updates: I got in trouble because my coworker saw maxi pads in my car, and more

It’s “where are you now?” month at Ask a Manager, and all December I’m running updates from people who had their letters here answered in the past. Here are five updates from past letter-writers.

1. I got in trouble because my coworker saw maxi pads in my car

Thanks again for answering my question Alison. I did appreciate your insight and the nice comments from everyone.

I was laid off on Friday. The branch was closed and every single person who worked here was laid off (including our HR and managers). There was no hint of it. Hiring was still going on like normal and we got small raises at the end of last year. We were given 20 minutes to pack our personal stuff, handed checks for our outstanding pay and walked to the parking lot. The building was locked up. We were told we would each get an excellent reference from the company with the explanation the layoff was through no fault of our own. I asked the HR person from head office who was there to oversee the layoff about me getting written up and he said it was stupid and wouldn’t be mentioned in my reference and not to worry about it.

(Other than seeing the person who complained in passing I had never talked to her. She didn’t work in my area and I didn’t find out she was transgender until after I was written up and my boss told me. I am gay and I would never want a member of the LGBT+ community or any other person to be hurt. There was no past history between us. The reason for the write-up was that I made her feel uncomfortable and excluded and should be keeping “items of that nature” private. I don’t know why she was looking in my car but they were in a bag on the backseat and not out in the open.)

I have already taken note of all your great advice on cover letters and resumes. Thank you!

2. I’ve become the office seamstress

I informed my HR person that I couldn’t finish all the pillows before the all-hands, but I did finish a set of four so they could show off all the colours. I didn’t attend the meeting as I was away, but in absentia I was presented with a gift card as thanks, along with a few others who go above and beyond to be helpful around the office, which was nice. Something came up that put the rest of them on hold for about a month, but I’ve done and delivered more than half of the pillows by now, and have informed HR that the rest will be done by next week – a much more manageable timeline. They really do look great, and I’m glad I did them, but I definitely should have set timeline expectations a bit better during the first go-around.

As for the quilts, they were not spoken of again, and I am absolutely not bringing them up – thank goodness! I’m reserving that particular gift for immediate friends, and will avoid bringing them into the office when I gift them. In fact, I’m currently looking for a different job (for mostly unrelated reasons) and I’ll likely avoid sharing that particular hobby altogether so I don’t find myself in this position again – or at least take the advice of other commenters who suggested I point out the actual cost of such hand-made gifts if anyone so much as hints they’d like a custom piece to call their own!

Many thanks to you you and the commenters for the insights and support, and happy holidays!

3. How can I increase my chances when I’m under-qualified for a job?

You won’t be shocked to hear that I did NOT get that job — I didn’t even make it to the phone screen stage after all. It was a small government office, but that still meant they were not interested in references at the HR screening stage and I got screened out. I had much too much faith in my reference’s reassurance that he knew everyone over there!

However… my reference was not wrong that he had a large number of contacts. Months later I applied to another position that did ask for references up front, and as soon as I’d stepped through the door for the interview, the hiring manager pointed out that we “had a friend in common.” I hadn’t even realized he’d worked extensively with my reference in the past. He talked to all my references by phone immediately after my first interview and had his mind mostly made up by the second interview, which mostly turned out to be a pitch for me to accept the offer, plus an opportunity for him to feel out if my intent was to stick around for a few years. This place says they actually want someone to start at a slightly lower level and grow into a heftier role as the organization expands.

The pay here is a couple thousand dollars less than the other role’s would have been, but the work is much more related to my areas of interest, and the potential upward mobility could be much, much higher. I was able to parlay my other experiences and the reference into something I’m truly excited for, just like you and your commenters told me! I’m really pleased with how this worked out. I have much more flexibility and responsibility than I’d have had in the county government, and some of the initial bumps were smoothed by other Ask a Manager tips.

4. What do I write/say when I was referred by my late friend? (#3 at the link)

I wrote in because the woman, Leia, who had encouraged me to apply for positions at the state-run Teaching Hospital (TH) where she worked had passed away, and I was not sure how, or if, I should mention this in an interview. Thanks for your compassionate answer, and the kind comments from the readers. I replied in the original thread once or twice and wanted to give everyone a fuller update.

There is nothing really spectacular here. First, it is unlikely I will get called in for an interview there any time soon, unfortunately. In early January, around the time my question was published, TH laid off a lot of employees and decided to leave many other positions vacant and did another round of non-fills in late February, over 700 jobs total. (State is supposedly investigating how this money crisis came up so suddenly.)

Second, I was hired as a half-time library page just over a month ago. (Some people may recall seeing my open thread post under my regular username.) This is an enjoyable job; my coworkers, my boss (assistant branch manager), and grandboss (branch manager) are great. The HR rep who onboarded me told me I’m eligible, after probation, to apply for full time library assistant positions–my new longer term goal. I also emailed my interviewer for a page opening at another branch, who had decided to go with another candidate, to let her know I had been hired. She congratulated me and added, “I think [your new bosses] made a wise choice” which made me feel good all over again.

I do need to pick up a second part time job, but now I can afford to use all the AAM advice on how to make good choices about potential jobs. To be honest, when Library hired me, I was in a position, between finances and unemployment rules, where I had to take literally the first job I was offered. I was just lucky it was a job I was interested in and had great people.
Thanks again!

5. I’m a recent grad and I feel like I’m working too much

Thanks to you and all of your commenters for their advice! I ended up deciding that I mostly needed to adjust my expectations and attitude for the job, and that would probably make my experience a lot better.

It worked — for awhile. But the 24/7 demands got more and more frequent, to the point that I had to schedule more than 2 hours off WEEKS in advance, and was met with a lot of resistance to do something as simple as play a soccer game. I started tracking my time, and I went 50 days without a break, including weekends and days I officially asked off to move apartments. I would get woken up at 5:30am on the weekends to work. I worked every single day between Christmas Eve and New Years (including the holidays), when our office was supposedly closed.

It’s probably not a huge surprise that I found a new job in June. I took your advice and asked a lot of questions about the culture and out-of-office requirements. I’m so happy to say that I’ve been in my new position for about 4 months, and have never been woken up to work, and I got my weekends back! I’ve even been assured that our office is actually closed between Christmas and New Years, and I scheduled a vacation where I’ll be totally offline.

{ 198 comments… read them below }

  1. CatCat*

    I asked the HR person from head office who was there to oversee the layoff about me getting written up and he said it was stupid and wouldn’t be mentioned in my reference and not to worry about it.

    Thank goodness. Not that I can imagine how they would even mention this, which is probably why the HR person present recognized that “it was stupid.” Best of luck with your job search, OP!

    1. mark132*

      exactly. I can’t even imagine writing that letter.
      “P.S. – be careful about her keeping feminine supplies in the back seat of her car” <- a line I can't see every being written.

  2. JS82*

    What does someone being transgender have to do with you having maxi pads? Your vagina does what it does. I mean if someone finds your body having a period offensive because they can’t do the same, well, we really need to stop with being offended but such ridiculous things. And frankly, I’d be darn happy to not feel that pain every four weeks.

    1. Arya Snark*

      Yeah, this makes me so very angry. I’m happy to support anyone to be comfortable in their own skin but expect the same in return – this skin bleeds and does so very painfully and profusely every month. It affects me pretty badly as I have endo and that’s not something I should have to hide. I would be upset with anyone – male/female/cis or trans – taking offense from simply seeing maxi pads in my car. That’s taking things way, way too far.

      1. JenRN*

        Agreed. I’m also ticked that LW1’s boss disclosed the coworker’s trans status to the LW. Glad you are seeing that place in the rear view mirror.

        1. Observer*

          Well, that kind of came with the territory. The OP says that they were officially written up for making the other person feel excluded by allowing things “of that nature” to be visible. Which is a statement that makes no sense unless you know that the person complaining cannot have a period.

          1. Jenny Craig*

            I don’t know, I think my first thought about a woman who couldn’t have a period would be “Oh no, she had to have a hysterectomy,” not that she was trans.

            And I agree with everyone’s points that trans women need to respect cis women’s bodies. We shouldn’t have to hide a basic biological fact because it might hurt someone’s feelings.

                1. Julia*

                  I don’t think I or anyone else said that? But “trans women have to respect cis women” without any statement of the reverse sounded a little odd to me.

            1. Observer*

              Well, that’s sensitive information, too. The point is that the only way that the write-up could even theoretically makes sense is to share some highly private information.

              PS I would also have assumed a medical condition of some sort.

                1. Observer*

                  What exactly are you disagreeing about?

                  No one needs to know if you are trans, are on some sort of birth control that stops your periods at all, had a hysterectomy or are dealing with any other medical condition. However, the only way to explain why someone would complain about the existence of menstrual related products in someone’s car, and why the company would be crazy enough to actually turn that into a write up, you’ve got to at least share that Complainer can’t have a period and therefore feels excluded – which is already way too much information. Divulging the specifics is nowhere near as bad as sharing the fact that Complainer has >stage whisperstage whisper<

                  That whole part of it is gross on its own, but unavoidable if someone is going to run with a complaint like this.

          2. Perpal*

            I think the complaint should have been rejected, or not escalated, or whatever you do when someone comes up with an unreasonable complaint or accommodation request (ie “make sure men and women line up alternating for the bus or I can’t even” etc etc or whatever that was)

        2. Airy*

          Yes, it wasn’t the boss’ place to pass on such personal information unless they had express permission. The coworker may be an unreasonable jackass but still has the right to pick who she tells, when and how.

      2. Julia*

        My endo was so bad I’m not allowed to have periods anymore. The only thing I feel when I see feminine supplies someone else has is dread and/or pity, thinking back to my awful periods and wondering how they survive theirs.
        By this person’s logic, I should have co-workers written up for owning menstrual supplies and diapers, because diapers means babies and endo means probably no babies. But then again, I’d also have to throw out my TV, never go on social media, and boycot the supermarket.

        1. Lights and candles*

          This might be off topic but endo doesn’t necessarily mean you can’t get pregnant. If you want to, it might still be possible, especially if you have a lap! I have friends with endo that went on to have healthy babies.

          1. Julia*

            So do I, but you never know. Some women with endo can’t get pregnant, but I’ve never met one who would go to HR and complain about the contents of a co-worker’s car.

      3. Traffic_Spiral*

        What, you mean you haven’t learned how to menstruate *at* someone, out of spite? Psh, amateur.

        1. Lis*

          When I read the update that was exactly what I was thinking. If the OP had done something lile leave pads or tampons on the coworkers desk “as a joke” yep thats a write-up as that is horrible but owning these products because you have to, nope. You are not menstruating at people snd those who do already cover it up more than they should have to.

          1. RUKiddingMe*

            “You are not menstruating at people snd those who do already cover it up more than they should have to.”

            There’s a whole lot of “don’t talk about bodily functions experienced by (most of) those born with a vagina, uterus, cervix do” happening recently. It’s erasure.

            1. Michaela Westen*

              It’s insulting to men also. Poor babies have such delicate sensibilities they can’t handle knowing about a normal body function!
              If I was a man, I’d be insulted by this attitude.

              1. Harvey 6-3.5*

                As a man, I do find this discomfort with menstruation and menstruation necessities odd. Even when I first married my wife, if she need some pads or something at the store, and I was shopping, I’d just buy them. If someone left some pads on my desk (and they were new/clean), I’d just ask who accidentally left them or dispose of them, not get upset. Obviously it would be annoying if they were used, but not anymore than if a coworker with a kid accidentally left a dirty diaper.

                As you get older, you hear about coworker’s (and friends) medical issues, which are often quite graphic, much more than natural bodily functions.

                1. Elizabeth*

                  I mean, yeah, I would hope that you would buy your wife things she needed even when first married! It would be extremely odd if you wouldn’t.

      1. Sophie*

        And as a transgender woman I’ll just add that these examples pain me – it divides us and adds to the narrative that transgender people are unreasonable when we need to come together. Menstruation is part of a woman’s life and while I don’t experience it, I certainly don’t feel excluded by a completely normal part of being a woman.

        1. I Work on a Hellmouth*

          If it makes you feel any better, I definitely don’t associate that kind of example with trans people, just unreasonable people. Like, I just assume that she’s exactly the same kind of unreasonable as that dude boss who freaked out about tampons in a woman’s storage space at work (that letter really infuriated me, too). I would hope that’s how most rational people would view it.

          1. Lis*

            Yep i find this reaction unlike any of the trans people I know and it’s so bad I almost wonder if the person who wrote up the citation was just trying to propagate anti trans propaganda with the OP suffering from the attempt. (I’m cis female for the record)

            1. Charlotte Collins*

              I agree. I think the real issue is that some people are just dying to be offended, no matter how ridiculous the thing they take issue with is.

          2. Anoncorporate*

            Same – when I read this, my interpretation was that this was just the person being petty. It wasn’t like, “Oh, look at those trans people again”

        2. Arya Snark*

          I would no more associate a trans person being upset by such things than I would any random single coworker being upset because another moved in with their significant other. It’s the behavior of an unreasonable person no matter how they identify themselves.

          1. Jennifer Juniper*

            I wouldn’t associate this with trans* folks, but with people suffering from terminal prudery.

        3. The Man, Becky Lynch*

          Also at some time in life, we stop menstruating. Some prematurely. Some never start. So it’s def just one person being ridiculous and not even remotely linked to being Trans.

          1. That girl from Quinn's house*

            Yes, my mom stopped getting her period due to chemo, and went through several years’ worth of menopause symptoms and bodily adjustments in a month. She was nearing menopause on her own and didn’t have any Feelings about it, but I imagine a younger woman in the same situation might.

            1. RUKiddingMe*

              My mom had a full hysterectomy at 31 or 32. Likewise the years worth of body changes in a short time. I know she had feelings about it. She already had two kids though, which was all she wanted so at least longing for a wanted child wasn’t one of those feelings (I think), though the “I can never have another child again” (even if she never wanted another) thing could have been there.

              TBH I don’t know too many details about her feelings. We weren’t close. I was there though and like 13 years old so I remember being the target of a lot of “I failed to take my hormone replacement…again” tantrums.

        4. Celaena Sardothien*

          Same, this isn’t a case of thinking “all trans people are unreasonable jerks” or anything like that. It just means that one person is an unreasonable jerk, and that person happens to be trans. You can find unreasonable jerks across all genders, races, sexualities, religions, cultures, etc., but luckily they don’t make up the majority of those people.

        5. Parenthetically*

          Just adding to the chorus — this woman is a hypersensitive weirdo, and it has nothing to do in my mind with her being trans*.

          1. Zaphod Beeblebrox*

            Some people are trans. Some people are jackasses. This person happens to be in both groups.

        6. Bigglesworth*

          Hey Sophie! The other comments have summed it up nicely – this behavior does not reflect portly in the wider transgender community. My spouse and I have a housemate who is ftm transgender. There have been a few foux paus on our part (including me dealing with period stuff) and she has been very gracious. Our only issues are really who takes out the trash and does the dishes – typical housemate stuff.

    2. RUKiddingMe*


      Yeah I’m all about being sensitive to others but the reverse should apply. I shouldn’t have my identity erased because someone wasn’t born with the same body parts. And…let’s not forget, they were *in her freaking car!*

    3. Ice and Indigo*

      I can sympathise with feeling upset at the sight of them if the complainer had suffered a lot from dysphoria issues. Stress and trauma can have long-term effects on you that seem, on the face of it, unreasonable.

      But ‘feeling upset’ and ‘getting someone written up’ are two different things. I mean, I have PTSD, and one of my triggers is a particular foodstuff. Am I allowed to feel uncomfortable when I see someone eating it? Yes. Am I entitled to peep into people’s cars and try to undermine their careers if I spot a packet of said foodstuff among their grocery shopping? Nope. Is it ridiculous to be upset by the sight of the foodstuff? Well, that depends on how you look at it: it’s not inherently offensive, but it’s normal to be upset by things that remind you of terrible experiences.

      I don’t think it’s fair to judge the complainer for her feelings about the products; just for the actions she took on the basis of those feelings.

      1. gmg22*

        Yep. And I really feel that the crux of the issue here was with HR handling this badly — not about coworker’s reaction, which is what it is. Maybe her transition is recent and she’s struggling to navigate. Maybe someone else at another job bullied her and she caught sight of something that felt like a trigger. We don’t know, but what we do know is that HR was able as a follow-up to explain to the OP that her coworker was trans. Therefore, I hope it’s safe to assume that that information was not something that coworker wished to keep private. So why, WHY did this have to immediately be escalated to a write-up rather than a quiet informal conversation about ensuring that a coworker does not feel that she is on the receiving end of exclusionary behavior? It’d still feel a little weird (coworker was still peeking into car windows), but seems it would have been a lot more comprehensible and fair to OP.

    4. 62koiik*

      agreed. i had an ex like this, couldn’t complain about monthly pains or buy those items in her presence cause she’d go on a rant about not being able to ever feel that or etc etc.

      1. Jennifer Thneed*

        Bleah. I mean, we’re all the stars of our own movies, right? But none of us is the star of someone else’s movie (outside of parental/child relationships). Your ex was making herself the star of YOUR movie, and that wasn’t fair of her.

  3. I Work on a Hellmouth*

    Re: #2 Yeah, I would definitely dodge being the office quilt maker, I’m glad that didn’t come up again!

    My boss knows that I sew and is currently trying to make me sew custom slipcovers for all of the office and reception area furniture. And also pillows. For free. I’m strongly considering keeping my hobby secret at all future jobs.

    1. Clorinda*

      I would suggest you write up a contract giving a reasonable hourly rate for your labor, but your username suggests you don’t have long-term plans for this job anyway, so just stick with the soft no shading into the hard no as needed.

      1. InfoSec SemiPro*

        Even giving a reasonable cost for a hobby starts at the assumption you’d be willing to do it. Ever. There are literally things I do for hobbies that I refuse to be paid to do. No money can buy my time off, which is what my hobby time is.

        If you’d do the crafting for the right price, sure, give a cost estimate. If there isn’t a right price, or the right price is unreasonable, take the request like its a complimentary joke and move on breezily. “Oh isn’t that kind of you! No, I couldn’t possibly.”

        For Hellmouth – it may just be this job. I know lots of people at my work have awesome hobbies and I don’t think anyone has ever been pressed to use their skills for the workplace. Sorry your boss sucks.

      2. Zombeyonce*

        Alternately, I’d suggest writing up a contract with an unreasonable hourly rate for your labor. That way they either balk and don’t ask you again, or say yes and you get paid an ungodly amount to do it.

        1. Clorinda*

          “Reasonable” means the amount that would make it worth Hellmouth’s time, whatever that happens to be. Would that be $250 per hour? Maybe. Would that be “a pint of my boss’s blood every thirty minutes”? Also possible.

        2. Lis*

          And the rate should be at least as much as you are paid to work there. That is the value of an hour of your time as they have already determined. Since it is your free time I’d add on 50% more myself. But your base rate is a hard one for them to argue with. But just say no if you don’t need the extra money.

      3. I Work on a Hellmouth*

        Honestly, I wouldn’t do it if I were paid. That’s a LOT of work. Like, so very many hours of work. I sew garments for myself for fun. So I started with the soft no, and if it comes up any more, oh no, my machine has broken! Oh dear. What a shame.

        1. Celaena Sardothien*

          Okay, people like your boss baffle me. I could understand if she offered to PAY you to sew all those slipcovers–that would at least be reasonable. But to expect you to do it for nothing? Wait, wait, don’t tell me. She’s one of those “we give you the gift of working here so you owe us every second of your time” types. Ugh.

          1. Lily Rowan*

            I think it’s more, “But you LOVE sewing! Surely you love doing the project I came up with as much as you love doing the projects you came up with yourself????”

    2. Baby Fishmouth*

      I’ve started knitting, and when I mentioned to a coworker that I had knit the socks I was wearing that day, she started hinting that she wanted a pair. I will no longer be bringing up my knitting at work (which sucks because I’m so proud of the things I make!).

      1. InfoSec SemiPro*

        100% the “oh thank you, they are awesome! you should learn to knit too!” (not “I’ll teach you” the difference is important.)

        1. Charlotte Collins*

          Or offer to share a pattern with her.

          As far as I’m concerned, only family members are allowed to ask me to make them a knitted item. And those are always gifts for holidays or birthdays. And if they don’t show appreciation, they get off the list. (But I come from a family of crafters and artists, so that’s never happened.)

      2. Hope*

        My personal policy has become “if you expect me to knit a thing for you, I am not going to knit anything for you”. If someone shows me a cool knitted thing because they like it and thought I would like it too (because I’m into knitting and/or it’s cool), well, if I like it and decide to knit it, then they might get that thing. I give away most of my knitting because I like making things and I like giving things away, but I don’t knit on command.

        The advice to suggest the other person learn to knit is good advice, too. “There’s so many online tutorials, you can definitely teach yourself” is a good refrain.

        1. Cassandra*

          It’s true! It’s true! (Assuming no physical or mental things prohibit.)

          I am teaching myself to knit right now. My first thing is… a thing, with lots of errors in it, but it will do the job I want it for and it’s enough to learn on. My knitty friends are being super-encouraging and patiently answering all my newbie questions (“it says to knit X inches before switching colors; how do I properly measure this?”), and nobody cares if I have to watch a video ten times before I can correctly do a thing.

        2. I Work on a Hellmouth*

          I always recommend that they buy a copy of Stitch n’ Bitch. It usually stops the conversation.

        3. Ama*

          I’m actually willing to teach people to knit if they really want to learn, but the onus is on them to propose a time to get together — I coordinate a lot of meetings in my day job, I try to avoid being the organizer in my off hours. I have a coworker who is a little interested and I’ve given her some tips in passing but she is currently continuing to try to figure it out on her own.

          But I did have a coworker at a former job who found out I knit and brought in some amazing vintage pieces her mother had knit because she thought I might like to see them(coworker was quite a bit older than I was so these were pieces from the 1940s and 50s). That was really fun.

          1. Kitryan*

            Best response from that coworker! I’d love sharing cool items and I like talking about everyone’s outside of the office skills. It’s a shame that people spoil that by overstepping and underestimating the work involved and crossing the streams.

        4. Panda*

          I wish their was a “Like” button. I sew and crochet. I get people asking me to make them stuff all the time. I made a purse that took me almost 40 hours to make. No one could afford to pay me to do that.

          I did make bowl cozies for my coworkers for Christmas this year though, because I like making stuff for people, but I don’t like the pressure of making something someone “orders” and is paying for. It’s way too stressful!

      3. CoveredInBees*

        I bet she assumes that you’d need no more than an hour from start to finish. People who don’t knit often have ridiculous notions of how long something takes to make.

        Maybe you could even knock them out during your lunch break! /s

      4. Catalin*

        “Oh, thank you! If you’d like a pair, I can get it done for you in about 8 weeks. Socks like these would cost $15-24 dollars, depending on the kind of wool you want.”

        1. another knitter*

          $15-24 for the yarn, and then a LOT more for the labour! I mean even if you’re paying yourself $5/hr, that’s still at least $40 on top of the yarn costs. (I figure socks usually take me about 6-8 hours per pair, depending on the size.) Suddenly a pair of hand knitted socks at $60 doesn’t seem so appealing to most people. And I personally think I’d want to be paid more than $5/hr for my labour, if it’s not just a labour of love. For good friends or family members? Sure, I’ll do it for free! It’s a gift. But I don’t love random coworkers or acquaintances.

          1. The Dread Pirate Buttercup*

            But those “in the know” always know what to get you for (gag) Secret Santa — a book of one-skein projects and a skein of the nicest blend that your max budget will allow.

      5. Amberlyn*

        When people start hinting that they’d like one of whatever I’ve been crocheting lately, I always offer to send them the pattern.

    3. CoveredInBees*

      So, they’re cool with you doing all of that sewing during work hours. And they’ll be sourcing the materials and any addition items your sewing machine would need to work with heavy fabrics? Yeah, I didn’t think so. That’s nuts.

      1. I Work on a Hellmouth*

        Right? And she brought it up immediately after a team meeting where she told us we were “going to have to get creative to cut corners and save money” and also “step out of our comfort zones.” Within two hours she was casually waving around tutorials she had found on Pinterest and printed out, all while loudly saying things like “My! This sounds so simple! Surely this would be so easy!”

        1. Pebbles*

          “We” need to save money by having YOU buy more material than you would otherwise? How creative of them! /s

    4. animaniactoo*

      “That will be done during work hours in place of my normal responsibilities, right? Did you intend for me to bring my sewing machine here and set it up for a week or so? That would be best so that I can double-check fit as I’m going on the slipcovers, but if it’s not possible, you understand that I won’t be in the office for a week or more, will you be able to arrange coverage for [XYZ]? Oh! One more thing – the company will be supplying all the materials and nothing will be out of pocket for me, correct? Do you want me to research and tell you what to go get, or give me a credit card or cash and I’ll pick it up myself and bring you back a receipt?”

      1. I Work on a Hellmouth*

        See, that would work in normal places. But I work on a Hellmouth. After my initial soft no and resistance to doing any such thing off of the clock, my boss brought up doing it at work, insisted that I could easily use my home machine on upholstery fabric, and that she would WANT me to be measuring and fitting as I go. You know, in addition to handling all of my work responsibilities and the kind of extra ludicrous situations that tend to crop up daily here.

        1. Kitryan*

          No no no nonononono. I once had to dye a sofa slipcover at work – at a theater costume shop, so not as weird as it might be at an accounting firm or something, but the slipcover was not for a play and I wasn’t the dyer. I did get out of dyeing a wedding dress (they asked and I basically said ‘this is a no win situation, we shouldn’t do it’). At a law firm I ended up making a lamé cape for a karaoke type event- but I was paid for my time and materials and felt ok opting out if I’d wanted to.
          Anyway, being the office crafter/knitter/stitcher can be as bad as being the office baker. Just say no to slipcovers is now my rallying cry!

        2. animaniactoo*


          Pardon me, I underestimated the insanity. Um. Tell her that a) No, you absolutely will not be able to handle all of your work responsibilities at the same time as doing this – it will simply take up too much mental space and you wouldn’t be able to focus and one or the other job will end up being done incorrectly. That’s apart from the actual time that you don’t have enough actual time available to spare so much to upholstery without having to drop some of your regular work duties. And b) your home machine isn’t rated to be able to work with such heavy fabrics, they’ll have to rent one for you to work on. By the day.

          Draw it up as a real proposal for her – source the machine rental, projected fabric and thread cost etc., coverage for your normal work duties.

          Unless you’re completely opposed to doing it even under those circumstances? In which case… um. Sorry? Alison! Help!

          1. Amberlyn*

            Could you write up a proposal and also include a list of local sewing experts who do work for pay? I don’t know if you have a hobby group where you live, but if you do, you may know of people willing to take on the project. That way you’re providing the resource without having to be the one who does the project. Just a thought.

            1. I Work on a Hellmouth*

              Well, no, not really. She doesn’t want a proposal, she specifically wants free slipcovers made by me on my time or on company time while also completing my normal work duties (which have nothing to do with sewing or office decoration and typically don’t leave me with much if any down time). Paying someone is what she is trying to NOT do. But it’s okay, I’m totally comfortable sidestepping indefinitely or claiming a broken sewing machine if I have to.

              1. animaniactoo*

                Yeah, my only suggestion behind writing up the proposal is to convince her that it will actually NOT be free and in fact will cost quite a lot of money to have you do it, more than she wants to spend even if it comes out cheaper than buying it outright.

                But that only works if you’d be willing to do it under those conditions, otherwise it backfires if she says “Okay, I approve this.”

                Part of me wants her to approve it if only to see her face when the machine rental gets more expensive every day that you end up having too much in the way of ludicrous situations popping up that only you can handle, and she has to authorize you to handle that and extend the rental for another day.

              2. Ice and Indigo*

                Or maybe develop a mysterious injury in your sewing finger? (Yes, *I* know there’s no such thing when it comes to machine sewing, but I bet she doesn’t.)

        3. Salamander*

          Yeaaahhh…I would not be using my home machine on upholstery fabric. Nuh-uh. If your machine breaks and needs repair, your boss sure as heck isn’t going to pay for it.

          I feel your pain. I sew garments for myself, too, and do the occasional quilt or potholder set for gifts. At the offices I’ve worked in, I keep a tiny sewing kit for myself and I’m happy to help if someone is going to go into a meeting with a bigwig and has a dropped hem or has popped a button or something. But I am not for hire. People have entirely unrealistic expectations about the time, materials, and what the finished product will be like, and it’s really not my job to educate them. If someone wants to know a pattern number or ask a question about sewing, I’m happy to share. But I have too much going on in my life to be taking requests.

          If anyone asks sewing favors of me, I just say: “Wow, I can’t. That’s really beyond my ability.” If they can’t take that soft “no” and want to argue, then I wind up having to get more forceful. People can be very self-serving about appropriating your time and talents. They feel that they have nothing to lose by asking, because it totally serves their interests. It puts the recipient of the request in a very uncomfortable position of having to deny a request or sink a lot of their time and money into serving other people. People like your boss need to knock it off. She can buy her own slipcovers.

  4. Detective Amy Santiago*


    Good luck with your job search! The fact that you got written up for having personal items in your vehicle is still absolutely infuriating.

      1. I Work on a Hellmouth*

        Er, the specific, newly revealed rationale, I mean. It was already pretty WTF when I first read about it in the original letter.

        1. Detective Amy Santiago*

          Yeah, it doesn’t make any sense to me whatsoever and if I remember correctly, a number of trans folks commented on the original post saying the same. People who have a uterus and are of a certain age need menstrual products.

          1. JS82*

            Heck one time I was stuck in the office on a conference call and my boss went and got tampons for me since I couldn’t leave. We keep them in the women’s bathroom so, the horror, another woman might see them.

          2. Où est la bibliothèque?*

            Is she going to be just as upset by an office having a “new mothers” room for pumping breast milk if her body can’t lactate?

            1. Detective Amy Santiago*

              Especially when there are plenty of cis women who don’t have periods/can’t give birth/can’t breastfeed for a variety of reasons.

                1. Not Until after Christmas*

                  Post-menopausal woman here who is overjoyed to no longer need to purchase or use menstrual products. Absolutely nothing for me to get upset about.

                2. IDon’tRememberWhatNameIUsedBefore*

                  I have been going through menopause for what seems like freaking EVER now and I can’t WAIT to be past this crap FOREVER.

              1. Kuododi*

                Speaking as a woman for whom cancer eliminated any chance of biological parenting years ago, I would give all my worldly possessions to have the pain, discomfort and mess of my cycles back. I just wanted to be able to have a child with DH. Unfortunately, it came down to a life or death choice for me.

                1. 1561kjhf2*

                  yeah but that’s just you and you’re not unreasonable to the point of freaking out seeing a maxi pad.

            2. Arielle*

              Exactly, it’s the difference between saying “We’re going to call it a lactation room to be inclusive of anyone who needs it for that purpose regardless of gender identity” and “Not everyone can lactate therefore we’re not offering the room to anyone.”

      1. Cat wrangler*

        I’m astounded that anyone would feel the need to complain about what they’d seen in my car, let alone my company writing me up for it. I’d be tempted to ask if the company preferred me to bleed over the office chairs instead or maybe I should wfh during my (not) monthly period to save offence (but then I am 46 and rarely get embarrassed now: it would have been different at 20 or 25). Makes me wonder how they would respond to a pregnant coworker leaving breast pads or maternity wear in their car in a similar way.

      2. GreyjoyGardens*

        IKR! This person *went snooping*. And then had the gall to tattle on LW for “not keeping things private!” In a bag in the car IS private, as far as I am concerned.

        This really gets my goat because it seems like LW 1’s coworker deliberately went snooping around for a way to get LW in trouble.

        1. Detective Amy Santiago*

          And that doesn’t even make sense given that LW said she had never interacted with complaining coworker before.

          1. Nerdy Library Clerk*

            Suddenly I find myself wondering if the complainer had originally intended to get a *different* coworker in trouble, but made a mistake of cars. Like, they thought it was the car of someone they *did* have some kind of grudge against and then went to security to “find out” whose car it was and whoops, it wasn’t whoever they were after, but now they were committed. (Or would’ve had to reveal that they were trying to cause problems.)

            Because, as bananacrackers as the thing is, no matter how you look at it, it would at least make a warped sort of sense to peer into the car of someone you were out to get, looking for things to complain about. Going through, what, every car in the parking lot? Looking for sanitary products? That’s epic bananacrackers.

            Also, if they’d never interacted, finding out whose car it was had to be part of what happened. (Though I still can’t explain why someone didn’t gently explain that something in a shopping bag in the backseat of someone’s car in the parking lot is very much keeping things private and ask her why she was peeking in cars in the first place. But then then, the place sounds like it had more issues than just that.)

  5. Chuck*

    Other than seeing the person who complained in passing I had never talked to her. She didn’t work in my area and I didn’t find out she was transgender until after I was written up and my boss told me. I am gay and I would never want a member of the LGBT+ community or any other person to be hurt. There was no past history between us. The reason for the write-up was that I made her feel uncomfortable and excluded and should be keeping “items of that nature” private.

    Ugh. It sounds like she was feeling dysphoric and took it out on you. I can empathize, but it’s not an excuse. Especially since she was peering in your car, apparently.

    Sorry about your layoff, OP! I hope you find a job with more reasonable coworkers, and I’m glad that writeup won’t count against you.

  6. LadyCop*

    #1 Uhhh no one should really ever be written up for making someone feel “excluded” because this isn’t the elementary school playground…and we can’t be responsible for people being “uncomfortable” because we should not be managing each other’s feelings.

    But there’s a strange sense of entitlement given the (antagonists??? too strong a word maybe?) transgender status… because seriously none of that is under the OP’s control…I just feel gross.

    1. Naomi*

      Eh, I think there are situations where someone could legitimately complain about feeling uncomfortable or excluded at work; it’s just that this isn’t one of them. OP wasn’t buying menstrual supplies AT her coworker.

      1. Detective Amy Santiago*

        I could *almost* agree with the write up if the OP had the products displayed on her desk. Almost. The fact that they were in her car in a shopping bag is utterly baffling.

          1. JS82*

            It would be the most immature thing to write someone up over. It is not unprofessional to have maxi pads. Not even a little. Heck I just grab one and walk to the bathroom not too concerned if someone sees me. I mean I’m not waving it around but I don’t always have pockets. You can assume that if you see a woman from puberty to menopause age, she’s having it. I’m exhausted with people being offended by it. I’m offended I have to suffer at work when i can barely sit without crying and am so tired from the physical pain that i can barely function. Frankly I think women should have some days to deal with this beyond sick days and some countries have proposed just this. My old boss found “awful cramps” to be a perfectly acceptable reason to need to work from home or cut out early as, you know, he was mature and got it.

        1. Fulana del Tal*

          Nope nope nope. Women don’t have their periods at people they just have them. You wouldn’t defend a male coworker asking not to see feminine hygiene products because he thinks they are gross. I think there was a letter about this a few years ago. If people have feelings about a natural body function that’s on them to resolve not women.

          1. Fact & Fiction*

            Exactly! This stigma around feminine hygiene products is ridiculous. It’s one of the reasons I’m matter-of-fact with discussing the whole period thing and associated considerations with my son, who’s closer to being a teenager than I want to think. He and I were talking about how embarrassed a lot of men get even talking about periods and goodness forbid you actually ask one of those men to actually BUY YOU products if you’re sick or something. Fortunately my husband has never had an issue with that. My son made me extremely proud when he said, “That’s silly. It’s like getting embarrassed when someone asks you to buy toilet paper.”

            His future wife, should he choose to get married and that person be a woman who needs such products, can thank me later. ;)

            1. Aveline*

              When I lived in Europe 20+ years ago, I had a male professor who once ran out to his car and opened up his shopping to grab a tampon for another student who needed it. He had bought them for his wife.

              He was completely unashamed about having bought them or being the only person in the group with one to spare.

              He viewed it as no different than giving her an extra packet of Kleenex.

              I don’t know if it was his Swedish hippie upbringing, that he was exceptionally woke, or that he grew up with 5 sisters (the only boy). But it was refereshing.

        2. Yorick*

          I’d agree if she, like, papered the trans coworker’s desk with them or something. But not if they were just sitting in any place where she keeps them.

          1. Kitryan*

            Yup, she’d basically have to be making them part of the office decor. They are a product like any other, that some people need and others don’t.
            If I bought insoles from the drugstore and they were on my desk would someone who had lost a foot be able to reasonably be offended that I was parading my two footedness around the office? Heck, I’m not supposed to take Advil and related products because of my medical history but I’m not offended that it’s stocked in the office supply closet.
            There is enough weird stigma around mensturation that is all about othering women (I know that not all women and not only women have periods but the stigma I’m referencing is itself reductive and erasing of these points) and casting female-coded bodies as other and icky. Ties into medical issues around testing and treatment and it all makes me so angry I could spit.
            On a positive note, I just wish that more people were like my dad in this area. He has 2 daughters and a wife and no sons. A big routine in our family growing up was for me and my sister to go grocery shopping with him every weekend. We’d get to the pads’n tampons aisle and he’d ask, out loud, just as he had in the soap and shampoo section, if we needed any pads or anything while picking up for mom, if she was low. No big deal, no cooties, no problem. It just shouldn’t be an issue.

        3. Nicelutherangirl*

          The tampons probably worked their way out of the box and lined up in the car window, then, as the co-worker was passing by, probably stuck their tongues out at her and went “Nanny nanny boo boo…”. As soon as she was gone, they jumped back in the box. They’re clever like that.

    2. AK*

      I couldn’t disagree more, saying that you can’t be responsible making others uncomfortable sounds like it could be justification for a lot of harassment that protected groups deal with and should absolutely be reporting.

      1. Cherry*

        I don’t think that comment meant someone can go around harassing others. I’m all for being kind and considerate. But when someone is living their life, minding their own business and someone is bound to get offended by that—I just feel like that diminishes real incidents of harassment.
        I had a similar discussion when some people get angry at seeing ultrasounds on social media bc they are trying to conceive.

        No one is shoving their period or baby in your face, or having their period at you. It’s a normal part of life for many people

        1. Yorick*

          Right, and it’s normal to see someone’s ultrasound and get sad because you haven’t gotten pregnant yet. Not ok to be mean or whatever to the new parents.

      2. Dust Bunny*

        But in this instance, they were IN HER CAR. They weren’t even in the office! The complainant saw them by peeking through the window of the OP’s personal vehicle, in the parking lot.

        1. AK*

          I’m not at all arguing that this particular person wasn’t ridiculous, just that “we can’t control other peoples’ feelings” opens the door for that to be said in cases where we would absolutely be on the side of the one offended.

      3. Observer*

        Equating having normal feminine hygiene items or other normal and reasonable behavior with harassment because that normal and reasonable behavior makes someone uncomfortable is out of line. It’s the kind of thing that gives political correctness a bad name, and really puts waaaaaay too much responsibility on people for things out of their control and relieves others of any responsibility to manage their own reactions.

        1. AK*

          I’m not arguing about the LW’s situation, I think we pretty much all agree that was ridiculous and I’m glad the HR rep said as much. My response was specific to LadyCop’s statement that “no one should really ever be written up for making someone feel “excluded” because this isn’t the elementary school playground…and we can’t be responsible for people being “uncomfortable””

          That attitude is regularly used to justify harassing behavior, I heard it 3 days ago at our holiday event. A colleague made a few awful sexist and explicit jokes, was quietly taken aside by management and told to tone it down, then spent the rest of the night telling everyone who would listen that “some people were offended by comedy” in a mock whining tone. There are absolutely times when you SHOULD be held responsible for making people uncomfortable, and just because this wasn’t one of them doesn’t mean the blanket statement is okay.

          1. Becca*

            I get what you’re saying and had the same thought. Yes, this woman in particular was being unreasonable. But all the boundary crossing bosses and coworkers we hear about certainly should be held responsible for making people uncomfortable. It’s not regressing to elementary school playground rules to hold people to some standard.

          2. Shad*

            To me the difference is that with actual harassment you’d have something specific to write them up for—even the difference between “excluding [target]” and “making [target] feel excluded” is significant because of the difference in intent.

            1. Observer*

              There is difference in both intent and behavior. To take the well known metaphor, if you’re standing on someone’s foot, then intent is not enough to keep you from needing to get off that person’s foot. But, if you are not actually standing on someone’s foot, you really can’t be expected to take responsibility for the fact that the other person’s foot hurts.

    3. Nervous Accountant*


      I swear I am not being sarcastic here, but I feel really bad for the person who feels so awful seeing maxi pads in a persons shopping bag that they have to go after their coworkers. I know

        1. Nervous Accountant*

          No idea what was said here but I meant it when I said I feel bad for that person who went after the letter writer. (not that LW did anything wrong!) I mean, if seeing mundane everyday products affects ones life so much, that is tough to deal with.

    4. Falling Diphthong*

      One of the great AAM letters was from a manager who had made her office a fun place to be with her friends, and the new lady they tried to leave behind to answer the phones when they made their beer runs was being awkward.

      1. Decima Dewey*

        I laughed when I realized that manager seemed to think that going to the brewery every week would somehow make the brewery management say “We must use Corporation X for our insurance needs.”

  7. Goya de la Mancha*

    #1 Grrr! It’s not like you were running around the office doing a conga dance with tampons singing “I get my period and you don’t hey!”

    #5 Yay for balance! Glad you were able to find it in this new job.

    1. That girl from Quinn's house*

      A girl in my freshman dorm did that dance (minus the “and you don’t” part) after a pregnancy scare.

    2. Rez123*

      90% of our office are women. It would be so fun for someone to start a conga line and then the others who have period at the same time could join them

  8. Jules the 3rd*

    #5 Yeah wow. 50 days with no break, including calling you in on scheduled breaks, is not reasonable.

    Glad to hear you’ve found something that works better for you.

  9. GreyjoyGardens*

    Re LW 1 and the menstrual supplies: It sounds like the “talebearer” really had to go looking to find them – they were in a bag in the back seat of LW’s car! LW was keeping them plenty private – Talebearer was just being nosy, and, it seems, looking for an excuse to get LW in trouble. (This is when “telling” does qualify as “tattling,” IMO.) If you aren’t gonna like what you find – best not to snoop.

    It sounds like that job was toxic. Good luck on your job search, LW1, and hope you find a better one soon!

    1. AJ*

      I don’t think it had to be the LW. Could have been that vindictive coworker was looking to do this to anyone they could.

  10. Lynca*

    “The reason for the write-up was that I made her feel uncomfortable and excluded and should be keeping “items of that nature” private.”

    AGGGGHHH. They. Were. In. THE CAR.

    Hopefully you end up with a better boss in the next job OP.

  11. BradC*

    Good update, OP #5. Glad you found something that suits you better.

    I have found that different workplaces sometimes mean different things even when they use the exact same terms, so really digging into the details during an interview is very important.

    For example, I had one job where being “on-call” was truly brutal (15-minute response time required, pager could go off every 2 hours night and day all weekend long, etc.). Tough but fortunately there were enough team members that you only had to cover one week every 2 months or so.

    So when I interviewed somewhere else and asked about their on-call rotation, I kind of freaked out when they said they each team member is on-call for an entire month! Deal breaker! Until we talked more and they mentioned the last time anyone got a middle-of-the-night page was months before. Totally different environment, totally different requirements.

  12. Mary*

    Hey guys, I know we take the LWs at their word, but in this case the information that a trans woman complained because she felt “excluded” seems to have come via LW#1’s boss, who is quite clearly a big weirdo, so I think it might be worth treating it with a bit of scepticism. I’m probably over sensitive about this compared to US commenters because we have such an AWFUL public culture of transphobia in the UK at the moment, but 50-odd comments saying “ugh, that trans woman is awful, how dare she” seems really stigmatising and plays directly into the hands of anti-trans and anti-LGBT campaigners. Maybe she was having a really crappy day, maybe LW1’s awful boss misinterpreted or overreacted to her comments, maybe she’s just an awful person. There are so many terrible people coming for trans women at the moment that it would be great to give her the benefit of the doubt.

    1. Detective Amy Santiago*

      I think the comments are more directed at the boss for actually writing up the OP than they are at the person who complained.

      1. gmg22*

        I wish I had that sense, too, because my strong feeling is that HR was the player in this scenario that really bungled it. But most of what I see is “What a busybody, how dare she take her issues out on someone who had items in a bag in a car!”

        People struggle in their non-work lives, and sometimes that spills over into going overboard in workplace interactions. Heck, this is what a good portion of Allison’s letters boil down to. But it is HR’s job to navigate those situations in a fair way. They failed here. They are the ones who went overboard.

    2. Anna*

      Her crappy day is not permission to be crappy to someone else. One can be a trans person and still be ridiculous about some things. Because they are still fully formed human beings. This would be one of those times.

    3. Jenny Craig*

      I was with you until you said “maybe she was having a really crappy day.” You’re right that a boss that writes someone up for pads and discloses someone’s trans status probably isn’t the most trustworthy, upright kind of person; and I also agree that we can’t paint all trans people in the same light because (according to the OP’s boss) one trans person was a butthole. There are buttholes in every single demographic.

      But the really crappy day thing…yeah, still not okay. She got someone in trouble at her job! That’s so unreasonable that it speaks to an entire underlying entitlement/histrionics/I don’t know, some other form of Major Buttholeness. And it’s not like she was walking by and mentioned “Ugh, I hate seeing maxipads, they make me kinda sad” She had to walk inside, figure out whose car it was, figure out the car owner’s manager, and file a complaint.

      1. That aggressive dyke is lashing out again.*

        If you were with her up until then, why are you continuing to pile on? I completely agree with Amy; just like in the original post, this is apparently a sterling opportunity for people to crawl out of the woodwork and complain about teh trans going too far. Its the gender equivalent of that story about the college students starting a petition about culturally insensitive cafeteria food. Is this story implausible? Nah. In the grand scheme of things, are trans women in a position of authority or high status under patriarchy? Are they typically making rather than weathering bullshit complaints about inappropriate workplace behavior? No.

        1. Jenny Craig*

          Umm, because the Pad Tattler was wrong and the person I was responding to seemed to be implying that trans people should get a pass when they’re having bad days. As if trans people can’t control their emotions or be responsible for their actions? Uhh, no. The Pad Tattler being trans has nothing to do with whether she acted like a Butthole, and it should neither be an excuse or a reason to attack.

      2. Mary*

        If it went down the way LW1’s unreasonable and ridiculous boss said it did – a trans women complained in the expectation that someone would get written up – yep, that individual trans person was absolutely in the wrong. But that is not evidence that women who menstruate are being oppressed by trans women. There are comments upthread saying stuff like, “Oh, so we’re not supposed to talk about periods now in case we offend trans people? that’s ridiculous!” There are comments on the previous thread saying, “this is just further evidence of how biological women’s rights are being trampled on.” These are explicit transphobic talking points, and it’s absolutely not OK to extrapolate from second-hand reports of one trans woman complaining to pretending there’s a wider pattern.

    4. Traffic_Spiral*

      That’s a good point, the boss could have just made it up on the spot to conceal the actual reason because s/he was like “ok, now that I think about it, it was That Dude who complained and I’m going to look like a sexist dinosaur if I actually tell the truth so… quick, think of something that sounds sorta SJW-ish… trans! Yup, something, something, trans.”

    5. WakeUp!*

      Thank you for saying this! This was obviously a fake letter being written by a TERF. The original post had people who probably aren’t consciously transphobic generating TERF talking points word for word. This kind of scenario, where trans women victimize cis women on the basis of their “biological womanhood” is exactly the kind of scenarios TERFs love to invent.

      This. Did. Not. Happen. Period. End of story.

      1. AnotherKate*

        I admit I was pretty skeptical myself. People are correct that there’s nothing stopping a trans person from being an unreasonable person! But gosh, how convenient for the TERFs and transphobes.

        1. WakeUp!*

          Yes, exactly. I saw some very frustrating convos in the OP that completely missed the point. Nobody is saying that trans folks can’t be unreasonable. But given how few states have ANY employment protection AT ALL based on gender identity, I feel confident saying that a trans person throwing a fit *calling attention to their gender identity* has never happened.

          1. Starbuck*

            Good news – at last count, 16 state plus DC have laws on the books outlawing employment discrimination on the basis of gender identity. Hopefully those protections can be expanded nationally ASAP.

          1. Ask a Manager* Post author

            Actually, no, they didn’t. I had some back and forth with them in email, and they mentioned it way into that email exchange. And then I’m the one who mentioned that in the comments, not them.

            1. WakeUp!*

              ….and then the comments got taken over by people talking about “biological women.” I might have been wrong about who initially inserted the detail about the trans coworker, but it was a TERF field day in those comments.

              1. Recovering journalist*

                It sounds like you were totally wrong about all of this, and despite AG correcting you nicely, you keep insisting this is a TERF issue instead of accepting it for what it is. When you have to change your story multiple times after being corrected, maybe it’s time to admit you were wrong and stop.

              2. Ask a Manager* Post author

                I don’t think it was being TERF driven; there isn’t usually much TERF presence here. I do think there was a lot of transphobia in those comments, but I don’t think it was from TERFs in particular. I think there’s just … a lot of transphobia in society, and we saw that there unfortunately.

          2. it's me*

            Please, there are many, many stories of trans people trying to shut down or censor discussion of women’s bodies.

      2. Starbuck*

        What makes it obviously fake? If you re-read the original post, Alison mentioned that the OP didn’t say the complainer was trans until the second or third reply. And we’ve seen similar letters here in the past (usually though it’s a man who’s complaining about menstrual products, not a trans woman) who’ve made pretty much identical complaints and no one is skeptical of those because it really does happen to women all the time. No one gets a pass on misogyny, not even trans women, and suggesting they’re somehow incapable of it is a really bizarre take.

        1. it's me*

          It’s not necessarily fake at all. Interesting that many of the same people expressing sympathy for someone reporting on a coworker for having menstrual supplies in her car are also claiming this must be a fake letter.

      3. DArcy*

        It does sound very much like either the LW or the LW’s boss is a transphobic bigot. If anything, I’d suggest that it’s more likely the boss, who could easily have made up the complaint entirely of whole cloth as an excuse to out the trans coworker and demonize her.

        Otherwise, the story makes no sense. Why would a random coworker whom you’ve had no negative interactions with and whom you barely interact with at all be snooping in your car?

        1. Airy*

          It makes sense (the initial snooping) based on the premise that this is an unreasonable person. They occur in all demographics.

      4. Mary*

        I didn’t think it was necessarily deliberately written by a TERF, but I think you have to have kinda TERFy glasses on to think that:

        – trans woman sees menstrual products
        – trans woman is offended
        – trans woman complains to management in full expectation that management will support her and punish co-worker
        – management act on trans woman’s complaint

        is a reasonable and plausible set of events. Not saying it’s impossible, but it’s SUPER implausible. But it’s totally plausible if you start from the assumption that teh eeeevil Trans are oppressing the poor biological XX Goody women.

        Things that seem a lot more plausible to me:
        – boss made up trans woman complainant because it made their overreaction seem more plausible
        – they’re in some kind of sales where everyone is expected to have super fancy corporate clean cars and any shopping but especially ~lady products~ are an offence against the eyes, and trans-ness is irrelevant
        – trans woman was having a super bad dysphoric day, and mentioned seeing menstrual products and feeling vaguely upset about it to boss without any expectation that boss would “do something about it”, and boss went into hyper-corrective mode and massively overreacted
        – who knows.

        I’m not blaming LW or Alison at all, neither of whom seem to have deliberately introduced the fact that the complainant was trans to inflame the discussion. I do think that anyone who went from “complainant was trans” to “WHAT? I don’t care whether you’re trans or purple or whatever, that is OUTRAGEOUS we’re not even allowed to have PERIODS now??” without considering whether this sounds plausible should think about why they did that.

    6. Perpal*

      I think it’s the same as other letters where
      1) coworker makes unreasonable request/demands/complaints (because humanity is a many varied pageantry I guess)
      2) the complaint is inexplicably treated as reasonable / inappropriate censures are levied by the powers that be
      Maybe it’s about mental health ie; that place that was trying to get everyone to dress in accordance with one employee’s OCD, or maybe it’s someone stealing spicy food and sleeping with HR, or whatever. Maybe some of the letters are fake; I imagine most are real because, again, life is weird. The trans aspect is to me sort of interesting in an “oh, huh, ok” sort of way but I think it just comes down to unreasonable people come in all flavors and sometimes administrations can fail (too much or too little discipline). IDK we see so many outlandish letters here and the right take away points are the same; leave coworker’s personal spaces/time/etc alone, and admin is allowed to sanity check complaints and should shut down unreasonable ones.

    7. Observer*

      Sure, it’s quite possible that it’s the boss being a total jerk about this. But, no one is say “Oh, see how bad trans people are!” In fact, the reverse. Secondly, we do know that someone complained about the pads to the manager. It doesn’t really matter why, because there’s just no good reason for that, whether trans was part of their excuse or not.

      1. Observer*

        Actually, I should amend that – the boss was being a jerk. But the person who complained was still a jerk, and trying to make the disgusted reactions about trans-phobia is just not based in reality. No one is saying that at all.

        1. Mary*

          I just think it’s super unlikely that:

          – trans woman sees menstrual products
          – trans woman is offended
          – trans woman complains to management in full confidence/expectation that management will support her and punish co-worker
          – management act on trans woman’s complaint

          is a reasonable and plausible set of events.

          Like, of course there are annoying and arsey trans people. That’s not at stake at all. I just think the idea that a trans woman would be upset about menstrual products in the back of someone’s car and complain about them to management in order to get someone into trouble is super-duper unlikely.

  13. Jennifer Juniper*

    Why the hell was anyone looking into the backseat of OP1’s car? That sounds like low-level stalking/harassment to me. I’m glad OP1 doesn’t have to be in contact with that person.

  14. Urdnot Bakara*

    I re-read the original letter for #1 and it turns out I missed a truly thrilling conversation about **vaginal glue** that went on in the comments.

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