can I steal my coworkers’ screaming monkey toy, telling an employee to remove a political post from her Facebook page, and more

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

1. Can I take confiscate my coworkers’ screaming monkey toy?

Today, as has happened multiple times in the last few months, some of my nearby coworkers in our relatively small satellite office decided to play catch with this “screaming monkey toy.”

The noise it makes is outrageously loud, especially in our small space, and I’ve previously indicated (politely) to coworkers that I find the noise not only distracting, but extremely annoying. After the first time, I asked them if they could please make an effort to not set the toy off, because of those reasons. The toy has been used a handful of times since then, each time with me reminding them that it is disruptive and obnoxious and could they please not play with it when other people are trying to work.

And yet today happened anyways. Would it be rude of me to either remove the sound-making device or otherwise dispose of the toy?

Nope. Your need to focus at work trumps their interest in repeatedly playing with an obnoxiously loud toy. They are being rude, you have asked them multiple times to stop, and now you are fully entitled to arrange for the monkey’s release into the wild.

2. My boss wants an employee to remove an anti-abortion post from her personal Facebook page

My boss noticed that one of my direct reports posted an anti-abortion statement on her personal Facebook page. My boss wants me to use this as a coaching opportunity with my direct report to take the post down, because my boss doesn’t think it’s appropriate to post about “controversial” things when others know where you work (i.e., perhaps the employee’s social media “friends” are colleagues and current or prospective customers). To be clear, this employee was not posting on behalf of the company, this was on her personal Facebook page, and there is no company policy prohibiting this. Personally, it seems unrealistic for me to police others’ social media posts and also difficult to decide what is or isn’t “controversial” within the context of normal social discourse (we’re not talking hate speech here). What are your thoughts?

Yeah, your boss is out of line. Would she also take issue with an employee’s personal Facebook posts advocating reproductive choice? How about one calling for citizenship for DREAMers? How about a call for tax reform or health care access? Is she proposing that your employees be prohibited from any sort of political advocacy on social media?

People get to have personal lives outside of work, and they get to use their voices to speak up about issues that matter to them. As long as she’s not posting hate speech, and as long as she’s not in a position where her personal social media is likely to impact her ability to do her job effectively (which some people are), your boss should stay out of it.

3. How do I tell my coworker I’m applying for the same internal job she is?

I work at a 22-person company. I’ve been in the job for 6 months. I’m starting to feel that I’ve learned as much as I can from my current role and that I’m not being used to my full potential.

I learned that a new job is being added that would make better use of the skills I’ve developed over the past few years. The problem: it’s in another department, and a colleague with whom I’ve become pretty good work friends (we’re two of only three millenials at the company) is also planning on applying. She and I hold the same position but in different departments. The new job that’s being added is in her department. She’s been working at the company for about a year and is starting to feel stale in her role as well. She has one or two more years of work experience than I do, but I feel either one of us would really shine in that new role.

We were talking about it casually a few weeks ago, she told me she was planning on applying. At the time, I really wasn’t planning on applying (and told her as much) but after giving it more thought, I decided I should. How do I navigate this without making it awkward? Should I tell her I changed my mind? I don’t want this to be adversarial and will be happy for whoever gets the job.

“I wanted to let you know that I decided to throw my hat in the ring for the X job because it’s so in line with what I want to do. But I also think you’d be great at it, and I hope it won’t be weird that I’m applying too.”

She might be weird about it anyway, because some people get weird about this. But people can’t really call dibs on applying for a job, and you’re entitled to apply too.

4. My peer is my interim manager and can access my private personnel info

I have been in my role at my current organization for 3+ years. Our team includes one director and 13 team members who are all peers. During my time here, we’ve had some leadership changes. In 2017, my direct supervisor left. She was replaced by one of the members of our team, who accepted the role on an interim basis (she was offered the job and declined). When we hired a replacement (it took about eight months), the team member who served in the interim role went back to her old role as one of my colleagues.

Fast forward and now we’re in the same situation again. The replacement we hired lasted about seven months in the job before leaving for greener pastures. Again, the supervisor was replaced by another member of our team (different from the first colleague) who has accepted the role on an interim basis. She will not be considered for the permanent role because she doesn’t have the required qualifications.

I’m growing increasingly uncomfortable with colleagues having access to my personnel information while they serve in temporary supervisory roles. I have a documented (invisible) disability that I have workplace accommodations for, and which I keep private. There are now two colleagues who know about my accommodations because they have served in supervisory roles before going back to being regular colleagues. In addition, both individuals have access to my performance evaluations and other items in my personnel file, which I feel should be kept as private as possible. This whole situation of naming a team member as an interim supervisor and giving them the full range of supervisory responsibilities, and then having them just re-slot back into their old roles later, strikes me as very strange. Am I overreacting about this? Does this kind of thing happen all the time? Should I just get over it?

Yes, it’s pretty common. It often makes a lot of sense to hire an interim manager from among the existing team than to bring someone in from outside of it, and you can’t have some act as manager for months without having access to this type of personnel information. That’s especially true for information about accommodations — since they can’t accommodate you if they don’t know about those arrangements. (In most cases, at least. If it’s something like you having special equipment to do your job, they may never need to know about it. But if it’s something like a schedule adjustment or being exempted from a certain type of work, they’d need to know about it in order to ensure that accommodation is preserved.)

And while I totally get that it can feel weird to have someone potentially read all your performance evaluations and then go back to being your peer, there are cases where it’s really helpful for a new manager to have that info. For example, if they notice that Bob is chronically missing deadlines, it’s helpful to be able to see if that’s been an ongoing issue and/or one he’s been talked to about before.

I agree with you that personnel info should be kept “as private as possible.” But this type of access in this situation is warranted, and is pretty normal.

5. My manager calls and just reads my emails back to me

I am working on a time-sensitive project. My manager has asked me to keep him updated on the project. Once or twice a day, I email him a list of the test cases and their status. He will then call me, and read the email back to me. There are no actions that I need to take after the phone call. There is little to no clarification needed about the statuses of the test cases. He is literally just reading me an email that I just sent him. Sadly, he is asking for multiple tracking spreadsheets. Between creating the tracking spreadsheets, and then having them read back to me, I am losing up to two hours a day! I then get asked why I am not being more productive.

Is there a polite way to tell my boss that his phone calls are taking up a lot of time, are not productive, and it part of the reason that I am not getting more actual work done? I have been wracking my brain as to why this is his new way of managing, as this is not how it has always been. The tone of the emails is fine, as they are literally lists. They are not full of errors that he is pointing out, nor are actionable items being created as a result of the conversations. The best option that I can come with is that he doesn’t absorb information by reading, and needs to hear things. I acknowledge that, as my manager, he gets to tell me which tasks to complete, even if that task is “listen to me read stuff that you just sent me.” I am just super frustrated because this is wasting my time, and slowing down actual, productive work that needs to be done ASAP. I tried working when he was reading, and apparently wasn’t responsive enough to the conversation, so he asked me to stop.

Yeah, my bet is that he either processes by reading out loud and feels he needs someone there for that because otherwise he’s just talking to himself, or that he thinks he may have questions for you as he goes through the email and hasn’t put together yet that he never does.

Try saying this: “I’m spending up to two hours a day — about a quarter of my time — creating the tracking spreadsheets and then on the phone with you as you read through them. You don’t typically have questions for me as you read them, so I wanted to propose that we skip the phone call part and I can use that time to move through this more quickly. Of course, if you ran into a question when you report the status report, you’d still call me — but since it’s rare that you do end up asking me anything on those calls, it would be a way for me to get more of this done more quickly.”

{ 637 comments… read them below }

  1. Eric*

    Sorry #1, them being rude does not entitle you to steal or destroy their property. Talk to your/ their manager if the problem continues.

    1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

      I’m a little surprised on #1. I think it’s ok to speak to a manager about removing the toy. But I can’t imagine confiscating or disposing of a peer’s property, no matter how obnoxious it is.

      1. Artemesia*

        I’m with Alison on this one; just don’t get caught. Perhaps the back of a file drawer where it isn’t likely to be found quickly.

        1. JM60*

          As rude as the coworkers are being, I think it doesn’t entitle to OP to steal. Plus, the OP would be an obvious suspect after having requested them to stop in the past. The OP should instead talk to their manager, who should have the authority to require them to stop.

        2. CatCat*

          Even OP doesn’t get caught (and if he/she is?) and decides to play this stupid game, he or she will still win stupid prizes. Because stealing the monkey doesn’t actually address the problem. These things are ultimately easily replaced (assuming there’s no sentimental value the owner attaches to this particular one) so should OP just feel entitled to continue stealing?

          1. AdAgencyChick*

            Agree. I think the first time it “goes missing,” it might not be super obvious that it was stolen — maybe the cleaning staff moved it, maybe someone who actually likes the damned thing accidentally took it home. But if another monkey or equally noisy toy appears, and THAT disappears also, then all heads are going to swivel right to OP.

            I think OP should go to the offenders’ manager for sure.

            (Also, about 10 years ago this could have been me writing in about my one coworker and her Billy the Bass singing plaque. Horrendous!)

            1. Wintermute*

              The only acceptable use of a Billy the Bass is the hack that lets you turn one into a rather amusing home voice agent (think Amazon Alexa, Google Home, MS Cortana mesh from home PCs with remote speakers, etc).

            2. Wendy Darling*

              My dad’s Billy the Bass, which he got from a white elephant gift exchange, MYSTERIOUSLY vanished after a couple weeks.

              I didn’t steal it. I just relocated it. To an attic crawlspace no one ever went in and my dad didn’t even fit into.

        3. Move Over Thrawn - Florian Munteanu is BIGGER than you!*

          Sometimes extreme measures are required. I fully support Operation Monkey Removal.

          1. TexanInExile*

            I was on an overnight bus ride in Paraguay. The kid in front of me was playing with some very noisy toy and his mother wasn’t stopping him. After an hour, after thinking someone else would deal with this or that his mother would, I finally asked him to give it to me.

            He did.

            I said, “Thank you,” and just held it.

            After a few minutes, he looked very confused. His mom turned around.

            I handed it to her, saying, “This toy is very noisy and is disturbing everyone. Please do not let him play with it anymore.”

            She was so shocked that she put it away.

            I would have been able to sleep then except for the guy who threw up behind me.

        4. MusicWithRocksInIt*

          Can you just take the batteries out? They might feel that replacing the batteries is more trouble than it’s worth.

          1. animaniactoo*

            No batteries. It’s a sound chip with a motion sensor and a long-life button battery completely internal, you gotta cut it open to get to it.

            1. Else*

              Yes, they’re made to be super super obnoxious, without end. I put one of these in my office white elephant (to my delight, my grandboss got it). It was demonstrated, people laughed, and it went home with the prize winner to either the trash or her grandchildren. It did not stay to disrupt the office.

              1. Knuddel Daddeldu*

                Expert advice: Put it in the microwave, next to a glass of water (half full).
                Microwave for two seconds on low.
                Instant silence.

            2. Amy J.*

              Confiscated monkey overnight, perform minor surgery and remove the battery, sew monkey back up carefully, return to original position as if nothing happened.

          2. dawbs*

            The batteries are built in.
            My SPD kid was not diagnosed yet when someone gave us one. She started flipping it every time she even saw it.
            I took it to the garage and “fixed” it with a hammer. Still slingshots, no longer screams.
            (Does have a weird clunky spot in its guts now)

        5. Laurelma01*

          If I was the manager I could confiscate it and tell them I would give it back to them at the end of the day to take it home. Lots of thoughts in regards to this. Some not so pleasant. I would hate it.

          I would take it and hold it for ransom.

          1. Sally*

            I read your comment & thought, “this is just like kindergarten!” Adult coworkers really should not be behaving like this.

        6. ket*

          How ’bout bringing in a cheap birdcage and putting the screaming monkey in it? It’s clear it’s not lost or stolen — but it’s also clear in other ways ;)

        7. Burned Out Supervisor*

          I wouldn’t “steal it” per se, but I might move it somewhere inconspicuous. If I got called on it, I might say something like “Oh, I was playing with it the other day in a conference room to relieve stress and must have put it back in the wrong spot.”

          Also, maybe just talk to your manager first. Some offices are funny about staff property. I knew someone who hid her coworker’s purse to “teach her a lesson” about security in the workplace. Her friend did not take it well, rightly talked to her manager, and the woman ended up getting written up.

          1. Anita Brayke*

            My boss did this to me (the purse thing) at a very stressful anesthesia office on a very stressful day, where I had just come back from running yet another errand in the middle of trying to finish everything I had to do to help…you guessed it…my boss. I was most certainly NOT amused at the time. Later I understood she was trying to lighten the mood. She apologized, I forgave her, and we moved on, but do NOT mess with a stressed out assistant!

          2. Lock*

            Yikes. That was not well thought-out. My inhaler is in my purse, I would really not be cool about it being hidden from me.

      2. Jasnah*

        I think if you were to destroy your coworker’s annoying toy, you’d need to proceed like when Jim destroyed Dwight’s annoying exercise ball: by first asking how much it cost, with the insinuation that you’d pay to replace it.

        I think there might be more than financial repercussions in offices besides The Office though (like unrelated people thinking you’re a thief or partypooper).

        1. Laurelma01*

          I pulled it up, it’s listed twice on Amazon. $8.00 and $10.99. I would be so tempted to take the $#** thing, and leave a note with $10.00 in it stating the noise was driving me crazy.

          1. Laurelma01*

            State something about it was been arrested for violating office airways and local noise ordinance.

        2. dumblewald*

          I actually thought of Jim when I read this question – not because of this particular scene, but I feel like Jim would be good at thinking of some sort of prank that would annoy the people throwing the monkey around as much as it annoys the OP, just like he would whenever Dwight did something annoying.

      3. Falling Diphthong*

        I think it gets hazy if the screaming monkey is crossing your airspace when you take it down.

        1. Seeking Second Childhood*

          Pray that it lands on your desk … “No little neighborhood children can come into my yard to retrieve their balls. No co-workers can come into my cubicle to retrieve noisemakers that are preventing me from concentrating on my job.”

          More defensible than theft when the “just playing” crew report it up the food chain.

          1. Vicky Austin*

            “To retrieve their balls”

            And, because I have the sense of humor of a 13-year-old, I found that hilarious.

        2. dumblewald*

          I remember a scene from Friends where the guys in the apartment were throwing a basketball around, which was annoying Monica. She called to them to throw the ball to her, which she then proceeded to throw out the window. I would be so tempted to do this.

      4. Vicky Austin*

        I’m also with Alison. When they behave like children, it’s not out of line to treat them like children.

        1. Czhorat*

          It isn’t a peer’s place to do that, however.

          The OP has no authority over the annoying monkey-wielder, so no standing to confiscate the toy. As stupid as it is, this needs to be escalated if it’s causing too much of a headache.

          1. Vicky Austin*

            Then maybe the OP should report to management. If management is no help, and they continue to play with the toy, then OP should say, “If I have to ask you one more time not to play with that monkey, I’m confiscating it.” After that, OP would be entirely within his or her rights to confiscate it.

            1. valentine*

              This is still theft and management could be the type to do nothing about this, yet to fire OP for the theft or not being a team player.

            2. justcourt*

              “After that, OP would be entirely within his or her rights to confiscate it.”

              Yeah… no. That’s not a legal defense to theft. And stealing your coworker’s property is not ok even if your coworker is an inconsiderate wang.

              If the coworker won’t respond to OP’s requests, OP should escalate the issue to management. If management won’t do anything, OP should look into moving desks and/or wear ear plugs. OP could ask to work from home.

              OP should not steal. That’s not okay. And it doesn’t magically get better by calling it a confiscation rather than a theft.

      5. Peachkins*

        I was surprised too. That monkey sounds like something that would drive me insane, but I wouldn’t have thought stealing it to be the reasonable answer. I’d talk to my manager or HR in that situation.

        1. Artemesia*

          I might do a traveling monkey with others bothered by it — photos of it appear at various plays in the building and then around town — it becomes a joke — but it is traveling and not bugging the OP on a daily basis. But if there is a manager who would act, that would be a more permanent solution — but I am guessing the manager doesn’t manage or is one of the jagoffs if this is already happening on a regular basis.

          1. Another Anon*

            Honestly, taking someone’s property and then mocking them about the theft makes you a bigger jerk than the people throwing the monkey around the office.

      6. animaniactoo*

        Honestly, we own those. They got used a lot in the first month, and then usage sporadically dropped off. Because really, having a flying monkey is a gimmick toy. I think we haven’t even used them once in the past year (this reminds me to go pull one out of the closet and aim it at my husband this week, [evil grin]).

        If they were regularly flying around my workspace, I’d be in my manager’s office and if nothing happened, I would ABSOLUTELY “disappear” it. As someone with experience with it – they’re startling because it’s not just the sound it’s also the motion and I would feel completely justified in making that stop. I don’t care if they think it’s me as long as they can’t PROVE it was me.

      7. PB*

        I was surprised, too. I think this would warrant one more firm conversation with the coworker. If it happens again, talk to her manager. There’s also an argument for skipping the final conversation first, but I think it depends largely on how clear the conversation has been so far. OP says they asked them to “make an effort not to set the toy off,” which may have sounded optional to the coworkers.

        I would not advocate for just taking the toy. Saying “It was distracting so I stole it and threw it out” wouldn’t have gone over well in any office I’ve worked in.

      8. Monkey Madness*

        I was surprised by Alison’s response too. OP asked the coworker but never escalated it to the manager. I don’t think theft should be the next step, especially if it’s a group of coworkers engaging in it. Is this possibly part of the office culture? I had a job where flinging rubber bands at other coworkers cubicles, tossing a foam football around and other such activities were part of the “fun” atmosphere.

        1. dumblewald*

          The salespeople in my office do this. One of them has a toy basketball net hanging from their cubicle wall. But fortunately, the foam balls don’t make noise like a screaming monkey would, I imagine.

      9. The_artist_formerly_known_as_Anon-2*

        Yes, I agree. I had a co-worker who had one of those talking fish-on-a-plaque — probably the only person I ever knew who bought anything out of the SkyMall Catalog. Now, I appreciate that this toy was around his speed – but — yeah, it had to go.

    2. Dot Warner*

      Yep. I’m awfully surprised at Alison’s answer here; I think stealing or destroying the toy has a very good chance of backfiring on the OP.

      1. Mom3*

        I bought one of those for my kids one Christmas. Do you know what loves the monkey better than kids? DOGS!!! It became a dog toy after about three days. The dog can get it to squeak when playing with it. Maybe you have a dog friendly office???

        1. LCL*

          Be careful. I let my dog grab a squealing mouse toy at the petstore, because it was set out and I intended to pay for it. By the time we were both in the car ready to leave, with him in the passenger seat, he had chewed it open and spit the battery out. Thank God. That would have been an awful vet bill. I hadn’t had him that long, so didn’t know he would totally destruct any stuffed toy.

      2. Mystery Bookworm*

        Exactly. It really seems like it would invite escalation, especially from people who are immature enough to ignore OP’s previous requests.

      3. Lady Blerd*

        I am surprised by it as well. I am here for the pettiness but seriously I hope OP doesn’t do it. That said if the voice box was to be damaged somehow…

      4. Kate R*

        Completely agree. Stealing and destroying a colleague’s property will not look good to a manager, particularly if they weren’t aware of the problem to begin with. Plus, I think the colleague’s blatant rudeness to OP is significant enough to warrant a talk with the colleague’s manager. Maybe it’s just the screaming monkey for now, but OP disposes of the monkey, and the colleague knows (which they probably will since OP has already complained about it), I see the potential for the situation to escalate into more hostility between them.

        1. Seeking Second Childhood*

          Or at least escalate into “6pc Slingshot Flying Screaming Monkey Toy Flingshot Dog” …$28.99 on Amazon.

      5. Ask a Manager* Post author

        I’m not suggesting stealing or destroying it — although clearly that didn’t come across correctly. By “releasing it into the wild,” I was picturing rehoming it into the back of a cupboard or some such.

        But honestly, I wouldn’t blame anyone for disabling the sound mechanism either. Clearly I’m in the minority on this though.

        1. PB*

          Ooooh okay. “Releasing it into the wild” read to me as “put in the Goodwill donation bin,” or “throw it in the dumpster.”

        2. Kyrielle*

          I wouldn’t blame them! (I actually worked in an office with a screaming monkey toy for a while, and it took several conversations before the owner acknowledged that really, maybe it should go home, because it was Really Annoying me…and I don’t think it was even used as often as it sounds like it is in the OP’s office.)

          But I wouldn’t suggest they actually do it. I’d worry the coworker who owns the monkey might, and they’d have some legal standing to, alas.

        3. Monkey Madness*

          I read “releasing it into the wild” as taking him out of the office to get rid of him. Happy to have some clarification.

            1. What's with Today, today?*

              If it came out of the office budget, sure, if someone purchased and brought it, no OP can’t.

        4. Annie Moose*

          How is that functionally different from taking it home or throwing it away, though? The other person is still no longer going to have their property and won’t know where it is or how to get it back. Stealing doesn’t become less stealing because there’s a chance the person might be able to find the thing again.

          1. Admin of Sys*

            This. If I take something away from someone without their awareness and put it where they can’t find it, I’ve stolen it, whether I’m doing so for my own profit or some other motivation. This is bad advice on Alison’s part, even if it’s just a ‘toy’.

        5. animaniactoo*

          It is not possible to disable the sound mechanism without tearing the toy open. Making it disappear is your only option to make it stop if the manager won’t step in.

        6. LW#1*

          Thank you for clarifying! I won’t lie, I did initially read your reply as agreeing that That Damn Monkey could be disappeared into the trash.

        7. What's with Today, today?*

          One last comment and I’ll step away, but saying it’s not stealing because you “rehomed” it instead of destroying or taking it away, reminds me a lot of those that swear it’s not breaking and entering because the door was unlocked.

            1. Marvel*

              Yes, you’re right. Moving an annoying $10 screaming monkey to a not-easily-found location in a shared space is 100% the same as raping someone because of what they’re wearing.

              Good god. However you feel about the monkey, this comparison is just… egregiously offensive. Please stop.

        8. Unimpressed*

          Wow.

          I did NOT expect to read you advocating theft and destruction of property. You usually at least TRY to offer professional advice. How disappointing!

        9. Quake Johnson*

          This…isn’t any better. You’re still removing someone’s property from their possession, which is still functionally the same as stealing.

      6. Wintermute*

        I’m shocked myself, normally Alison has her head on her shoulders and gives good, practical advice. This is wrong on so many levels it’s like putting my calculus homework in an elevator.

        First, there’s workplaces with zero tolerance crime policies. What you are contemplating is theft, I’ve worked many places where it doesn’t matter if it’s a lean cuisine or a 10 dollar toy or someone’s phone/wallet/etc, thieves are fired without warning.

        Second, there’s the fact it’s WAY premature. Your boss should step in if they feel it’s warranted.

        Third, you’re not entitled to the workspace you want specifically. Some workplaces feel that this kind of thing lowers stress and is good overall. My old job it was throwing around orbeez/water crystal beads. We had an absolute blast with them but a few people weren’t all that happy. It was felt that they were being overly sensitive, in general and they were told to deal.

        Fourth, it can backfire. If you’re the lone dissenter and ruin the fun, there goes your reputation and it can make your work environment pretty awkward. This is why you go through the boss, first because the boss deserves a chance to pass judgement on how much of a distraction it really is and if that’s reasonable, secondly to insulate yourself.

    3. Chriama*

      Same. I think OP can ask the owner to take it home and a manager can require the owner take it home. But telling OP it’s ok to take someone else’s property is weird and out of line. If there’s an easily accessible “off” switch for the toy then I do think OP could turn it off and let the owner know that she did so, and why. But anything involving disassembling the toy (including unscrewing a battery cover and taking out the batteries) is pretty out of line, IMO.

    4. bananaboat*

      agreed
      just because people are irritating doesn’t give you the power to take away their styff. you’ve expressed your displeasure just let it go. or hey why not join in

        1. NotAnotherManager!*

          And also because they have work to do? Honestly, this toy sounds annoying and inappropriate for an office – like a louder version of the nerf gun battle. My general rule on office toys and games is that they should not interfere with the work of others.

      1. Friday afternoon fever*

        “Just because people are irritating doesn’t give you the power to take away their stuff” – correct.

        “Let it go” – nope. The people with the SCREAMING monkey in an office environment are the ones who should let it go. This is a work environment and being able to work trumps being able to fling around a noisy, disruptive toy. You can continue to advocate for the monkey’s removal without taking it away.

        1. D'Arcy*

          Well no, at the end of the day it’s management’s call. If they agree with the majority of the office that the screaming monkey toy is cute and not super disruptive, than they have the right to go, “Deal with it, the toy stays.”

        1. EvilQueenRegina*

          That was the case with the noisy toy at my old job (it was Grandboss’s), and I don’t think anyone really felt it warranted going to Great Grandboss over a singing chicken.

    5. Really?*

      Agreed – unless they’re a manager they can’t confiscate someone elses property, unless it was something extremely offensive/inappropirate to the workplace, like pornographic images I don’t think anyone can destroy personal property. That’s immensly petty and will look both cruel and pathetic, it will reflect worse on the OP, especially as a number of people are playing with this toy, your reactions surprisingly will look the more childish and bullying. Tell the manager that it is annoying, or if you are the manager confiscate it, tell them you did that and have them take it home as it’s not appropriate for the office.
      At an old job I had a mug confiscated as it was deemed offensive (it had a sausage dog on it and said this is going to be a long day…) it was taken away and I wasn’t told that it was ‘inappropriate’ and had been confiscated till I asked about it, thinking someone had stolen it. It’s such a small thing, but it was somewhat humiliating, and also I felt extremely petty of my boss. If they’d just told me sorry I don’t think this mug is appropriate and asked me to take it home before holding it captive, then I might have seen them as less ridiculous/mean.

      1. sheworkshardforthemoney*

        Your mug sounds funny as heck, someone has no sense of humour. Seriously though the monkey has to go. Imagine trying to make calls with that noise in the background.

        1. Raisin Listener*

          There’s your excuse for getting rid of it! “I can’t hear clients on the phone/clients are complaining about the noise.” I used to work in a place where they would NOT turn down the music unless a customer complained. Surprise; “customers” complained to me all the time to turn it down.

        1. Seeking Second Childhood*

          Either it was perceived as a morale issue (no one should complain about long work days) or someone made a “wiener dog” joke insinuating it as the nsfw definition of wiener. Which is an nfsw joke I could see getting made when Anthony Weiner was in the news…

            1. Really?*

              I got it back, but had to ask for it, when I couldn’t find it anywhere. It was to do with the ‘morale’- of the long day, there aren’t the ‘weiner’ associations where I’m from. It was just petty and silly. The monkey thing makes more sense, but still coworkers will think OP is a petty, killjoy, and you can’t steal or destroy other people’s personal property.

    6. What's with Today, today?*

      Absolutely! Ask your manager to make them take it home, but DO NOT steal or get rid of someone else’s property. Wow.

    7. Aspiring Chicken Lady*

      Actually, aside from the remarkably noisy toy, it is also a toy that people are playing catch with. This in and of itself is also annoying, distracting, and has the potential of putting someone’s eye out.

      A manager can slow down the horseplay, or a response befitting a grown up can shut down the fun. “Please stop. I am trying to concentrate.” With all the wet-blanketing that is available to the offending party.

    8. El Esteban*

      I’m sorry, Alison, but I’m disappointed in your answer to #1. It’s morally wrong to steal or trash someone else’s personal item, no matter how much it annoys you. Surely there are better solutions: like putting the monkey in a “cage” with a note playfully saying he’s on time out, to escalating the issue to management or HR. But I think stealing the monkey is absolutely wrong.

      1. Wintermute*

        I’m completely disappointed as well– it’s rare I look at Alison’s advice and go “wow that’s not right” but I can’t recall going “wow if someone did that here they would be frog marched out the front door and it might end with police being called”. We have an absolute zero tolerance theft policy, doesn’t matter if it’s someone’s lunch or a cheap toy or someone’s wallet. Being a bank we absolutely cannot afford theft anywhere on the premises and there is absolutely no tolerance.

        Even at a company that didn’t have good legal reasons for firing any0ne that steals as much as a pencil, at my cell phone company engineering job they’d have fired you for this too. I can’t think of a single job I’ve ever had where this would not result in, if it comes to light, at very minimum serious doubts about your professionalism and competence, and most likely either a formal written warning or summary termination depending how pedantic they were about “always give a warning”.

        Is she hoping no one would notice? If so that’s not a great gambit because when it poofs LW is going to be high on the suspect list because they already spoke up and I’m sure they’re not stealthy about their disdain.

    9. Jenny P*

      I have to disagree with Allison on this too. I realize it’s obnoxious and productivity is suffering, but that’s still a coworkers personal property. If someone took something from my desk and made it disappear, I would be very angry, and I would definitely expect consequences for that coworker.

    10. Zona the Great*

      Put me squarely in the agree-with-Alison category. I would simply stand up and intercept it and ceremoniously slam it onto my desk triumphantly.

      1. ThursdaysGeek*

        I’m agreeing with most everyone else – quietly taking someone else’s property is wrong. However, if you openly confiscate it, as you suggested, that’s the only way it would be ok. Then, if they want to complain to the manager, they can, and it’s all out in the open. “This has been keeping me from working and I’ve asked them to stop and they have not.” Let the manager decide if they want play or work and it will be very clear to all when the manager does make that decision.

    11. Bre*

      Agreed! I was surprised by the response on this… In my office; taking or destroying someone’s property would be WAY more offensive than occasional noise disruption. I would talk to your manager before touching anyone else’s belongings!

      1. LCL*

        But it’s something that totally doesn’t belong there. To me it’s in the same category as stealing any other kind of contraband. Oh, someone took the bottle of whiskey you hid in the storeroom? Gee that’s tough.

        1. Hiring Mgr*

          Why would it be ok for someone to steal your bottle of whiskey, or anything else for that matter?

          1. Pomona Sprout*

            If it’s something (like a bottle of whiskey)t that blatantly doesn’t belong at work? It’s fair game, imo, because you have no right to have it there in the first place.

            Other examples: porn, sexist/racist/homophobiic/white supremacist/etc. items, recreational drugs/paraphernalia, and, arguably, noisy flying toys that disrupt other people’s ability to get actual work done (which, you know, is supposed to be why you’re all there in the first place).

            I agree that talking to the manager should come first in a case like this one, but if that doesn’t work, well, the people playing with this monkey are virtually begging for it to be disappeared, imnsho. Granted, that should be a last resort, but if all else fails (and considering some of the crappy managers we read about here at AAM, it might), I would not fault op#1 for doing whatever they have to do to preserve their sanity.

            1. Hiring Mgr*

              Well those other examples are (to me at least) far different than a bottle of whiskey. There are plenty of companies that have beer in the fridge, etc… But i think you agree with the main point which is to talk to managment first, don’t just take other people’s things

          2. CastIrony*

            It’s because whiskey is a drug. I’d most likely (maybe) only take it if the employee was coming to work drunk enough to affect their performance/hurt others and I talked to them about the issue and informed them that I was doing it for their safety as well as those of others.

    12. Jennifer in GA*

      I have one of those flying monkeys, and it’s not really loud at all (and I say that as someone who is very sensitive to noise). It’s more high-pitched, than loud. I mean, it’s no louder than someone speaking at normal voice on a telephone.

      Why not just pull out some headphone when the monkey starts flying?

      1. LW#1*

        As I mentioned in my letter, the office is quite small. And like with a lot of more modern offices, the walls are nice and bare, and the ceiling is whitewashed but otherwise left open so that we can see all the air ducts and piping. All this to say that noises echo like crazy in here, and the cube walls do nothing to stop it.

        1. Wherehouse Politics*

          Go with Allison’s advice. Any outrage generated would be sweet, sweet icing on top of the satisfaction of removing it.

    13. SheLooksFamiliar*

      Argh. Coworkers and their toys can be annoying – Billy Bass, anyone? I had elaborate daydreams of getting rid of the offensive item, but I wouldn’t. Even though it’s for The Greater Good, it would be stealing and I just can’t do that.

      If the monkey landed in my cubicle, though, I would hold onto it for as long as I could come up with excuses to do it. And hey, you kids, get off my lawn!

    14. Georgia M*

      It sounds like you haven’t worked in an office with something as annoying as a screaming monkey. After getting hit in the face with one too many finger dart, I confiscated any that landed within arms reach and locked them in my filing cabinet. I would also walk around when I arrived in the morning and grab any that I could see. I was quite happy to be the no-fun police on this.

      I think the OP is well within their rights to disappear something that’s interrupting work.

      1. Jennifer Juniper*

        Yikes! In that case, you were justified, because that sounds like a safety hazard. You could have lost an eye from those things.

      1. bye bye monkey*

        I am so with you, I would have “accidentally” knocked that monkey in the trash yesterday.

    15. Tysons in NE*

      I would not be for steal and destroy the poor little Monday. But maybe relocate and bind to something with a note “This is what happens to bad monkeys who disturb the workplace with all that noise”

      1. LCL*

        Yes! Zip tie him to a conduit or pipe or something with a little gag of tape across his mouth. That’s not damaging or taking anything, but getting the point across.

    1. Mystery Bookworm*

      And from people immature enough to ignore OP’s previous requests, it could very well result in an escalation. She hardly wants to come back in and see three monkeys where there used to be one.

    2. Bagpuss*

      Yes, I don’t think she has standing to just take the monkey, unless she is a manager.
      I do think, however, that she could take the monkey to HR (or the manager of the people concerned) explain the issue and as them to confiscate it or forbid and throwing or noise making in the office.

      That way, she isn’t disposing of it or stealing it, but hopefully it will end the problem.

    3. Time to get that arranged marriage my parents want*

      Agreed. Really surprised at Alison’s response to this. You can’t just literally steal someone’s toy.

      1. MattKnifeNinja*

        The screaming monkey went away, and then it was drones with pointy stuff hot glued for aerial battles.

        Escalate this to HR or your boss. “Taking” some fool’s private stuff can get you fired at my work place.

    4. (Mr.) Cajun2core*

      I am also very surprised by Alison’s comment. It is stealing! I fully expected Alison to say to tell them one last time very firmly to “It is very distracting and you need to cut it out. Can you do that?”. Then if they don’t go to their manager and explain (in a non-accusatory way) that the monkey is causing issues with her work and ask the manager if there is something that she can do about it.

      1. (Mr.) Cajun2core*

        In a previous post, Alison stated that she did not mean to steal it. She meant just to “hide” it in a cabinet or something similar.

        1. HS Teacher*

          That would still be bad advice. Two wrongs don’t make a right. She shouldn’t touch someone else’s stuff. Instead, she should go to management with her complaints about it being distracting.

        2. What’s with Today, today?*

          So…steal it? It’s the same. Stolen and hidden in a cabinet, stolen and trashed, stolen and taken home. Doesn’t matter all stealing.

    5. Need a Beach*

      The kind of person who calls this theft and tattles to management is the same kind of pedantic stick-in-the-mud that these immature coworkers will double down on intentionally irritating. They’re just going to escalate, and it’s incredibly unlikely that a manager has the time or inclination to crack down on them hard enough to make a difference. They’ll just maliciously comply in a way that’s technically within the rules, but will still drive LW nuts.

      I would sabotage the sound so that the owner(s) would think it just broke, and lose interest.

      1. Need a Beach*

        BTW, in case it wasn’t clear, I too am a pedantic stick-in-the-mud, and sympathize. But I’m also old enough to realize that this will avenue will not play out to LW’s satisfaction.

      2. LQ*

        It’s odd to me that while a lot of people in the comments would advocate for physical violence for someone sneaking up on them (which has absolutely happened in the past here) and yet are horrifically opposed to sticking an incredibly annoying monkey in the closet. If the monkey hit the OP in the “game” would people change their minds.
        I strongly agree about sabotaging it, the tape on batteries (or better yet the nodes so that even a new battery doesn’t fix it) sounds pretty effective to me.

        1. RecoveringSWO*

          +1.
          If these coworkers have reacted so poorly to individual confrontation, what kind of reaction might happen when management gets involved? If I only have so much political capital at work, I don’t think I’m likely to spend it on this situation. Either mgmt or these coworkers could react poorly at this being escalated.

    6. WillyNilly*

      I think she should steal the monkey. Then seal it in a box or large envelope, and put it in the manager’s office with a note explain what it is, whose it is, and that they have been repeatedly, politely, been asked to not activate it in the office during work hours.

      This forces the manager to deal with the issue (even if all they do is return it and say “take it home”). That it is sealed up removes the possibility it will go off ‘accidentally’.

    7. dumblewald*

      I assumed that it belonged to the office (not to a particular coworker). I figured the LW could hide it in this case, as it doesnt really belong to anyone besides the actual employer.

  2. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

    OP#4, if it’s any consolation, interim supervisors/managers are required to protect the confidentiality of your sensitive medical/personnel information the same way a “permanent” manager would. Of course, there are always people who don’t understand or preserve their responsibility to keep matters confidential. But when I’ve served on an interim basis or seen others do the same, we received training (and understood) that the information we learned in our interim capacity was not to be disclosed to others.

    It’s also so common that I think the only thing you can do is to try to cabin your fears about peers as interim managers.

    1. OP4*

      Thanks for your feedback, Princess Consuela. I thought I was probably overreacting on this. In my case, in addition to my disability accommodations and salary information, there is a write up in my file that I was really not thrilled about having multiple team members being able to access. I’m hopeful that our interim has had the proper training: it sounds like at your org they have a good protocol for this!

      1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

        If it’s any help, I rarely had a reason to read people’s personnel files. If there was an accommodation issue, that was usually flagged up front. But a write-up? I would never see it unless there were other performance issues that required some kind of disciplinary action.

        1. snowglobe*

          I second this. The only time I open up a personnel file is either to add something to it (which doesn’t mean I’m going to take the time to read through what is already there) or if there is an issue that has come up and I need to read through the file to find out if it has come up before. If there are 12 other people on the team, I’m sure the interim manager isn’t spending too much time searching through all those files just to see what’s there.

        2. Artemesia*

          I think this is true of most people; I didn’t even read personnel files of my staff when I became permanent manager (except my own). The problem though is that precisely the person who would do it is the person who would gossip and unfortunately there are those people in the world. I hope you have honorable peers and this will be a non issue for you but if I were you I would be working with my therapist if I had one, or on your own, to think about how you will handle disclosures that would be embarrassing to you, especially around the health issues. If you have a strategy worked out ahead of time you will be able to weather whatever may come. Whatever you do, do not discuss confidentiality with them — that is like waving a red flag to a bull — no one will be able to resist snooping if so warned. Hope it goes well; it almost certainly will but be prepared about how you will handle it if it doesn’t. Being able to handle it with elan will do much to make it a non issue. Lots of people have something they don’t want discussed and have empathy for such situations.

        3. TheSnarkyB*

          I agree. I’m a manager and I really never have a reason to go looking at my team’s old evals, or personnel files unless something serious comes up, and then I’m looking at things with the guidance (and context) provided by my manager.
          OP, I totally understand your concern, but I think it’s not a foregone conclusion that they now know these things about you. And if they do, and ever brought it up or did something that even made you suspect that they were misusing the information, they would be in such serious trouble so quickly.

          Also keep in mind that they’re doing work they’ve never done before, and so they’re probably so busy just keeping their heads above water, that they aren’t doing the more long term or high level stuff managers might need to look at personnel files for.

        4. Anonymeece*

          Ditto. When I became interim, I didn’t peruse through people’s information unless there was a specific reason to, and that was generally, “What’s their phone number? When did they start?”.

          Unless they’re very nosy, they probably never even bothered to go through them unless it was flagged specifically for some reason.

    2. Beatrice*

      I do think it’s odd that they’re putting people who most likely will never fill the actual managerial position in the interim manager spot. My company is more likely to use those as stretch opportunities for someone who may not be ready to fill the permanent job yet but can reasonably expect to be ready in the not-distant future. If it were someone ambitious who might want the job for real someday, they have extra incentive to not screw up by being indiscreet about OP4’s personal stuff.

      1. OP4*

        I might be able to provide some additional context – they’re looking for someone with a doctorate to fill the permanent managerial role, and no one on our current team has that credential nor is working towards it (which is why the current interim won’t be considered). I get the sense that they are inflexible on that requirement as well.

        1. Falling Diphthong*

          Is this work that either requires a doctorate, or is appealing to people with that credential?

          I’m wondering if they are short-sightedly setting themselves up to have a string of temporary managers who don’t have doctorates, but do have enough inside knowledge to actually perform the job.

          1. Anonymousaurus Rex*

            Not the OP, but sometimes this kind of thing is regulatory. The person in my boss’s role has to hold an MPH by law. I have a PhD in an adjacent field, but I do not hold an MPH, so I’m ineligible to be promoted into my boss’s position if she were to leave. It’s not a government position or anything, but it’s a highly regulated industry.

      2. LaDeeDa*

        This is so common, it is actually part of Succession planning within an organization. Leaders/key positions should be asked to identify people who could advance into their roll in 1-2 yrs, 3-5 years, and a interim (emergency replacement.) It is smart organizational development to have things like this planned out in case something does happen to that person in the role- they quit, they become ill and go on leave, they win the lottery and never come back. More advanced roles can take 6-10 months to fill, and key roles shouldn’t be left open for that length of time.

    3. LQ*

      I had (technically still have) access to employee folders. I would never look at them unless I had an actual business reason to do so. (When I need to test something I always test it with a director’s permission and some file we’ve explicitly agreed is acceptable (something like a data privacy form that is exactly the same except signature))

      Access to those documents are absolutely treated seriously and confidentially here as well.

      We are painfully slow to fire people around here, but sharing this information would 100% get someone fired.

      1. LavaLamp*

        I’ve never been an interim manager; but I’ve been an employee with accommodations. My manager wanted me to remain silent on my accommodations so people would be mad when I wasn’t there. So for me, my accommodations weren’t private because they affected others, and people were much nicer after hearing “I’m sorry I was out on FMLA leave for a medical condition” Instead of thinking I was taking piles of time no one else got. My boss was grumpy but that was a boss problem not a coworker problem.

        I want to assure you that accommodations are nothing to be ashamed of or embarrassed about and most adults know they exist for people; and aren’t the sort to think anything more than “Oh Bob leaves early on Tuesday” and shrug and move on.

  3. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

    OP#2, your boss is wrong to ask this of you, both in policy and management contexts. In the context of private employers, your boss should not be trying to police personal conduct unless (1) the behavior is absolutely unacceptable (e.g., Nazi marches) in a way that defames the employer by association; or (2) your employer has some kind of conduct code or requirement (e.g., if your stated political belief is inconsistent with the employer’s public mission). The rules are different for public employees, but your boss’ approach is not ideal even under those different rules.

    1. Not A Manager*

      Wouldn’t the rule be even more favorable for public employees, as protected political speech?

        1. Not A Manager*

          A very long time ago I worked in a city’s corporation counsel. My recollection is that constitutional protections did apply to public employees in a manner that they do not apply in private employment.

      1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

        It’s usually the converse—there are way more restrictive provisions on speech for government employees.

        1. Observer*

          Not so. Or rather both.

          In some respects the restrictions are greater, in that any time an employee says something that could be taken as speaking for the agency, that’s a big deal. On the other hand, firing someone over saying something is considered government action that limits a person’s speech and is only allowable if there is a bona fide need.

          I remember a case years ago where some firefighters in NYC were on a float at some parade in blackface. You can imagine the hulabaloo that ensued. But there was a lot of discussion about whether the fire department (which is part of city government) could legally fire them over this. Now, in this case, there was a strong argument to be made that since fire fighters are in a situation where people’s lives depend on them, and therefore it is imperative that EVERY (reasonable) person should be able to trust that they will always act appropriately in their jobs, that actions that would make reasonable people stop trusting them really do impede their ability to do their jobs. But it wasn’t a slam dunk at all.

          1. Observer*

            The firefighters DID get fired, but they sued.

            This was the result of the appeal – the original trial court concluded that they were unfairly dismissed.
            https://www.google.com/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=web&cd=7&cad=rja&uact=8&ved=2ahUKEwjIlsTujJHgAhUE9IMKHcIyAUkQFjAGegQIAhAC&url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.nyc.gov%2Fhtml%2Flaw%2Fdownloads%2Fpdf%2Fpr042706a.pdf&usg=AOvVaw3CmwJnd0T7AB0OMlcA-zm5

            This has most of the case information
            https://law.justia.com/cases/federal/appellate-courts/F3/447/159/505265/

              1. Observer*

                Well, the appeals court upheld it. Giuliani declared, after the initial trial, that the only way these guys were getting their jobs back was if the Supreme Court made him do it.

                But, yeah, how the trial court came to its conclusions is pretty hair raising.

          2. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

            You’re right—both is a better characterization. There are usually more restrictive rules around what kind of political speech you can undertake, but public employees also have the benefit of due process for some First Amendment retaliation claims (although the pleading standard and burden of proof is difficult).

      2. Akcipitrokulo*

        UK so may be different… it’s part of the terms of employment in Civil Service that you do not have a public opinion on current political issues. Which is clear and upfront at the hiring stage that you do need to sign this statement.

        1. Mark Roth*

          Merely out of curiosity, as I find the British civil service system to be something worthy of emulation on this side of the Pond, does that prohibition apply to anonymous postings and accounts?

          1. Sunshine*

            I think it wouldn’t be worth risking as it’s very easy to be found out; see the Oxford professor who was using an anonymous account to post homophobic and transphobic abuse online. This was portrayed by the media as ‘snowflake students’. But the students very reasonably pointed out that LGBT students wouldn’t be able to trust this man to give them accurate grades etc. I’d also say that it was ridiculously immature and vicious behaviour for a grown man, let alone a professor, but there you go.

        2. Green Great Dragon*

          It’s not that broad. Depends on seniority and there’s a certain amount of judgement required, but for example most civil servants can get involved in local politics. National is trickier.

          1. Akcipitrokulo*

            I’m mostly aware that during indyref, for example, all of my friends who worked for civil service in any capacity couldn’t comment. Ditto brexit.

          2. Naked Civil Servant*

            We really, really can’t. I work in Westminster and am not allowed to canvas for or do any other volunteer work with any political party. I’m also not supposed to hold party political views on social media, although my work is a bit stronger on that than some other Ministries.

            You might be thinking of public servants, who are almost always allowed to be political as long as they don’t bring their organisations’ reputations into disrepute.

            1. Green Great Dragon*

              If you’re not ‘Senior Civil Service or levels immediately below’ you can ‘seek permission to take part in local political activities’. I imagine some bits are more fussy than others (and yep, party political canvassing would be a whole other issue).

        3. Asenath*

          I think the Canadian version is that if you are a government employee you can’t participate in party politics while employed – I wouldn’t have thought posting something on a personal social media page would be a problem. If you want to run for office, you have to resign – although I seem to recall that sometimes you can get your own job back if you lose the election!

        4. Lucy*

          A civil service friend’s public account is very interesting on this point as she NEVER comments either way on political matters, but frequently posts links to publicly available policy documents or guidance and similar.

          1. Asenath*

            Yes, I guess so, like the queen, but a bit less strict. Usually, if you, say, do a TV interview explaining why you think the new regulations controlling the teapot sales market are going to cause terrible unemployment and higher taxes while also employed in the government department drafting these regulations according to the instructions of the political leadership, you could well end up fired. But I’ve known of cases in which it became known that the government experts on, say, construction of teapot production facilities were known to have somewhat different opinions on viability than the political leadership. The project went ahead; the experts were right.

      3. Kris*

        It also depends on the nature of the public employment. I work within my state’s judicial branch and I am subject to the state’s code of judicial ethics, which contains certain political speech restrictions. There are nuances, but to be on the safe side, I never take a public or quasi-public political position (ie, post a political opinion on FB, put a political sign in my yard, or sign a petition). I only discuss my political opinions in private settings with friends.

    2. CastIrony*

      It’s probably not an exception, but would a personal post matter more if the person worked at, say, a pregnancy center?

      1. Ask a Manager* Post author

        Yes. It’s reasonable to require that employees have a commitment to the objectives of your organization and not undermine it or post things that call their ability to do their job impartially into question.

        1. Lucy*

          I’m interested in this letter because I think it’s common in the UK to have a clause in your contract about social media use not “bringing the (employer) into disrepute” or something. Which is to say, if your account shows your current employment or otherwise obviously links to the employer, you might need to be a bit more cautious about what you post. There are umpteen cases of third parties reporting off-duty online activity to employers. It is much like not misbehaving whilst wearing work uniform or driving a company van.

          The obvious solution is not to reveal your current job on your social media, of course. Privacy settings tight too!

            1. Lucy*

              Yes, and I felt that Alison’s answer drew the line not where I would draw it.

              For me it’s a clear parallel with what you would do in work uniform, e.g. would you get away with wearing a related activism pin on your company lanyard during the working day? So say if you could wear an LGBTQ+ pin but you aren’t allowed to wear your (political party affilliation) hat, then you could feel confident to post publicly about Pride events but you might consider setting (political party activism) posts to Private – which would be the equivalent of ranting about politics in your work uniform but in your own home before you get changed.

              I think the “if it’s not illegal and doesn’t stop you doing your job” line is where it falls when we’re talking about Private posts (capitalised to indicate privacy settings because of course nothing online is truly private) but the letter writer doesn’t specify whether the posts are publicly visible, and therefore searchable.

              1. pleaset*

                “For me it’s a clear parallel with what you would do in work uniform,”

                This is terrible. If understand you correctly, you’re saying that social media behavior should be the same as behavior when at work. W T F.

                1. Prarie*

                  Yes Lucy is correct. I work for a US state and worked in a federal position before. If your profile page lists your government employer, you have to behave the same way as you would at work (as in: no posts for political advocacy).

                2. Someone Else*

                  It depends. If the personal Facebook page lists that you currently work at XYZ, then I think it’s reasonable to say what you posts there is analogous to going out and saying/doing stuff while wearing a work uniform. If the personal Facebook page has no mention of the employer and you’d have to already know they work there to associate comments with that employer, then it’s not at all analogous to the uniform example.

          1. Super dee duper anon*

            It’s common in my industry in the US. This is not the type of situation it is geared towards (at least in my industry), but it’s usually there. It’s also not typically used to pressure/require an employee to remove content – it’s more geared towards “you can be be fired if you embarrass the company with your social media usage”.

            I think the LW mentioned there being no policy on this, but I’d encourage them to make sure there’s no policies on embarrassing the company in the public eye – or anything about company reputation. I know my current policy is somewhat vague and does not reference social media specifically, but everyone has a meeting with the COO within the first couple weeks on the job where he basically says “Don’t do stupid ish, because if you end up named in the newspaper you will be fired”.

          2. Nervous Accountant*

            On your last sentence, I’m always surprised that ANYBODY would post their employer on their page. If anyone were to call my employer b/c they’re offended by me posting cat videos, well good luck trying to get through to Harvey specter/Louis litt ya kno?

            1. Countess Boochie Flagrante*

              I do, because I’m listed on BrokerCheck so my employer is public information anyway. I just curate what goes on my Facebook page accordingly.

          3. Michaela Westen*

            Yes, I don’t have my employer in my Facebook info because it’s safer – a potential stalker can’t show up at my job. Most of my friends don’t either. One of my friends has “none of your business” in the Works At field. :D
            It’s good not to have too much info out there on general principles of privacy and safety, and in that case I wouldn’t think an employer has standing to police posts, but IANAL.

          4. I'm Not Phyllis*

            It is tricky. For example, I have a personal Facebook, Twitter and Instagram account that don’t mention where I work, but I have a LinkedIn account that does. Also I have a few close work friends on there who know where I work whether it’s mentioned or not. It does become tricky to know where to draw the line!

        2. I'm Not Phyllis*

          This is what I was thinking of. I work for a social service agency and I’m pretty sure that that kind of post would get me into hot water at work. We actually do have a clause in our code of conduct that lists a bunch of things that we are and aren’t allowed to do on social media (for instance, post pictures of coworkers and clients) but expressing personal opinions aren’t on the list. However I could still see certain topics getting me, at the very least, a discussion with my boss.

      2. Brown Sugar and Pecan Oatmeal*

        I am in finance and our company (US) held a Cyber security/Social Media classes we all had to attend and one of them was on our social media and work. They requested if we are going to comment on social media on things that could be controversial to not allow their branding or to allow their name to be on connected with our social media accounts as well as locking down our accounts for privacy. During the meeting they framed it as this way they would not have to argue their stance with clients/customers who have the time to search out the company and send screenshots of their perceived inappropriate behavior.

        1. sam*

          This. my company’s social media policy is that we should not identify our employer on any of our personal social media pages except LinkedIn. That should solve the obvious “tying statements back to the company” issue if that’s a real concern (of course, if someone posts truly offensive things like hate speech or death threats, it’s still possible that some digging/investigating might occur, but statements of the kind mentioned in the post, even if it’s a position I personally disagree with, are certainly not that).

          I also have a personal policy of generally not friending people that I work with (I have a few specific exceptions for people that have crossed the line into *actual* friendship, and I’ll friend people when I or they leave an organization, but it’s generally better to not be FB friends with people who you work with, and ESPECIALLY people you currently report to).

    3. Oilpress*

      I wouldn’t set “unacceptable” as the policing standard. I would go with illegal. Unacceptable is too loosely defined, and I’m sure that the person in the letter would classify posting an opinion which they disagree with as unacceptable.

      1. JamieS*

        I don’t know that illegal is the right standard since something can still be legal but still rise to it being reasonable for an employer to have policies against it for the sake of protecting their company and other employees.

        1. Jasnah*

          Agreed, because what if you’re expressing an opinion about the legality of something?

          For instance, posting your opinion that it should be legal to smoke marijuana, and illegal to not pick up after your dog. These fail the “illegal” test, but I would argue that neither are “unacceptable.”

          I think the real benefit of “socially unacceptable” is that it IS flexible, so that it can change to match the social mores of the times. I can see the problems with individual interpretation, but this is also the case with dress codes and other norms, and I think it’s OK to make these kinds of soft rules for the middle 90% of society, not based on the fringe cases.

          1. Just Employed Here*

            It’s not illegal to say you think smoking pot should be legal or that not picking up after your dog should be illegal (at least in any jurisdiction I know).

            Expressing an opinion about a law is not the same as breaking that law. If it were, no laws could ever be changed since it would be illegal to discuss changing them.

            1. Akcipitrokulo*

              This.

              Saying “I think it should be illegal not to pick up your dog’s poo.” – or the opposite – is fine.

              Bullying/harassing/making threats against people who do/don’t pick it up could be illegal.

            2. Jasnah*

              Yes, that was my interpretation of the anti-abortion post content, i.e., the employee was expressing her opinion about abortion–both the expression and topic are legal. Unless the employee actually refused to perform an otherwise legal abortion, or sent threats to someone, I don’t know how else a Facebook post could be illegal?

              And as others have pointed out, there are Legal opinions that are still Unacceptable, so I’m not sure if the legality of something is a good barometer for what we want here.

      2. Sunshine*

        Disagree. Unacceptable is very strictly defined. Take the example Alison used. Being a Nazi isn’t illegal. Expressing those views are protected by the right to free speech in the US.

        I still wouldn’t want to work with or employ a Nazi, because Nazism is an ideology where the person is advocating for the genocide of all people who aren’t white, Christian, cis-gendered and straight. I – and most people on all sides of the political spectrum – consider wholesale calls for genocide ‘unacceptable’.

    4. Shannon*

      Yeah it really depends on where this person works. As a public employee I have to act as if anything I post on social media or even my personal emails could be front page news and act accordingly. And where I work a post like this would…not be good.

    5. Kheldarson*

      I think the only thing OP2 *might* bring up to their employee is whether their posts are public or not. Everything I post are set to just share with friends (minus a few things like the posts when my cat got lost. It’s not a complete fail-safe, but it does mean a casual search of my feed won’t reveal my current politics and such. If the employee is sharing everything to the public setting, it might be worth bringing up changing privacy settings.

    6. addiez*

      I actually came here to slightly disagree with Alison. I do think there are circumstances where that request would be appropriate. For example, in places I’ve worked in the past, I’ve chosen to share information about my employer through their social channels as an approved ‘social media ambassador’. In doing so, I committed to expressing my employer in a positive light. I’m pretty careful in general on social media, but I’m pretty sure that they would’ve been allowed to make me either stop posting about the company or delete posts that may associate the company with things they didn’t want it to be associated with.

      But if the person is totally unassociated with anything and doesn’t discuss the company publicly, then I think Alison’s generally right.

      1. Ask a Manager* Post author

        We don’t disagree. From my answer: “as long as she’s not in a position where her personal social media is likely to impact her ability to do her job effectively (which some people are)”

      2. Yorick*

        I think it also depends on exactly what she said. Some anti-abortion posts could just be an expression of opinion, and others could be really hateful and inappropriate.

    7. IL JimP*

      could also be a good conversation to have with being careful who you have as FB friends that work in the office, I was a little enthusiastic myself in the beginning and had to cull the list way back to almost no one except a select few

    8. Jeanine*

      OK pet peeve here, it’s actually a facebook profile not a page, pages are different from profiles. But at any rate it’s not an employer’s business what people post about on their own profiles. People are entitled to their opinions, and as long as they don’t say derogatory things about their employer directly, then they can say whatever they want.

  4. Doodle*

    Monkey business: you can’t trash it, of course, but you could put it somewhere hard to find. Perhaps the manager’s desk?

    1. Beth*

      This was my thought as well. OP1, if you steal or break it, you’re opening yourself up to the risk of getting caught. Maybe no one would really care–this is a novelty toy, it’s not likely to be a prized possession, and you’re probably not the only one annoyed by it–but is that really a chance you want to take?

      On the other hand, if it happens to fall between the back of your coworker’s desk and the wall…or end up on a high shelf where it’s visible if you look but not in line-of-sight to just get noticed out of the blue…or maybe slide into the back of the owner’s drawer of files…well, these things happen.

      On a separate note: Is your manager aware of this toy and that it’s disrupting your work? If your coworker is ignoring you, maybe it’s time for your manager to tell him to cut it out.

    2. AcademiaNut*

      Take the monkey. In its place leave a letter, explaining that the monkey got bored at the office, and has taken off to explore the world. At intervals thereafter, the monkey’s former owners get letters about the monkey’s travels, with pictures of the monkey badly photoshopped in front of various famous tourist spots.

      1. Mookie*

        Take the monkey hostage. Arrange an exchange. Ransom (written by arranging clippings from Curious George books) is he never talks again but is allowed all the cuddles he can handle. He’ll end up on a shelf pretty quickly, collect dust, grow an increasingly mournful but vengeful gaze, and haunt the dreams of future employees. Fiona Dourif will do the voiceover for the film that depicts his later, more eventful years.

    3. Micki*

      I love this solution.

      I think I know the monkey being discussed. We used to have one. It is the freaking devil. It is so loud and screeching that it sets off my startle response. It’s the kind of loud that makes people irrational, and sets hearts thumping. My kid used to have one. It can be set off by stepping on it. After the second time it was on the floor and accidentally stepped on when going to give goodnight kisses or something, I threw it out. It is EEEEEEEVIL. And honestly I can totally understand why one’s first instinct would be to burn it or trash it or do anything possible to get rid of it. For me (and for my kid, when not expecting it), it was a visceral fear/anger response.

    4. London Calling*

      A manager who sat next to me had a stress ball which he had a habit of throwing across the office to bounce off the wall, and incidentally irritating the dickens out of me and a colleague. One day it rebounded off the wall at an awkward angle and he didn’t catch it, but while he was looking for it later I might in the meantime have accidentally have kicked it under my desk where it couldn’t be seen.

    5. Dr. Pepper*

      I would do this. I would totally stash the stupid thing somewhere where it could not easily be found. It fell behind the ancient and dusty filing cabinet that is never moved? Hmm, you don’t say. But I’m also the person who will turn your cell phone on silent if you leave it unattended in the office where it continually makes obnoxiously loud noises and plays terrible music. Not sorry in the slightest.

    6. WellRed*

      I did this with an object that was driving me crazy. Once they found it was me, and I refused to tell them where it was (It was still in our office) they put up a wanted poster with my picture on it. They eventually found it, but stopped using it every day. So, we had fun with the situation, but I made my point.

    7. What She Said*

      A former boss of mine had this annoying musical singing hamster and would play it all the time. A co-worker and I “stole” it and hid the dang thing in another office. My boss was a good sport about it and laughed when he realized it was missing. We returned it to him at his retirement party. : )

    8. JustaTech*

      Anytime I’ve encountered the screaming monkey there’s been a simple rule: you catch it and it is yours until you shoot it at someone else. So I wouldn’t steal it off someone’s desk, but the moment they shoot it at me it is fair game to get locked in a file cabinet. (If you’re feeling generous you could give them a warning “you shoot that at me and it is mine”.)

      The only good thing is that usually people either get bored of it, or someone is so startled something gets knocked over/broken and everyone quits with the monkey.

  5. Captain Vegetable (Crunch Crunch Crunch)*

    For #1, I think stealing the monkey could backfire. At one job, a coworker used a bell that annoyed the heck out of most, if not all of it. I kidnapped it, put it in a container of jello and returned it. Not only was she annoyed with me, she washed off the jello and used it even more. (Also, the jello shined it up and I swear it was louder after all.)

    I think you run the risk of them getting another monkey, and if you let jerks know something bothers you, they might use it more. I might suggest getting a manager involved.

    1. Chriama*

      I mean… unless the jello thing was a good-natured prank in an office with a history of good-natured pranking, and you already had a friendly relationship with the coworker, I’m not surprised that she was annoyed with you. It almost sounds like there was a lot of hostility (or at least tension) in the relationship under the veneer of friendly joking.

      1. Chocolate Teapot*

        If you watch the original UK version of The Office, there is an incident involving a stapler in similar circumstances.

        1. Chriama*

          Haha nope, never seen it. But isn’t The Office a satirical portrayal of dysfunctional work environments? I was kind of surprised at the way it was presented here. Like, obviously she would be annoyed with you? That’s the expected response for something like that.

        2. EvilQueenRegina*

          Okay, now I understand the reference made when one of my coworkers at my last job did exactly that with a stapler…

      2. Captain Vegetable (Crunch Crunch Crunch)*

        I should have mentioned that several of us had asked for the bell to be retired, so yes, there was some tension. It was meant to be humorous, but also highlight how annoying the bell was. It made me feel temporarily better, and the rest of us got a laugh out of it, but it worsened the overall atmosphere, which is why I don’t recommend stealing the monkey.

        1. Nox*

          You’re lucky you didn’t get dragged through disciplinary action. Damaging people’s stuff isn’t cool

          1. LQ*

            But endlessly annoying your coworkers when they’ve explicitly asked you to stop “isn’t cool” either.

          2. Jules the 3rd*

            Putting a bell in jello is unlikely to damage it.

            Damaging people’s stuff isn’t cool, for sure, and I’m on the ‘don’t take the monkey’ side of the fence (also, don’t put the monkey in jello).

          3. Captain Vegetable (Crunch Crunch Crunch)*

            As I said above, not only was it not damaged, but the jello actually cleaned it! But honestly, if it were the type of place to do disciplinary actions for that kind of prank, I wouldn’t have done that kind of prank.

        2. Chriama*

          I think when you’re trying to be humorous and make a point at the same time, that’s an indication that tension is already present in the situation. I’m not surprised it didn’t resolve anything, though I get the impulse.

    2. President of the Lutheran Sisterhood Gun Club*

      I’m very curious about this bell. Did the coworker have some reason for ringing a bell at work? That sounds very annoying and totally bizarre to have someone ringing a bell all day while you’re trying to work.

        1. What's with Today, today?*

          It’s a scene in both UK & US versions of the Office. We are re-watching the series right now and watched that one recently. It’s hilarious on the show. I imagine it was less so in real life.

          1. What's with Today, today?*

            Sorry, Jim puts Dwight’s stapler in a jello mold. I think it’s actually the pilot episode.

        2. Captain Vegetable (Crunch Crunch Crunch)*

          I’ve only seen a bit of the Office. Perhaps the urge to put annoying coworker’s things in jello is part of the collective unconscious.

      1. Captain Vegetable (Crunch Crunch Crunch)*

        We worked in a lab. She was a processor, responsible for looking at the tests that people ordered and putting it in the computer. Sometimes people ordered “stat” tests, which meant they had a higher priority. She would ring the bell for stat tests. Which sounds reasonable, but it was a small lab so she could have either just told the techs who would be testing that sample that it was there, rather than disturbing everybody, OR, she could have done what the other processors did, which was trust us to gather our samples in a timely fashion.

    3. sheworkshardforthemoney*

      Why would a co-worker need a bell? Unless she was a front facing receptionist and had it for people to get her attention if she was away from her desk?

      1. Autumnheart*

        We have one of those front-desk bells as a joke. Several years back, the company changed its flexible-work policy to an on-site one, with specific core hours. As a joke, someone brought in a bell and would ring it promptly at the end of core hours. It went on for a week or two, and people laughed about it, and then the bell joke dropped off the radar. Overall, my coworkers have a well-tuned sense for when a joke has reached its limit, which is critical for jokes that involve loud noises.

      2. Former Admin Turned Project Manager*

        We have a bell on the main table in our area to alert the department when someone brings in food. I didn’t love it at first because I found it jarring, but my love of food has overridden my jumpiness at the sound.

  6. CastIrony*

    About OP #3, I have a question:
    Usually, I thought a person at a new job would have to be there for at least a year before applying to another job. Is applying for an internal position an exception to the rule?

    P.S. I wonder if Allison is having an off day. Something feels off about this post.

      1. Artemesia*

        There is something supremely annoying about someone applying for a job after you have discussed it with them and they told you they were not applying. She will assume that you got the idea from her and are trying to poach ‘her job.’ This is even more true since you are a newbie. I would assume that if you get this job, the relationship will be irreparably damaged and perhaps just when she learns you applied if you were also interviewed and thus it gets out.

        Of course, no one ‘owns’ a new listing but most people resent people they think took advantage of them in a job search and it will feel this way to her especially since you already told her you were not interested.

        1. Chriama*

          I think it depends on how much they discussed the job. Did the coworker mention it in passing or did they deconstruct the job ad and discuss details about her application? If so, OP risks torching the relationship and I think that’s justified on the coworker’s part. I’m not saying she should be unprofessional with OP, but if I told someone about a job I was interested in, they said they weren’t interested, we discussed the job and then they applied with knowledge from our conversations and it gave them an edge over me (e.g. we discussed my resume, application materials or how the interview went), I wouldn’t consider them my friend anymore. I don’t think that should stop OP from applying, but she should just go into it with open eyes.

        2. FabTag*

          I agree. Applying for the job will almost certainly effectively end any friendly relationship and the co-worker will thereafter avoid discussing anything beyond “need to know” work information. Plus, it sounds like the LW isn’t as qualified as the co-worker, so not only will they destroy the relationship, they won’t get the job.

          1. Sam.*

            I don’t think it’s necessarily true that this will tank their friendship, but she should give her coworker a heads up. Depending on my relationship with the person, I might even throw in a, “I imagine you’ll be a stronger candidate than me, but I figured it couldn’t hurt to apply and show them I’m interested in new opportunities.”

            I just can’t imagine begrudging someone I’m friendly with the opportunity to apply. That would feel petty to me, if I’m honest. And if I (or a random 3rd person) end up getting it, who cares? Perhaps I might have a harder time with it if the person was selected for the job over me, but I’d be significantly more upset about that if I hadn’t known it was a possibility.

            1. HBucket*

              As long as the OP is honest and aboveboard with her friend…. the way Alison noted. We had a “friend” who did not handle a similar situation honestly and it was the lack of integrity and honesty that tanked the relationship… not the job.

            2. Chriama*

              I think it really depends on how the conversation went down. If the coworker shared stuff she wouldn’t have shared with a competitor, I think there’s a justifiable sense of… betrayal? Violation? Getting information under false pretenses? Even if OP didn’t actually do it that way, the friend has no way of knowing for sure. But if it was mentioned in passing and then never again, I think things should be ok.

          2. Psyche*

            I’m not sure it would “destroy the relationship” but it definitely could cool it. Considering the OP has been there less than a year and that the coworker is in the department that is hiring and that she already told the coworker that she wasn’t applying, I’m not sure it is worth it.

      2. Chriama*

        To me, if she does that then she runs the risk of running into the coworker or having it come out during the interview process. Then there’s tension in the relationship because it seems like she lied or deliberately hid information. Even if coworker gets the job and then finds out that OP was one of the candidates, that’s probably not going to sit well with her. I do think the best course of action is to come clean, I just don’t think the best course of action is a guarantee against conflict.

      3. MLB*

        Nope, she already told her she wasn’t applying and then changed her mind. She needs to give her a heads up.

      4. Aggretsuko*

        The problem is, if you apply within your office, EVERYONE will find out you applied even if you didn’t get the job.

        We’re having this go on in our office right now for a temp position. One coworker apparently had a crying fit when she found out that three out of six people in our unit had applied–I believe she checked the interview calendar schedule. Then she withdrew her application. And I was all “stuff like THIS is why I didn’t apply for it.”

        I’ve applied for 3 in-house positions and not only did I not get them and someone else in the office did, there was all kinds of fun social awkwardness when I applied. It will also really hurt our unit to be (temporarily) down one position since our unit is the most overloaded and can’t afford to have anyone out as is. Even I’m upset that the only contenders are people in our unit and nobody else in other units applied because the unit will be hurting.

        Anyway…OP3 is going to have to tell because her friend will find out anyway, but there is likely to be drama. Sigh.

    1. Captain Vegetable (Crunch Crunch Crunch)*

      I’ve worked a couple of places that let you apply internally after six months. Since the OP mentions that she’s been there for six months, I imagine it’s the same for her, but if she hasn’t looked into the workplace policy, she definitely should.

    2. Beth*

      I think this really depends on the industry, the organization, and the position. In a lot of jobs, 6 months would be very early to claim that you’ve reached your max level in the role. But there are places where that’s normal, or at least not ridiculously out of line.

    3. MK*

      Admittedly the OP doesn’t sound like a strong candidate, going by the letter, but she didn’t ask about that.

    4. Jennifer*

      She’s already feels that she’s outgrown her job after six months? I thought the same. And work friends apply for the same jobs all the time. Usually you end up befriending people in your vicinity who have the same skills as you.

      I also didn’t know what her being a millennial had to do with anything.

      1. CRM*

        It probably has less to do with being a millennial and more to do with being young and inexperienced in the workforce. Also, if OP is working a true entry-level job (as many young people are), they might actually be ready for more responsibility.

      2. Someone Else*

        It’s not impossible to outgrow a job in six months. We can’t know from the letter alone if that’s the case here, and it’s equally possible she’s overestimating herself, but it really could go either way. When I started my current job, the first week I felt totally overwhelmed and like I wasn’t picking up things fast enough and thought I was an epic failure who could never live up to the company’s standards. Meanwhile, my boss literally said in as many words he expected I’d outgrow the role within six months and be bored, and that they had plans for me to make sure that didn’t happen. In the moment, it added to the overwhelm, but sure enough, by about 3 months in, I was kicking ass, and by 6 I had pretty much mastered the role. I wasn’t bored (yet) by then, but the boss had a better read on how I’d do in that role than I did.

    5. Justme, the OG*

      Where did you get the idea that you have to be somewhere for a year before applying for another job?

      1. MassMatt*

        It’s a very frequent requirement, especially at larger companies. Writer doesn’t mention a requirement so maybe there isn’t one or she is already past it.

        1. Justme, the OG*

          I have never seen that requirement. I have seen companies want 6 months for an internal move, but have also been on the receiving end of that preference ignored or waived. If someone is right for the position it really doesn’t matter their previous tenure.

      2. krysb*

        I think that, especially when looking for internal positions, you don’t choose to try to move once you learn the job, but once you’ve actually performed in the job. Six months, in most cases, is not enough time to actually perform.

    6. Zona the Great*

      I’m sure Alison has lots of off-days but I don’t think the fact that you disagree with the answer she gave is a good indicator of her having an off-day. I don’t think that is fair to our hostess.

    7. Aisling*

      Why would you say off day? You’re concentrating on the wrong part of the question. The question is basically how do I tell my co-worker we’re applying for the same job, and Alison answered that. The additional info of only being there 6 months doesn’t actually matter to the main question.

  7. Engineer Girl*

    #2 – tell your report to put her Facebook settings on private, make sure only friends see her posts, and block your manager.

      1. Civil libertarian*

        Um, no. The manager has no right to constrain the employee from broadcasting her political opinions beyond her immediate friends.

        1. Les G*

          Uh, right. So now everyone *except* the manager–who has no right to intervene–can see her posts.

        2. Frozen Ginger*

          No, but its still a good idea to block your manager. They don’t need to see her posts and its not a good idea to be friends with a superior on social media (except linkedin).

        3. Starbuck*

          Maybe not – but the employer almost always does have the right to fire an employee for their political beliefs (assuming it’s not the case of a protected govt employee) so it would certainly benefit the employee to block their manager on any/all social media accounts they have.

      2. EddieSherbert*

        +100
        This was my thought too – use this as a chance to teach her about boundaries. If she’s friends with that manager, she shouldn’t be. If it’s a public post and they are not friends… I’d also block him!

    1. Tony Stark*

      I get that it’s a sensible rule, no matter your stance on any issue; but is that really an appropriate solution? It seems more like an infringement on her rights to make her own beliefs public if she has to hide it.

      1. Tony Stark*

        (Although if the manager is being a tosser about it, just blocking him at minimum certainly isn’t a terrible idea)

        1. Brown Sugar and Pecan Oatmeal*

          Its the quickest and easiest solution, and we didn’t get real information on they why. Is the manager just a busy body or did a client/customer send in a screenshot of the post threatening to leave their business. Or does their business have a stance on pro-life/pro-choice and OP is going against it.

      2. Chriama*

        I feel like it’s an appropriate solution because it’s reasonable behavior. Like, if you had a neighbor in the apartment across the street that kept looking at you while you slept, it would be reasonable to buy curtains for your bedroom. Not sure if that’s the best analogy but my point is that, while I think the manager is in the wrong and I hope OP tells her so and/or escalates as necessary, I also think the employee should pay a little more attention to who she’s speaking to when she posts on social media.

        1. Tony Stark*

          I don’t think she should be apologising for any of her beliefs that someone has stumbled across on Facebook if they aren’t harmful; on that same token, I don’t think she should have to hide them just because her boss stumbled upon it and disagreed if it has no merit on her work or mission statement of the company.

          If she (for some unlikely reason) worked for Planned Parenthood, I can see how that would be a problem. Likewise, if she worked for a Catholic school and shared the opposite view, I could see how that would be a problem. But as far as we’ve got from the letter, she works for a neutral place that shouldn’t care about that.

          1. Magenta*

            I think quite a few people would argue that anti-choice views are harmful to the bodily autonomy and human rights of women. Those views and the political actions of people who hold them have caused very real harm to women.

            Perhaps harm is not the best measure to use here?

            That said, I am not sure I can think of a better one.

            1. Crivens! (Formerly Katniss)*

              Yup. I consider forced birth speech hate speech.

              Though I still don’t think it’s okay for the boss to insist someone change their Facebook posts, because that way lies madness.

          2. Michaela Westen*

            That’s the thing here. This is where free speech comes into play. People aren’t allowed to demand something be taken down because they disagree with it.
            Unless the employee works for an organization that has an official stance on this and mentions her employer on her Facebook page, the employer can’t tell her what she can and can’t post.
            BTW I agree with both of you, but that’s not the question here.

              1. Michaela Westen*

                You mean an employee who does not mention her employer on social media, and works for a company that doesn’t have an official stance on the subject, can still get in trouble or be fired for posting something a manager disagrees with?

                1. Ask a Manager* Post author

                  Yes. At-will employment = you can be fired for anything that isn’t specifically illegal (such as firing you for your race/sex/religion disability, or the other small number of illegal firing reasons).

                2. WellRed*

                  Free speech means the government can’t censor you. Companies and social media sites can do so all they want.

                3. MsClaw*

                  Most jobs in the US, you can be fired at any time for any reason. Unless that reason falls under a protected class. I could be fired for wearing too much green, if my boss felt like it. They don’t have to give a reason. That’s not logical or common as it’s generally a bad way to do business. But my boss could literally walk in here right now and tell my I’m fired just because she feels like it, and that would be legal.

                4. Professor Marvel*

                  This is one free speech topic that *could* be argued from a religious perspective. If I post pics of my church’s pro-life activities and it’s a consistent teaching, firing me could fall into a protected area.

                5. Wintermute*

                  Yes, in the US in almost every state political opinions are not protected class. You could be fired for being pro-choice (but not pro-life if it’s because of religion because religion IS protected). You could be fired for being a registered republican or democrat, or voting republican or democrat, or not voting, or not voting for the libertarian party.

                  For that matter they could fire you for being too ugly, or being a gemini, or whatever else they wanted that’s not race, religion, sex, gender conformation, skin color, ethnicity, national origin or in a few places sexual orientation or family status.

                  Yes this is absolutely insane. It’s also the law.

      3. Just Employed Here*

        I think it’s an extremely appropriate solution.

        Not one the OP can mandate, though, but one she can highly recommend to her report.

        1. The New Wanderer*

          I agree. The teaching moment isn’t “Take down the post” or “Make your account private”, but “What you write on the internet and allow everyone to see may affect how they think of you, and if they’re in a position of authority and think that you are no longer employable, that may have consequences for you.”

          See also every instance of someone being fired because of some social media post (usually on the grounds of how it reflects on the company to be employing someone who makes a post of the specific nature that caused their dismissal*).

          * It’s really hard to describe something like this and not use the word offensive because not all posts are offensive to everyone. The lesson is, if it’s offensive to someone who can take action about it, be aware that is a risk you take on public social media.

      4. Software Engineer*

        If LW is in the US then she has a right to free speech but not a right to work and the employer could fire her for her political opinions if he chooses. We would generally agree it’s unreasonable in most workplaces but it’s still allowed

        You don’t actually have a right to express yourself in public and keep your job! So I would say it’s best to talk to the employee and let her know the boss has a problem with it so the employee can protect themselves by making it more private if they choose

        1. Civil libertarian*

          “If LW is in the US then she has a right to free speech but not a right to work and the employer could fire her for her political opinions if he chooses… You don’t actually have a right to express yourself in public and keep your job! ”

          In fact, in some US states, you do.

          1. MassMatt*

            Are there states that either don’t allow “at will” employment, or define it in such a way that employees can only be fired for cause or during a lay-off? I believe Every job I have had until I became a contract employee was “at will”.

            1. Software Engineer*

              There are many states where despite being an at-will employee who can be fired for NO cause you can’t be fired for specific causes. Such as becoming pregnant or getting married or turning 50. Or excercising a legally protected right such as voting. Or refusing to commit a crime!

              Some states protect specific political activity such as voting, that you can’t be fired for running for office or voting for a certain candidate. Some even say the boss can’t say that ‘if this referendum on $15 minimum wage passes I’ll have to lay everybody off’ and thus threaten people’s jobs.

              It seems like many protect some specific political activities but not necessarily ‘talking about your opinions in public or with your friends’… so it might be sticky trying to figure out if that’s protected and involve a lawsuit. Doesn’t sound very fun. So YMMV

              1. Wintermute*

                in fact ALL states protect the Equal Opportunity Employment Act classes (age over 50, race, religion, sex, gender conformation, etc) about half protect sexual orientation. I think two protect political expression (california and montana) but only in some contexts. For what it’s worth though pro-life statements are USUALLY protected because they are religious in nature– but pro-choice is NOT because it isn’t, somehow, unless you can argue it is (some forms of Judaism could easily make that claim, for instance).

    2. WS*

      I think the report should be told about the manager’s comments, but what action (if any) she wants to take should be up to her. Blocking the manager and putting her posts on private would be sensible, but if you *tell* her she should do that, it’s coming down with the voice of authority.

      1. Akcipitrokulo*

        Agreed. Letting her know and then let her decide whether to block or not is fine. Strongly advising, from a supervisor, not so good… esoecially when we see here so often that managers can drop hints when they mean to give instructions! Could easily be understood to be an order.

    3. ssssssssssssssssssssssssss*

      +1. That’s what mine is. Despite that, I’m still super careful on what I post. You just don’t know what could be shared.

    4. CRM*

      I agree with this advice. Generally speaking, it’s a good idea to not be connected with your boss on social media anyways (aside from LinkedIn) unless social media is an integral part of your job. Even if your posts are innocuous, it feels like crossing a personal/professional boundary.

    5. Dr. Pepper*

      Agreed. Whether the employee “should” be able to post something or not, it’s going to make everyone’s life way easier to simply block the manager. That’s what I would tell her. Not in a disciplinary way, but in a head’s up way. “Hey, just so you know, Jane doesn’t like some of your fb status updates. There’s no company policy about X, but it might make your life easier if you put Jane on restricted access to your posts.”

      Though why you wouldn’t already have your manager (and even coworkers) on restricted access to your social media is beyond me. I don’t even friend people I work with, and if I do, they don’t get to see much. Solves a lot of problems before they start.

      1. Sara without an H*

        Agreed. There are things everyone “ought” to be able to do, but doing them simply isn’t prudent under a given set of circumstances.

        And I’d be very, very careful about giving anybody at your workplace access to your social media accounts. I recall several posts at AAM in which nosy co-workers tracked somebody’s social media use to confirm that they were doing something “wrong.” It’s not worth it.

      2. DJ*

        I may be misreading it, but from the letter it sounds like the report shared a post she didn’t create. If that’s the case and the post is public, the boss could see it without being friends with the report. I’m pretty sure you can’t make public posts private just because you share them to your private page. If that’s what happened here the only option the report has is to just not repost any public posts.

        1. DJ*

          Woops I need to correct myself. Public posts do typically have different settings automatically, but she could tell the report to just make sure when she shares a post it’s only with friends (or whoever, assuming boss is not a friend). It’s an extra step but would avoid the issue of someone she’s not friends with seeing the post.

  8. CatCat*

    I cannot agree with the advice to #1.

    Next letter from OP #1 will be, “I was fired for stealing from my coworker/destroying my coworker’s property. Can they fire me for that? Also my employer says they’re reporting to the unemployment office that I was fired for misconduct. What can I do?”

    1. CastIrony*

      Now I want to read that letter!
      However, I hope they have more common sense and arrange for the monkey’s release the right way, not this way.

    2. Asenath*

      Stealing the monkey is definitely wrong, but having seen the video, I understand the temptation. I can’t really decide whether bringing in the manager or ignoring the noise so as not to give the co-worker the satisfaction of knowing they’re getting to you is better. I’m leaning towards ignoring the co-worker.

      1. The Other One*

        Ignoring the bullies never works. They already know they’re annoying their coworkers. Best case: they don’t care. Worst case: they do it deliberately. Either way, ignoring them means nothing will change.

        1. Asenath*

          Well, I don’t think playing with an obnoxious toy is “bullying”, but whatever you call it, some people are encouraged by complaints, and if these people are like that, ignoring them might reduce the frequency of the annoyance. She’s already tried asking politely, and the only other option is to go to the manager, which might be escalating the issue unduly since it sounds like it doesn’t happen all that often.

          1. Vicky Austin*

            Maybe not bullying, but continuing to play with a noisy, disruptive toy at work after being politely asked not to, is childish behavior, and should be dealt with accordingly.
            OTOH, if they were specifically playing with the monkey *because* they knew it annoyed OP and thought it was funny to see him get angry, then that could be considered a form of bullying.

          2. Vicky Austin*

            Also, if it’s happening enough that it’s interfering with his ability to get his work done, then it’s happening too much.

          3. LQ*

            I can see why you’d say this. But this is sort of like your sibling getting impossibly close to you and making it impossible for your to move close and then mom says that whoever touches first is the bad guy meanwhile your sibling is so close as to make it impossible for you to breathe deeply without touching them first.

            But no, you’re the bad guy because you would like to breathe. The sibling is totes fine.

            1. Jules the 3rd*

              This is a dynamic that often crops up in abusive situations, one way that abusers hide their abuse. It sucks.

              It doesn’t read to me that OP’s coworkers are doing this only to annoy coworker, though I bet the annoyance and disruption is a plus for them.

              OP’s got to stand up, in the moment, and disrupt back. Maybe a script like: “I have a client on the phone, on hold. Shut that off RIGHT NOW. And LEAVE IT off. If you can’t leave it off, take it home.”

              1. LQ*

                Yup, totally right, and also ooOOOoo that’s why this makes me so skin crawlingly mad. You are entirely correct about abusers.

          4. LW#1*

            So, I’m pretty sure they don’t do it to bother me specifically, namely because I’m pretty quiet (and slightly paranoid) and would notice if someone was noticing me in the office immediately before playing with The Damn Monkey.
            However. Did you click the link? It is very hard to ignore in a space as small as the office I’m in, where the noise echoes everywhere.

            1. LavaLamp*

              Too bad I can’t lend you my German Shepherd. He’s cute and he’d eat the toy and everyone would think he’s cute while doing it.

              My suggestion is to tell your manager. You’ve already asked them to stop; now you can talk to your manager and they can intervene since no one is taking you serious.

  9. MommyMD*

    Unfortunately you can’t steal or disembowel the squeaky monkey. Tell your manager. And how OLD are your coworkers? Sheesh.

    1. Rebecca*

      The only thing I can think of is the manager really doesn’t understand what he’s managing, and going over these points, at length, is really training for him. I’m in a similar situation, not getting into detail, but my company hired someone as a manager who had zero experience in our industry. There are times where he has to approve what I want to do, and has Skyped me to find out what he should say in the approval email because he has no idea what I’m talking about. **grumble…another issue for another day, but still…this is what it sounds like to me.

      1. HBucket*

        I have a co-worker whose boss is like that… no clue what’s going on and wears my co-worker OUT!

    2. Lego Leia*

      OP #5 here. I will keep you updated. We are having a meeting with all of the people involved with the project to help streamline communications. I will update after the meeting.

      1. AvonLady Barksdale*

        I know someone whose manager works remotely and basically needs to talk things out constantly. He calls my friend and basically just talks at her… for hours. She sometimes manages to do other things while he does this, but she rarely gets a chance to tackle her own projects and to-dos because of his style. She’s learning to set boundaries but it’s a tough thing when it’s your manager.

        In short, you have my sympathies.

    3. Ama*

      My manager that did this wasn’t as bad, but I did have one for awhile who would show up at my desk about twice a day and talk at me for 20-30 minutes about *her* to do list. Some of it was related to mine since we worked closely together, and she kept any truly confidential personnel issues out of it, but if something lingered on the to do list for a while I would hear about it every day (sometimes multiple times a day).

      I really do think she needed to process the ridiculous amount of work we were handling by talking through it and assumed that would work for me as well — but she never asked me if that worked for me and I never found an effective way to tell her that she was making me more stressed out because she would pop up at random and want my full attention for anywhere from 20 minutes to an hour of my day. The few times I tried to say that I was in the middle of something, she would expect me to tell her what time I would be ready for her to come back.

      Unfortunately the only way I found to remedy the situation was to change jobs, because her working style was directly opposite to mine and she was never going to understand that her interruptions were part of the reason I felt so overwhelmed and stressed out all the time. In fact, I noticed a pattern where every time we discussed that I was feeling overwhelmed by the workload she *increased* the number of times she dropped by my desk to chat, so I just stopped mentioning it and started job hunting instead.

    4. HS Teacher*

      I had a boss who would call and read to me the emails he just sent me. I tried every strategy in the book to get him to realize who ridiculous this was, but he continued to do it and was the owner of the company. I am so glad to not be working for small businesses anymore!

  10. Beth*

    #2: Your boss is almost definitely out of line. As a general rule, a person’s private social media pages aren’t within their boss’ jurisdiction.

    There are probably some exceptions to that if you want to get into the edge cases. If her phrasing is violent or threatening, that could become a problem at work (for example, if her anti-abortion statement included threats against people who have had one, other employees who have chosen to have one might feel unsafe working with her). And if you work at, say, Planned Parenthood, I could see how your boss could be legitimately concerned about an employee voicing strong anti-choice views. But in most workplaces, in most cases, an employee expressing their own opinions in their private space is not something their boss has a say in.

    1. Starbuck*

      “But in most workplaces, in most cases, an employee expressing their own opinions in their private space is not something their boss has a say in.”

      In most cases though, their boss CAN fire them for it. I don’t think that’s right, but it’s the reality.

      1. Beth*

        I mean, to the extent that in most cases a person’s boss can legally fire them for literally whatever they want (including absolutely no reason at all), that’s true.

        But professional norms in the US don’t empower your boss to monitor or control your private speech, and most companies have policies around what an employee can be fired for, which generally don’t include their private social media use or their political views as justification. What’s legally allowed and what’s actually considered standard practice are different things when it comes to firing employees.

  11. Blossom*

    The monkey sounds maddening. It never ceases to amaze me how some people really do think their loud childish games are more important than the actual work we’re all paid to be there to do. It seems Alison’s dry humour didn’t entirely come off the page for some people, but quite honestly I think there are worse crimes than rehoming this dreadful toy. It’s a novelty office toy that probably doesn’t even really belong to anyone, not a cherished heirloom. I can’t imagine anyone reasonable is going to be like “who STOLE my Personal Property” about this. Cheap tat comes and goes in the office.

    1. Chriama*

      Considering how the coworkers have been ignoring OP’s polite requests, I sort of get the feeling that people in this office may very well kick up a fuss if the monkey disappears or is damaged. And if they do, as childish as it would be, OP would be in the wrong for making that unilateral decision. If it doesn’t belong to anyone then she can announce what she’s doing.

      1. Blossom*

        I mean, it’s a $5 novelty toy. I think they will probably seize the opportunity to have a few days of “hilarious” banter about where the monkey has gone on its travels, whether the monkey has in fact been kidnapped, whether an hour of the working day should be devoted to creating a “cute” poster about Monty the missing monkey (prompting a sub-group to create an even more hilarious ransom note on the company’s Photoshop, etc), and then the monkey will be forgotten. That’s if they even notice.

        1. Chriama*

          I think that’s an optimistic vision of how the situation could play out. It might be true in some offices, but I wouldn’t advise OP to operate on the hope that this is how it turns out in hers. There are better ways to deal with it.

          1. Blossom*

            In that case I hope I am spared ever having to work in an office where a disappearing toy monkey is treated as a serious disciplinary issue.

            1. Amairch*

              I hope all of us are spared that. But I want to give advice based on what *may* be, not what *should* be. I think that’s the responsible thing to do.

      2. Mookie*

        You’re right, but when she kicked up a justifiable fuss herself, nobody cared. So it’s hard to say how the ensuing melodrama about Missing Monkey will pan out.

    2. I love my monkey*

      Soooo… I have the same kind of monkey and I have kept it at work in the past. Although I never played with it, once in a blue moon a coworker would set it off for a laugh. I DO Not consider it a replaceable novelty toy – it actually does hold a lot of sentimental value to me related to the time when my husband and I were dating long distance. I almost lost him to cancer a few years ago and if I had, the toy would probably mean even more to me. As it is, I would have been pretty crushed if someone has ever taken mine or destroyed it. Yea everyone including the monkey owner is being rude about it, but that doesn’t give the OP the right to decide it doesn’t have any sentimental value and get rid of it. Just have a 1:1 with the person – I think a direct conversation (not a passing annoyed comment) will go a long way here.

      1. Blossom*

        Aww. Fair point. Yes, if there’s a monkey owner they should be spoken to. A reasonable person whose prized monkey was being used in a lot of noisy games would presumably be happy to take it home.

        1. Jasnah*

          I think it’s fair to assume that if it had such deep sentimental value to the coworkers, they wouldn’t be playing catch with it multiple times, and would take it home if they were told it was bothering people (also multiple times). And if others were doing it to someone else’s toy, presumably they would try to get it back and prevent it from being taken and played with. Because usually people are careful with things they care deeply about.

          Not to say that OP should destroy it necessarily, because if someone’s prized toy is getting played with that person could become an ally to getting the thing out of the office.

      2. Constanze*

        I am sorry you had to go through that, but it is highly unlikely that this is the situation there.
        It is not jewellery, or photos. It is a stuffed monkey which is thrown around all the time in the office. It is really far fetched to imagine that this has a high sentimental value.
        OP’s coworkers are being a*sholes. I say, get rid of it or tamper with it a little bit to remove the screeching part.

        1. Les G*

          This. It’s possible, I supoose, that any office object that causes annoyance is actually of great sentimental value to the Annoying One, but I’m not sure it does us any good at all to think that way.

      3. Apollo Warbucks*

        If it means that much to you don’t leave in lying around an office where anything could happen to it!

        1. Need a Beach*

          Agreed. Anything kept on desks in my company is considered unsecured/unprotected. People complained about the janitors breaking/tossing stuff, and were told “tough luck” and to take home anything they truly cared about.

      4. Chip*

        There was an episode of King of Queens where someone’s Koosh ball was stolen and the guy was upset because it had sentimental value (his little boy had given it to him as a gift).

        That having been said, it’s probably not a good idea to keep an irreplaceable item at work. Better to buy a duplicate, something you can afford to lose, and keep that in the office as a symbolic heirloom.

    3. Akcipitrokulo*

      I’m thinking not reasonable. At very least, would probably have a “Game on!” reaction and buy 5 for the next day.

    4. Dr. Pepper*

      I’m of the opinion that valuable personal items don’t belong in the office, whether the value comes from sentimental attachment or monetary worth. How many letters have been posted here about “my coworker took my Thing from my desk” or “someone is stealing my lunch”? Doesn’t make it right, or even legal, but it happens so very often. I even recall something about an actual family heirloom being taken by someone’s boss and then gifted to a higher up at the Christmas party. I’m not saying that it’s okay to take stuff- even annoying stuff- from your coworkers, just that if for whatever reason something is highly meaningful to you, maybe you should think twice about keeping it at work, because for a whole host of reasons, it might vanish.

  12. Sister Spooky*

    Am I the only one rolling my eyes at #3 feeling like she’s maxed out her potential after 6 months in a role? Sure it’s possible it ifs a very low skill job, but as a supervisor I am constantly driven crazy by people who are gobsmacked that they aren’t CEO after a year. Slow your roll.

    1. Chriama*

      I think it’s pretty possible if it’s a low level role, and/or the promotion is in terms of more work/more complex work/more work autonomy rather than something significant. I know there are some jobs where a couple quick promotions in the first few years isn’t unusual (e.g. in big law or accounting firms where you go from junior to senior associate but you’re pretty much doing the same thing, just more independently or at a higher billing rate).

      But I do think that it’s also possible to come across badly if she’s only been with the company for 6 months and wants to transfer to a different department. The work she was hired for in her department isn’t going away just because she’s bored with it, and I can see a manager not being pleased about having to go through the cost of another talent search plus the lost efficiency of onboarding and training not 6 months after OP was first hired.

    2. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      I’m imaging it as a receptionist, office assistant or data entry kind of role where they’re told there’s room to grow and are way too fast to become impatient with the mundane work. So I can invision the places quickly grown out of but yeah, deciding to try to move positions 6-12 months in sounds like a bad decision.

      Granted it’s an open position in a small company so it isn’t like they’re asking for a promotion to materialize or pushing to have a new position created, the timing is just that they are new employees who are interested in the role that’s opened up. It may or may not be reasonable.

      1. MLB*

        9 times out of 10, it’s not a reasonable expectation to move forward after 6 months in a job. I’ve seen it a million times. Everyone is in a hurry to make more money and have more responsibilities, but you need to earn it, and 6 months is an extremely short period of time to have that happen.

    3. Lucy*

      I was once the one itching for a new role after only six months, but that was in the context of having been hired with that promise (creation the better role was planned for that time but it was beneficial to us both to have me in the building in the interim).

      I agree that in general with no specific indications from the employers one should not be expecting progress in that short time. That would be even more true in a field such as tax where the business runs cyclically and you haven’t been in post for a full cycle!

    4. HBucket*

      I thought the same thing. I think every role deserves at least a year. It might get boring sometimes, especially if it’s fairly entry level, but you should be learning about more than just your role. Keep your ears and eyes open while becoming extremely good at what you do. Then start looking at other opportunities.

    5. CupcakeCounter*

      OP mentioned a couple years of experience prior to this position so I am guessing that the move was either lateral or possibly a slightly lower position to get into that company or location.

    6. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

      But it’s not the first job in OP’s career. It could be one of those bait and switch jobs where you are promised all the challenging projects and growth potential at the job interview, only to find out on your first day that you’ll be doing mechanical work that is below your skillset, not in the job description, and not what you were hired for. That was where my mind went when I read her letter.

    7. Kitty*

      My workplace has the opposite problem, it’s impossible to get promoted or even get more responsibilities and autonomy unless you’ve been there 5+ YEARS. *eyeroll*

  13. Myrin*

    #5, I honestly laughed a little hysterically when I first read your letter because this is so absurd! I can’t imagine how frustrating that must be.
    (I also can’t imagine what your manager is thinking – I can maybe see this happening once or twice with his thinking that he’ll have some questions for you and then halfway realising that oops, nope, while reading the email to you suddenly everything clicked and he worked any unclarity out himself. But routinely? Does he not feel, well, slightly ridiculous?)
    I agree with Alison that the direct approach is the way to go here; this sounds like a massive waste of time!

    1. Lego Leia*

      OP #5 here. On Friday, he mentioned that he finds the phone calls “an effective managerial practice”. Which prompted the letter. I do plan on talking with him today, and flat out asking how much time I should be spending completing the project vs tracking the project. Maybe I need to reframe the conversations in my head as “wow, this is ridiculous” and settle in for the ride instead of trying to “solve” the issue.

      1. LQ*

        …If he thinks it’s an “effective managerial practice” it might be worth…asking what you’re supposed to be learning from it? I am having a hard time figuring out how this would go without snark or scarcasm, but I think a better person than me could pull it off.

        “Is there something that you feel like I’m not clearly giving you?” “Is there something you’re needing me to demonstrate understanding that I’m not doing a good job of?”

        I do think having him say the amount of time would be good.

      2. Constanze*

        Do you know what he thinks he is managing, exactly, when he does that ?

        Because at best, he is helping himself (processing the info, for instance). I don’t see what he could possible imagine you get out of this.

      3. hbc*

        Based on your other posts, I think you’ll have to acknowledge how very, very important tracking is (sigh), but then be specific about how much time is spent and ask questions during the reading sessions. Like, “Okay, we’ve covered A, B, and C tasks, and I don’t think we’ve done anything but agree that what I wrote is accurate. Maybe next time I can highlight the unusual items and we can just discuss those?” Or “The data on just topic D takes thirty minutes to collect. Can we make that a weekly update, as long as everyone on the team knows to raise a flag if something significant happens?”

        And if he’s really just reading at you, could you at least do other work and basically ignore him?

        1. Lego Leia*

          I got caught :-) I was trying to complete my work, and just try to have him on the background, and, apparently, was too quiet.

      4. LizB*

        I’d be so tempted to put the phone on speaker while he reads and, like, knit or color in a coloring book or play Candy Crush or something while I half-listen. It sounds awful.

        1. Slow Gin Lizz*

          Yah, if you can mindlessly knit like I can and you have a headset, this is a good solution. But only if you are somewhere where your coworkers can’t see you, b/c knitting at work would probably be frowned upon if anyone reported you to your superiors. But the really nice thing about knitting is that you can still be productive (albeit at a non-work task) while someone is wasting your time.

          I think your manager mis-phrased, though, when he said this is an effective managerial style. I think what he meant was that this is an effective reading comprehension skill. I feel for you, I really do. I hate when people call me to tell me things that they could easily email me, especially if it takes 20 times longer to do a phone call, but this is way beyond that. Calling someone just to read their email to them??? That’s nuts. Please do update us when your meeting is over!

  14. Knitting Cat Lady*

    #2:

    As long as your employee isn’t working the front desk at planned parenthood I don’t see a problem.

    Personally I’d move her into my ‘never to be trusted’ pile, but that wouldn’t impact my working relationship with her.

    I just wouldn’t tell her anything about myself, ever.

      1. Constanze*

        I realise that my comment my be derailing. Sorry.

        To be clear, it is not really up to the manager to do anything and I agree with Alison.
        But can we also stop saying that anti-abortion rhetoric isn’t harmful ? We can absolutely advice OP without minimising the fact that this language is sexist.

        1. Magenta*

          I agree, I really object when people minimise this. I feel that campaigning to take away my human rights and bodily autonomy is inherently harmful, it also has real-world implications that leads to suffering and potentially death.

          I do however believe that it is none of the employer’s business and would never tell one of my reports to take down stuff they have posted on social media. I would probably have a conversation suggesting they up their privacy settings and unfriend management though.

      2. Amairch*

        Or maybe believing all lives should be respected, not just those who can speak for themselves? Let’s not turn this into a debate when OP’s question doesn’t need one in order to be properly answered.

        1. Constanze*

          Actually, YOUR answer is clearly trying to launch me into a debate.

          We can advise the OP without having to say stuff like “it isn’t that bad”. The issue is not whether it an acceptable level of bigotry, it is that the message was on the coworker’s personal account and that their workplace doesn’t seem to be linked with this issue. We can leave it at that to give steps to the OP.

          But there were already some messages saying that “it’s not like it is racism / hate speech / harmful ” etc… and I don’t think that hiding how this anti-choice is harmful is the way to go.

          1. Amairch*

            Disagreeing with what you said is not the same thing as trying to draw you into a debate. But feel free to continue if you want.

            And actually, this comment chain is pretty indicative of why OP’s employee would be well advised to curate her social media connections more carefully. I can bow out of this conversation whenever I want with no consequence to either of us. That wouldn’t be the case if we were coworkers.

            1. Constanze*

              I agree, she should absolutely put her account on private. She might not realise that her posts are visible by her boss (thanks, polymorphous privacy settings).

              However, there is a chance she wouldn’t want to be dictated her privacy settings by her workplace (which are her prerogative).

      3. Ms Cappuccino*

        It’s not necessarily misogyny. Many pro-life people are religious. They believe that a soul is formed at conception so they see aborption as murder.
        I personally believe they are deluded but that doesn’t make them bad people.

        1. Constanze*

          Maybe they are not bad people. That’s not the issue. Anti-abortion rhetoric can be harmful to women without all the people using it being awful and evil human beings.

          It doesn’t change anything for the OP, since this is not hate speech, their workplace doesn’t seem to work with reproductive issues AND the post was personal.

          BUT : I don’t think we have to feel compelled to say that “actually, this language isn’t that harmful” or “it’s not like she was being racist”…

          Our anwer can be : this language is harmful. Also, you can’t do anything about it.

          1. Asenath*

            You aren’t compelled to say “this language isn’t that harmful” – and in fact, you have argued the reverse, and clearly aren’t compelled to say something you disagree with. But not everyone believes that the language IS harmful. No one is compelling me to say it isn’t harmful – but I think it isn’t. I clearly have different views on what is and isn’t harmful to women, and I think that discussing the entire range of opinions, and so being broadly informed is beneficial.

            Since I apply this view quite broadly, I think that employers should, as a general rule, not try to control their employee’s expressions of their private opinions on their own time. In my country, as most, there are some limitations for government employees, who are not allowed to participate in party politics. Everyone else should be free from having their freedom of expression monitored and controlled by their employers.

        2. Mookie*

          Many sincere beliefs, grounded or not in religion, have objectively harmful consequences when they’re involuntarily forced upon others. It’s completely fine to recognize that. Also, religions don’t have a patent on the question; secular people can be anti-choice and religious people can amd frequently do defend their pro-choice stance on religious grounds.

        3. Mookie*

          Also, religion is a cultural entity and precious few extant cultures are free from patriarchy. Misogyny is in the water, is in our heads, and colors our lives the moment we are capable of being socialized, just as racism does.

        4. RUKidding*

          It does when they impose their beliefs on others, when they try to legislate their beliefs, and when they murder actual extant human beings in the name of “right to life.”

        5. Frozen Ginger*

          This. (Disclaimer: I am pro-choice.)

          The people replying to you are correct in that the pro-life movement often pushes harmful ideas and legislature, but we don’t know the nuances of the co-workers post. Not all pro-life people are obstinate and forceful, and framing them all in that way is harmful and does nothing to advance our cause.
          Responding to someone’s legitimate concerns with “You’re wrong and you’re evil” helps no one. The best thing to do is appeal to them on the legislative side. Say “I understand that you see it as murder, and I respect that. But you have to realize that the consequences of [legislation] are harmful; [legislation] can lead to situations XYZ.” This is how I’ve gotten morally pro-life people to be legislatively pro-choice.

          1. RUKidding*

            Awesome comment Ginger!

            I absolutely am never trying to get everyone to agree with my POV (though it would be nice) I just want them to respect my *right* to 1) my POV, and 2) my *right* to make choices that are best for *me* without thinking that *their* POV is a one size fits all solution. ++

            As far as abortion issues go, IME most RtL people are actually “anti-choice.” That…is exactly opposite of #s 1&2.

            Don’ want an abortion (or any other personal thing …)? Don’t have one, but keep your paternalistic, misogynistic nose (i.e. legislation) away from my uterus.

            ++ FTR I have never actually *had* an abortion.•••

            I am past the age where it is at all likely that it would be a necessary choice for me. Many years ago though while I was with the bad ex (first husband had died…hadn’t met current husband yet) … and he was really, really *bad* I knew that if I ended up pregnant an abortion *was* going to happen.

            I am however strongly pro-choice, radically feminist and pro-women making their own decisions without the government, or individuals interfering.

            ••• I have, and continue to act as an escort at PP and have sat next to women and held their hands while they get one though.

            I have always been greatful that during the “can reproduce” part of my life abortion was always legal.

            Ok, sorry… /rant

    1. Les G*

      I’m shocked it took this long for someone to hijack this comment section and turn it into a low-level political debate forum. Seriously, that’s not sarcasm, it was such a pleasant surprise to read the comments up to this point.

    2. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

      Let’s call it what it is. Pro-forced birth.

      They have a right to their opinion on what other women can and cannot do with their bodies, and I have a right not to trust them based on that.

      1. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

        Adding to this that I agree with OP2 that the employee’s social media post should not have to be deleted. It’s her personal page where she posts about her personal beliefs. I would never make a public political post on FB, but a lot of people do.

  15. Cathy Gale*

    OP #1 – I’m really sorry that your colleagues are (it sounds like) trolling you by playing with that toy. One of my friends worked for months with idiots who insisted on having Nerf fights and running around the office cubicles, which led to everyone who “played” staying late, because they would prefer to play rather than get their work done.

    I would probably walk over and play so hard with the toy that it “broke”. Or bring my dog into the office and have her break it (she rips the squeaker out of toys on the regular).

    I understand where the “don’t take someone’s property” comments are coming from.

    I’m reminded of Fred Finch Motors, a workplace where an employee was repeatedly hit with a “stun gun” after the owner (a prominent politician in Houston) brought it into work, thinking it would be a fun gag. (There is video on YouTube – search for the Workplace Bullying Institute). Someone has the same idea: it’s a toy that was brought into work so that people can play with it. They are ignoring you because they believe work is a playground.

    The options (legal or not) are – You can take it away; you can ask someone in authority to take it away; you can “play it to death” (oh no Mr. Bill!) , or use reverse psychology.

    If I was working with a group of childlike morons as you do, and an environment of weak management (like the Nerf woprkplace, for example)… I would bring in the Star Trek room intercom that ThinkGeek sells and set it up in my cubicle for maximum sensitivity. I would bring in my gyrating Elvis “Blue Christmas” ornament. I’d rig a digital soundboard so that they have to listen to Darth Vader’s “Nooooo”, Foghorn Leghorn’s “I say…” and subpar imitations of Edward G. Robinson. (Or maybe just “No More Wire Hangers”?) You could even blast “A Fifth of Beethoven” by Walter Murphy every time you hear the monkey screech. In other words, you can beat them at their own game by finding things that give you joy and pleasure to “play with” It’s childish, but you’re clearly working with mouthbreathers.

    1. Chriama*

      I think *electrocuting* your coworkers is a little more serious than annoying them with some tinny music, no? But also, OP has asked them to stop playing with it and they haven’t. (Note that OP said nothing about them not stopping when she asks. She says they keep playing with it, but that sounds like repeated incidents rather than continuing to play with it when she asks them *in the moment* to stop.) I think the next step is just asking to have it taken home. If they get hostile to that request or management refuses to ask, then OP can casually try to bump it off the wall so it falls in between two desks. But for now, there’s no indication that a civil, adult solution can’t be reached.

    2. Chip*

      ” . . . which led to everyone who ‘played’ staying late, because they would prefer to play rather than get their work done.”

      I hope only the “players” had to stay late, and those who “behaved” by doing the work they were supposed to be doing got to leave at their regular time.

      1. Cathy Gale*

        Unfortunately no, the non-players like my friend found it too distracting to get everything done in a timely fashion.

    3. LW#1*

      I may have toyed with the idea of getting TG’s Annoy-a-tron or similar after the second incident and placing it near the offending desks.

    4. Michaela Westen*

      I was going to suggest monkey related songs, but all the ones I know are good dance numbers and the players would probably just start dancing. But then maybe they’d stop playing with the toy!

  16. Fleur*

    #2 – Could the problem the manager has with the Facebook post be because it’ll get linked back to the company? Our work has a policy that if you’re posting anything political on your social media, they don’t want their company name anywhere near it.

    1. Shannon*

      Well the fact that the boss has seen it would appear so. My boss wouldn’t be able to find me on Facebook if he tried.

    2. Ms Cappuccino*

      Yeah she shouldn’t list her employer but we don’t know if she does.
      Maybe she friended coworkers or even her boss. That would explain why the boss saw the post.

    3. Camila*

      This is why I do not have my employer listed on my Facebook page – so if I am ever called out for posting political stuff, I can say my posts are my private opinions and there is no reference to the company on my page.

    4. Phony Genius*

      There is an atmosphere going on these days of whenever the public finds somebody saying or posting something that they disagree with, they go into the mode of “we must find this person’s employer and boycott them.” Even if the employer is not mentioned or even relevant to the subject. I wonder if the answer to #2 changes if the Facebook poster’s employer is found out, and then boycotts and/or protests start.

      1. pleaset*

        “There is an atmosphere going on these days of whenever the public finds somebody saying or posting something that they disagree with, they go into the mode of “we must find this person’s employer and boycott them.” ”

        Who are “they”? And is this really happening “whenever”?

    5. Jules the 3rd*

      Yes, this is my employer’s policy too. You can find my employer if you hunt for my fb name on Linked In, but it takes work. And I filter my (very few, no management) fb friended coworkers off my political posts.

  17. Leela*

    #1, I would think that if you’ve come forward about this before, it’s extremely likely that you will be suspected if not full on blamed of stealing this, unless enough other people have that it wouldn’t be clear who had. This honestly makes me worried that your job or at least goodwill with your manager would be taken away from you, and could put you in a bad place if anything else gets stolen for any reason, because even if it’s not associated with you at all you’ll have set the precedent that you’re okay with stealing coworker’s property and therefore will be suspect one

  18. Anonomo*

    OP2 The better discussion would be about privacy settings and having boss/colleagues on the reports private page. A great work rule in general is keeping social pages for socializing to keep these exact awkward situations from happening.

    1. JustaTech*

      Letter 2 sure makes me appreciate my personal rule to never friend current coworkers. (Former coworkers, sure! But not anyone I’m working with now.)

  19. Ms Cappuccino*

    Does the employee list her employer in her Facebook page? If she doesn’t, what she posts cannot reflect on her employer.
    I wonder if this employees pro-life opinions are linked to a religion as this is often the case. If it is, the manager should be careful.

            1. Michaela Westen*

              Pro-life/anti-choice is a fundamental belief of certain religions, and there are laws against discriminating on the basis of religion… so if an employer fires or punishes an employee for expressing anti-choice beliefs, the employee might take legal action on discrimination against their religion…

  20. Constanze*

    OP#5

    I don’t blame you for being frustrated. This seems maddening, and completely useless.

    It seems strange that your boss just has started to do so, and did seem to find the need to do it before…
    Alison’s language is good, I really hope that this will help. But it is very strange behaviour indeed.

    1. Chriama*

      I wonder if the boss has been getting flack from other people and this makes him feel like he’s doing something? Or he’s getting pressure to report to someone and he’s overcompensating to make sure he has a clear understanding on what needs to be reported?

      I do think he’s probably going through it expecting to have questions and not realizing he never has any. But those might be some reasons why he’s doing that.

      1. Lego Leia*

        OP #5 here. There are a lot of questions about why the project is behind. And, this does make it look like we are accomplishing a lot. Look at all of those meetings! It is probably frustrating that the answers to the question “why are we not finished yet” is always a variation of the same three or four responses. He also just really likes tracking , and at times, seems happier tracking rather than accomplishing things.

        1. Constanze*

          Argh, this must be so frustrating for you. It seems your manager is reassured by these phone calls, but this is such bad practice, and so time-consuming for you.

          I hope you get him to see reason.

        2. Joy*

          You should start including “time lost listening to you reading my time tracker” in your tracker. :P

          Seriously though if he loves tracking, track the actual time you lose and present it to him as an issue to be solved.

    2. Mockingjay*

      Oh, I’ve seen this many, many times. Twenty-five percent of my job is duplicative status tracking. (Because I have to track my hours per document, meeting, and phonecon, I can state that’s a true percentage! *eyeroll*)

      I used to protest; now I object once, then go forth with updating spreadsheet after spreadsheet. Makes the managers happy. They like spreadsheets, not databases.

  21. Chriama*

    OP 1 – you say your coworkers keep playing with it after you’ve asked them to stop. Is it multiple instances on different days? Or do they ignore you when you ask and keep playing with it right in front of you?

    The reason I ask is because I feel like a lot of comments here are assuming the latter when my interpretation was that it’s the former. In many offices, a spontaneous game of catch (that lasts under 10 minutes) wouldn’t be a crazy sight once or twice a week. I think people can goof off at work and still be productive. So the issue isn’t that they’re playing catch, but that they’re forgetting that not everyone around them is taking a “brain break” at the same time and so the noise-making monkey is inappropriate. If that’s the case, and if your coworkers are reasonably friendly, if slightly immature, people, I think the softer approach is better. Asking the owner to make the monkey away, or asking someone to take it home, or stating that you’re putting it in the break room and that’s it’s new home, are all better choices than just appropriating it.

    Tone is so hard to gauge in text, so I don’t know if your letter was exasperated, annoyed, angry, b*tch-eating-crackers, or somewhere else on the spectrum. Depending on your relationship with these people and their general reasonableness, I feel like snatching it away could escalate tensions or lead everyone to completely forget about the monkey in a couple days. And since I don’t know, I advise the softer approach first.

    1. Mookie*

      The LW wrote that she’s asked them not to play with it when people are working, which I take to mean she’s said “never when we’re working,” blanket rule, rather than that the times she’s complained people were incidentally working around her, if you take point.
      It’s either a directive, or she’s describing when these conversations took place.

      1. Chriama*

        Oh, true. The way she described a series of discrete incidents made me think they’re not ignoring her in the moment but it would be annoying to have them play with it when people are working when she’s asked them to avoid that exact scenario -_-

    2. Thrown into the fire new manager*

      I am wondering how long they play and how often? It may be annoying and rude but is the op being a little inflexible. Are they letting off steam? I am wondering because I once worked in an environment where everyone had an office. There was one person who came over at the slightest inconvenience…someone talking too loud, music a little too loud…. She never gave it a minute to regulate. She wasn’t a happy person so that had a lot to do with it. I have never been a trouble maker in my life but she was a stick in the mud and everyone was so happy when she left.

      1. Friday afternoon fever day*

        I think that being annoyed by surprise screaming monkey toy catch games is not “inflexible” and that OP’s coworkers can find other ways or other places to let off steam that are not as fabulously annoying. I do not think your experiences with your coworker are similar enough to be applicable here.

        1. Friday afternoon fever day*

          For example.. if the monkey did not scream. THAT might be inflexible. But the monkey ~screams~ for christ’s sake and I would be pretty inflexible about that too.

      2. Seeking Second Childhood*

        So much depends on the context.
        I’ve been the person whose part of a project comes when everyone else has delivered their part — when they were letting off steam, *I* was on a tight deadline with minutia that required deep concentration.
        A screaming monkey fight could have delayed a product launch.

    3. Jennifer*

      People need to let off steam sometimes. It doesn’t sound like they are playing with it all day every day.

      1. Jessie the First (or second)*

        People often do need to let off steam. But needing to let off steam doesn’t entitle anyone to be so disruptive at work that other people cannot get their work done.
        You know what I do to blow off steam? Go to a yoga class on my lunch break.
        Know what I don’t do? Play a loud, disruptive game that forces everyone around me to pay attention to me and stop working.
        The first thing is blowing off steam. The second is obnoxious jerk behavior.

        1. Jules the 3rd*

          +1

          Blow off steam in the break room, outside, or by running up a stairwell. Not by treating the office like Chuck E Cheese.

        2. Jennifer*

          Agree to differ. I don’t think an occasional monkey screech every few weeks should throw off someone’s entire work day, unless there is some sort of medical reason why loud noises like that are disturbing to them.

          1. Friday afternoon fever*

            Let us assume the letter writer is a better judge of how disruptive it is, given their firsthand experience and our lack of experience with how loud or prolonged it is.

            1. Friday afternoon fever*

              Like my dude it is a screaming toy. It is so reasonable to be required to let off steam at work with something that does not scream.

          2. Pomona Sprout*

            The o.p. said this has happened “several times in the last few months.” That’s a little vague, but I see no reason to jump to the conclusion that screeching flying monkey from hell is only being activated one every few weeks. Just the fact that op#1 is bugged enough to actually sit down and write an email to AAM tells me that this must be happening a LOT more often than that.

            And since firing a screeching monkey into the air AT ALL is an absolutely inappropriate activity in an office, the fact that it’s happened more than once after being asked to cut it out is more than enough to watrant taking action.

            Sorry if I sound a little cranky, but when someone writes in to say something is driving them nuts and someone (anyone!) responds by acting like they have no right to be driven nuts by it, especially when Alison has already said they DO have that right, it kind of drives me a little nuts!

            The way I see it, one major purpose of these comnents is to help people solve their problems. Telling them their problem is one they simply shouldn’t have? Not so much.

            I will now go and eat some chocolate and calm myself down.

    4. LW#1*

      Good questions :) The most recent time (the day I wrote to Alison), they continued for at least 3 screams after I asked – I put on headphones and some music that calms me, but I could still hear it. Otherwise it’s been kind of sporadic, maybe once or twice every couple months.
      I’d probably join them in taking a break and playing catch, but not with That Damn Monkey. When I wrote the letter I was pretty close to a breaking point.

      1. Thrown into the fire new manager*

        Rather than telling them it’s distracting, annoying, and /or obnoxious, and disrupting the workday, what about “the screaming hurts my ears” and/or makes me jumpy for the rest of the day. Some people won’t respond to something being seen as annoying if they don’t see it that way. They may respond to it directly affecting you. Just a thought

  22. Mystery Bookworm*

    OP #1 – is there any chance you can run this up the food chain before you resort to disappearing the monkey?

    Your coworkers sound boorish and rude, but obviously you have to share a space with them, and I would be concerned that they would take the disappearing monkey as an invitation to a prank war or similiar. Especially given that it sounds like they’re aware that you’re upset with the toy (which I would be too, no judgement!)

    1. LW#1*

      To run this up the food chain, I need to figure out if their manager is even located in our office or not. Which makes it difficult, because if the manager is not here, I’m not sure I can really impress upon them just how annoying The Damn Monkey noise is.

      1. Mystery Bookworm*

        That’s incredibly frustrating. Would your manager be able to intervene at all? Or could you propose the solution of disabling the sound?

        That noise was incredibly irritating. I’m really sympathetic and hope your plan works!

  23. Lena Clare*

    I read this blog pretty much every day and it NEVER ceases to amaze me how adult people in adult working positions continue to have either no boundaries, or faulty ones…

    I have read the posts about your parents’ working life influencing your own working life, but the more I hear and observe in my own professional life the more I am convinced that your personal attachment style influences your relationship-forming and sense of boundaries at work, which is also influenced by your caregivers/parents and how they related to each other and/or other people when you were growing up!

    1. CastIrony*

      This is very interesting, and I’d like to get into the psychology of what you say because I agree with you, but I’m going to bed. Good night!

    2. Michaela Westen*

      Have you read the Social Animal? It describes this and gives the names of different forms of attachment.

      1. Lena Clare*

        I’ve not read The Social Animal but I’ve read lots on attachment. I’ll check it out – thanks for the recommendation!

        1. What's with Today, today?*

          To suggest stealing or getting rid of someone else’s belonging is very out of character. I don’t think it’s a difference of opinion. If someone I work with stole or destroyed something of mine, even a $5 toy monkey, I’d escalate it on principle. Theft and destruction of property are not okay, especially in the workplace. If you’ll steal a $5 toy, what else will you steal? That individual could never be trusted.

          1. The Man, Becky Lynch*

            She clarified in the comments. She meant for the monkey to be stuffed in a drawer not the dumpster.

            1. What’s with Today, today?*

              I don’t think that’s much different. Whether it’s stolen and put it in a drawer, the trash or taken home, it’s still stealing.

        2. MommyMD*

          Nevertheless. Advising theft could land OP into hot water. It’s her blog. She can give any advice she wants. There’s a comment section allowing comments. I don’t see a disclaimer that we have to agree.

          1. Marilyn*

            Exactly. It’s interesting how defensive the regulars get around here when someone disagrees with Alison’s advice. This is a comment section, not an agreement section.

        3. Marilyn*

          There’s no maybe. She had a different opinion than I did, which happens. But it was extremely out of character, which is why there’s so much discussion about it on this post.

        1. Constanze*

          There are two of her answers which have been “flagged” as out of character today : the monkey (of course) and the answer to the person who wants to move up the ladder after 6 months, which did not include any mention that maybe, she should wait a little bit before trying to get a promotion so early.

          I personally don’t think Alison’s answers were unwarranted : she probably thinks a toy monkey is not worth escalating to management, that OP’s coworkers are just being tossers and this will be much more efficient to… take care of the monkey.

          And the answer to the second one… well, this was not really the question, so I understand why she did not include it.

          1. Vemasi*

            I agree, she probably just doesn’t have much regard for the personal value of this “toy.” For instance, if the coworkers were throwing a bouncy ball or spraying silly string, I think people wouldn’t have a problem with someone openly snatching it out of their hands and throwing it in the trash. It’s just a matter of where you draw the line on what counts as property that should be protected vs. the severity of childish behavior. A lot of people here just have that line at a different place than Alison. Which is fine, Alison is not required to always have the majority, most vanilla opinion available (and actually she usually doesn’t).

            I personally agree with her, but I work in a high school, so I am used to shutting down nonsense from immature people.

    1. CheeryO*

      Alison sees situations through the lens of her own experience, as we all do. If you’re talking about #1, tossing the stupid thing would definitely be the right move in my office. You’d get laughed out of the building if you tried to take something like that up the managerial chain.

      1. Dr. Pepper*

        Actually I agree with this. In several places I’ve worked, it would be perfectly fine to take the toy and toss it, and unless the owner was willing to file a police report for theft, there wouldn’t be anything they could do about it because management would not care. Would it be *ethically* right to take the toy? No, because that’s stealing. But as far as repercussions go, it depends on the workplace. My boss would very likely respond to the situation with “So you think Sally took your screaming monkey toy… And I care because? Why don’t you go do some actual work.”

        1. The Man, Becky Lynch*

          Bingo. Also it boils down to “you THINK Sally took it? Did you see it? Prove it.”

          Even if they did file a police report, the police can’t act on “she complained every day all day and then the monkey went missing!”. Cool story, find some evidence and get back to us.

    2. Quake Johnson*

      I mean, she is human. I find her advice to be fantastic 99% of the time but like the rest of us she can be “wrong” or the outlier every now and again.

  24. Slartibartfast*

    OP#1: bring a badminton racket to work and whack the monkey across the room when it flies by.

    1. Seeking Second Childhood*

      Better yet, a butterfly net.
      Volunteer that you’ll give it back when you’ve delivered on the TPS report…or as soon as they agree to take their game out of earshot.

    2. LW#1*

      Except that hitting The Damn Monkey is what triggers the noise. I really really don’t want to contribute to the noise in the office.

  25. GermanGirl*

    #1 Don’t steal the monkey.
    Re-home it to the break room if you have one or talk to your manager about it.

    Or ask the owner in a personal conversation (not when the y are in the middle of playing with their peers) to take out the batteries – many people are more reasonable about stuff like that when you approach them outside of the “you are destroying our fun + peer pressure” situation.

    #4 I feel for you. My team lead was out sick for a month and one of my peers was made interim team lead. Afaik they didn’t get access to our files but were asked to delegate to team lead’s boss if necessary, but still, it was a weird situation for me because of personal history between them and me.
    That said, I think when people are made interim manager on more than a short term sick leave coverage, I think it’s perfectly reasonable to give them access to the files if and only if they also get the training that should come with that.

  26. Rebecca*

    OP#1 – confession, I made a CD “disappear” about 15 years ago. I sat in an open office near a very loud woman (our manager’s friend, so she was untouchable, lots of performance issues, etc). She loved show tunes. As in, a lot. She had a CD with Streisand, I believe, singing show tunes with other actors or singers. The first time she listened to it, I hated it. Then she started singing along. We weren’t allowed to wear headphones as this would interfere with hearing our phones ring, etc. I asked her to turn it down, not sing along, it didn’t matter, she still did. This went on for weeks, until I literally couldn’t stand it any longer. One day she wasn’t in the office, I was the only one there, so I popped it out of the CD player, put it in its case, and put it under her lower desk drawer. These were built in cubicle desks, so you couldn’t see underneath the bottom drawer. She looked for that CD for days, until finally giving up, still grumbling about it for years later. Fast forward to when the building was sold and we moved, and the desks were dismantled…she found her CD, in her possession the whole time.

    I admit this was not the correct way to handle it, but I didn’t steal it, it was still in her possession, and I was spared from listening to this awful torture day after day.

    For the screaming monkey, you can’t disappear it, or destroy it, and they will know it was you if anything happens to it. Maybe ask them to limit the monkey play to their lunch break, preferably outside, or before or after work?

    1. irene adler*

      It always amazes me that folks think their taste in music, toys, etc. are always acceptable to others around them.

      Never occurs to some to ask “Does everyone enjoy listening to this CD another time? Otherwise, I’m open to suggestions.”

      1. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

        I had a boss who would pop his favorite CD in his computer’s CD player, lock the computer, and leave for a meeting. Almost every day.

        We were in an open-plan office. My desk was next to his, but everyone else was also pretty annoyed.

        Under a different set of circumstances, I might’ve even liked the band. But after several months of this? Not so much.

      2. The Man, Becky Lynch*

        I had to wrestle with the Alexa playlist to erase so many artists that make me scream when I took over an office. Then I passed it around the group to put their faves on. It worked out well.

    2. What's with Today, today?*

      You did steal it. That’s like saying the door was unlocked so I didn’t really break in.

      1. Courageous cat*

        Yeah but also like… who cares. In the world of many terrible offenses people can do to one another, this barely even lands on the spectrum. I just can’t see this being anything more than mildly unethical at worst.

  27. Delta Delta*

    #1 – in a cruel twist by the universe, right now I’m on an airplane and a child traveling near me has… a noisy monkey toy that she’s tossing back and forth with her dad.

    1. Multivitamin*

      I’m sorry. We wanted to be the parents that limited screen time and swore we would not buy our child an Ipad. First plane ride with my 2 year old was a nightmare somehow all the toys we brought were loud and annoying on the plane where they were not at home, and my child received an Ipad and headphones before the flight back home.

      1. Artemesia*

        My mother gave my kids each a bird toy on a string that sort of squawked when it bounced at the gate just before we boarded a long distance flight. (back in the days when people could see you off at the gate) Although we confiscated them once we were seated, when we went off the plane, I could hear someone say ‘there go the birds.’ I can’t imagine people allowing kids to have noisy toys on a plane. We have owned the screeching monkey; it was fun for awhile on Christmas — but only a total jerk plays with it in an office repeatedly.

    2. LW#1*

      …on an AIRPLANE?!!! Oh my lord, I would go completely b*tshit if I had to listen to The Monkey on an airplane. Wildly inappropriate for the office; downright cruel and uncaring to bring on a plane.

  28. Sunshine*

    I disagree with the views expressed by #OP2’s report. But she has the right to express them.* And the right to accept the consequences, which may be that people think differently of her. Holding strong opinions will influence how other people think of you and it may be worth advising her to keep her activism private.

    *Caveat that if she works in a health / reproductive field or with vulnerable populations that answer changes. I actually question how well you can do jobs like that if you are judging the choices of your clients.

    1. Camila*

      I am very very pro-choice and while I do not have a lot of patience for “forced birthers” (as I call them) and would not want to be friends with someone who holds anti-abortion views and would think less of them, I respect that people have the right to express their views and that the right to express an opinion is for everyone, not just people who hold the same opinion as me. If I want to express my opinions freely, I need to accept that others have that right.

      I don’t think it is the place of the employer to censor people’s private opinions, provided they are not posting hate speech.

      1. Sunshine*

        Totally, however as I say, the caveat is important. OP said the person was in finance, so that falls squarely into her business territory.

        However, if the employee were, say, working with, for example, vulnerable teens, I’d tell her to keep her opinions set to private because it could affect the people she’s working with. I really think the rules need to be different if you’re working with certain populations.

  29. LGC*

    You know, I just realized something about LW4: I’m guessing you meant the director left, right? I got a little thrown off since you explain your team as having a “director” and then talk about your “supervisor.” (These can be two separate things!)

    First, depending on the way your company is structured, you might not have to worry about this that much! Granted I’m in a very unusual situation, but my position (I’m a supervisor) doesn’t generally have full access to employee files. And if your director isn’t your direct supervisor but a level above, that might be the case.

    Second: after thinking about it…this is extremely flippant, but I don’t think your temporary supervisors would look at your files unless they had reason to (and to be honest, if they looked when they didn’t have reason to I don’t think they should be given that power to begin with). For better or worse, they ARE your supervisor for that time, with all that entails – including the responsibility to not violate an employee’s privacy.

    I’ll say that I’ve learned quite a bit about my team, and I know well enough to NOT ask Fergus about his IBS unless he’s already brought it up directly with me.

    (Finally, not directly related, but I found it concerning that your last director stayed less time than it took to hire her, and the first temporary director turned down the permanent role.)

    1. OP4*

      Hi LGC, thanks so much for your reply! Yes, I flubbed my words there – the Director is the supervisor for our team. I do know from past experience that the interim has access to our files because the previous interim used them to complete our performance evaluations. And, I don’t think your point is flippant at all; on further reflection, I don’t think either interim would have been going through our files without having a specific reason to. I think I’m just especially paranoid!
      Re: your final point – the Director role is kind of a thankless job that doesn’t offer much (relative) financial incentive for the work that is required. And we recently had an upper leadership change, and the previous director was forced out after 7 months because new leadership wanted her gone. If you can’t tell, it’s been a lot of fun recently (said with an appropriate level of sarcasm!)

      1. LGC*

        (I’m not saying that your job is full of evil bees, but I heard malevolent buzzing as I read your letter.)

        Thanks for the clarification! But yeah, if they’re professional you should be fine. (And honestly, if one of my peers became my boss, I’d feel a bit off about it myself.)

  30. EvilQueenRegina*

    In a former job, Grandboss had this big yellow chicken which squawked when you squeezed its neck and sang The Birdie Song when you pressed its wing. Boss got so fed up of it that one day he took the batteries out and hid them. If I remember correctly, it took a couple of weeks before she actually noticed – she was trying to show a trainee on placement how it worked and couldn’t understand why it wasn’t singing. Boss admitted it – I don’t think anything more came of it although I may be wrong as that was 8 years ago and it was right before I left. I think I knew he didn’t like the chicken and made the odd remark about it but can’t remember how much he actually tried to talk to Grandboss about it before removing the batteries.

    I think I would speak to that employee, or the manager, rather than actually remove the monkey.

  31. IJustWorkHere*

    I’m OP for #2…thanks to Alison and all for weighing in. To answer a few questions, we are in finance and based in the US. The direct report has opted to “friend” both me and my boss on social media and has put her job title and employer on her FB profile. While no one has complained about the post, my boss feels it is an issue for this person to be effective in their job, meaning specifically to be seen as a leader and could impact the employee’s relationship-building with others.

    1. Sunshine*

      To be fair, it probably would impact their ability to build relationships with others.

      1 in 4 US women have had an abortion. Between 50-67% of Americans support Roe V Wade. It also demonstrates that either she hasn’t thought about the consequences of expressing controversial political views publicly, or she has and is willing to own the consequences.

      As a client I probably wouldn’t care so long as she were good at her job, but I’d probably view her warily. As a colleague I definitely would care.

        1. Sunshine*

          The Guttmacher Institute – it’s 23.7% of women, so it’s actually *almost* one in four. 49% of those women live below the federal poverty line; it’s why I said earlier that people working with vulnerable populations should keep their opinions on abortion to themselves.

    2. Akcipitrokulo*

      It might be worth pointing out to her how others may see it, and see what she does from there – but I don’t think that without a link to her job, it’s OK to tell her she can’t.

    3. Nephron*

      Asking her to remove the references to her job is likely a fair request as it makes her private page an advertisement for the company. Having her increase her privacy settings would also be good because I assume the finance company does not have many stated political opinions and you are likely to have clients view political posts from your employees and associate them with all of you. People do make investment decisions based on their morals and ethics so having a stated opinion on abortion, LGBT, etc will have an impact. That is the entire reason companies have started using LGBT and BLM in ads, they want that association but it is the company making that decision not a single employee.

    4. Elizabeth Proctor*

      If your report doesn’t do it herself, you should unfriend her. I don’t think people should be FB friends up or down the chain at work, unless perhaps you were originally peers and one of you was promoted. That’s why I wouldn’t even friend my peers at work unless they were actually friends–people I hang out with outside of the office for more than just work happy hour.

    5. LQ*

      I think you can ask them to take the employer name off the FB profile, but you can’t ask that she take the post down. (I’m not disagreeing about it being an issue for this person in their job, being a leader, and relationship building, but then you address those things as they come up. You need to do a better job building relationships with whoever…)

    6. Czhorat*

      That’s not as unreasonable as I thought it was at first reading; it’s not asking to remove random political posting, but hot-button political posting from a profile explicitly linked to their position on the company and connected to others working there.

      In that case, it’s the employee who chose to intermingle political and professional zones. They might need to disentangle that.

    7. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

      Oof, that’s tough. I put my title on my job profile, because a Tinder account I’d created wanted it. (or, rather, I wanted my actual title to display on the account, rather than the “CEO of Rats and Cats, LLC” that I then had on my FB. Come to think of it, I no longer use Tinder, and should probably remove the job title. But I always drew the line at broadcasting my employer’s name to the world. That said, a lot of people do that. At least the person didn’t make it a public post, which I feared might be the case.

      I’ve had managers with views similar to this employee’s. But I had worked with them for years, and had developed a good opinion of them as leaders, by the time I found that out; and they were not vocal about their views on social media. If that post were my first impression of a new manager, that would probably affect my relationship with them.

    8. Jules the 3rd*

      It’s fairly normal in large companies to have a policy like ‘post what you want, but make sure that no one can think you are speaking for the company. If it looks like you may be speaking for the company, we have a stake in what you post.’ This means taking the company off your profile, not friending co-workers / managers, etc.

      In this case, you could talk about not bringing politics into the office, and that if co-workers are fb friends, that extends the office to fb. Finish with common solutions on how to separate the office from the social media, including removing company/coworkers (easiest) or filtering posts (harder).

      And maybe ask your boss about putting a company policy in place. Google ‘social media company policy examples’ for some ideas.

    9. Alton*

      In this case, I think asking her to not list the company name in her profile would be justified. It might also be helpful to suggest that she may want to consider using filters for any content that wouldn’t be office-appropriate, and mention that this can be a concern with friending supervisors and co-workers, but I don’t think you can require her to do that.

    10. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      I see the bosses concern. I know when I find out politically charged differences in seemingly innocent ways, my whole attitude changes towards a person.

      Do I get nasty with them? No. Not at all. But I’m not going to be willing to go very far out of my way or socialize with them. I’ve never had an abortion, could never fathom having one but I’m still not telling others the choices they should make for their own bodies and lives, etc. So yeah, if she’s supposed to be an individual people go to with issues or what have you, I would have major trust issues knowing she’s vocal about denying rights to others on a grand scale.

      1. ElspethGC*

        Yep. Not just people, but companies. When I see that an employee has made super inflammatory posts (most specifically misogynistic and homo/bi/transphobic things, as they hit closest to home, but also racist and xenophobic things) and they’re openly linking themselves to their employer but the employer hasn’t done anything to dissociate themselves from that viewpoint, it makes me less likely to want to patronise that employer, and would *definitely* make me think twice about taking a job with them.

    11. WillyNilly*

      I would not do business with a company that associated itself, via its employees, with extreme political statements. If she is stating she is an employee and she is stating an opinion (for or against) abortion rights on the same page, I will avoid the company.

      Because it demonstrates a lack of professionalism, not because of the stance. Its telling me the employees do not understand how to conduct themselves while promoting the company they work for.

      If it was a *totally* personal page, no mention of work, that would be different. But once she associates her work life to the page, it’s no longer strictly personal.

      1. Dot Warner*

        I don’t get how having my employer and job title on a social media profile that only my friends can see is in any way promoting my company. Hopefully that’s how this person has their profile set up, but if not, now would be a good time to change that.

    12. Observer*

      I think your boss is addressing the wrong thing. It’s not this particular post she needs to take down, but the association with her employer.

      Either that or she needs to take down any post that relates to any political position, even relatively uncontroversial ones.

      1. voyager1*

        Your bosses opinion is a gender discrimination case just waiting to happen…

        Agree with everyone else, have her take her job and title off her bio on facebook.

        1. Sunshine*

          How on Earth is it gender discrimination? If anything I’d say the employee’s publicly stated opinion is gender discrimination. She’s the one who wants to deny reproductive rights to women and trans people.

    13. Dot Warner*

      Did this person make the post public, or can only her friends see it? If it’s public, you could ask her to make it friends-only, but if it’s already friends-only, I don’t see the issue. A post that only her friends can see doesn’t represent the company in any way.

      As far as relationship building goes… yeah, maybe you’d want to say something to her about it, but since your job doesn’t have anything to do with abortion or healthcare, I’m not sure why. People who have strong opinions on controversial topics tend to know what people with the opposite views think of them. And if no one has complained, maybe that’s because they either share her beliefs or aren’t bothered by working with someone they disagree with.

      1. Sunshine*

        Alison has written before – just because no one complains doesn’t mean they’re happy with you. I wouldn’t complain; she’s perfectly entitled to hold those views. I’d still think less of her and wouldn’t be comfortable working with her.

  32. ilikeyoualatte*

    #5 – ah this reminds me of when i was a vendor and the client had me send over the status list and he could call me and read my list for 1.5 hours. This happened 1-2 x a week for a year. Didn’t have questions..just wanted to read it aloud to me. I basically said the advice Alison gave, but he wanted me to hear him read it i guess. At the end (in my situation) he was the client and I was the vendor and if that’s how he dictated my time should be spent – then that’s what I should do.

    1. Kris*

      I was once involved with a project where the client wanted to have interminable and unnecessary conference calls involving five people. I was the junior person on this project and had literally no role in the calls, but the client and my boss wanted me to participate. Once I adopted this attitude — if that’s how they want me to spend my time, so be it — it made sitting through those calls much more bearable.

      1. Ilikeyoualatte*

        Yep same here. I even asked my boss, and he was like if that’s what they want, give it to him *shrug*

        1. Lego Leia*

          OP #5 here. I will try Allison’s script, but I am trying to adjust my attitude, because my boss really seems to like the phone calls. He is obviously getting something out of them that I don’t. It’s really frustrating to have this time wasted (I know what I sent in the emails) and then be asked to justify why I am behind. Which means more tracking, and then more calls about the new tracking …

          1. Myrin*

            I do think an attitude change would be generally recommendable if you were in a situation like some people describe above, where they had to sit through a client’s waffling on and on; in that case, if a client wants to pay for more hours simply because she can’t shut up, well, annoying, but so be it.

            But in your case, I really do think a frank discussion needs to be held first, mostly because the topic of why you’re behind on the project seems to be a really big thing, it seems from your comments? Your boss’s strange “managerial practice” is the direct cause of these delays! If this were just a thing that’s frustrating but ultimately doesn’t matter, I’d heartily recommend adjusting your attitude, but as it stands, he’s the one who should be adjusting – either no blabbering phone calls anymore, or no more asking you to justify your timeline!

          2. Marthooh*

            If he likes trackng so much… start tracking the time you spend on these calls, and include it under a heading of its own on the spreadsheets.

            1. M. Albertine*

              Exactly. Keep a weekly log of your work time, especially since sooo much time is being spent on “tracking”. It actually might be a good CYA.

          3. Jules the 3rd*

            I’m usually too straightforward, but I would ask ‘what is the goal of this meeting – are there actions you see coming from it?’ at some point.

      2. MassMatt*

        But the OP is suggesting the boss is wondering why she isn’t more productive while keeping her on the phone for spreadsheet story time. The boss has cognitive dissonance. It’s fine if you are billing someone by the hour as a contractor and they choose to pay you to read your emails to you, but in this case the boss seems to be wasting the employee’s time while simultaneously thinking she is not being productive.

        I am curious why the boss started acting this way. Is it something he read, or is this work different than previous projects?

    2. The Cleaner*

      I have a boss who likes to process by reading, and it usually makes me batty but I get through it in a similar way — I use the time to meditate on the reality that she is my boss, and part of my job is to contribute to an environment that enables her to be successful.

      One question I have for OP#5 is what happens if you aren’t available for his calls, because you’re in a meeting or at lunch or whatever? Does he schedule them for specific times? I ask because my availability seems to spark my boss’s need to read at me. If I’m not available, she often manages to move along. I’m wondering if the timing of OP5’s email updates might be possible to tweak. Are you always sending them at the same times, perhaps a time that he is using for reading and addressing emails? If it’s easy enough to adjust your send times, maybe that could help break (or at least mitigate) the cycle. You can’t, obviously, if your boss is asking you to hold specific times for this, but if it’s more casual, maybe you could switch it up and see if it makes a difference.

      I’m sometime successful with interrupting the process before it gets going, if my boss asks me to “review” a report with her (meaning she reads it while I do almost nothing), I will say “I’m working on This Very Important Task, which is your priority for me right now?” Sometimes she picks reading the report! But other times verbalizing the Task At Hand seems to redirect the focus back to the actual work.

      When I have tried to have a longer conversation about how much of my work time gets taken up with the reading of reports, it’s that thing where my boss’s responses is that it *is* helpful to her, and also (despite documenting), I think in her mind, it’s a very small amount of time, and she simply doesn’t see it as a big deal, not enough to prompt a change.

      (Overall she’s a good boss and many of our office process are effective, I feel like sometimes that gets lost in a AAM comment where I’m micro-focusing on an issue!)

      1. Lego Leia*

        If I don’t pick up the phone, he calls my private cell phone. It is not work phone. Unfortunately, he blocks his number, and there are health related reasons why I have to pick up “private number”. I am not sure why hospitals call from private numbers!

        1. The Cleaner*

          My face upon reading that he calls you on your private phone from a blocked number looked like a cartoon where the cartoon character’s eyes pop in and out!

  33. Shiro*

    I’ve been checking the comments all day for some kind of clarification on Alison’s response to #1, it doesn’t seem in line with her usual take on things like this! Any recommended methodology for “releasing it back into the wild” without causing the ruckus that so many of you have predicted?

      1. boop the first*

        That’s a great image. I can totally imagine OP suddenly wanting to play with the group, edging closer and closer to an open window next to busy traffic, getting a catch and suddenly YEET!

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      Clarified above. But if you’re waiting for me to clarify something, assume I will need time to sleep and then start my day after the midnight ET post comes out. It’s only 10:30 am my time.

      1. What’s with Today, today?*

        It was more of a double down than clarification though. Stealing the monkey to “rehome” it to a cabinet(or elsewhere) is still stealing. Taking something that belongs to someone else without their permission is stealing.

        1. MJ*

          You’re saying that moving something is stealing. Please explain why moving something is stealing.

          “Someone stole my stapler. It was on the right side, now it’s on the left side. It was stolen.” ????

          1. What’s with Today, today?*

            You’re comparing apples to oranges. Shifting something’s position on a desk isn’t stealing. Removing something fro it and purposefully putting it where it’s not easily found is stealing. Clearly, they aren’t the same thing.

            1. Marvel*

              Neither are moving an extremely disruptive object to a not-easily-found place in a shared space vs. burglarizing someone else’s private residence when they leave their door unlocked, but you keep making that comparison.

  34. CupcakeCounter*

    #3
    First check your company policy and make sure you can apply – some places require a year. Then give your friend a heads up that you are interested in applying. However from what you wrote I wouldn’t get your hopes up too high – your friend has a few more checks in the “pro” column so even if you two are both perfect matches she will most likely get it over you due to seniority and overall experience. At least that has been my experience.

  35. CupcakeCounter*

    #5
    Add the daily phone call to your tracking spreadsheet so that boss can see exactly how much time he is sucking up with this. Telling him hasn’t appeared to work so maybe he needs to see it right in front of him (and then of course read it back to you)

    1. Lego Leia*

      OP #5 here. I was actually considering doing this something like this today! I have a column for “what I needs to be fixed”, and I was going to add “what my boss needs to help me with”. I will now add “Communicate with boss” to the steps that I need to complete.

      1. Seeking Second Childhood*

        When you’re tracking your time, I’d suggest splitting out “prep report for manager” from “review report with manager”.
        Because really, if what the manager wants is to go through everything in detail, do you even have to prep a report? Maybe she would like it better to sit with you at the PC and go through all the pieces live in your tracking system. It would still be ungodly long…but it would be ungodly long without the report-prep step.

        1. Bulbasaur*

          I think this or some variant of it is probably your answer if you try Alison’s script and it doesn’t work. Because he’s your manager, you don’t really have standing to stop it if he thinks it’s effective, but you’re also not obliged to own the consequences. So plan for it, build in the time, let him (and everyone else) realize that it’s taking up time that could be spent on productive work, and then let him justify it.

          If it comes up I would make the points that (a) you are not providing any input or new information during the reviews and (b) it’s not necessary for your work, and in fact you’d get more done without it, but you’re doing it because your manager feels it’s necessary for his work. Then let the project team decide with your manager how they’d like to handle it. But if it’s time your manager is requiring you to spend then it needs to be planned and accounted for just like any other work – you shouldn’t be obliged to pretend it’s not happening and then make up the time.

  36. Karen from Finance*

    #5, I was once in a similar position, but it wasn’t my manager, it was my internal client. The person I took the project over from was very inefficient and they had set up all the trackers in place for her, and they had daily calls to check on her progress, and often to check on the tracker itself. When I took over the account, it was the same. I had to go through the trackers live with them each day.

    Mercifully, they got bored eventually, after one or two months, when they saw that they were wasting their own time, and after a few comments from my part along the lines of “yes, I’ll get back on it as soon as we’re finished with this call”. I agree with Alison’s script for your situation, as it’s your direct manager and they don’t seem to be getting the hint.

  37. El Esteban*

    I’m sorry, Alison, but I’m disappointed in your answer to #1. It’s morally wrong to steal or trash someone else’s personal item, no matter how much it annoys you. Surely there are better solutions: like putting the monkey in a “cage” with a note playfully saying he’s on time out, to escalating the issue to management or HR. But I think stealing the monkey is absolutely wrong.

    1. Sunshine*

      Overall I think you’re right, but it’s *also* morally wrong to deliberately provoke a colleague. It’s also childish and ridiculous.

      1. MommyMD*

        It is. Very much. That’s why she should tell her manager that’s it’s gotten out of hand, she’s being ignored, and it’s interfering with her work day. Her coworkers are infants. They envision themselves as cool.

    2. Alfonzo Mango*

      Where is the line between stealing the money and putting it in a cage? I’m not understanding your logic.

  38. The Other Dawn*

    RE: #1

    I hate to say it, but I disagree with the answer to this one. I know it’s so SO tempting to steal/destroy/hide the offending item, but I really think this runs the risk of backfiring on the OP. It also seems ridiculous to involve a manager, but I think she needs to on this one. She’s asked several times and it’s not improving.

  39. Nox*

    1# we should never be condoning destruction or theft of personal property regardless of how annoying it might be. Talk to your manager – following the terrible advice posted will get you in more trouble than it’s worth.

    I’m very perplexed and highly disappointed by the advice.

  40. Kill ItWithFIre*

    #3, your employer cannot police what an employee says on social media, but they can ask that person not associate themselves with the company on social media.

  41. (Mr.) Cajun2core*

    I am also very surprised by Alison’s comment. It is stealing! I fully expected Alison to say to tell them one last time very firmly to “It is very distracting and you need to cut it out. Can you do that?”. Then if they don’t go to their manager and explain (in a non-accusatory way) that the monkey is causing issues with her work and ask the manager if there is something that she can do about it.

  42. always in email jail*

    #4- I, too, have an invisible condition for which I receive accommodation, primarily due to a standing medical appointment for an infusion and the need to telework sometimes to access a bathroom readily. Mine is an embarrassing condition. I haven’t had your exact situation, but a similar one where another manager acted over our team as well briefly. It felt weird having to discuss this with someone else who then wasn’t my manager anymore, but I tried to reframe my thinking.
    Often, with invisible illness, we worry that people will think we’re “lazy”, or are subject to the “but you LOOK fine!” line of thinking. I tried to think of it as now I have an advocate out there who knows what’s going on. I would hope that if anyone was ever like “always in email jail is off work a lot lately, must be nice!” or “always in email jail disappeared from her office for half an hour, wonder what’s going on there?” that that person would cover for me, or would dispel any talk that suggested I was slacking. (while, of course, maintaining my privacy)

    1. OP4*

      Always in email jail, thanks so much for your reply! For what its worth, I have been incredibly lucky in that no one, permanent or iterim, has asked me to explain or justify my accommodation at all. I’ve never thought of it from your perspective of that person being a potential advocate, but now I can definitely see the upshot there!

  43. Drax*

    #5 – I am so so sorry. Our outside sales guy and the boss do that here to me as well. Some people are just like that. I’ve just started working while he’s talking and occasionally make “mhmm” noises and it seems to be working. Not the most professional, but I’ve literally tried everything including just hanging up when they keep talking after I said I need to go – they just call back because “we must have got disconnected”.

    Seriously – on Friday Sales Guy called me to ask for a price for a teacup, because when we switch the teapot it has to have a new teacup. I said I don’t believe it does need a new teacup and that price is on the second page of what I sent him already for pricing, but I’ll get the shop man who’s gone home for the day to pull us a drawing on Monday so we can be sure. Sales Guy spent literally 30+ minutes going back and forth on if we need one or not. Just talking to himself, not giving me an opportunity to say a peep back. I ended up saying the phone was ringing and hanging up. And he called back 5 minutes later and I just let it ring to voicemail.

  44. Nora*

    I’ve been in the same situation as #1: a coworker had a plastic button on his desk that said weird, very loud phrases when you pressed it. He liked to press it when he came into the office in the morning, and sometimes during the day if he thought the office was too quiet. It was very jarring. Another coworker and I asked him to stop pressing the button when the office was quiet but he thought we were joking. So, one day before he got into the office we took the batteries out of his button. He knew exactly who had done it, because we had complained about his button, and he thought it was *hilarious*. He promptly went out and bought three more buttons, plus new batteries, and pressed all four of them in a row every single morning until he left for another job.

    1. Jen*

      At my first job out of college, the boss would throw a football across the office to the second in command as they talked about work. It would happen for hours. Just non-stop. And they were terrible at both throwing and catching so the ball would hit us on the head or hit our computer or knock over coffee cups. Since they were the bosses we had to be sort of safe in voicing our complaints “Hey, outside games go outside” but they wouldn’t ever listen and would tell us to be quiet. The ball disappeared one day. They bought another one. That one disappeared too. They gave up. Months later at someone’s goodbye party she confessed to throwing the first ball in the dumpster. Another co-worker said she did the same with the second ball.

      1. Nora*

        This happened in my office too! Eventually I was able to gently encourage the two bosses to do jigsaw puzzles while they chatted about work instead of throwing the (tiny foam) football up and down the hallway.

  45. drpuma*

    OP5, are these calls planned ahead of time? If they’re “spontaneous”, can you bring it up w/ your boss at the beginning of each call? I’m thinking you could say something like, “Oh hi Boss! I’m in the middle of working on [big deal project]. Do you want me to put that on hold for you, or can I get back to it, since our deadline is Z?” Depending on your boss, a few of these in-the-moment nudges may be more effective than a big picture conversation.

    1. Lego Leia*

      OP #5, the calls are both spontaneous and planned! My department is in three locations, and we have a daily check-in call that I can easily schedule around. Spontaneous calls are happening at least once more per day. Thankfully, he has a cough right now, and I have had two glorious days of minimal contact.

  46. Czhorat*

    For #2, as much as I disagree with the colleague’s position I ALSO agree that this is not where an employer should draw the line unless it directly conflicts with their corporate mission and values.

    That said, from a legal point of view there’s very little protection for this kind of thing in most jurisdictions.

    I’m very public with my political positions, using the same Twitter account for political rants and industry chat. That’s not always the safest choice; Given that the employee can likely legally be disciplined for this, the prudent choice might be to take the advice from others here and block the manager, go private for a while, and keep your powder dry for a battle more worth fighting.

  47. Michelle*

    OP#1- We hada annoying, noisy toy similar to that in our office. The man that owned it would set if off 5, 6 time a day. It was so loud that if I was on a call with a customer or vendor they could hear it in the background, but I couldn’t hear them. I asked him 3 times very politely to stop setting it off so much because it was interfering with my ability to do my job. He continued. The next day I went to his supervisor and asked her to speak with him. She declined because she gave him the toy and thought it was FUN. I told her that it was FUN for her because she didn’t do any work with customers and vendors who complained about the noise in the background and prevented me from hearing them. I was going to go to my supervisor but he was away for a week at a conference.

    Two days later Mr. Noisemaker set off his toy 5 times in a row while I was on a call. I put the customer on hold, marched to his desk, grabbed the toy and told him loudly that this was a workplace, not a grade school and I was confiscating his toy until he learned how to respect his coworkers and customers.

    The toy has been locked in my cabinet for 3 months now and no attempt has been made to rescue or reclaim it. Several coworkers have thanked me for stopping the noise.

    1. LaDeeDa*

      WOW!! That is a totally different scenario and to an extreme!! UGGG! I can’t believe anyone would make that kind of racket when people are on the phone with clients. Good for you for dealing with it directly. He knew he was being a jerk and you called him out on it.

    2. Leela*

      Not a toy but a coworker was very loud when I worked in recruiting at Major Online Teapot Dealer. She’d loudly talk to her neighbors about weekend plans or other unnecessary things when I was three feet away on the phone and couldn’t hear the candidate at all. After weeks of asking her to be quiet politely and privately, she was being egregiously loud with her neighbor and I politely went “…guys?” 3 times and I saw her look at me and smirk and go back to her conversation so I covered my phone and went “GUYS!!!” and their eyes went huge and their jaws dropped and they looked like they were going to kill me. I said “I’m sorry but I can’t hear the candidate, I can’t keep rescheduling calls with candidates because I can’t hear over you.” I apologized after only as a formality because I felt I’d been left no choice but she was fuuuuuuming and threw the apology back in my face.

      All the way up until my contract ended she did something ridiculous multiple times per day in response to this. I’d bring my food to my desk (very common there) and she’d go “oh, THAT’S what smells so bad” very loudly in front of our coworkers.

      When she left for the day I could sense that she was staring at me when it was just me and Sansa left in the room and when I turned to look because she was staring she’d smirk and go “BYE SANSA” and look at me like she *really* gave it to me when in fact I thought she was being just a ridiculous baby and rolled my eyes.

      She’d loudly go “I love our team so much!” *stares at me* “Well, MOST of us are pretty polite. Some people are still learning though”

      Repeat for several months. Cool, cool.

    3. What's with Today, today?*

      This is not a grade school, now give me your stuff until you can learn to be respectful and I’m locking it in a cabinet!

      Are you sure it isn’t a grade school? It sounds like a grade school.

      1. Michelle*

        He chose to like he was in grade school, so I chose to treat him that way. At least I can hear my customers and vendors on the phone now.

  48. LaDeeDa*

    Screaming monkey: Just reading about that annoying toy being tossed around had me clenching my teeth and feeling pissed off! I do not blame you for wanting to steal it, I would feel the same urge! I wouldn’t do it though. I wouldn’t steal it. It is going to be obvious it was you and could cause some bad team dynamics. Instead, I would talk to the person who owns it. I would talk to them privately, and not when you are feeling annoyed by the monkey and game playing. I would let them know that the sound of it really puts you on edge and is disruptive, and ask them what is a compromise or alternative. Would a small foam football being tossed around bother you?

    In one group I worked in we had one of those helium, remote control, shark balloons– someone would start playing the Jaws music and then fly it into people’s cubes. If I was in the creative zone or not in the mood for it, I would laugh, get up- and use that opportunity to go to the restroom, go get a coffee, or just go for a quick walk. I couldn’t demand they not do it– they needed their stress reliever and since I was the only one that was irritated by it, it was my responsibility to control my reaction.

    Things like this don’t usually go on for 30 minutes– so if it is 10-15 min stress reliever for them, then they get to have it. Find ways to remove yourself from the situation, and do it gracefully and professionally.

    1. IT But I Can't Fix Your Printer*

      Why is it on the OP to behave “gracefully and professionally” when the other people are being horribly rude? And yes, it’s 100% rude to do something unnecessary and disruptive after another person has politely asked you multiple times to stop. It’s nice for you that the Jaws shark was something you could laugh about and that your work could be interrupted for 10-15 minutes for a coffee at any point in your day. The monkey-throwers are the ones who should be behaving more professionally in this situation.

      1. LQ*

        Strong agree. This is not the OP who isn’t professional enough. The throwers are the ones who are not professional.

        We’ve seen a lot of posts here about how to get your coworkers to not interrupt you for WORK during other work and pushing back on getting them to stop and how annoying it was for people to interrupt you for legitimate work reasons is annoying and not professional.

        These people should take the monkey out side and throw their toy around. (no I don’t care how many inches of snow) The OP should not have to stop doing the thing the employer pays for so that other people can be jerks.

    2. Jules the 3rd*

      No. Any stress reliever that impinges on other people, the person feeling the stress has the responsibility to either 1) make sure *all* other people are ok with it or 2) find another outlet.

      Their right to relieve stress ends at your eardrums.

    3. LawBee*

      There are already bad team dynamics, it’s just that LW1 is the only one suffering them. The toy needs to go, there is no need to have a screaming anything in a professional office. This isn’t a “they go low, we go high” situation.

  49. Rae*

    When I was an intern the person on the other side of the cube wall had a “That was easy!” button from the commercials from a million years ago. People would hit it constantly. But as the guy with the button was high up I never said anything. Cue the head of the department coming and asking how I was doing one day and that stupid thing going off 4 times in under 10 minutes. It mysteriously disappeared the next day…

  50. Seeking Second Childhood*

    OP1 — you say you’re in a “satellite office”. Some of those are run with skeleton crews… do you *HAVE* a manager at your location? Or more to the point is there a manager there for Team Flying Monkey?

    1. LW#1*

      I haven’t looked yet, to be honest. So much of management is on the other side of the country that I’m not certain I could even get through to them about how awful this toy is.

  51. IT But I Can't Fix Your Printer*

    I’m on #TeamMonkeyStealing. I know in my head that it’s wrong but I might be willing to face the consequences because it sounds so terrible. I have a terrible startle reflex. They would be lucky to not hear me screaming (unintentionally) when this thing goes off.

    1. CM*

      I’m in favor of the solution someone mentioned above — take out the batteries, put tape on the ends, and replace them. Or just flip the batteries so the ends are connected to the wrong terminals. It’s not destructive but it will stop the noise at least temporarily.

  52. This Daydreamer*

    Shrill noises are a migraine trigger for me so that monkey would be doomed if I worked in that office. Even reading about it is making me cringe.

    It reminds me of a counter display that drive me nuts when I was working retail. It was a cardboard box, shaped like a dog, and it has a wagging tail. It might not sound like much but I was spending eight hours a day with this thing moving in my peripheral vision. I tried removing the batteries. The manager would replace them. Finally I got the idea of taking the batteries out, putting take over the ends, and sticking them back in. Worked like a charm.

  53. Kenneth*

    LW#1

    There’s a little blip in the law called the “necessity defense”. In short it means that you are free to break a particular law, property theft in this instance, if you can show your actions were necessary to prevent a greater wrong from occurring, or escaping the possibility of it. And if they report you for stealing the monkey, all you’d have to do is set it off in front of a manager while also informing them of the several instances you’ve told them to not set it off.

    So to those of you who are saying “is stealing the toy really justified?”, YES!!! A Million Times YES!!! Seriously that fu**ing “toy” is the spawn of the devil!!! Anyone who brings one of those to the office and sets it off – whether deliberately or not – deserves worse than just having the toy stolen!!! I’m pretty sure its mere existence violates several international treaties addressing barbaric forms of torture! And you’re sadistic to bring one to the office and keep setting it off despite pleas from coworkers to remove it from the office!

    At my previous job, the coworker who brought one of those in thought my annoyance to it was funny, especially since I was the only one openly stating any opposition to the toy’s existence. Until I started openly threatening to confiscate the toy if he kept setting it off. At first he thought I was joking, but several of my other teammates, including my manager, properly read my demeanor to mean that I wasn’t joking. And my manager hinted to him as well to not set the thing off.

    Thankfully we only ever had just one other issue with it, when he accidentally set it off when we were moving locations. And he was then ordered to remove it from the office.

    In all seriousness, anyone who brings one of those to the office is deliberately intending to distract, annoy, or aggravate others at the office. Which is purely sadistic, in my opinion. While the appropriate level of response tends to be situation dependent, stealing the toy is definitely justified to… prevent the chance of greater harm (formal complaints and disciplinary action, not necessarily physical harm) coming to the person who introduced it to the workplace.

    1. LW#1*

      that fu**ing “toy” is the spawn of the devil!!! Anyone who brings one of those to the office and sets it off – whether deliberately or not – deserves worse than just having the toy stolen!!! I’m pretty sure its mere existence violates several international treaties addressing barbaric forms of torture!

      Glad to see someone has similar feelings as I do about this Damn Monkey. Reading your response has brightened my day, especially when I spent some time imagining following through on your suggestions, and then defending myself in court regarding them.

  54. Llellayena*

    OP 1: One person in my office has a holiday themed, motion activated toy with a seriously annoying voice that I encountered my first year here. He’d put it out after thanksgiving and leave it out (and on) until christmas. I’d jump every time I had to walk past it, even when I know it would talk at me. After I mock attacked it with a ruler and asked nicely (but with annoyance) if the use of it could be limited, he turned it on much less often. Now I hear it for a couple hours for maybe 2 days before christmas, and he’s at a desk farther away from me so it’s a lot easier to handle. I still wish it would go away completely, but it’s tolerable now. While I did threaten to steal the batteries on it once, I would never actually steal it or break it or anything. But I have reasonable coworkers. Maybe ask for a reduction in frequency of use rather than a complete ban? If you can live with the annoyance for a half hour a month or so, it might be just enough.

  55. Statler von Waldorf*

    #1- Do you want to be right, or do you want to be happy? Stealing or disabling the toy is probably not the right thing to do, but if you want to be happy, it is probably your best shot. Do be discreet though, as this will probably blow up in your face to some degree if you get caught.

    #2 – I just fired someone fifteen minutes ago for posting an anti-gay post on social media this weekend that ended up getting shared with me. It was not hate speech per say, but I’m a gay man and I was having none of that. Per the company lawyer, it was still legal for me to fire them for this. You may have the “right” to share whatever you like on social media, but you also have the “right” to end up unemployed and homeless.

    1. I'm Not Phyllis*

      You’re my favourite today. Yes, people have the “right” (if that’s what we want to call it?) to say what they want, but that doesn’t necessarily mean they will be free from consequences if they do.

      And … same – Team Getridofthescreamingmonkey!

    2. Salyan*

      That’s… terrible. I can understand the personal feelings regarding such a post, but to fire someone for stating personal opinions and beliefs that a) are opposite to yours and b) are not hate speech is an attack on their own freedom of speech and belief. As part of a group that has fought hard to be able to express their beliefs publicly, you ought to allow others that same right.

      1. Statler von Waldorf*

        If their beliefs are that I am less than human because of who I love, I don’t care if I am infringing on him expressing that belief. Bigot is not a protected class.

        Also, only one of us can be arrested for expressing our beliefs in 72 countries and executed for those beliefs in ten, and that person isn’t me. So can we please not play the whataboutism game and suggest that his speech and mine are equally under attack? They are not.

      2. Jan*

        An attack on the employee’s freedom of speech would be imprisoning him for stating his opinion on homosexuality. As someone said above, freedom of speech means the government can’t punish you for your opinion, however abhorrent. It doesn’t mean no one can criticise your views. And if Statler is part of a gay-friendly team, it’s obvious someone who disapproves of homosexuality isn’t going to be a good fit. The employee is free to take his opinions to a more conservative-minded company if he wants!

      3. Christine*

        In no way is it an attack on freedom of speech. This has nothing to do with government infringement.

    3. Kenneth*

      Depending on the context of the post, your company lawyer may not be correct. If the post in question could be interpreted as religious expression, or was created by or found through a recognized religious organization, then you may have violated Federal law in firing him since you would’ve been firing him for his religious beliefs. And your company’s lawyer merely saying it’s “legal” doesn’t mean it IS legal, and it could be up to a Court to answer that question.

      Plus what’s “legal” doesn’t save you from the consequences of YOUR actions either. And the optics of this could come back to bite you as a result depending on what the fired employee does. And since that consequence would be stemming from firing an employee over what he did outside work, any laws protecting retaliation or termination due to sexual orientation wouldn’t help you. Many like to say that “freedom of speech doesn’t mean freedom from consequences”, but seem to not realize that all actions have consequences.

          1. Kenneth*

            They can certainly try. Religion is a protected class under Federal and State laws, so firing someone who exercised their freedom of religious expression can open up the employer to a wrongful termination lawsuit.

            And that is why I started with “depending on the context of the post”. Statler even said that he didn’t consider the post to rise to the level of “hate speech”, however he chooses to define that, yet fired the person anyway merely because the post is “anti-gay” and he was “having none of that”. Which that alone has a very, very broad definition anymore. As an example, I’ve been called “anti-gay” and a “homophobe” merely for being straight.

            Hence again why I brought up the context, since that is what ultimately matters. Was the “anti-gay” post merely stating the common, traditionalist and religious definition of marriage – “one man and one woman”? Did it merely state the common religious belief that homosexuality is a sin?

            I don’t know. I can only speculate based on the very little that’s Statler said about it.

            1. Statler von Waldorf*

              First of all, I’m not American, I’m Canadian, so the laws are different. Not that it matters, because there’s an obvious point that I just realized I never made. The fired employee doesn’t even know that I saw that social media post. I certainly didn’t bring it up in his termination, because I’m not an idiot. He was fired for reasons that I could publicly and factually justify in a court of law, like the poor performance reviews from his supervisors and his one write-up for a safety gear violation.

              You see, most of the time in my experience, when an employer lets people go for reasons that might be a bit sketchy, they lie to that employee about the reasons. If they are smarter, they tell only part of the truth, like I did. Then, if you are the fired employee, you need to lawyer up and PROVE that they lied. This tends to be both expensive and difficult, and it also tends to napalm your career as an unpleasant side effect. The end result is even if you win, you lose.

              So in short, this is why you should not friend your boss on social media.

              1. Kenneth*

                And that changes what you initially said. Since your original statements mentioned none of this and made it sound like you fired someone only over a social media post you found objectionable. The fact you’re in Canada wasn’t the important detail. The fact he had a lot of other checkmarks on the pink slip is the very important detail since it basically means the social media post merely brought the person to your attention.

                But then, without the other checkmarks, would you still have fired him if the only reason you had was the social media post?

                1. Statler von Waldorf*

                  Yes. I fired him for that post. The stuff on the pink slip was only there for the purpose of legally covering my ass.

  56. WillyNilly*

    Yes steal the monkey. Seal it in a box or large envelope, put it in the manager’s office with a note explaining what it is, and that you have repeatedly politely requested it not be activated in the officed during work hours.

    This forces the manager to address the issue without damaging the item.

  57. LawBee*

    #1 – it’s time for the toy to go. I give you full permission to do whatever it takes so that these ADULTS stop acting like spoiled children. Catch it in mid-air and put it in your locked desk drawer, accidentally throw it behind a file cabinet, whatever.

    #3 – the important thing is that you do tell your friend. It would be pretty awful if she found out you were up for the job when it was announced that you got it. It shouldn’t be a big deal, though; applying for an internal position is like any other application, and you both could not get it.

  58. Maya Elena*

    I agree with Q2 that the employer has no place in policing their employees’ personal political activity, with very few, rare exceptions. Her point is, essentially, “well if your employer with Good Views does this the employers with Bad Views will have license to do it too”.

    But from a progressive standpoint, her examples (anti-Abortion vs. pro-Dreamer, for example) aren’t comparable. One is clearly against social justice, and one for; one is harming a (vulnerable) population, and one benefiting. So an anti-abortion employer who asks a pro-choice employee to take down their FB post is in the wrong, but not vice-versa. And in general, why should the whole class of anti-humanitarian views, from anti-immigration or anti-abortion, be socially condoned at all, especially when they likely stem from privilege, racism, sexism? Why shouldn’t their proponents suffer for them, e.g. in the form of more difficult employment prospects?

    I personally think the above reasoning is extremely toxic, and don’t think that the seemingly clear caveats people are throwing out – “your employer should only are if the Facebook post was harmful speech” or “hate speech” are anything but clear, and don’t stand up to someone with a more fundamentalist view of what does and doesn’t constitute “harm” in this context.

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      Because huge swaths of the population don’t see things that way. I happen to agree with you, but people who are anti-abortion will tell you that they believe the other side is harming a vulnerable population. You can’t just decide to make it the way you’ve described in a country where huge portions of the population don’t see things that way; you need to find a middle ground.

    2. LawBee*

      “So an anti-abortion employer who asks a pro-choice employee to take down their FB post is in the wrong, but not vice-versa.”

      Actually, the pro-choice employer who asks the anti-choice employee to take down her FB post would still be wrong, and for the same reasons.

    3. Alton*

      I agree that not all examples are comparable. I think there can be topics that have grey areas, though, where I might disagree with someone’s views but it may not be clear if they’re causing harm or that they’re personally prejudiced.

      Personally, I also feel like the tone and style of the post can make a difference, too. I tend to be less comfortable with people who post a lot of political memes, for example, because they often use inflammatory examples to elicit an emotional reaction or make people who agree feel good about themselves. I’m not a fan of rhetoric like that for causes I agree with, either. I mention this because since the new New York abortion law, I’ve been seeing a lot of emotionally manipulative anti-abortion posts on Facebook. This has affected my feelings about the people who post those things more than simply knowing that they believe life begins at conception has.

      I also think that if you’re friends with colleagues on Facebook, there’s something to be said for not talking about things that you wouldn’t share in the office, whether they’re offensive or not.

  59. Backfiring Monkey*

    Had a similar situation in my office with two bro-fools and their very loud squeaky toy. A coworker “disappeared it” one day after work. One of the two bro-fools made such an issue about it that our office manager almost fired a completely innocent custodian over the thing.

    1. Michaela Westen*

      Yes, that’s the thing. People who feel so entitled they inflict the monkey on coworkers will also make a fuss and try to get someone punished when they have normal consequences for their actions.

  60. Observer*

    #2- I’m going to add one more thing. If the employee identifies her employer on her page or friends people who she knows ONLY as work contacts, your boss has a legitimate issue.

    Otherwise, I’m with Allison, unless the post goes into hate speech type of territory. It’s one thing to be against abortion, for instance, it’s another to call anyone who has or provides an abortion a murderer or to advocate harming abortion providers.

  61. LeisureSuitLarry*

    I am absolutely shocked that Alison advocated stealing or destroying another employee’s personal property! I don’t know what steps LW#1 has taken regarding bringing in more authoritative help in this situation, but stealing another employees property (even if it’s super annoying property) seems like the kind of thing that can, will, and should get a person fired.

    1. Windchime*

      She has clarified several times in the comments that she meant for the monkey to be hidden, not stolen and certainly not destroyed.

  62. LW#1*

    Thank you, everyone on #TeamMonkeyStealing or #TeamKillTheToy. I appreciate it. I’ve tried to comment on as much as possible, but some collected tidbits here:

    – Satellite office. Our HQ is across the country, and management isn’t necessarily in the building. For instance, my manager is actually in another country at another office! So to escalate this, I might end up having to arrange a video call with someone in a different timezone, and then somehow impress on them that this toy is beyond a nuisance. Given how tape-filled the company can be, I don’t have a lot of hope for the toy going away just because a manager said so. If they aren’t in the building, are there really any consequences for the people messing with the toy?

    – Toy ownership. Just before I wrote the letter to Alison, I did ask who it belonged to. With a facial expression somewhere between RBF and Truly Glacial. No one owned up to it. That Damn Monkey lives on a chair between two peoples’ cubes, and the other cube-person is on vacation, I believe. Once they get back I plan to ask if That Monkey is theirs. If ownership is claimed, then I get to have a proper one-on-one conversation with the TDM owner about removing it from the office.

    – Bonus round, extra background!: While the noise is, I’m sure highly annoying to most people, it’s extra so for me. Some ill-advised cousin or relative gave my younger sibling one when we were in early grade school, and naturally said sibling delighted in throwing it allllll over the house, without a care for their older sibling (hi) who was trying to do homework. So I probably reach extinction level a bit faster than most people when it comes to the noise.

    1. valentine*

      What if you email your manager the link?

      Is it possible to throw the monkey so it lands in the ceiling? I wouldn’t consider that theft.

    2. LCL*

      Ha. Did you see the first comment on the video in the link you provided? ‘when launched, it emits a pleasant screeching sound.’ Wut?

    3. Michaela Westen*

      Take a video of them playing with it and send it to your manager. And their manager. And other managers…

  63. Leafy*

    For LW1, I wonder if a possible solution would be to stash the toy away somewhere and then tell people if asked. Something along the lines of: “Oh yeah, I’ve put the monkey in (cabinet/drawer/random location) because I needed some quiet time this morning!”. Technically you’re still being honest, and maybe the coworkers will get tired of constantly going here or there to retrieve it?

  64. Betsy S*

    Oh man, at one point my former employer handed those things out at a company lunch. They are SO OBNOXIOUS.

    One possibility would be to take the thing and bring it to your manager and tell the offender they need to go get it from them (whether or not you share a manager). Having to ask a manager to get it back might be the push they need.

    Making a little monkey jail is awfully funny, tho! Here’s a premade monkey jail:

    https://www.amazon.com/Convenient-Fridge-Locker-Refrigerator-Safety/dp/B07KL1B6Y8

  65. Enthusiastic Alison Green Fan*

    I am 100% Team Alison on LW #1. I don’t comment on every single post, but I read them, and I try and comment only when I think I can add something. I’ve worked in offices where a colleague has asked other colleagues many times to STOP IT with the ridiculous work interruption, a la the Screaming Monkey, and nothing happens because the colleagues who are getting off on destroying their colleagues’ productivity via their dumbass hilarity could not care less about anything other than themselves. Once someone has asked politely again and again, with no response, I say you should do what you need to do to get rid of the productivity-drain. Sorry, it’s a WORK environment, people. If you’re going to act like babies with a toy, you should be fired and sent back to preschool to relearn your manners. Alison is one of the few experts out there who will tell the truth rather than equivocate with “Oh, it’s stealing!” Uh, why are you bringing a toy into an office and ruining others’ ability to work? In this case, YOU are stealing your coworkers right to a peaceful workspace, but none of the shrieking “It’s stealing!” commenters bother to acknowledge that.

  66. fogharty*

    The screaming monkey sounds like a child or animal in pain or distress (at least to me it does) and I would find it triggering an anxiety attack or worse.

    I wonder is one could approach it that way? As an accommodation? Someone upthread said it could cause a migraine after all.

  67. Monkeys in the wild!*

    I had a few of those flying screech monkeys, but my golden retriever murdered them. OP, please stand your ground. Those monkeys are quite disruptive and definitely do not belong in an office, especially a small one at that. It’s one thing to fling them for the dogs out in the backyard, but certainly not in an office or otherwise enclosed space with people who do not wish to hear them. Good luck!

  68. Marvel*

    Honestly, OP #1, I wouldn’t blame you if you set the monkey on fire, filmed its combustion all the way down to smoldering ashes, and played the video on repeat on every available screen in the office as your coworkers were coming in the next morning.

    …I possibly have feelings about loud noises.

    I don’t actually recommend going THAT far, but I think mysteriously relocating it to an out-of-the-way cupboard is fairly benign, if there’s no office manager who is available or the one you have can’t/won’t act.

Comments are closed.