportation. I get up at 4:45 AM in order to try to beat the worst of the morning rush hour; getting up that early is the part I dislike the most. I took this job to escape a toxic job; the pay is less but the benefits are great and the people are unbelievably nice, so it was worth it to me. I just make sure I have a podcast or some good music to listen to and just try to be patient. It would be a lot cheaper to take the bus or train (paying for parking SUCKS), but I like not being jammed into standing-room-only situations so it’s worth it for me.

    35. Peachywithasideofkeen*

      My commute is 45 minutes each way and I don’t mind it. It’s almost entirely on the highway and I am going the opposite direction of the traffic, so it is relatively painless. I enjoy the time I get to spend listening to music and podcasts. I occasionally cover another one of my company’s buildings that is actually closer to where I live, but there is a lot more traffic and that commute is much more painful. I love where I live and for me it is worth it!

      1. Peachywithasideofkeen*

        I will also mention that prior to this job, I took public transportation to commute to my job and that took about 45 minutes despite being a 10 minute drive (parking was expensive, hence taking the bus/train), so I was used to it.

    36. Autumnheart*

      My commute is about 45-60 minutes each way, 33 miles in distance. I don’t hate it. I enjoy driving, the route is actually quite scenic in places, and I listen to audiobooks and music while I drive. I’ve been doing it for about 15 years, so to me, it’s a way for me to psych up for the day and to decompress from the workday.

      It’s either fine or horrible. When we get surprise rush-hour snow or something else that turns traffic into a parking lot, it can take 2+ hours to get home, and that really sucks. I basically plan my route around Target locations (in case I need to stop and use the restroom!) and make sure I have plenty of gas, phone battery, and entertainment spooled up on my phone. Luckily, this only happens a handful of times per year, since I live in a city that has good snow removal practices. If there’s a forecast for especially terrible weather the following day, I can typically arrange to work from home.

      The bottom line, though, is that it’s a lot of time spent away from home. I run errands during the week on the way home, so that I minimize the amount of driving on the weekend. It’s a lot of wear and tear on your car. This is 10 hours a week that I don’t get to spend doing other things, and that isn’t insignificant.

      1. Funny Cide*

        I’d be moving about an hour closer to the only Target in our area, so that’s a bonus ;). Our weather doesn’t really get that bad – or if it does, I moved here from further north so it doesn’t seem like a big deal to me. I’d be going opposite of most commuters so I should be able to avoid most accidents. I’d be interested in a slightly flexed schedule but just not sure how new boss would feel about it so I’m trying to think everything over before he gets started and I ask.

      2. Sick of the commute*

        My commute is also 45-60 minutes (outside of peak hour), although it’s only 26kms. I don’t mind it most of the time, as I listen to podcasts as I drive. The downside is if you get stuck in peak hour traffic or there’s an accident, it’s more like 90-120 minutes, and also that there’s just less time in the day to do anything (plus leaving home really early to avoid peak hour means getting up really early, which is disruptive to the whole family). I get that this may be a way to keep your partner’s commute more reasonable, but it does grind on you (at least, on me) over time. I’ve been doing it for 3 years now and I’m starting to casually look for a new job, and definitely won’t consider anything with an equal/worse commute.

    37. vonlowe*

      Mine is around an hour’s drive.

      I don’t hate mine as I drive around 35-40 miles in that time and the traffic is generally free flowing for the vast majority of it.

      For me 1 hour drive doesn’t feel that long anymore – I drove 20 mins to get my MOT done and that felt like a super short journey.

    38. Anony*

      30 minutes. All highway with no traffic. It’s very easy and relaxing. I couldn’t imagine doing a 30 minute commute in traffic. I would want to shoot myself!

    39. Chaordic One*

      The thing about my commute is that it is so unpredictable and variable that it really makes planning for it difficult. I usually leave for work an hour before it starts and on a typical day it takes me 35 minutes to get to work and I sit in my car for 10 to 15 minutes and then go inside my office building about 10 minutes before work starts. But there have been a few days where it has taken more than an hour due to traffic. (The worst thing is when there’s a fender bender and all of the other drivers slow down to gawk at it.)

      OTHO, when I leave work, it is in the middle of the night and there’s hardly any traffic on the roads at all and it only takes 25 minutes to get home. There’s a nearby commuter rail line, but it closes before I get off work, so it doesn’t do any good for me. I think I’d like it as it would probably be less stressful than driving in traffic if it were an option.

    40. Seeking Second Childhood*

      I am sick of driving 40 minutes one way– more if I don’t start ugly early to avoid traffic. I find myself missing my old NYC train commute — even though it was more time–because I could read or knit. I can’t easily follow audiobooks when I’m driving.

    41. Kat in VA*

      I live in the DC area, and my commute is about 1h20m in the mornings and roughly 1h30m to 1h45m in the evenings. I have a relatively new car that I love and I’m a helluva introvert, so the time in the car is the only real time I have to myself (I’m an executive assistant by trade and there are seven people including me in my household). If I was still driving my beater car, I’d truly hate it. If you’re used to a tiny short commute and switching to a long one, the transition might be rough for you. Also, an hour usually means “an hour on a good day”, so be prepared that the hour could end up being longer than that if there are a lot of accidents, rain, snow, tourist season, etc.

    42. sheworkshardforthemoney*

      My last job had a 40 minute commute and it was almost all winding country roads so I had to keep an eye out for deer and other creatures. It was a relaxing commute otherwise. On nice days I’d pull off the road just to admire the scenery and take a few pics. Now my city commute is 10 minutes but some days is more stressful.

  15. Nervous Accountant*

    Oh, so here’s a tiny update. I don’t know if anyone remembers this but a while back this year I posted a question about clients requesting new people to work with based on gender/religion. a lot of “I want to work with a female/someone of the same religion etc.” Obviously that was messed up….Shortly after that post, the company sent out an anonymous survey.

    About 2 months ago I realized that those requests hadn’t come in for a while. I’m assuming that many had complained about this and….no more such requests.

    We had a LOT of changes this year, mostly good, so I’m glad to be in the middle of them.

    1. Dasein9*

      Oh, congratulations!
      Did clients stop making the requests or did your company just stop honoring or passing on that type of request?

      1. Nervous Accountant*

        I want to say all 3 but most likely, that type of request is not being passed on–which hey I”m not going to complain about. We came up with a system for everyone involved to follow.

    2. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      I remember this absurd bigoted request stuff! I’m glad they shut it down, it was so messy and unprofessional.

  16. KatieKate*

    Tips on completing a successful competitive analysis? I’m working on one in a spreadsheet right now, but I know I’ll have to turn it into a powerpoint at some point. I’ve never done one of these before and I’m worried I’m not including enough detail.

      1. Jaid_Diah*

        I think it would be just baby babble to a cat, unless you had a prior relationship and established what the different tones of the meow meant.

      2. Ingray*

        So I do this thing where I say my cat’s name and she meows at me, I say her name and she meows at me again (repeat forever). And it occurred to me the other day…what if that meow is her saying what she thinks MY name is?????

        I kind of want to do an experiment to test it.

      3. Minocho*

        My last cat I brought back from Japan just passed last week. He didn’t get along so well with my American kittens. I seriously wonder if they had communication issues – if there’s a Japanese version of Cat and an American version of Cat.

      4. Autumnheart*

        My cats understand what my various non-verbal noises mean. At least one of them is also surprisingly fluent in English. He’ll respond appropriately in context in surprising situations.

        I have one noise that is basically the equivalent of yelling “Knock it off!” I’ve actually used this on strange cats and it was effective. I take this as proof that I’m a cat whisperer (or in this case, yeller).

      5. Even Steven*

        Depends. If you are meowing to them about the necessary key deliverables that are expected of them as change agents, then probably not. But if you’re saying, “Dinner is served, o great one,” then pretty much yeah.

    1. Damn it, Hardison!*

      I have now scheduled an official review meeting with my cat. She should not be surprised to hear of her shortcomings, as they have been loudly verbalized to her throughout the year. On the upside she is very cute.

  17. Zlotnik*

    Career change question: is 48 years old too old to consider switching sectors from nonprofits to the tech industry! And switching roles from web administration to UX writing?

    1. Teapot librarian*

      You’re never too old to switch careers. Think about it–if you’re unhappy now, think how unhappy you’ll be 10 years from now if you’re still in the same sector.

      1. Zlotnik*

        Thanks! I have a lot of anxiety about age discrimination and if I can match what I currently make in a new role and industry

        1. Autumnheart*

          I feel that if you’re going from the non-profit world, it should be pretty feasible to match your current salary. UX in general is a desirable skill set. If you have previous experience, you should be able to translate that into other types of enterprises pretty well.

    2. NJ Anon*

      No! At 56 I went from a finance director for 13 years at a non profit to an office manager at a for profit engineering consulting firm. Less stress, same pay, better benefits!

    3. k8*

      i think something that might be weird is, depending on the companies you’re looking at, you might be significantly older than most of your coworkers. in startups, that might be a ding against you in terms of ~culture fit~ (which is bs but definitely something that you see)

      1. Zlotnik*

        Yup! That is what I am thinking. Which types of tech companies might be more accepting of older workers and career changers from other sectors

        1. Friday afternoon fever*

          Larger or longer-established businesses are more likely to be aware of, care about, and comply with nondiscrimination laws. Steer clear of small companies run by dudes hiring their friends.

          1. Zlotnik*

            Thanks! Many articles I am reading online suggest the same thing that more established firms tend to be friendlier to older workers

            1. JustaTech*

              My spouse’s tech company has a semi-joking internal group called “over 30 support group” because the vast majority of employees are *so* young. But then they added “over 40” and “over 50” support groups because they do have older employees and (as best as I can tell) realize the value of age diversity.

              So a good company will see that there’s a lot of value in all your prior experience.

        2. Windchime*

          I actually have had good luck with the IT/tech departments of healthcare facilities. I didn’t start programming until I was 40. I was working at a healthcare facility, took some classes, and got hired into their IT department. I’ve worked for two additional companies after that, all in healthcare IT. I’m currently working for a hospital system that is part of a major university, and I’m in my mid to late 50’s. The youngest person on my team is 37 years old and there are people older than me. So I would try healthcare IT.

        3. Autumnheart*

          Established corporations. I work for Major Electronics Retailer and most of our creatives team range in age from 35-55. Some a little older, some a little younger, but in general it’s a very experienced team.

    4. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      It’s never too late to try something new. I wouldn’t assume anything. Wouldn’t assume you’d be discriminated against or that you’d be a sure deal. Just do your best and give it your all and see what happens. Don’t let the fear of the “maybes” and “mights” shut you down.

      1. Zlotnik*

        Thanks! I was thinking if there might be a systematic approach to finding out which types of and identifying which tech companies are friendlier to older workers

        1. The Man, Becky Lynch*

          It’s such a crapshoot. Look at it this way. You’ll know more after an interview. You’ve got to get that far. Then you can research on glass door and the web to see if there’s any flags around.

          Sadly all jobs and companies have pitfalls and possible cruddy office cultures. It’s all about the risk/rewards.

          Granted I’ll say I’m a risk taker. And ended up a highly prized high ranking woman in business because my mentality is “ef it, let’s try.”

          It depends greatly on your needs/family needs of course!

    5. Friday afternoon fever*

      A lot of unintentional age discrimination stems from wondering if “older” applicants can actually grasp, learn, understand technology. (Obviously this does not really have to do with age so much as a bunch of other factors.) So if you can demonstrate technical competency and comfort learning new programs and technologies on your resume, that will go a long way.

      1. Autumnheart*

        Which is ridiculous, because 20 years ago we were the 20-somethings building the technology that now people wonder if we can learn how to use.

        1. Friday afternoon fever*

          It is ridiculous! I agree! I think it has nothing to do with age and a lot to do with (a) learned helplessness and (b) some people of every age are just not really comfortable with learning new things.

          But this (old=bad at technology) is some people’s gut reaction, and it’s one you can control for easily in your application materials.

    6. esra*

      Getting into UX writing is a good switch, from my experiences in tech/startups, you tend to get less ageism with writing, whether it’s UX or technical or marketing. Startups have a bad rep, but like any company, tone is set at the top. For example, the last startup I worked at was terrible for women, but hired people from a variety of backgrounds/different age groups. Just like. Men.

    7. Ann O.*

      I’m younger than you and considering a switch from technical documentation to UX research, so on a similar path. I’m having trouble with the basic beginning steps, though, so I’m curious what your job switching strategy is.

      (if you’re curious, my specific situation is that I have a good academic background for UX and a teensy-tiny bit of actual work experience. I don’t want to go back to school. I can’t figure out if it’s possible to do the switch with my academic background and level of work experience.)

      1. Zlotnik*

        I have quite a bit of related, solid work experience in content strategy. I am also going to take this course on UX writing: https://uxwriterscollective.com/. I am doing a lot of networking, info interviewing of people in the UX field in the meantime. I am employed in a related field to UX but in a non-writing, non-content role

  18. k8*

    we got our company-wide december newsletter today, and launches and employees from every department were highlighted and applauded–every department, that is, except for my department, tech. which is weird because…..we’re a tech company……………

    1. k8*

      like, i’m in nyc, where engineering jobs basically litter the street, and most startups want to bend over backwards to provide perks for engineers to attract them and make sure they stick around, but this company seems weirdly ambivalent about the tech team? i’ve only been here since august so i’m still feeling it out, but it’s definitely a strange dynamic that i’m not sure i love…

    2. Hey Karma, Over here.*

      I’d ask your manager which one of your team provides info to the newsletter group. Find out if there’s a point person in your group, if there’s a process for submitting items, if your boss has to approve them and if anyone has even thought about it yet.
      Maybe your manager never thought about it. Hell, maybe your boss’ predecessor and the newsletter editor hated each other and there’s never been a department reconciliation.
      If you are constantly not included, you should find out why.

      1. k8*

        yeah i wonder if the new cto just never sent anything to HR (who are responsible for the newsletter) to be included but like…it’s just weird optics to me that everyone would be included except us, and i would have thought that HR would recognize that? we’re not a large company so it’s not like they wouldn’t have any idea about what’s been going on. idk, HR here seems a lil inexperienced so maybe it’s just that.

        1. CleverName*

          As a person who puts together a monthly newsletter for a large-ish company, I must say, they are a pain in the ass. Gathering information is tough, making sure there is equal representation is tough, and I often don’t have the information or resources to know when something is missing. That said, I do make an effort to make sure our highly -sought-after groups are represented. BUT, I’m in communications, and have a background specifically in internal communications. You would think HR would get that, since they have to recruit, but if this is one more thing on the HR person’s desk, they may not be looking at it from a broader, corporate-goals perspective. That doesn’t mean the company doesn’t value you. It could mean that the CTO wasn’t told he has to send things to HR, or HR ran up against other deadlines and was scrambling to get it out on time.

          I get the same info from the same people every month, but more than half of them wouldn’t send me anything if I didn’t explicitly ask. If HR’s process is that information has to be submitted by X time and no one remembered to tell the CTO that during onboarding, that could be why.

          1. Jennifer85*

            Maybe the managers in your department don’t want to send updates.. I know in a lot of places tech consider themselves a bit separate, maybe someone somewhere has deemed it not a good use of time…

    3. Maggie*

      Don’t worry, my team is in charge of the tools that run the business (custom quoting, project management, etc) and we are never thanked :’)

  19. What’s with Today, today*

    I’m starting a local news blog and I’m curious about getting sponsored posts and advertisers. I’m a seasoned news professional in my area and think it could be successful. Any tips on sponsored content?

    1. Fantasma*

      Alison does sponsored posts here occasionally if you’d like to see sample formats. As an ex-journalist who moved to jobs where I’ve done ad buys, I’d recommend making a info sheet for advertisers on who your audience is (how big is it? What are the demographics?). Also do you create the sponsored content for them or do they provide it?

  20. The Other Dawn*

    What makes someone suitable to be an auditor? Banking, specifically.

    I’m starting my job search since my job will be ending in late February. I saw an auditor position with a consulting firm in a subject area I’ve worked in for many years. I’m thinking of applying; however, I’m hesitating.

    My last job, which I left after less than a year, turned out to be wrong for me in every possible way. After almost 20 years at one bank being a Jill-of-all-trades, I chose what I thought was the wrong area on which to focus. That said, my boss was a type A personality, micro manager, and pretty condescending to most people. Morale was quite low throughout the company and the culture wasn’t a good fit for me. Also, I really consider it my “rebound” job. I was so miserable during my time there.

    I had said after that job that I’d never want to do auditing (I’ve never been one) or self-monitoring/testing (which is what most of the job was). But I don’t know if I truly feel that way, or if it was just *that* job that turned me off to it and made me completely miserable; I don’t know how to separate my feelings around that job, company, and boss, from a job in auditing.

    I also wonder if I’d be a fit for auditing. I’m swaying towards no, but I’ve never done it. I’d love to hear from any auditors out there.

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

      This is my take. Auditing is much less stressful when you are not also employed at that financial institution and/or responsible for fixing audit issues. I was a self auditor of sorts for BSA at my last job and I hated it with the intensity of 1000 suns because I was the one who also had to fix it. But if you are working for a consulting firm, you don’t have that responsibility. You point out what’s wrong, offer possible solutions to fix it, and move on to the next financial institution. You sound like you have plenty of experience and know your stuff. If you enjoy work that requires attention to detail and you feel like you can stay on top of ever changing regulations without going insane, then go for it!

      1. The Other Dawn*

        Thanks! And BSA here, too. :) Former BSA officer, current BSA manager, plus lots of deposit ops, compliance, etc. I think the self-auditing is part of what I never liked. And my former boss, company, etc. is further skewing my thoughts as to whether I’d like actual auditing or not.

        Another reason I’m hesitating is because the Glassdoor reviews for the consulting firm are…not good. It’s not one bad review and some good ones, but all are mostly bad and have a common theme: poor management at the top.

        1. New Job So Much Better*

          Another former bank-Jill-of-All-Trades here. I used to think auditing/examining would be my next career path, but then I sat back and observed the auditing company staff we hired. I realized I would not want to bounce from bank to bank every month to review their books/files/records. And silly as it sounds, being regarded as an enemy of the employees while I’m doing my job. Things to think about.

          1. The Other Dawn*

            “And silly as it sounds, being regarded as an enemy of the employees while I’m doing my job.”

            Haha that’s exactly what I was thinking! I would not want to be hated before I even walk in the door. Well, maybe “hated” is too strong, but very much disliked. Some people see the auditor as the enemy, even though they’re hired to work for the company; it’s different than a bank examiner, but people don’t always see the difference.

    2. ChachkisGalore*

      I had a pretty similar experience – in that I was promoted into a dept that I was very interested in career wise (semi-related – compliance). Had an awful experience. I just did not mesh with the current team at all. It felt like every instinct I had was the exact opposite of what my manager wanted. I suspected that it was work style, but I did really worry that it could be instead (or as well as) the nature of the work. Made a lateral move (I considered going in a different direction completely, but it was the first good offer I received and I was desperate to get away). Once I got into the new role it was like stepping out of a dark cave – everything they did in this new firm made sense to me. Turns out the department at the old firm was definitely an outlier in how they ran things. Also found out that everything I was doing “wrong” (as per my former boss) was exactly how they did things at my new company.

      I’m so glad I didn’t not go in a different direction because I really love this work and have been told I have a real aptitude/good instincts for it by every manager other than that first one.

      In terms of auditing specific advice – I’m hoping to go into consulting at some point down the line (targeted like conducting mock exams or consulting on best practice after regulatory issues are uncovered) which seems like it might be fairly similar to auditing through a consulting firm. The reason I’m hoping to go in that direction is that I realized that I love digging in to the current processes/procedures when I first start a job, identifying weaknesses and making improvements. However, once I get through that process and have everything setup in a way that I think is best, I don’t particularly like being charge of actually doing those processes consistently for the long term. So maybe that’s one thing to think about – do you like that evaluation period whenever you start a new job and are trying to get a good handle on the current policies/procedures/processes?

      1. The Other Dawn*

        “I love digging in to the current processes/procedures when I first start a job, identifying weaknesses and making improvements. However, once I get through that process and have everything setup in a way that I think is best, I don’t particularly like being charge of actually doing those processes consistently for the long term. So maybe that’s one thing to think about – do you like that evaluation period whenever you start a new job and are trying to get a good handle on the current policies/procedures/processes?”

        This is me, exactly. I feel like I’d rather be on the other side now, helping banks do better, enhance their processes, etc. The best part of my current job was the first two years, when I was figuring out how we do things, how we can make the program better, how we can fix issues, etc.

  21. Hailrobonia*

    Ugh. I just found out I’ve been assigned to be on our office “rewards and recognition” team, meaning I will have to be responsible for all the birthday and other celebrations this coming year. I’ve done it before a few years ago and it was dreadful. Any fun yet sensible ideas we come up with get shot down by the director, who prefers unreasonable things such as going to classical music concerts (which is fine for some, but not everyone’s enjoys classical music, and the concerts are always after work hours).

    And no matter what we do, the director and a few others nitpick and find fault in everything. I’m already searching the AAM archives for advice.

    1. Hey Karma, Over here.*

      WTF? You give awards, recognition and birthday acknowledgements to staff members that are things that the director likes. Sounds like fun. The first order of business is creating and disseminating a survey of what people would like. Just take over. Since you know the higher ups will hate everything, accept it and move on. Take the opportunity to recognize employees the way they’d like. At least someone will be happy.

      1. Hailrobonia*

        There are plenty of other people who are “in turn” to do it, but I think my boss is putting me on the committee as some sort of weird power play, so that people on her team are in charge. And if I say no, then I will be labeled “not a team player” and there will be repercussions.

        In other offices, this could be a fun side-project, but in our office it’s not. In the past we’ve come up with fun ideas that people will like and are within budget, but the director has nixxed them because they are not to his liking.

        1. Autumnheart*

          Is there fallout for you, professionally, if you come up with ideas and the director scraps them all? In other words, are you somehow the person not doing their job even though it’s the director who vetos your plans?

    2. NotMyRealName*

      We did a company “Olympics” and picnic this summer and it went down very well. We’re a manufacturing company and each of the production departments came up with a skill game. We made the company president compete in each one (and he lost badly each time). It was great fun – and the company provided good food (the office departments did the shopping for the food).

    3. RandomusernamebecauseIwasboredwiththelastone*

      It sounds like you are stuck with it. My advice, go into it with zero expectations. If your director is the one who picks the weird things and makes you execute it, then that’s what you’ll do.

      Suggest some fun things that people may like, but if/when they get shot down, shrug your shoulders and make the goofy things happen. For the nitpickers, I would present a couple of suggestions and let the comments and fault finding roll off your back.

      You and other sane committee members: Hey team, here are the options for the reward outing; All you can eat sundae bar, amusement park tickets and picnic, or paintball war with tanks (I saw this on facebook and it looks stupidly fun!)
      Picky Pauly : Oh we can’t do any of those things. There’s too much sunshine and happiness involved.
      You: Sure Pauly, what was your suggestion then?
      Picky Pauly: Oh well that’s your job you guys are supposed to be organizing this.
      You: Great, then are suggestions are All you can eat sundae bar, amusement park tickets and picnic, or paintball war with tanks
      Dour Director: Blah those are stupid ideas. Back in my day we went to the chamber orchestra and we loved it.
      You: Ok, we can do that. Is there one you had in mind?
      *6 weeks later
      Dour Director: How many rsvps have we gotten for Bach’s Revival Tour?
      You: umm it looks like 4
      Dour Director: What?! only 4?
      You: looks that way ::Shrug:: Moving on to next months birthday celebrations, we can get Chocolate, vanilla, or strawberry cake.

      If anyone complains to you outside of the group just practice your shrug and go with the non committal “That’s what the committee decided to do” and carry on.

      1. Hailrobonia*

        Good advice. My attitude for the R&R events is pretty much “it doesn’t need to be perfect…it doesn’t even need to be good… it just has to be.”

        1. RandomusernamebecauseIwasboredwiththelastone*

          Exactly. Even if you were allowed to run with all of your fun events, you still wouldn’t make everyone happy unfortunately.

          So I think in your case I would focus on the director and your boss. It sounds as though you can at least buy a few years off with your time served this year?

    4. JxB*

      My manager (who may read this) tries to schedule the occasional team building activity for our small team of 7. Some of us are less receptive to the ideas and she’s a good sport trying to work around all our preferences. We did the painting thing one time where the group follows the instructor and creates a painting (with snacks and drinks) which actually turned into a fun evening. She’s suggested “ax throwing” – which apparently is a “thing” now – with clubs that organize the activity and teams and competitions. We’ve laughed about it so far but who knows…we may end up with an evening of ax throwing in 2019.

      So I suggest ax throwing!

  22. Toxic waste*

    Have had new boss for only a week and she is breathing down my neck. Everything is questioned and she hovers over me. Until I can leave, does anyone have any suggestions? Has anyone been in similar situations?

    1. fposte*

      I think a week is really fast to decide to leave. Can you talk to her about the level of observation, see if she has any concerns, and find out if usually staff work more independently once it’s clear they know the ropes?

    2. WhoKnows*

      She may just be trying to get to know how you work and how good your work is. Hopefully she will back off soon enough.

    3. Schnoodle HR*

      She may be just trying to learn her department and your job and where it all fits in. I’d give it more time. At least three months. Until then, do your job honestly and even just ask her if she’d like a run down of what you do everyday.

      1. Hey Karma, Over here.*

        I think its more of the hovering, the literal “breathing down my neck,” that might be the problem, so definitely be proactive like Schnoodle writes and ask how and when she’d like a report.

    4. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      Focus on breathing and trying to keep doing your job despite her hovering. It’s a stressful environment to be tossed in to and all your senses are pinging out of control due to the invasion of space.

      I’m sorry this new boss can’t seem to learn her job without making you suffer. Talk about clashing styles and bad fits :(

    5. Où est la bibliothèque?*

      What about regularly scheduled check-ins? If you set aside a half hour a couple times a week, or even once a day, to give and receive updates, she may feel reassured enough to stop hovering.

    6. Kali*

      “Hey, do you mind not standing behind me? It just gives me the heebie jeebies when anyone is looking over my shoulder. Thanks for understanding!”
      (My skin is crawling just thinking about this, so I’m with you, Toxic waste!)

      I’ve had multiple bosses who have never done my job before, so they’re in my cubicle for every little thing. The worst was one that *did* do my job… 15 years before, when regulations and procedures were very, very different. Sigh. I just tried to view it as a teaching moment. “Why didn’t you do this in this way?” “We’ve actually tried/considered that in the past, but unfortunately, it won’t work because of XYZ.” or “We did it this way because of ABC.” I never (okay, rarely) challenged them, but I learned that nudging them gently into how things were done with an explanation generally worked. Sometimes, it didn’t, and then I had to have that conversation. “Okay, I will totally do that. I just want to flag it that we may not get X result, because of Y. [If you haven’t explained that already – if you have, then you’re going to be (unfairly) seen as difficult]” Sometimes, you have to pick your battles, unfortunately.

      Sometimes, if you can see the long-game, you can plant flags before they become issues. Knowing that my boss was going to ask about XYZ down the road, when I talked about ABC with her, I would bring up XYZ (if related) and mention what I planned to do with it to cut off any disagreements down the road.

    7. The Other Dawn*

      Is she new to the industry? Has she done you type of job before? Is she literally hanging over you an breathing down your neck, or do you mean she’s at your desk a lot, asking a lot of questions?

      I would say she’s doing what she needs to do to learn how you job and the department works. Try having a conversation with her to find out what it is she really wants to know. Maybe there are some specific things you can focus on that will help mitigate the questions.

      I think looking to leave after only a week with a new boss is a bit of an overreaction. Give it some more time–at least a couple months.

      And if she is literally breathing down your neck, you could always offer to meet with her at her desk rather than her coming to yours. Unless she needs to see something on your screen, of course.

      1. Toxic waste*

        No, she is not new to the industry. Yes, she claims that she has done my type of job before. A little bit of both- she’ll come up from behind and observe what I am doing and then question it.

        1. The Other Dawn*

          I’m not there to actually witness it, but this sounds pretty normal to me for a manager’s first week on the job. It’s in her best interest to learn as much as she can about the new company, new team, its processes, etc. Everyone has a different style: some want to sit in a meeting and run down an agenda, some want to watch the process and dissect it, and some…are not very interested at all.

  23. Anon librarian*

    I am a non-lawyer who has an interview with a law firm. Any tips? I’ve never worked in a law firm before. Should I know about cases and legal proceedings?

    1. Four lights*

      Paralegal here. It depends on what you do. I’m assuming if you’re interviewing, the job doesn’t require legal experience and any terminology etc can be learned on the job. There are different types of law, so find out what kind the law firm practices and read up a little on it.

      I would say it’s good to know that law firms are traditionally formal workplaces, and that deadlines are often very important. You often have to submit things to court by a certain date, and if you don’t your out of luck and have opened yourself up to malpractice.

    2. Hey Karma, Over here.*

      My sister is a nurse with a law firm. She reviews and reports on medical information from clients. They hired her because of the skills she had. In the year she’s been there, her work never overlapped to the point she needed any education about cases and proceedings. She learned the specialized terms that applied to her work but is separate from the legal work.

      1. Bruin*

        I have always wondered about nurses that work with law firms. They bring a unique skill set when looking at medical malpractice cases. Out of curiosity, do they make as much as floor nurses?

    3. Miley Hemsworth*

      If you are applying for a position as a paralegal or a legal secretary, you should at least have some experience or education geared toward those professions.

      If this is for an admin role in a law firm, you do not need to know specifics about the law or legal proceedings. You will learn more about those things on the job. What WILL be expected of you is to be punctual, pay close attention to detail, be very organized, follow directions well, always meet deadlines, be willing to work long hours and willing to pitch in to help in any way you can (things tend to get frenzied just before a court case). Also to be very discreet; there are a lot of things discussed in a law firm that cannot and should not be discussed outside the firm.

      And it helps to have a thick skin. In my experience, lawyers are often difficult to work for. You may be expected to learn the ropes much faster than you are able to or are comfortable with. It can be a trial by fire, to put it nicely. It can also be very rewarding and interesting work.

    4. happy meal*

      I see you’re a librarian, so assuming it’s a firm large enough to have a research librarian on staff, you should be familiar with the technologies they use and any experience you have in competitive intelligence would be helpful.

    5. paralegal*

      i’m a paralegal at a big firm in a big city. for my role, i’d advise someone interviewing to stress their organization skills and ability to anticipate upcoming tasks/deadlines as part of a larger picture (ie. not just going from project to project but thinking about the larger scope of the briefing schedule, or whatever). so if we’re filing a declaration tomorrow, i should prepare exhibit cover sheets today. if we’re going to court and the attorneys gave me a list of stuff, you should stop at think, what did they miss? because attorneys always miss stuff that’s not related to their core duties (not a nit, it’s just how the job is). if it’s always annoying for me to sort through 500 deposition exhibits (or xyz other task), should i make a chart/spreadsheet for them when i have a slow day so next time i can ctrl+f to what i need in 5 seconds? related to the last one, i think you need to be pretty self driven and independent in recognizing where there’s a hole, and patching it up yourself without someone asking you to or guiding you on how to do it. so i’d prepare a few anecdotes that touch on these points. good luck!

      1. DaisyDuke*

        I am bookmarking this comment – it is so incredibly helpful! Thank you! I’d love to know more about your day-to-day processes as well as which behind the scenes tasks you think are the most crucial/impactful in your job!

    6. Lilysparrow*

      The librarians at firms where I’ve worked in the past did not need to know caselaw or court procedure in detail. Law changes all the time, so the librarians mostly curate collections of periodicals and keep them updated.

      Each jurisdiction issues updates to statutes as they are passed, and federal and state supreme court rulings are published on a regular schedule. So you’ll want to get familiar with those cycles. And in some areas of law they’ll also be getting IRS or federal agency updates and regulation changes.

      You’ll also want to know what states they are qualified in, because they might keep statute volumes on all of them.

      It would be good to research what practice areas they cover. For example, real estate development is affected by contract and property law, federal state and local taxes, EPA regulations, and others. You won’t be expected to know that going in. But being able to alert a practice group that an update has come in on a regulation that’s relevant to them, is a way to add value in that job.

      You’ll probably be using online databases like LexisNexis and/or WestLaw to assist with research and maintain the proper licenses/subscriptions.

      The library also circulated industry or practice-specific periodicals, so maintaining those internal distribution lists and learning where the bottlenecks happen is a day-to-day part of the job.

      At my last firm, the assistant librarian was also responsible for co-ordinating notary public qualifications & renewal schedules for the admins and paralegals who had one. That may not be the case at every firm.

      Culturally, law firms tend to be compartmentalized. If it’s a multidisciplinary firm, the litigators have a very different culture than corporate & tax or trust & estate. Intellectual property is quite different from criminal defense, and so forth. The senior partner in a practice group can almost have a personal fiefdom.

      As a shared resource, the library tends to be a little fiefdom of its own. If the head librarian is good to work for, you’re insulated from a lot of the office politics. If not, you’re pretty well out of luck.

      I’m sure there’s lots more, but that’s my general observation and those are the type of things I saw the librarians doing. Hope it helps, and good luck!

      1. Lilysparrow*

        I just saw your reply that it was records management, not law library. Sorry, I’m not sure exactly how they’re using that term – file archives? Digitization?

        The cultural stuff about fiefdoms and finding out what disciplines they practice in still apply, though.

        If you’re doing stuff like document production for litigation, you’ll need to learn the basic steps of what is due when. But that’s going to be specific to the practice and the juristidiction, so you’d learn that on the job, I expect.

  24. Shannon*

    Today is my last day at this Toxic Job! I feel sort of guilty. I will miss my peers. But the supervisors are all saying how much they’ll miss me and they don’t know I’m jumping ship to our biggest client.

    1. Anonygrouse*

      Congratulations! I understand feeling guilty but keep reminding yourself you are doing the right thing (including serving as an inspiration to the decent people who are still at your old Toxic Job for now). Good luck!!

  25. Dee Dee*

    I’ve been a manager for about a month now and I’m already exhausted from the internal politics I used to be insulated from but am now expected to play a role in. This doesn’t bode well, does it?

    1. Not So NewReader*

      Get a plan on how you want to handle that. Use some of the simpler issues to figure out your management style.

      People use the term internal politics to mean various things. I prefer to think of it as dealing with personalities. Learn how each individual thinks/works. I worked with a person who I liked very much. She could be intimidating. I understood that also. It did not take long for me to see she is a numbers person. If I reduced all my explanations, needs, etc down to numbers she would follow what I was saying and quickly agree to what I was asking. Another person needed to talk about at home stuff. We would chat. Then, “OH, BTW, I need XYZ for next week.” Sure, no problem.

      Work on an individual by individual basis.
      Realize that you cannot fix the world. This also means you cannot stop Bob from hating Jane. All you can do is learn work-a-rounds for that situation. You are only responsible for the work and people you supervise. That’s it. Constantly ask yourself, “Do I have any responsibility here?” if not, let it go. “Aww, that’s too bad. I am sorry to hear that”, covers many, many situations.

  26. Mimi Me*

    I am having the hardest time not screaming out in frustration today! I usually have two pairs of headphones at my desk – a pair of wireless earbuds and a wired pair. I prefer the wireless but they only work for about 3.5 hours before they need to be charged. While they’re charging I make the switch to the wired. Last week I had my son in the office for about 20 minutes and I generously (and stupidly) gave him the wired set to keep. So here we are today – my wireless set is charging and my co-worker who shouts while talking…and it always sounds like she has a mouthful of spit and marbles while doing so….seems to be louder than normal. I can’t move my seat, she needs to talk to do her job and she’s not going to quiet down. Will this day never end??????

    1. valentine*

      If you’re desperate enough to share, ask around, in case you can borrow a pair. Might the business have any in the supply closet?

      1. Mimi Me*

        It’s a really small office and apparently I am the “weird” one by even using headphones. LOL! Nobody else has any and the company has none to share. Luckily lunch is in 2 minutes and I’m headed out. By the time I get back the headphones will be charged and noisy co-worker will be at lunch. If I time it right, I can pop them in when she gets back to her desk and have distraction until the end of the day. And this weekend it looks like I’m getting myself a gift. :)

    2. BRR*

      Not sure if this is an option for you or even if you’re interested but the larger wireless headphones, the over-ear kind, hold a charge for much longer and can get you through the day.

      1. Mimi Me*

        I know. I just bought my daughter a pair for Christmas. Looks like it’s time I got a pair myself. I can’t do anymore of this.

    3. Mockingjay*

      I just spent my lunch hour trying to find a new headphone extender cable. The cable has a broken wire so the right earbud goes in and out. (IT isn’t fond of Bluetooth devices plugged into laptops, but a standard 3.5 mm cable for the headphone jack is fine.)

      Couldn’t find the one I needed, so I will have to order it from the Temple of Bezos or Best Buy.

    4. Minocho*

      you could stop at a drug store during lunch and grab a cheap pair of earbuds for a few bucks to get you through the charge time. I have a pair like this; and they’re not awesome, but they’re for emergencies only!

    5. Blarg*

      The Beats by Dre have a super fast most-of-the-way charge. Like 60-70% in 5 min. I plug mine in when I go to the restroom or whatever and by the time I’m back, they are good to go. And they sound great. I’m on my second pair because my buddy’s dog stole the first set (found months later in the back yard), and it’s still worth the cost!

    6. JxB*

      As a future solution, you may simply want to get an extension cable for charging.
      We got nice wireless, rechargeable headsets at work and quickly discovered they lost power within 3 hours. The charging cord was pretty short, but a standard micro USB connection. So we ordered a variety of longer cables to try as options. (Very inexpensive.) Some were REPLACEMENTS for the charging cables with same type connector. Others were USB extension cables – so adds on length to original cable. Some people liked 6′; some wanted longer. All good now. When power is exhausted, people just plug in the headset and deal with not having “wireless” option while re-charging.

  27. Mimmy*

    Resume question: Work as a part-time instructor for a specific skill

    I’m an instructor in a voc rehab program and am ready to move on despite very positive feedback. The job is on my resume, but I could use some wording help to make it more appealing to employers.

    Right now one line reads (redacting identifying info):

    Provide instruction to [adults with specific disability] in [X skill] using [Y method]

    In addition, I do relevant case notes / reports and present student progress at case conferences. I have also done various clerical projects–some routine and basic, but others have been a bit more complex. These other projects aren’t especially earth-shattering, but I think they highlight great attention to detail. Finally, I’ve helped staff during a 2-week program for high school students, but it was a lot less work than what I do with the adults.

    There’s nothing really quantitative to highlight. Students are in my instructional area for only part of their program, but they have to do it before moving on to this other specific area; the goal is to have a student finished with me by their halfway point. Some already have the skill I teach and are finished in just a couple of weeks; others need much more help, sometimes not finishing until well beyond their halfway mark. I have been praised by both students and the managers. “Patience” is a characteristic I’ve heard multiple times (to my surprise!). I had one student give me a big hug during her graduation a couple weeks ago.

    Any suggestions are welcome!

    1. Augusta Sugarbean*

      Can you say you serve X number of clients per week/month? Or the percentage that completes your section successfully within the “normal” time period or maybe goal time frame and/or earlier than those time frames?

    2. Hey Karma, Over here.*

      Somethings to quantify are the number of students who complete the program by the halfway point.
      other things to think about are teaching tools, methods that help students reach their goals. Have you created, designed or successfully executed any programs, processes or things that increase the students’ ability to succeed? Did more students finish on time this year than last year?

    3. chi chan*

      Focus on problem solving. Any new ways you came up with to teach or test the material. Also data collection, analysis and presentation about students passing, excelling or failing.

  28. Possibly to Strict*

    If someone was supposed to bring in something for work and forgot would you send them right back home to get it? Trying to be a bit vague here just in case – it was something important but not critical to have that day … also I’m not their boss so not my call I’m just curious if others would have been as strict as me or that expectation is unreasonable

    1. valentine*

      No. I am always amazed when commenters say to go home to change clothes or for anything else. I can’t overemphasize how horrible that would be. It would feel like lead boots. Also: Are they salaried or now stuck with a uselessly longer workday?

    2. Susan K*

      Hmm, it would really depend on the situation, but I would say probably not, if it’s not critical to have that day. But it would depend on things like

      -How far away the person lives
      -How big of a problem it will be not to have it today
      -How busy the person is and what else is on her plate that the trip back home would take her away from
      -If the person does this repeatedly or it’s her first offense

      1. LQ*

        How far away is a big deal (and does parking cost change if they leave now and come back). It’s not really an issue to have me run home to get something, it’s a 7 minute brisk walk. But for my coworker who lives in another state 75+ minutes away and parks in the spot that will charge her 2 “full day” charges without the reduced rate? That’s a huge deal, a giant chunk of time, and between the cost of those hours of time to go there and back and the cost of parking? You’re creating a tremendous penalty. (I’d be mad for her if someone sent her home to get something not urgent.)

    3. mr. brightside*

      I wouldn’t.

      “bringing something in” sounds like it’s not an essential thing (otherwise it would be there), or it was some kind of project someone was doing at home (so… not vital, and not like it’s something on a centralized system, it’s something physical, and if it’s something physical that’s vital, they’d probably keep it in their briefcase/backpack or volunteer to go back and get it). If someone’s storing something work-related at home, it can’t be vital, because otherwise it would be on premises. So let it rest a day.

    4. Observer*

      I think there are a number of variables. But if your default is always to send someone home, regardless, I think you are probably making a mistake.

    5. Ella Vader*

      I would expect them to *offer* to go right back home, to see if their housemate can drop the thing off, or to go home on their lunch, assuming they have an easy short commute (particularly a car commute or short bike ride or walk). As the supervisor, I’d almost never accept the offer, because I’d compare the net loss of productivity between spending half an hour or an hour travelling and working without whatever it was for a day … and usually it’s something that they can work without. Even if it was their work laptop and we had a spare in the office, they could use that and get their files off the cloud and that might make more sense than going home.

      If they weren’t offering to go home, and the thing wasn’t critical for that day, I’d make my points about responsibility and efficiency without sending them home, just pointing out what couldn’t happen because of their mistake. And I might suggest or recommend that in future they don’t take the thing home, or don’t take it out of their vehicle or whatever.

    6. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      I agree there’s a lot of variables depending on the situation! I would suggest it but never demand it.

    7. MoopySwarpet*

      I would only send the person home to get it (as described) if they lived super close and/or if this was habitual.

      1. MoopySwarpet*

        Also taking into consideration the importance of the item vs the importance of the time lost. I would also consider the trip time to be on company time.

    8. Possibly to Strict is definitly too strict!*

      Thanks everyone who responded! You all made great points for why it would be unreasonable and I’m more relaxed about it now that I’ve seen all the answers. I see why it wouldn’t be worth sending them out to get it. I would have replied sooner but I couldn’t get back to this thread until the end of my work day.

  29. Observer*

    Was anyone angered by the person who thought that the former intern needed to be put “in her place”?

    I just found that comment so outrageous and I’m wondering if anyone else did.

    Link in the response.

    (It was a comment on the update from the former intern who was being treated like a gofer and still being called an intern by people who knew better.)

      1. Ask a Manager* Post author

        That commenter wasn’t suggesting the former intern needed to be put in her place. They were suggesting that the coworkers might have felt that way (because they resented her promotion) and that’s why they were acting that way.

    1. fposte*

      The commenter didn’t actually say that, though–the comment was “But maybe they were trying to ‘keep you in your place’ through passive-aggressive behaviors?” That attitude was being ascribed to the co-workers, not being endorsed by the commenter. (Though I also did read the commenter as wondering about the OP’s behavior, not just the co-workers’.)

      That being said, I feel weird about pulling recent columns out to rehash in the open thread–it doesn’t seem like something we usually do, and I feel like it has potential for bad hangover. Anybody else have thoughts on that?

      1. Ask a Manager* Post author

        On that last part — I was sitting here pondering that and I agree, at least where it’s rehashing debates from the comments. (Whereas something like “I’m still thinking about leap year boss and wondering about Y…” would probably be fine.)

      2. Nervous Accountant*

        I can see why it’d be out of place. But there have been a few times there was a conversation happening that I desperately wanted to be a part of and considered talking about it in the open thread. Up until very recently, all websites on my work computer were blocked and AAM is pretty difficult to follow on mobile (not pointing out this site, it’s just that I don’t really browse anything else on a regular basis). I just resigned myself to FOMO in that case :-)

    2. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      I don’t blame your kneejerk reaction, it’s a hot button to press even when just sussing out the reason behind the cruddy behavior.

  30. JustaTech*

    I asked last week, but I’ll ask again: does anyone have tips on how to deal with temporarily (~6 months) moving many, many people into tiny cubes and losing almost all conference rooms and all offices?

    So far I’ve lost my fluorescent-light shade, my new neighbor sprays everything with rubbing alcohol every morning and hums opera in the afternoon, my boss can now hear our idle chit-chat, and someone a row over has the ringer on on their cell phone but leaves it at their desk.

    At least everyone has been cool when I ask them to throw away their banana peels in the kitchen.

    So, What can I do besides headphones? Should we have a meeting about being quiet?

    1. fposte*

      Sure, why not? Spraying rubbing alcohol isn’t going to go away, and idle chit-chat is still going to happen, but people should mute the ringers on their phones. But I’d also include a strong encouragement for people to try to be tolerant of co-worker noises they’re not usually exposed to. It’s a meeting about how to work with each other through the short-term disruption and come out on the other side still working well with one another on all sides.

    2. valentine*

      No meeting. Collect best practices and share them, unless you can get an authority to adopt them. Turn off the ringing phone or find a box that will muffle it and ask the colleague to keep the phone either there or on their person, and on silent. No vibration, even, unless you want to hear it rattling on the desk. Ask the singer to shut up and choose a less smelly product.

      1. JustaTech*

        Honestly, the rubbing alcohol isn’t too bad (we work in a lab so I use it every day) it’s just kind of startling at my desk. I think I’ll try reminding the hummer that I can hear him and I don’t know the opera he’s humming so it sounds like noise not music.

        For phones on vibrate I saw a hilarious tiny “bearskin” rug online last year that’s specifically to keep your phone from making a racket on vibrate. Maybe I’ll make one and give it to her as a sweet way of saying “please make your phone shush”.

    3. Seifer*

      I don’t really have suggestions, just commiseration. My cubemate is an awesome guy, pretty knowledgeable and helpful. But we have one guy that needs to be handheld through everything, so he’ll run up to my cubemate with questions like, “I got this email that says I need to update this thing with that data. What do I do?” My cubemate will reply that he would start with updating the thing with the data just like they did last week and the guy will be like, “ah! That sounds like a good idea! But should I start in the first cell? Do you think I should bold it?” It’s so disruptive, because he’ll come running over like the building is on fire. So I stick to headphones.

    4. Jaid_Diah*

      If you’re not allergic, please let the rubbing alcohol thing go. You’re in a crowded environment and she’s trying to protect herself. And it could be worse. My co-worker has a (justifiable, sad to say) fear of bedbugs, so she sprays down with a mix of 90% rubbing alcohol, tea tree oil, and vinegar. They can live in cubicle walls, so she sprays that down too.

      1. JustaTech*

        Dunno, did Niles ever set tortilla chips on fire in the microwave trying to “sterilize” them because they had been in a common bowl?
        (He’s a really sweet guy and we work in a lab, which generally makes the germaphobe thing more understandable.)

    5. New Job So Much Better*

      Another former bank-Jill-of-All-Trades here. I used to think auditing/examining would be my next career path, but then I sat back and observed the auditing company staff we hired. I realized I would not want to bounce from bank to bank every month to review their books/files/records. And silly as it sounds, being regarded as an enemy of the employees while I’m doing my job. Things to think about.

      1. New Job So Much Better*

        Sorry that last comment belonged above with the BSA and banking thread.

        As for the work space question– we lost an entire floor of cubicles once due to a flood, and 3 of us were stuck in a tiny (8 x 10 ish) conference room for 6 months. It was awful, so 2 of us got permission to work from home half days. Maybe that would work for you?

        1. JustaTech*

          The whole building is having a space crunch, but management decided that the lab-based groups would not be allowed to work from home. Which is silly. Like, obviously on lab days I have to be physically in the lab, but there are other days when I’m just doing data analysis and I could do that at home just fine.

          We’re also about to have a metro-area-wide traffic Armageddon, so we might see a change in that policy, at least for a bit.

    6. Seeking Second Childhood*

      I just had a visceral memory of my entire department moving into one large work area after the 1989 earthquake red-zoned half of our building. I’m not the only one who carried work to other departments as space became available…but I wasn’t sorry to have only a few months left on my contract. The life of a wandering minstrel isn’t always pleasant!

    7. ..Kat..*

      Can you suggest rubbing alcohol wipes instead of spraying? Spraying aerosolizes it, so it is more obnoxious.

    8. Mrs. Picklesby*

      I went through a similar scenario when my office was severely damaged by Hurricane Katrina. We went from being spread out over a two-story building to being crammed into a single suite. We had cubicle walls for the conference room, the attorneys and staff, and even the office manager. The attorney’s file cabinets went through the center of the room. We heard EVERYTHING. It drove me insane and I started crying on the way to work.

      I brought in two small fans for white noise, which helped a little bit. Eventually I wound up going to my doctor and asking for a short-term antidepressant because I wasn’t handling it well. That is what ultimately helped me get through it.

      Good luck on finding ways to cope. Remember that it’s only temporary!

  31. Anonygrouse*

    I love my team for many reasons, including the fact that historically there has been zero in the way of gifts for holidays, birthdays, etc. We go out to a fancy lunch once a year (big boss pays) and that’s it. (Larger division will do collections for baby showers but there is no pressure to contribute in my experience — I give if I know the person and don’t if I don’t.)

    I was recently promoted and have a new direct report (my only one) who just started a month or two ago. She has been awesome so far… but the afternoon before I went on vacation, she brought me a holiday gift! It was small (baked good, not homemade) but I was so startled! I said thank you and tried to say something like “oh, that’s really not necessary” but I doubt I was as clear as I should be. I’ve been resisting the urge to get her a reciprocal gift (since it’s so not what our team does, and I don’t want that to change, even for just the two of us), but it feels so rude to not gift down now that she has gifted up! Also thought about baking or cooking something and bringing it in for the team instead, but we never do that either. We are all back in the office next week and I am am trawling the archives for a script…

    1. valentine*

      Email her saying thanks again, but it’s not the culture. She can nurse any hurt feelings privately and be set and you don’t have to agonize over it. Practice stopping the kneejerk urge to respond in kind.

      1. The Man, Becky Lynch*

        You’re so rude. Stop reprimanding people for being instinctively nice over a basket of cookies.

        1. Friday afternoon fever*

          I think valentine’s advice is perfectly helpful and …. not rude. Straightforward, sure. Several of my coworkers (a minority) did give gifts to the whole office and my knee jerk response was “do I get them something back?” The answer I want to go with is no, but I still have the urge. It is helpful to practice squashing that urge.

    2. Laura H.*

      What about a short “This was appreciated, but it’s not the norm” type email-with heavier emphasis on the first part?

      Because it’s a bit of a workplace culture thing more than an intolerable misstep.

    3. ThursdaysGeek*

      Send her a nice thank you card:

      Thank you for the (baked good). I appreciate your thought. I should let you know that giving gifts is really not in this office culture, and according to Alison at askamanger dot org, giving a gift to a boss is never necessary. Your best gift to me is your good work, and I hope my best gift to you is to be approachable and a good manager , someone that helps you do your good work. I hope you had a good holiday. (signed Anonygrouse)

    4. Ask a Manager* Post author

      Don’t raise it with her again; it’s going to make her feel awkward and it’ll be ungracious. And lots of people do give gifts to their bosses; they shouldn’t, and they definitely shouldn’t be expected to, but they do it. It’s not an outrageous faux pas or anything like that. Definitely not something to chastise her for!

      But you’re also not obligated to get her a gift in return (and in fact should not, as doing that would reinforce the behavior).

      And not that it would change my answer, but I frequently tell people baked goods are the exception to the “don’t gift up” rule.

      1. Friday afternoon fever*

        In general (not specifically here) do you feel there’s a difference between homemade baked good and purchased baked good?

    5. Agent J*

      She’s new so she may not know what’s normal for your office or your preference.

      I like the wording I’ve seen previously on AAM, something along the lines of: “I appreciate your thoughtfulness. In the future, the best gift you can give me is the value you bring to our organization. Our office normally handles gifts in X way.”

    6. EventPlannerGal*

      I wouldn’t do it by email, tbh – to me that seems to turn it into some kind of formal must-get-this-in-writing thing when it really isn’t that big a deal. Next time you have a catch-up or something I would just say it directly to her – “I appreciated the gift but our office really isn’t big on that sort of thing, so please don’t put yourself to the trouble as it’d be wasted on us.”

    7. Mockingjay*

      Maybe wait until next year? A month or so before holiday season, you can give a general reminder to the team.

    8. Hiring Mgr*

      I honestly would not say anything about it “not being our culture” (or however you might word it..) A small baked good is so minor, and making a thing of it will probably come off as cold, especially to a new employee who’s just doing a nice thing.

  32. ArtK*

    I got a raise this week! Yay! It came with an admonition that I needed to pick up more stuff, even if it was outside of my skill set. Sounds reasonable? Maybe not. I’m the sole engineer designing, coding, and maintaining a major product. Used by several companies you’d recognize and part of their compliance with federal mandates. I’m already working at capacity. The “pick up more stuff” is because people have been leaving the project due to overwork and poor management — folks with deep project knowledge are leaving and not being replaced and the transitions are bungled every time. That and I’ve been picking up hints that they’re going to fire my colleague. The only other person with deep product knowledge who deals directly with the (very difficult) customers. Not because he doesn’t do his job, but he’s not subservient enough to one of the senior people; he also is unafraid to point out issues with the company’s flagship product (that we have to interface with.) Said senior person is of the “our shit don’t stink” mindset and doesn’t like hearing about problems on that side.

    Oh, and the pay raise takes me back to where I was at the previous company — I gave up some money for stability when the product was bought by the current company. Big mistake.

    So, here’s to my job search picking up in 2019. I have an interview this afternoon with a company that doesn’t excite me much — we’ll see if the project is something I want to work on.

    1. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      I was so unexcited about my current job at the first stages. It took me awhile but I came around (it’s still not as exciting as previous products but not as lukewarm as the start).

      So I hope they can excite you more after a good interview!

      Yay raise. Boo all the other malarkey.

    2. Minocho*

      I had a job like this. I was the only developer on the team – I did web programming, database programming, integrations with other products, reporting, and any maintenance and support associated with these tasks. My boss wanted me to pick up tier 1 tech support (have you tried turning the computer on and off?) – when there was already a team of 5 people devoted to this 24/7.

      He kept pushing, but I just didn’t have the bandwidth. I don’t know why he kept pushing it, either. If we’d had a team of developers, maybe it would have made sense, but giving up 1/10 of my time every week to answering phones when I couldn’t keep up as it was just seemed so ridiculous.

  33. AnonyMouse*

    I posted this a couple of weeks ago, but I got an update from the position that I interviewed for at the end of November that they adjusted their hiring timeline. I didn’t need to use the script I had come up with since they emailed before I could reach out to them. I will hopefully know something in early January and the anticipated start date is now in mid to late February. Fingers crossed for me! I’m really hoping this works out because I’m ready to be done with my current position.

  34. Award winning llama wrangler*

    Received notice today that I, living in a freezing cold northern hemisphere location, will be visiting our tropical near-the-beach office in February. I am SO excited, even though I know we’ll be doing more working than playing.

    1. No Tribble At All*

      Yesssssssss see if you can get them to book your flights for a little before and after your actual work trip, so you can get in some beach time!

    2. ThursdaysGeek*

      February is the longest month, when you live in the freezing cold and dark northern hemisphere. A visit to a tropical beach helps a LOT.

      1. Seeking Second Childhood*

        Scrolling through when I’m not up with insomnia I had a more important thought… get new sunscreen if you’re prone burning. I only recently learned how soon that stuff loses effectivity.

  35. Nervous Neville*

    Ramble about my boss leaving — I’m kinda freaking out here, and since no one’s here this week, I haven’t been able to ask the people involved.

    Third year with this company, my first job out of college. I used to work for wise, mentory boss Lupin. When I felt stuck in that job, Lupin helped me find a new role at the company by asking Dumbledore to hire me on in October for a job that was supposed to open up in 2019. Dumbledore is super chill and basically said “Sure! Lupin recommended you, and you can learn all about this, it’ll be great.” Because Dumbledore works remotely, I’ve been supervised by McGonagall, who is busy and has high standards. McGonagall has emphasized getting me up and running as quickly as possible, even though this is a new area for me. I’m still learning how to do this new job, when Dumbledore announces that he’s resigning!

    Everyone’s still out for Christmas, so I haven’t been able to confirm anything. I assume I’ll continue in the new role with McGonagall as my official boss. But I get the feeling that McGonagall wouldn’t have picked me for this job — Dumbledore basically took me as a favor to Lupin. Since I’m still new to the type of work, I haven’t produced much. This was fine for Dumbledore, but I’m worried McGonagall will see me as dead weight because she’s so busy leading the project she won’t be able to train me. I already emailed her to set up a meeting to talk about who my boss will be, but she doesn’t know because our whole company is getting reorganized. (Yes, this is a mess).

    Anyway, this will be my 4th boss in 3 years, so that’s fun. I guess I’ll just try to keep training myself in the meantime?

    1. Friday afternoon fever*

      That’s anxiety-inducing! It must feel like everyone who had your back

      Do you think that with proper training you can meet McG’s high standards? It may help to separate somewhat tangled feelings into (a) worried you won’t get the support and training needed to do the job, vs. (b) won’t be good enough for the job. A is more about are you being set up to fail (too early to tell, don’t conclude you are just yet) and how can you get the tools etc you need. This is trickier than B because a lot of factors are out of your control. B is more about confidence (you were recommended and hired for a reason!) and may subside as you get more than a few weeks/months into the new job. How long is standard for someone to fully get into your role at your company? There was a thread about this once and everyone’s answers were really varied but the average was I think three to six months. My last job they literally said upfront “you won’t fully grasp everything until you’ve done it for two years.” So context matters.

      Also, you’ve been with the same company for three years — that’s awesome — do you have a solid track record already? That can go far to bolster someone’s opinion of you even if you’re still new at a certain position.

      I don’t think there’s much you can do besides sit tight, keep training yourself, and see where the cards fall. If it starts looking like scenario A, then you can have a solution-oriented conversation with McG.

      1. Friday afternoon fever*

        And, OK, C is are you good enough for the job based on a new manager’s standards? And there’s nothing you can do there but make sure A and B are taken care of.

    2. Quinoa*

      My boss is a bit of a McGonagall. But I’m learning so much. She’s challenging me and requiring me to bring my best to the job daily. And it’s not about me. It’s about the work. That’s such an important distinction. I’d always take learning and challenges when I have the chance.

  36. iceclown*

    Work-related: watch YouTube videos or find a free online class on some skill or aspect of your job that you’ve always wanted to investigate, clean your desk, rearrange your office decor

    Non-work-related: games/apps (personal time-sucking faves include 2048, Plague Inc and Survive), podcasts, e-books, voluntarily entering a Wikipedia reading loop

  37. Astrea*

    I’ve been reading and appreciating the old AAM posts and discussions explaining that the phrase “dream job” makes many people cringe. I don’t want to cause discomfort when seeking job/career guidance or assistance, so I’ll try to avoid saying it, though I don’t know of a better way to concisely describe “a job I want more than I should because it centers on precisely the work I do best and love most, but at a level I’ve never achieved and don’t know if I can.”

    1. sheworkshardforthemoney*

      My dream job is giving out parking tickets because bad parking enrages me. Yell at me, call me names, I’m still writing that ticket!

      1. Ingray*

        My dream job is to actually own a parking lot, sitting in a booth all day reading and occasionally taking people’s money.

      2. Chaordic One*

        The people who, as children, didn’t color inside the lines grow up to be the people who don’t park inside the lines.

    2. LQ*

      I think that’s a goal, or a next job target, or a promotion you want, or the next stage in your career path.

      The problem with “dream job” is that it invokes unicorns and puppies and ignores that it’s work. And that you’re likely to have to work with some crappy people, and some days the work is going to be hard (I’d say this is likely more true for things that are dream jobs than not), and some work is just going to be tedious, and you’re going to have to do paperwork you don’t want to or something else you don’t want to because that’s the price of working with humans and humans are the only ones who pay at this point. It also makes it see more far off, where as, “My next career goal it is to have this job.” makes it more solid and real and something you can work to as a step rather than a lofty dream that vanishes in the morning.

      (And apparently I have no use for concision.)

      1. Seastar*

        “Goal” seems an overly optimistic term for the kind of high-level job I may never have, should probably give up on, and need a lot of cajoling to apply for. But if a “dream job” is by definition centered on work I’ve never done and know nothing about, I guess that term is also inaccurate in this case.

        1. LQ*

          Why not have that be a goal? I mean, yeah we can’t achieve all our goals in life…but sometimes a stretch goal (if it really is a thing you want) is a good thing and can make us better by stretching beyond what we thought we could do. It shouldn’t be absurd, but a long shot goal that you work toward and would be pretty happy if you got 3/4 of the way there and thrilled beyond words to get all the way there is a good thing to have.

    3. Melody Pond*

      I’m with you. “Dream job” to me sounds like an overly romanticized notion, similar to “soul mate”. I don’t think there’s only one perfect job for me out there, just like I don’t believe there’s only one perfect person for me out there.

      I’d probably tweak your wording to something like, “A job that centers on the work I do best and love most, but is at a higher level of achievement and will provide much more challenge.” And then if you want, you can add, “For a job that ticks all the right boxes, I’d be looking to feel very excited about it – e.g., a 15 on a scale of 1 to 10 for interest and excitement.”

      That probably doesn’t help with concision. But then again, I’ve often thought brevity for brevity’s sake is overrated, when you can fill in a more complete, detailed picture with a few extra words.

    4. Extra vitamins*

      Yeah, when I hear people say “dream job” I think to myself about how a job you had in an actual dream is not what you really want and then I am distracted and miss their next statement.

      1. Miss Pantalones en Fuego*

        Mmm, I’ve had some pretty weird jobs in dreams that would at least be entertaining. Like the one where I was checking in passengers in an airport that was also moving around and changing shape like a bouncy castle.

  38. Not quite Regina George*

    PSA – when you’re trying to set the coworker you hate up for a massive failure it helps to be subtle

    My coworkers are trying to set me up to screw up our NYE gift receiving process but forgot to be discreet or subtle or sensible about it. The email confirming the procedure conversation we had has no less than six phrases the sender never uses, no grammatical or spelling errors (impossible for this person) and copies someone completely irrelevant to the process (but who does use those six phrases regularly – and clearly wrote this email). I know they want me to fail and hate me being here. I’m not a star or anything special but I have been on their list from about day 4.

    They suck and our higher ups suck but the org is going to fail soon anyways so I’m just taking three seconds to laugh – because if they were sensible about this I would fail – but they aren’t so I won’t (at least not on this)

    1. fposte*

      I’m just blown away by an office that apparently not only gives New Year’s Eve gifts but has an elaborate protocol for it.

      1. valentine*

        If they used someone else’s email, I would forward it to IT, saying June’s and Amarillo’s emails appear to have crossed.

      2. Not quite Regina George*

        Ha- that would be nice wouldn’t it!
        I work in development for a nonprofit. This is to receive year end gifts on 12/31 so people can get their tax writeoff

        1. fposte*

          Ah, okay. Especially annoying to have all this palaver this year when so few people are going to be itemizing their charitable deductions.

    2. Lilysparrow*

      Wow, if staff are deliberately sabotaging the biggest revenue influx of the year just to play office politics, no wonder the org is in trouble.

  39. Mimmy*

    Ack, just thought of a THIRD question! Hope that’s okay…..

    Describing what type of work you’re looking for

    During Christmas dinner with relatives, I mentioned that I was looking to move on from my job, and a cousin asked what I was looking for. My interests are niche and not widely known like, say, teacher or accounting. So I was like “Uhhhh……”. Luckily my husband saved the conversation by mentioning a certification that I’m pursuing, so I was able to elaborate from there and provide an answer that made sense.

    So…how do you describe to family members what your career goals are when, in all likelihood, they’re not going to know a thing about your field?

    1. LadyByTheLake*

      I tell them — in detail. Otherwise I end up with well-meaning relatives/friends trying to set me up with stuff (“she mentioned finance — here’s an entry-level bank teller position!”) that has nothing to do with what I do.

    2. Melody Pond*

      I’m actually struggling with this, too! Although it’s kind of from the opposite side of the table – I just got a new job in the field (data analysis) I’ve been wanting to move into. I’m very excited about it, but I struggle to explain my role to relatives and friends in a concise, brief overview kind of way. I wind up going into excessive, explicit detail every time. Previously, I had pursued and briefly worked in public accounting, so most people immediately understood the gist of what I was doing.

    3. Minocho*

      I use analogies when trying to discuss work issues with friends and family not familiar with the industry. these analogies feature aspects of everyday life, such as cooking or cleaning or houses.

      when trying to explain why I prefer to know the future plans for a piece of software I’m writing, even if it won’t necessarily be implemented in the current project, I explain that if I’m building a 2 bedroom house, but I know there is a plan to create an addition with two more, I will design the house differently to accomodate that possibility.

  40. going anon bc shame*

    OK so 2 years ago, I choked BIG TIME at a public-speaking segment at an orientation event for my job. They asked me to speak about the Center that I manage and about some thematic things, and I prepared but for some reason was envisioning a small room. It turned out to be a close-quarters, packed banquet hall. When it came to the moment, I basically stood there at the podium, said a few (possibly nonsensical) words and scurried off stage. Like, not exaggerating, I hunkered down in a supply closet and my boss’s boss’s boss confronted me and was befuddled, like WTF we wanted you to discuss xyz. I clearly couldn’t and said that I was having a panic attack and hadn’t envisioned this many people.. That person (upper boss) took over for the presentation that should have been my responsibility. Mortified, I stayed in the supply closet until it was over and someone sympathetically helped me sneak out. It was definitely the absolute worst professional experience of my life.

    I apologized to my boss, the organizers, and the upper people profusely, and they were kind about it, but I still have shame-shudders about this experience.

    They didn’t ask me to do it for the past two times, obviously. But now they’ve asked me to do it again, saying, “it’s only 50 people instead of 300!”

    My therapist says to say no by any means necessary. He also, in the first instance, responded to my recounting of the event with, “yeah…. I knew that might be a possibility….” My bff had the same reaction. Great. Where was this sentiment before I agreed?!

    What would you do?

    1. fposte*

      While I put a lot of weight on your therapist’s recommendation to bow out, I’m wondering how important it is generally that you be able to talk about your center to gatherings. Because if it’s important, I’d be inclined to skip this one but note that you’re working to be back on track to do such presentations again. (I’m figuring if you had a junior who could do this in your place, that would have come up, but maybe that could be an option to consider for next year, too.)

      1. going anon bc shame*

        Thank you. Yeah– therapist was like, “don’t do this one, but let’s try to get to a place where you can do future ones,” which I’m on board with.
        I have a semi-superior who could be doing all of these presentations, but they’re unpopular (but tenured) so stuff like this falls to me. Ugh.

      2. going anon bc shame*

        Thank you! I have a boss who could be doing it, but she’s unpopular (but tenured), so it falls to me. I just can’t…. Working in therapy, I’d like to get to a place where I can do the next one. You’re right that I need to get to a place where I can do these things.
        (sorry if double-posted)

    2. Dasein9*

      There is no shame in this. I get why you might be feeling shame anyway, though.

      Your therapist knows you and the situation best; I’d go with their advice. What I don’t know is how to do that, but I’m betting the commentariat has some scripts to help.

      1. going anon bc shame*

        Thank you. Honestly I think I’m going to make something up (ugh the irony) as to why I can’t do it.

    3. Overeducated*

      Yikes.

      I have had jobs where public speaking was a major responsibility so on an emotional level I’m not a good source of advice. That said, it sounds like you feel like you’re being set up for failure so yeah, if you deep down feel awful about it, try to get out of this one.

      If you can’t get out of it, you need to prep to mitigate the worst case scenario. Prepare your remarks on paper, set an understudy to read them if you can’t when the time comes, and make sure your leadership is well aware who that understudy is. Practice practice practice so that even if you’re nervous, the content is routine. Practice introducing your understudy so if you can’t do it, you can smoothly do the handoff and go back to your seat, or at least rejoin the room after hiding in the bathroom for a bit. Practice in front of a group.

      Maybe that’s what you need to tell your leaders you’d have to do, and that you’ll be happy to spend your same time and energy helping someone else prep a smooth presentation instead.

      1. going anon bc shame*

        Thank you– this advice about practice is helpful b/c I didn’t do that last time.
        The stupidest part is that I am a TEACHER and have been for over a decade. I literally stand in front of people, deliver material, and facilitate conversations for a living. (Running the tutoring center is just part of my job.)
        Just… it was a LOT of people, in a formal setting, and… I dunno, I just choked horribly. Helping someone else prepare it sounds like something I’d be great at, actually. I wonder if they’d go for me preparing one of my senior scholars.

        1. Overeducated*

          That sounds like a great idea! Then it would maybe be an example of the good work you do, and a great experience for the scholar, not just a talk about it.

    4. valentine*

      If you really think you’ll have another panic attack, don’t do it. See about getting a medical exemption. If there’s enough time to practice and you’d like to try, are there resources where you could speak in front of increasingly larger audiences? Maybe you can introduce storytime at the library or something. Would a companion animal help? Is your therapist helping you tackle this (assuming that’s something you want)?

      It’s possible your colleagues think you’ve been working on it and that they’ve given you ample time to ramp up, especially if they don’t know you were having a panic attack or how that feels, versus just being embarrassed.

    5. Jess*

      Time to sign up for Toastmasters, I think.

      Sounds like this is an important, if infrequent, part of your job. And it is a skill that is valuable in a wide range of jobs/situations. So, it’s on you to try to learn the skill, and to get help with that, and to communicate to your colleagues that you are working on it (and that *temporarily*, you are declining to speak because you anticipate that the same thing would happen again).

      If Toastmasters + therapy (or some similar combination, e.g. a speaking coach) can’t get you past it and this is truly a case where you need a medical accommodation, then navigate that when the time comes… but it doesn’t sound like you’re there yet. And if you get to the point where you *can* speak to a crowd of 300, but you hate it, then you can figure out case-by-case and for your career generally how you can minimize the occurrences while minimizing the impact to your career (e.g., if there’s someone else who enjoys speaking and would love the opportunity to step up).

    6. Autumnheart*

      Hmmmm.

      If you can’t get out of it, I would try to get your therapist to help you do some work on this, and also take a course in public speaking if you can, or at least read a book. The main tips I have are to practice your speech several times (get a Powerpoint remote so you can practice with your slides) so that it feels familiar and natural to you when it’s time to speak, and to remember that people are interested in what you have to say. You’re not *per*forming, you’re *in*forming.

      I used to be tremendously afraid of public speaking, but I have to say that working at a large company, where regular meetings have 30+ people in them and all-department meetings have 100+, has been a good cure.

      If you can get out of the presentation this year, then do so. But it seems pretty likely that this will be expected of you in the next couple years, so it is a good idea to work on being able to manage it successfully.

      1. going anon bc shame*

        I’m shocked they even asked me to do it again (they didn’t last year). It is definitely within my job description but also there is another person who has seniority and tenure but is unpopular and won’t do it.

        Powerpoint might make it easier bc maybe we could make the room dark lol.

        I think the fear of seeming nervous leads to more nerves (“am I shaking? oh g-d I’m shaking. obviously they can see I’m shaking….” ==> shame cycle). It’s also the fear of the same thing happening as last time (it will be the same room and set-up), and that was horrible.

        Thanks for your reply!

    7. Wishing You Well*

      Given your panic attack, consider getting a medical exemption from public speaking from a health/mental health specialist to give to HR. That would help put your problem in the disability category as opposed to a performance issue. Exposure therapy could help or re-traumatize you. Talk to your therapist and doctor on what specifically to do next.
      Sorry you’re going through this.

      1. going anon bc shame*

        Thanks! I’m starting EMDR soon for other stuff, and I’m hoping that helps this issue.

    8. msroboto*

      Is there anyway you can setup a small group of colleagues to practice with? It might help.
      We used to do this in my department prior to our yearly conference. Lunch and learn and pizza (provided). I won’t say all the presentations ended up perfectly but they were comfortable enough with the material and we could make suggestions to improve the material if needed.

    9. Not A Manager*

      I’m not sure if anyone else mentioned this. There are meds (that aren’t benzos, they aren’t specifically anti-anxiety meds) that help control the symptoms of panic that some people experience around public speaking. Racing heart, sweating, flight instinct, etc.

      You might ask your therapist if he is aware of these and if he thinks you should speak to a prescribing doc about them.

      I’m NOT A MED PRO but I’ve had relatives with severe public speaking anxiety. I believe that the meds they used are beta blockers, which prevent stress hormones from affecting certain bodily systems.

  41. sheworkshardforthemoney*

    This is work related, I believe, if not, please ignore! We had our Christmas lunch several weeks ago. It was at a popular local restaurant, not a chain. Twelve of us attended and of all of us, my service was terrible. Wrong entree, wrong dessert, tepid coffee that came after I had finished eating my dessert. I asked for a straw for my mixed drink, drinks no longer come with straws, the server brought me 5. I asked for hot coffee he said it would take 10 minutes to brew another pot. This was all low-key, no one else at the table noticed and I didn’t mention anything to anyone else. The Big Boss paid for the lunch and I wonder if I was being a PITA. But I wonder if I should have spoken up about the service because it may have affected the server’s tip. Also, the restaurant was not busy, there were maybe 3 other tables, our table was the server’s only one. I’m still conflicted.

    1. Jennifer*

      I think you have the right to speak up about bad service. Maybe the boss would like to know so they don’t plan work events there in the future. Imagine if they brought a client there. Even though you didn’t have to foot the bill, you still deserved to be treated with courtesy. Are you sure you’re the only one that was treated poorly? I don’t know why a server would single you out. It seems odd. But the world is full of odd people.

      1. valentine*

        It’s extreme to avoid the restaurant when the issue wasn’t big enough to say something when solutions were possible.

        Don’t say anything now. Should you return, however, speak up whenever you notice an error, unless you’re fine with it, such as the wrong entrée being something you’re happy to eat. Was he refusing to brew coffee or just saying you’d have to wait even longer? Why is five straws a problem? I take that as “Have some for the table so I don’t have to go back.” I would feel targeted, but his motives don’t change anything.

    2. Psyche*

      Nope. There is no way speaking up would have looked good. You don’t want your host to feel insulted or uncomfortable by complaining about the service at the lunch he bought you. Asking the server to correct the mistakes was entirely reasonable, but asking your boss to tip less would come across as petty.

      1. Jennifer*

        To be clear, I think she should speak to the boss now, just so they are aware. Many bosses would not want to waste company funds somewhere where an employee was treated so poorly. I agree with you about not saying anything to the boss at the restaurant.

    3. going anon bc shame*

      This line– ” This was all low-key, no one else at the table noticed and I didn’t mention anything to anyone else”– means you were totally fine. (Though places are going strawless for good reason.)

      I wouldn’t have said anything to Boss; he’s paying the bill and should tip however he sees fit. I think it was right not to speak up. You’re all good.

        1. WellRed*

          For people with disabilities or some other specific reason, sure. Otherwise, straws are a waste which is why restaurants aren’t dispensing them.

          1. Seeking Second Childhood*

            Personally I’m hoping for the return of paper straws…even though I now it’ll take about 13 seconds for kids to realize that they’re their own spitball ammo.

    4. WellRed*

      Don’t say anything. What would it accomplish at this point but to make it look like you are ruminating on something that happened several weeks ago? I was at a work dinner and got the horrible service (entree 20.minutes later, wine refill unfulfilled). There were only 6 of us, though, so it was noticeable.

    5. StressedButOkay*

      Honestly, with a party of 12, the tip was probably already pre-set – it’s very common for restaurants to automatically charge an 18% gratuity for larger parties (generally over 8 people). So, keeping silent was probably the right course here – it very well wouldn’t have had any impact on the tip.

      1. Natalie*

        I’m not a big fan of docking a server’s tips for bad service anyway. I’ve had rough days at the office before, but my paycheck wasn’t randomly reduced without explanation or opportunity to improve/repair the issue.

        1. StressedButOkay*

          There’s that, too. I’m a firm believer that unless the wait staff is deliberately terrible, I don’t dock the tip. (For instance, several months ago, my friend and I went to a well known diner in town. It took us an hour and a half to get our food and it turned out the waitress had forgotten to put in our ticket. Our meals were comped and we still left about $10 on the table for the waitress.)

    6. paralegal*

      this is a terrible time of year for service workers, so please do not complain and endanger someone’s livelihood unless they were being actively rude or harmful to you.

      1. sheworkshardforthemoney*

        Additional info, I was sitting at the end of the table. When he brought the 5 (!) extra straws he set them down next to me with a big sigh and flourish. They weren’t accessible to anyone else. My wrong entree cost less than the one I had ordered, otherwise I would have pointed that out to the Big Boss so he wouldn’t be charged extra for something we didn’t get. I’m not sure about the tipping protocol as I had never been in this particular restaurant. The group was 40/50 male female. I don’t want to say the sub-par service was directed at only me but it felt like it was.

        1. bored_at_desk*

          What do you mean by “not sure about the tipping protocol as I had never been in this particular restaurant”? Are you outside the US? If you’re in the US, I’d say tipping protocol is pretty much the same everywhere (20%, maybe minus a little if the server was “deliberately terrible” as Natalie states above, or plus a little if the service was awesome) unless you’re at a place where they don’t allow tips and clearly state that on the menu. A big sigh with the straws sounds a little annoying, to be sure, but perhaps he’s really concerned about overuse of plastic and ocean pollution?? Also, just to stick up for the server a little, twelve is a large group – if you’re all ordering meals, plus desserts, plus mixed drinks, plus coffee, that’s a huge quantity of orders to keep straight, especially at a stressful time of year, and especially if they were a new server. Mixing up a few things seems understandable, if not great. If they didn’t apologize, though, or were very rude, that’s not okay.

          1. bored_at_desk*

            (Note – to be fair, if he WERE annoyed about the straws for the plastic use thing, bringing FIVE would be counter-productive. Certainly sounds like he thought your request for a straw was overly needy and so was being rude and passive-aggressive about it.)

        2. paralegal*

          i’m genuinely not trying to be rude but that really doesn’t sound like a big deal to me. i’m not sure what all the fuss is about.

          1. paralegal*

            i’m not saying he acted politely, it sounds like he didn’t, but don’t we all encounter mildly rude/annoying folks every day and just deal with it?

    7. Pjm*

      Wow! You shouldn’t say anything and just thank your boss for the meal. One bad meal in life won’t kill you. If you receive incorrect items, bring it up to the waiter immediately. And you sound completely paranoid about getting too many straws. He probably did that without thinking. Sounds like he was juggling a lot of people at once. You sound like that annoying older relative who wants to point out every imperfection. Dont complain to someone who is gracious enough to buy you a meal! If you complained to me, I would see you as both petty and ungrateful. The fact that you are stewing over a meal and even want to rob someone of a tip seems really sad.

      1. sheworkshardforthemoney*

        Maybe I’m over thinking this. We were his only table because our reservation was for after the lunch rush. It was your basic burger/sandwich restaurant and no one requested special orders. I work in food/hospitality so I know how important tips are to staff and I never not tip even for bad service. I can also recognize passive/aggressive behaviour. When the server comes around with the water, fills everyone glasses (twice) while ignoring me, it seemed a little personal. Also, I didn’t complain or mention this to any of my co-workers because who knows? Maybe I looked like an ex-girlfriend. So yeah, I’m petty and ungrateful.

        1. jolene*

          You’re not. You’re being perfectly reasonable. The mistakes were way too many. I’ve been waitstaff a lot and this is unconscionably bad service.

  42. Jennifer*

    Ugh, I thought I sent an email to someone last night before I left and I see that I didn’t. Not the end of the world, but they are irritated with me, rightfully so. I hate this feeling!

    1. Pink Hair Don't Care*

      You have to forgive yourself. We all make mistakes and none of us are 100% perfect all the time. Try to move on and think about all the time you put in at work and not make mistakes. It happens to the best of us.

    2. Dr. Anonymous*

      I have sent some truly brilliant emails in my imagination over the years. I am sure you are not alone. My sympathies.

    3. Jennifer85*

      I have done this multiple times where I realise the email I thought I sent two days ago is actually in my drafts.. Perils of always doing ~5 things at once :s I’m going to try to make a habit of checking my drafts at the end of every day!

  43. New to Sales*

    Sales Book request!
    I just got hired for a new management position (YAY!). But, this team is relatively sales heavy and carries a quota. I come more from a customer success/service side of things so it’s time to get reading. Any suggestions on books for sales or sales management? So much of the segment seems to be glorified self empowerment.

    1. T. Boone Pickens*

      Congrats on the promotion!

      David Brock’s book, “Sales Manager Survival Guide: Lessons from Sales’ Front Lines” is phenomenal. He does a great job of covering a wide variety of topics everything from coaching to pipeline forecasting, 1:1s, managing top performers, literally almost any topic that you could run into as a manager, he covers. His book was invaluable to me when I first got promoted into sales management.

      Good luck!

      Will you be required to carry a quota as well?

      1. slick ric flair*

        100% agreed on Sales Managers Survival Guide.

        Add: Challenger Sale, Challenger Customer, and Mike Weinbergs Sales Management Simplified.

        Read those in January and you’ll be ready for a good start.

      2. New to Sales*

        Thank you both for the suggestions! I will not have my own quota – though I will have incentives tied to the teams performance.
        Thanks again for the help.

  44. Aaaanon*

    So I had a bit of an ah-ha moment over the last week or so that roughly equates to my boss sucks and isn’t going to change. I’m significantly underpaid, under-titled, and over-worked for my position and the work I’ve been doing. I’ve had the conversation with my boss 4 times about how I have too much work to do, I want to step away from doing X and Y and focus more on A, B, and C (one of which is a massive, organization-wide on-going project), and that yes A, B and C are in fact a full time job (with evidence). I’m not too hopeful that things will actually change despite these conversations because my boss keeps side-stepping.

    So I’ve started job searching.

    SO and I were planning on moving in the near future anyway to Big City 2 hours away, but this is just (hopefully) speeding that up. I’m using sister-in-law’s address since she lives there, and I’m hopeful I’ll get some traction.

    Any other tips or suggestions for semi-long distance job searching?

    1. Ali G*

      Just a caution that since you used your SIL’s address, you have presented yourself as local. So it might be weird if you ask for reimbursement for travel costs for interviews (also you’ll have to take full days off likely to have enough time to get there and back).
      Good luck!

      1. The Man, Becky Lynch*

        How strange that you’d assume she’d ask for travel reimbursements! That’s not a normal request, only if they offer or are headhunting out of the region does it make sense that they’d even take that into consideration.

        I do caution against identifying as local because it’s weird when you then start needing more time to set-up an in person interview. But it’s only two hours, so it’s less of a crazy stretch

        I would just make it clear you’re relocating. That’s what I did and still got plenty of response and interviews.

  45. Rhymes with Mitochondria*

    Learned the other day that my friend’s company has a weird policy. You *must* work a full 8 hours the day before and the day after a holiday, or no holiday pay for you! If you take any PTO the day before or the day after, no holiday pay for you! Want Black Friday off? No holiday pay for Thanksgiving!
    One of her coworkers mistakenly clocked out after working “only” 7 hours 58 minutes and did not get holiday pay for the the 4th of July this year. He quit over it. When they listed the job, they included the phrase “All Federal Holidays Paid” which got people at the company talking and mocking. They definitely DON’T do all Federal holidays!
    Company also does not pay for holidays (like Christmas) when they fall on a weekend, nor do they do a compensating day off during the week.
    These are all full time, salaried employees!
    Yes, she’s job hunting. I would be too!

    1. fposte*

      I’ve heard of this policy elsewhere, though not quite so draconianly interpreted. Basically, if you want vacation over a holiday period then you’re taking it out of vacation days. How horrible it is also depends on how many vacation days they get otherwise–if it’s three, this sucks like a Hoover, and if it’s 25, it’s eh.

      But a bigger concern is the use of the term “salaried” there. If they’re exempt, which is what people usually mean by salaried, their employer can’t dock them a day’s pay for a holiday closure. So if exempt employees took PTO for Black Friday, they can’t get their pay docked for the single day of Thanksgiving. If that’s what the employer’s doing, they’re asking for trouble.

      1. valentine*

        They weren’t docked, just not paid the extra pay for working a holiday.

        So people who work on a Christmas Day Saturday or Sunday don’t get the holiday pay? This is the most ridiculous of all these. And what do they think people are getting away with if they take off the November Friday? Holiday pay should be binary.

        1. fposte*

          I thought Rhymes was talking about people who *aren’t* working Thanksgiving, not people who are. Rhymes, can you clarify?

          1. Rhymes with Mitochondria*

            No one works weekends or holidays. But if the business closes on Thanksgiving, and you don’t work 8 hours on Wednesday AND Friday, you are docked the amount of a days work, because they don’t give paid holidays if you don’t do 8 hours the day before/after. Same with Christmas – so this week, if people didn’t work a full 8 hours Monday AND Wednesday, their paycheck will be lower because of it.
            You cannot use PTO and get a paid holiday. You must have your butt in your seat at your desk for 8 hours on either side of the holiday, or it’s not a paid holiday.

      2. Red Reader*

        My husband’s company (and several others I’ve heard of) require you to be at your first scheduled shift after the holiday and your last scheduled one before it to get the holiday pay. Approved PTO doesn’t count against you, but the idea is to keep people from waking up the morning before Thanksgiving and deciding last minute they’d rather bake pies all day than go to work and therefore calling in unexpectedly.

    2. Lintu*

      I don’t understand policies like that at all. I worked for a place that if you took unscheduled time off the day before or after, you lost the holiday pay. I don’t agree with it, but that seems at least reasonable to me (yes, yes, I know things can happen and people get sick around holidays. It can also happen that people just call out).

    3. Lilysparrow*

      Nobody I know has ever gotten holiday pay when the holiday fell on a day the office was closed. Though there is usually a flex day given for some of them.

      The 8-hour back to back requirement is terrible.

    4. Basia, also a Fed*

      A friend of mine works at a place like this. She and I had flown to Vegas for New Year’s Eve, and when her flight was cancelled on New Year’s Day and she was told she couldn’t fly home until January 2, she cried, because she wouldn’t get paid for New Year’s Day OR January 2, since to get vacation pay, she was required to request it in advance. Since then, she always flies home a day early when we travel together.

  46. matcha123*

    I’ve noticed that there seem to be two types of manager types that I generally encounter: the first, and most common in my experience, is someone that expects you as a new hire to go to them with thoughtful questions, be eager to be in their presence, are a mind-reader of emotions…they say they have high standards, but the standard changes based on their mood and the way the moon aligns with Jupiter; the second, and the kind I like, understands what it’s like to be new, so they provide you with the tools you need to do your work effectively, but also grow…they are open to questions and can have high standards.

    Which one would you consider yourself?

    I work with someone who oversees my work, and she is very capable and knows a lot. However, she spends most of the day talking about how others in our field suck, how their work sucks, and how this person and that person don’t know what they are talking about. I know that she wants me to come to her with questions about anything related to our work, but I just can’t bring myself to do it. When she makes mistakes or misunderstands something, she rarely ever owns up to it. In my first or second week she loudly pointed out “errors” in my work and I had to go to a website that was an authority, print out something to show that my work was correct, and even then I didn’t get so much as an “oops.”
    On the other hand, I worked with a person years ago who listened to what I was interested in and would come to me for advice on areas I had expertise in. He would give me projects that might be a stretch, but were good learning experiences. He wasn’t looking to dominate over anyone…just to find the best person for a task regardless of their age or position in the hierarchy.

  47. Ali G*

    I’m working from home today because I haven’t accrued enough vacation at New Job to take the whole week off. I have already gone through all my emails, and literally have 3 things to do on my list. I’m seriously lacking motivation. On the plus side I starting working at 8 am, so I can log off around 2:30 and done until the 2nd.
    Also I have a question for you all about your companies (US) handle advancing vacation leave. I accrue a little over 4 hours of vacation time per pay period (total 3 weeks vacation – sick is separate). My company allows you to carry over up to 2 weeks unused vacation per calendar year. They formally had a policy where you could get an advance on your vacation, which I think is pretty typical, if you haven’t accrued enough by the dates you were taking off, with the understanding that if you left before you accrued enough to cover those days, you would have to pay the time back.
    Apparently we had more than one person that was advanced vacation time, without the ability to accrue the hours back by the end of the year. HR’s response was to change the policy to only new employees (less than one year) can receive advances on vacation.
    Am I off base that this is a weird solution? Shouldn’t it be the employees responsibility to manage their vacation time? And what if in your first year, you use all your vacation and can’t roll any over. That means in your second year you couldn’t take any time off until you accrued enough. For me, that would mean I would basically have to wait 4 months to take one week off. And if I needed a couple of days for a long weekend, then I’d have to wait even longer.
    Thoughts?

    1. Ingray*

      I’ve never worked anywhere that gave people advances on vacation time. I also don’t think waiting 4 months to take a week off is that crazy. Where I work now you only get two weeks of vacation per year for the first two years, which accrues monthly. So if you want to take a week off you have to wait for those hours to accrue for 6 months.

      1. valentine*

        Waiting four months is a lot.

        You say employees should manage their vacation time, but you are calling for them using time they’ve not earned and possibly never will.

      2. bonkerballs*

        Yeah, I agree. I’ve never worked anywhere that gave people vacation advances. My current job does vacation accrual, so you start accruing 5 hrs a pay period as soon as you start, but you can’t use your vacation until you accrue it. So if you want to take a week off, yeah you’ve got to wait four months. My previous employer didn’t do vacation accrual, you got it in one lump sum. One week after 6 months, 2 weeks at your year mark and then a certain amount each anniversary depending on your length of employment. So you could use your two weeks up immediately after your anniversary if you wanted and then you would be waiting for the next year to get more. But that’s up to you.

    2. StressedButOkay*

      I’ve only worked at one place that allowed us to take an advance on our vacation, with the same thing where you had to pay it back if you left before you officially built it up. That’s because we switched from being able to roll over a set amount of vacation each year to a 100% use it or lose it scenario – and we complained, as many of us took time off in the winter for various reasons.

      I feel as if that’s one of the few scenarios that it would work well in – if you have to use ALL your vacation between Jan – Dec but have a wedding to attend in the following March, you’d have such little time left. Even though it was helpful, I was always slightly panicky that I’d end up owing money whenever I left – thankfully, I didn’t but it took some careful planning on my part!

    3. Autumnheart*

      I think all of it sounds pretty normal and reasonable. It’s reasonable that you have to accrue sufficient vacation before taking any of it, and it’s reasonable that if you use it all, you have to wait and accrue more before taking more time off. 4 months isn’t a long time, and chances are that you *do* have paid holidays that occur in that timeframe (MLK day, Easter, Good Friday, whatever holidays are granted by the company), so it’s not like you won’t have any holidays between now and your targeted accrual date.

      I could understand changing the policy so that a new employee could take time off for an event that was scheduled before they took the job. That makes sense.

    4. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      We advance vacation all the time and if they leave, we take it from their last paycheck. It’s just better to be loose with these policies but we have high retention rate a lot due to being flexible with staff needs.

  48. Doug Judy*

    Just got back from an interview, and it went well. He did mention his concerns that I was newer to the industry and don’t have much experience in X & Y skills, but I was able to explain I did something very similar to X & Y in a prior job in a different capacity. Hopefully that is enough to get me the job.

    Has anyone been told in an interview what their concerns were with hiring them and still got an offer?

    1. Ingray*

      Yes. I was hired as a mental health clinician to work with children when I’d never done any work with children before. I was asked about it in my interview and I basically told them how I would apply my experience working with adults. I also expressed a willingness to attend additional training specifically geared toward children.

      That being said, community mental health has high turnover and pays poorly, so (sadly) it’s not that hard to get a job in this field.

      1. Doug Judy*

        I just want to say thank you for doing that work. My bother has a form a bipolar with psychosis and the resources to help him just aren’t what they should be. That is field I have a lot of personal passion for but unfortunately the pay is something I cannot make work at this point in my life, perhaps as a retirement career.

  49. Dasein9*

    Things are really slow right now until after the holidays. I am taking some AAM advice and working through an online course on coding. So far, I’m doing the free puzzles and activities on a website designed for children, but am working through them fast. After that, what should I look at?

    (I am not at all a tech type, but am very conversant with formal logic. I have been lucky enough to be on a couple of teams working on gamification of training materials and hope learning a little about coding will help me get put on that type of team again.)

    1. gecko*

      Khan Academy may be a good place to start! My recommendation is to mix “coding” courses with “computer science” courses if you can. I find that courses labeled “coding” often avoid teaching concepts–like, why things work, how something works–and I find that really unhelpful. In the best case, when you learn how to code you’re learning 2 things: how software works, and what words to use so you get an informative google result.

    2. Minocho*

      Our company has a subscription to Pluralsight. I’ve been taking their courses, and I have been pleased with them.

  50. Dan*

    Hi guys, I have a few questions regarding internship/job application etiquette:

    I have recently accepted a summer internship position, but an HR representative at a different company just contacted me asking for additional information e.g. my anticipated start date, interview availability, and an updated resume. The position is a summer internship as well.

    As I have signed with a company already for this summer, could I ask the second company if I can push back their internship start date to fall instead of the summer or would this be seen as a rude request? In other words, should I be 100% transparent and mention that I already accepted a summer internship offer, but am interested in a fall position? Also, when I send in my updated resume, do I include my incoming summer position on it or do I leave it off completely?
    Thanks!

    1. fposte*

      Some of this is industry dependent, in that they may really not have internships out of summer, or they may have a whole ‘nother fall cohort. But I think it’s usually fine to say “Wow, I’m really interested in your company but I’ve taken a position for summer already. Could we discuss possibilities for fall?”

      1. Friday afternoon fever*

        Yeah, because it’s an internship and they often do have seasonal cohorts, it’s appropriate to ask about fall (or spring! etc) openings in a way it wouldn’t be for a job. They won’t think it’s rude that you took another offer before they got back to you.
        I like fposte’s script.

        It depends when you send the updated resume. I actually wouldn’t send it now when you ask about fall, since you’re not available for summer, they don’t need to see it now and if they reconsider you for fall are more likely to want to see an updated resume in the fall. Include the summer position on your updated resume once you’ve started it but not before.

  51. Snoozing Loser*

    So, it’s been a pretty rough week. My family is extremely achievement oriented and concerned about keeping up appearances, so my parents disinvited me from the family Christmas celebration after learning I had lost my job a few weeks ago. I also explained the situation and asked if I could borrow some money to hire an attorney, but they told me I’d gotten myself into this mess and they were sure I could figure it out. So I guess I’ll contact legal aid-type organizations after the holidays. Knowing my family, I can’t say this reaction was entirely unexpected, but I had just hoped they would be a bit more sympathetic instead of automatically assuming I was 100% at fault and deserving of everything that has happened.

    After the meeting where I was summoned back to the company that fired me under the guise of the VP who had fired me being investigated, only to be yelled at further about the incident that led to the firing as well as being accused of being a thief, I reached out to my recent boss on her personal cell phone. I assured her I wasn’t asking for a reference which I knew she wasn’t allowed to give, but wanted to give a heads-up as to what happened at the meeting, because she is the one who had signed off on the expense reports at issue, in case there was any fallout for her. She thanked me, said she felt extremely badly for me, and said she and old grandboss were trying to think of ways to help me.

    One small piece of good news – a former boss from ex-job a few years ago reached out with a holiday greeting, and I ended up telling her what had happened. She suggested we have coffee next week to catch up, and said she would also think about strategies to help me with next career moves. (I left on extremely good terms, and only because an advancement opportunity had presented itself that was not available at ex-job.) So, that’s a bit of a bright spot at a time when it seems almost everything is going wrong!

    (Here’s the TL; DR version for those who haven’t read my other posts: some weeks ago, I was pulled into a crunch-time project requiring extremely long hours (several 18-hour days in a row capped by an all-nighter) and ended up dozing off at my desk (in my office with the door shut, during a break period) on the last day of the project. I was initially disciplined with a one-week unpaid suspension, which is the typical penalty for falling asleep at work. However, I was ultimately fired, with no severance and forfeiting my 6 weeks of accrued PTO, when I returned from the suspension. The VP who fired me had just returned from bereavement leave due to his child’s death (the initial suspension was imposed by HR over the objections of my boss and grandboss, who recognized that my brief nap was a physical response to complete exhaustion caused by overwork and that it hadn’t caused any harm to the company because I was technically on break while waiting for other tasks to come back to my desk). I was then asked to come back for a meeting with the director of HR and an SVP who told me they were investigating the VP’s behavior, but when I got there they both yelled at me (like, literally yelling and pounding fists on the table) about falling asleep and told me I was being investigated for falsifying expense reports while I had been employed there (all for occasional small business meals over the course of several years, which had been authorized and approved at the time) and that I needed to pay back the $1,500 at issue or else they might need to involve the police.)

    It has definitely not been a great end to the year and I just hope something turns around soon.

    1. Nervous Accountant*

      Oh my god, this is terrible. I am so so sorry to hear this.

      I don’t hav e any constructive advice but wishing you lots of peace and good fortune coming ASAP!

        1. Snoozing Loser*

          Any future communications will definitely go through a lawyer. I know that boss and grandboss are good people who did try to help me and stick up for me, so I thought it would be best to give a heads-up that something very shady was afoot. I am still hoping they may both end up being able to be references for me down the road if they end up leaving.

          I do need to start making sure I protect myself, though. This situation is a whole lot more of a mess than I ever anticipated.

    2. mr. brightside*

      Oh my goodness, I’m so sorry to hear that your parents are blaming you for this. I hope you were able to still have a good Christmas. :(

    3. Dasein9*

      Oh, my stars.
      I’ve been paying attention to your posts and am glad you’re reaching out to people who can help. This situation is absolutely ridiculous, and I strongly recommend finding legal advice. It sounds like the company is throwing mud around to see if any sticks in an attempt to defend itself from an indefensible decision.

      As for the disinvitation, I’ll say very little except that it seems unduly harsh. I’m hoping you’ve been able to spend time with people who love you this holiday.

    4. Wulfgar*

      I’m sorry; that sounds terrible. Family can be the worst. I hope you find a good lawyer and find a better job with bosses who appreciate your hard work.

    5. Justin*

      Wish you could post gifs here because this is worthy of several shocked faces.

      What is the point of family if they’re going to be that way?

    6. Forkeater*

      I’m still trying to pick my jaw up off the floor after reading what your family did. I hope you realize you don’t deserve this treatment. I’m so sorry.

      1. Pink Hair Don't Care*

        I’m so sorry that this has happened to you. Please remember you are a good person and don’t deserve any of this. I really hope you come out on top. Please keep us all posted and I will send positive vibes your way.

    7. Not Maeby But Surely*

      I am so sorry you’re going through all of this. I hope things start going better for you.

    8. Kathenus*

      This sucks on so many levels and I have so much sympathy for you. But do focus on the really bright spot you mentioned – your former boss from ex-job wanting to get together and help strategize. This is a great thing that could really give you some support and help. I’ve been in a situation where a former boss really helped me with advice on an extremely toxic situation at a job, and he definitely helped me get my head a bit straighter and focus on what I could control and do going forward, so focus on that meeting and making the best next steps. And along with others, I definitely echo the support for getting legal advice on this. Best of luck.

    9. anon24*

      WTF is wrong with your family? Compassion is not hard!

      If you can’t find a lawyer you can afford, maybe you could start a go fund me? I’m sure some people here would contribute

    10. OlympiasEpiriot*

      Jeezus onna hockey puck.

      That is horrible.

      Best of luck for the New Year, may you be surrounded with Chosen Family who don’t ostracize people.

      1. Jennifer85*

        Not to mention your company, in what world is even a weeks unpaid suspension reasonable for the ‘crime’ of falling asleep *because you’re working ridiculous hours*…

        1. anon24*

          I work in an industry known for long hours and high stress. It can literally be life or death. And yet official company policy is that we are allowed to sleep during down time if we need to. This is ridiculous.

    11. Nita*

      I’m sorry you’re dealing with that. Your family… that’s gross. I hope you still had a good Christmas. As for the ex-job, I really doubt any authorities would take their complaint seriously about years-old, approved expenses being fraud, but there’s enough crazy there that you do need a lawyer just in case. Don’t many lawyers do a free initial consultation? And if you need more than that, maybe try a GoFundMe? (Incidentally, I bet your appearance-conscious parents would love that. Serves them right.)

      Wishing you better luck in the new year!!!

    12. This Daydreamer*

      I am so sorry all of this is going on. It sucks that your old company and your family decided to be evil.

    13. London Calling*

      *they both yelled at me (like, literally yelling and pounding fists on the table) about falling asleep and told me I was being investigated for falsifying expense reports while I had been employed there (all for occasional small business meals over the course of several years, which had been authorized and approved at the time) and that I needed to pay back the $1,500 at issue or else they might need to involve the police.)*

      Hm. I’m assuming they have all the evidence they need to back up their claim and they aren’t just trying to scam money out of you by threatening you with the police when you are frightened and vulnerable, are they? In your place I’d be thinking hard about who and what I’m the scapegoat for here (a situation of which I have, unfortunately, personal experience).

      1. Miss Pantalones en Fuego*

        My first thought here was go ahead and call the police. I doubt they will find much to investigate.

        1. London Calling*

          Perhaps OP should go ahead and report that her employers are attempting to blackmail her – which is what ‘pay up or we call the cops’ is. Something very skeevy is going on here.

          1. Snoozing Loser*

            Oh! That is actually a great idea. Hopefully I can retain an attorney shortly after the holiday weekend and will definitely bring up the idea of reporting to the authorities that my former employer is trying to extort money from me or threatening to falsely accuse me of a crime if I don’t pay up.

      2. Snoozing Loser*

        I have no idea what evidence they could possibly have! I wasn’t presented with any during the meeting, only with the total that I was being ordered to repay. I will admit I was so shocked by the accusation that I didn’t respond in the moment, except to stammer that I didn’t know where this was coming from and that all my expenses were legitimate, backed up by receipts, and approved at the time.

        The person who “reported” me for fraud was the same one who reported me for dozing off in my own office during a break. She is not someone in my direct department, was not and had never been a supervisor of mine, and was not a person who had anything to do with my expense reports, but she apparently “heard” that I was defrauding the company and that was enough for management to accuse me.

        1. Miss Pantalones en Fuego*

          Good gravy, this gets worse and worse. Does this person think you are someone else and they are trying to get revenge?

          But I wonder what the police would say if you called to ask for advice. Maybe not much but it might be enlightening. Or that lawyer you should be talking to.

  52. Gollum*

    I got laid off at the beginning of December. I should have seen it coming and started job hunting, but so it goes.

    I just had a final interview for a role I really want in an industry I want to get back into, but I’m struggling to put the role aside so that I’m not let down if I don’t get it. Given the time of year, few if any newer openings are coming up, and I am near desperation: I have a month of severance left, and a baby due in three months. I’ve had two other interviews; got rejected from one and just finished the other this morning.

    Any advice for this nervous Nate?