coworker watches her nanny cam all day long, am I bothering my vegan coworkers, and more

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

1. My new coworker watches her nanny cam all day long

Our small company recently hired a new employee about three months ago. She has her phone open all the time and has live video of her son playing. When she first started, her son was at daycare so she had video of her son live while he was at daycare. There were issues with daycare, so now she watches the nanny cam all the time. Her phone is open and in her hand or propped on her desk so she can watch. ALL. THE. TIME. We both report to the executive director. Any advice? I know it wouldn’t be appropriate to mention to the ED. I don’t know if this is something I should ignore or address directly with her.

Is your sense that it’s distracting her or otherwise affecting her work? If it’s more or less the equivalent of having TV on in the background while she works — where she can look up if something interesting happens but otherwise continues working as normal — I’d let it go, unless it’s making it hard for you to work. But if it’s negatively impacting her work, or if the nature of her job just doesn’t accommodate it well, that’s worth saying something about.

I do think many people would tell you to ignore it and that it’s none of your business. But it’s a small company, she’s a new hire who may not have picked up on norms and expectations there yet, it sounds like it’s annoying the crap out of you, and — most importantly — a lot of managers would want to know so they could judge for themselves whether to intervene. (If I were your boss, I’d want to know and decide for myself if it’s a problem or not.)

I’m curious why you don’t think you can mention it to your mutual boss, because I think she’s the correct person to speak to, not your coworker. In many/most cases, it does make sense to start with the person engaging in the problematic behavior. In this case, though, you really don’t have standing to tell your coworker to stop (assuming there’s no volume and it’s not distracting you). But you do have standing to give your boss a one-time, discreet heads-up, if you think it’s something she’d want to intervene on.

That doesn’t need to be a big scandalous report. It can just be, “I’ve noticed this happening and figured I should mention it in case it’s something you’d want to know about.” If it’s not a problem, your boss will tell you it’s not a problem. If it is a problem, then she’ll presumably appreciate knowing. (Of course, I’m assuming your boss doesn’t see this for herself. If she does, then she already knows and all the above is moot.)

2. Should I stop eating at my desk because of my vegan coworkers?

I’m working in my second job since graduating college. I was at my first job for a year, and I have been with my current company for about two months. Perhaps you can help me navigate some workplace etiquette that may be new to me.

I have noticed my coworkers eating lunch at their desks and reading books or reading articles on their personal phones. It seems people like to sit at their desks to have the comfort of the A/C. I am in a warm state and sometimes sitting in the outside break area is too hot. As such, I have also started to eat my lunch at my desk so that I can read the news on my work computer while listening to music on my phone (with earbuds, of course).

I have two vegan coworkers who sit fairly close to me. I know this because they bring it up a lot in casual conversation and always make a point to remind whoever is planning a team lunch/potluck/etc. to be sure to accommodate them.

Do you think I am bothering them by eating my lunch at my desk? Usually it is inoffensive, like a salad, but some days I will microwave things like my leftover barbecue chicken or spaghetti and meatballs. I realize the smell of microwaved food tends to spread. I always figured if it bothered them they would just tell me, but now I’m wondering if I’m being rude by assuming. Should I ask or leave it alone?

It’s very thoughtful of you to wonder about this (most people don’t bother), but you’re fine. They are well aware that meat-eating exists in the world around them, and it’s unlikely that they expect an office populated by at least some meat-eaters to be free of the sight and smell of meat. You can go on eating your lunch as you have been.

3. Is it a bad idea to leave a full-time job for a temporary one?

I’ve been looking for a new job for sometime, as I’ve been unhappy with my current one. I recently found a listing that honestly looks kind of perfect – it’s at a company I’ve wanted to work for but haven’t found a job there, it combines some of my current job’s skills with one of my hobbies, and it looks like it would be a near perfect fit based off of both my experience and long-term job interests.

The only problem, and the only reason I haven’t applied yet, is that this is a short-term position of about four months. Would it be a totally bad idea to leave my long-term, stable job (which I dislike, but does pay the bills / my insurance) to go after this one? What is the likelihood I could use this as a foot in the door at that organization, or that they’d figure out how to keep me around? Practically I know this isn’t the best move, but would the potential of this kickstarting a career change I want be worth it?

It’s very risky. I’d only do it if you’re fully comfortable with the prospect of being unemployed at the end of the four months (and probably willing to spend much of that four months conducting a job search so that you’ve got a head start by the end of it). Beyond that, if you’d be doing it primarily to get a foot in the door at that organization, I wouldn’t do it — there’s too much chance that won’t pan out. If you’d be doing it primarily because you’re confident it would kickstart the career change you want to make … well, maybe. Four months isn’t much time, and while it could help a little, it’s probably not going to be so significant that it’s worth being unemployed for. All of which is to say … probably not.

4. Asking about tattoo policies before accepting a new position

I’m currently interviewing for a new role, and I believe an offer to be imminent. I’m very excited about the company, but it’s in a very traditional industry (health care).

In the last year, I added two large tattoos (one on each forearm, from my elbow crook to my wrist). They are not offensive in any way (one is the solar system, and one is flowers/birds), but I recognize that some workplaces will have policies explicitly banning visible tattoos. What is the best way to inquire about their policy before I accept the position?

Be direct! Once you have the offer and you’re discussing logistics, say this: “Do you have any policy banning visible tattoos? I have two that I can mostly cover, but wanted to know if you have requirements around that.”

5. How should I respond to post-interview ghosting?

About a month and a half ago, I interviewed in person (second round) for one job and over the phone for another (first round). Both companies told me they’d get back to me relatively quickly (the phone interview company gave me a specific timeline, while the in-person did not). I waited about two weeks and tried following up with both, with no response from either. Every two weeks since, I have tried following up with both, by phone and email, and I have not received any response. Today, I saw that the in-person company reposted the job I’d interviewed for, without giving me a rejection.

How do you recommend I proceed when being ghosted after an interview, and what’s your advice to ensure this doesn’t happen again with future interviews?

You can’t ensure it doesn’t happen again. It almost definitely will happen again. It’s just the reality of job-searching, and there’s nothing you can say or do on your end that will prevent it.

Here’s the thing: If they want to hire you, they’re going to get in touch. So there’s not a lot to be gained by repeatedly following up. It’s fine to follow up once after an interview, and then maybe a second time after some time passes — but at that point it’s better to let it go. They know you’re interested, and if they want to talk further or hire you, they’re going to get in touch. The best thing you can do is to assume you didn’t get the job, put it out of your mind, and let it be a pleasant surprise if they do contact you.

{ 591 comments… read them below }

  1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

    OP#2, it isn’t rude, especially since everyone else is eating at their desks. Of course, the rule about pungent foods applies (e.g., don’t microwave fish at work), but you don’t have to avoid eating omnivorous meals at your desk.

    Sometimes folks are sensitive to certain food smells, but as you noted, if this bothers them, they should tell you directly. Just be generally conscientious, and you should be fine.

    1. Lena Clare*

      I used to work with an otherwise lovely coworker who would fairly often microwave leftover fish curry or stew from her tea the night before. Even if we said ‘seriously, stop that, it stinks” she’d just laugh it off 0_o

      I am veggie, and I don’t mind people eating meat or fish for their lunch – but some stuff is gross if it’s heated up in the communal kitchen and then stinks the whole office out.

      In my mind, the only acceptable hot foods for a shared office space are paninis/ grilled sandwiches, soups, jacket potatoes, and vegetable noodles!

      1. Parenthetically*

        This is totally a know your office thing, as with lots of food stuff. I’ve said before that OldJob had a toaster oven, microwave, kettle, induction burner and full complementary cookware set, and family-size electric griddle pan in our (totally separate, closed-off) kitchen. I had coworkers who’d often come in a half hour early to prep for the day and make bacon and eggs and toast while the coffee brewed, and sit at their desks with their coffee and full breakfast and fork and knife looking over their schedules and getting ready for folks to come in.

        1. Mimi Me*

          My office has a full kitchen and I’ve frequently used the oven. The last time I used it I baked a chicken breast and stuffing. It was delicious and nobody seemed to mind.

          1. CR*

            My last job had an oven and I loved it. It was great for preparing food for potlucks, or heating up lunch leftovers (much tastier than a microwave).

        2. Elizabeth West*

          I AM SO JEALOUS

          At Exjob, I brought in a toaster and everyone used it. But I was usually the only one who cleaned out the crumb tray. I often wished I could scramble eggs or something. I would love to be in an office with a full kitchen where people actually cleaned up after themselves.

      2. Les G*

        But…soups can come in any flavor imaginable. Including fish curry. Some might even consider your coworker’s stew, well, a soup.

        Rigidity helps few; capriciousness masquerading as strictness helps nobody.

        1. Lena Clare*

          Ah well, if there’s one thing I am, it *is* rigidly capricious and helpful to nobody!
          Have a good day.

          1. Mrs. Mary Smiling*

            Well, thank you for that: I’m doing my annual review and now I have to overcome the urge to include “rigidly capricious”. I’m pretty sure I’ve seen too many workplaces (librarian), where that would be a positive.

            1. Stella70*

              Lena Clare: Your response made me smile and I needed that today.
              Rigidly Capricious Humans Unite!! *pumps fist*

      3. Allison*

        I recently got into eating miso soup at work, and I felt awful one day when I tried a new variety and it smelled awful! The wakame was pungent and the seasoning had more bonito than I was used to. It tasted okay, but I felt awful for the smell and immediately switched back to a blander, more mild smelling version.

        1. CastIrony*

          Aw, but it brings me back to my elementary school days where popcorn burned all the time!
          (Just kidding; I would be more careful than that in an office.)

        2. TardyTardis*

          My excuse is that my old microwave (1981, still works, ‘k?) is much less powerful than current day microwaves, and I really thought five minutes was about right. Um, nope. (fire alarm went off and everything, it was my third week…).

    2. Marthooh*

      It sounds like the vegans in this office speak up when they feel the need, so if they’re upset, they’ll probably just say so.

      1. Shutdown and Out*

        “You’re in a room full of people you’ve never met. How do you know there are vegans in the room?”
        “Don’t worry, they’ll tell you.”

        In my experience, this old joke is not really a joke. The vegans (and most vegetarians) I’ve known let you know about their diet for one of two reasons: Either because you’re having a meal with them and they want to order or prepare something they can actually eat (shocking, I know). Or they’re vegans who are compelled to tell you all about their healthier diet (and want you to adopt it too so you can help save the planet and be healthier). I’ve considered becoming a vegetarian, but I don’t want to become one of those holier-than-thou types — or be on the receiving end of endless negative and incorrect comments from conservative meat-eating acquaintances.

        1. Oh So Very Anon*

          Vegan here. Wish I could say you’re wrong. I was kinda hoping to leave the jerks behind when I left Paleo. I guess every way of eating has its assholes…

        2. spock*

          I mean, sure, obnoxious people will be obnoxious. There’s plenty of people who are vegan and vegetarian who aren’t in your face about it. I’m an omnivore who has plenty of vegan and vegetarian friends and none of them are obnoxious. If you don’t want to be holier-than-thou, then don’t be holier-than-thou.

          1. Turtle Candle*

            My pet theory is that something like 10% of all people are going to be obnoxious about their diets, no matter what that diet is. You just run into more of them the more prevalent the diet.

            1. Just Elle*

              Are people obnoxious about their diets, or do obnoxious people actively seek out niche diets so they have something to be obnoxious about?

              1. Turtle Candle*

                Plenty of omnivores with non-niche diets are obnoxious to people with niche diets, so I think it’s just 10% of everybody.

          2. Kale sucks*

            Agreed. I find it embarrassing as hell when someone draws attention to my diet, or makes a big song and dance about it. I’ve been vegan for over a decade, aside from which, I’m quite a resourceful human being, so I know the lay of the land. Having to dredge out moral reasoning on a regular basis is tiring. I know people mean well, or are under some mistaken idea that vegans are all self-righteous blowhards who like to talk (please, let’s work on retiring the “how do you know if someone is vegan…” joke), but shrieking ‘Oh my gooodddd, what will you eaaaatt??? Can you eat riiiiice?’ becomes extremely irritating, very fast.

        3. Just Elle*

          I think people tend to be very excited when they find a way of eating that works for them. They think it therefor must be The Way, rather than accepting the fact that human genes are a cornucopia of different food digesting capabilities and there is no One Way of Eating. Its coming from a good place, but I think we’d all be better off if food choices were discussed less frequently.

          I’ve taken to telling people I’m on “a crazy person diet” when pressured… it helps avoid launching into lengthly explanation that can sometimes veer into preaching if I’m not careful. And it avoids people trying to feed me and inevitably getting it wrong (seriously, I’m keto vegetarian, so good freaking luck).

          1. Vicky Austin*

            Ugh, yes, I can’t stand it when vegans or anyone else insists that their diet is The Only Way. Maybe it’s The Only Way for you, but it’s not the only way for everyone. For some people, it may not even be an option at all.

        4. rogue axolotl*

          I think there is an element of confirmation bias at work for this kind of thing, though. Those vegans who are really obnoxious about it tend to stick in your mind more, while the ones who are quieter fly under the radar, and you might not even know they’re vegan. For what it’s worth, I’ve known a number of vegetarians and vegans, and none of them are very outspoken about it.

          1. ChimericalOne*

            Agreed. Since you can’t tell who’s vegan by looking at them, you’ll generally only notice the obnoxious vegans. The quiet ones (the majority, in my experience) tend to go unnoticed. I’ve seen far more meat-eaters pick fights with vegans in my own personal life than seen vegans be obnoxious to meat-eaters.

            1. Same*

              Exactly. In my experience, there are certainly some vegetarians/vegans who want to preach about it, but far more keep quiet and are just desperate to avoid the “Whyyyyy? What do you eeeeeeeat?” that Kale Sucks mentioned.

          2. Astor*

            Just adding on that it’s really about the person and not the diet. I’m not a vegetarian but I’ve had a lot of meat eaters start in on my eating habits specifically because I am not eating the meat option at that moment.

            My friends who are vegetarian and vegan might bring it up more often, but it’s always in the context of making sure they can actually eat something when they aren’t in a position to feed themselves or when they’re between a rock and hard place. (Do they let themselves “look bad” because they’re reminding people they need options at the pot-luck or because they’re not eating food at the pot-luck; that kind of thing.)

            1. Jennifer Juniper*

              Vegetarians and vegans at the party means more bacon for me!

              As for vegan cuisine, I always have to ask for the ingredient list, because I’m allergic to cashews and pistachios. The standard American diet presents no such worries for me.

              And I’ve never met a holier-than-thou vegan in my life.

        5. Jennifer Juniper*

          If I ever meet any holier-than-thou vegans, I’ll tell them about my nut allergies. That should shut them up.

        6. Phoenix Programmer*

          This is really uncharitable view of the comment. He specified – the vegans in this office – which have already demonstrated that they didn’t speak up when needed – and is a far cry from making a blanket statement about vegans being obnoxious.

    3. anonymoushiker*

      As a long time vegan, I’m not a huge fan of meat smells…but I also know they’re inevitable and that my own choices shouldn’t restrict others in their choices of food when they’re eating at their desk. So just keep eating your own food and let them speak up if it becomes an issue!

    4. Mouse Princess*

      I’m a vegetarian and the smell of meat makes me physically sick, so I just leave the room that it’s in and don’t say anything. Having battled an eating disorder, I’d hate to make someone feel bad about their eating habits or choices.

      1. Destroyer of Worlds, Empress of Awesome*

        In all fairness, how can you NOT love the smell of bacon? It smells of everything that is right in the world. :)

        1. Violet Fox*

          Umm.. the smell of bacon and cooking pork both make me physically ill. I love the smell of coffee, my coworker can’t stand it. It’s different for different people.

          1. Anonymousaurus Rex*

            I’m a vegetarian (who will eat veggie bacon) but can’t stand the smell of bacon. I think it’s actually a leftover from when I lived above a 24 hour diner and my apartment reeked of bacon all day, every day.

        2. Lurker*

          I dislike the smell of bacon because it’s one of those smells that clings to everything and I don’t want to walk around all day smelling like greasy pork. I

        3. Peggy*

          I eat bacon and I don’t love the smell of it. I almost never cook it at home because I hate how the smell lingers for hours after making it.

          1. Allison*

            Same here. After a while it’s a bit much. I recently learned how to blanche bacon for stews, to lessen the smell and taste, and ooooh boy did it feel like a game changer.

        4. kittymommy*

          LOL, I have a co-worker who gets physically ill at the smell of bacon and as such, doesn’t eat it. She is a meat eater though: beef, pork, chicken. It’s just something about bacon. I once got her a birthday card with pictures of bacon all over it (no scratch and sniff though) and she both laughed hysterically and tried to through the card at me.

          1. starsaphire*

            Almost wondering which desk you’re at ;) because this is me too, although I don’t eat pork.

            Love beef, fish, chicken, exotic meats, weird organ meats, bring it all on — except I can’t digest pork, and the smell of bacon cooking will make me chuck.

            Now pass the chicken feet, please. :)

        5. Zillah*

          I think that this is really illustrative of how personal “it smells good” can be, and why it’s good to keep that in mind. :) I find the smell of bacon to be a little sickening, and did even before I was a vegetarian.

        6. sourgold*

          I’ve never liked either the smell or the taste of bacon :( I feel like I’m missing out on a great joy of existence.

        7. Just Elle*

          Seriously. I’ve never eaten meat and have no desire to do so. But I would probably happily burn a bacon candle.

    5. Dr. Pepper*

      I think that as long as you’re following regular office food etiquette, you’re fine. So as long as you’re not microwaving fish or something equally odoriferous, eating something super crunchy and chewing loudly, or announcing to everyone what you’re eating and how wonderful it is, you’re doing fine. If your food bothers your coworkers, it’s up to them to either say something to you or remove themselves from the area. It sounds like they have no issues speaking up, so if they couldn’t stand it, they’d probably say so.

    6. Tisme*

      Exactly, as a vegetarian I’ve no issue with others eating meat around me, but due to scent allergies, I ask people to not cook or eat freshly cooked / heated garlic or cinnamon near or in the work area.

  2. Doctor Schmoctor*

    #5 It’s completely normal. Damn annoying, but that’s just reality. I have been to many job interviews, and only one of them actually let me know I didn’t get the job. The other just did nothing. If I try to follow up, I still get nothing.

    1. Kanye West*

      I would use the word “common” instead of “normal”. I refuse to see it as normal when a company behaves like a teen raised primarily by Snapchat.

      1. Doctor Schmoctor*

        You’re right.
        It’s so common that we give up and just call it normal. Like politicians stealing money. Common, not normal.

    2. Jen S. 2.0*

      Not only is it normal, but it’s more the rule than the exception. Most times you interview, you will only receive positive replies. If it’s anything other than a yes, you usually hear nothing. OP5 should adjust her expectations.

      1. WonderingHowIGotIntoThis*

        Our company specifically mentions at the bottom of every job listing that only successful candidates will be contacted. This is at the initial application stage, but is sometimes reiterated post interview, depending on the hiring manager and volume of candidates

        1. Artemesia*

          Not getting back to someone who took the time to come in and be interviewed, who probably had to burn some PTO to do it is rude and gross. It doesn’t matter what your companies ‘policy’ is; they are rude and gross if they do this. No one expects a response to every application although a routine acknowledgement would be considerate, but when someone is interviewed they are owed a response. I realize that many companies don’t do this, but it is lazy and wrong of them.

          1. Destroyer of Worlds, Empress of Awesome*

            I interviewed with a Baptist Church last job-seeking go round. The minister (pastor? priest? I have no idea) specifically said they would be notifying all candidates, whether they were hired or not and they would be making those calls the following Friday. I never received a call one way or another. Distressed me on a deeper level that a minister lied right to my face but it is all too common.

            (He even went on to state that he thought it was very rude when potential employers don’t let interviewees know the outcome of their time investment so his….neglect?….in calling me was a bit of a double whammy.)

            1. Michaela Westen*

              Yes, exactly. This is what I posted about below. In the 90’s I had interviewers promise to get back to me and didn’t, and that’s beyond rude.

            2. Kathleen_A*

              To be fair, he probably meant it when he said it, but life got in the way, time moved on, he kept telling himself “I need to send out those emails tomorrow,” and so on. That isn’t an excuse – just send a dang email, Rev. Wellmeaning – but it is probably the reason.

          2. Kathleen_A*

            Exactly. I mean, it’s not as though the OP was some random applicant: She actually made it to the 2nd round.

            Yes, it is common to be ghosted like this, but that doesn’t make it right – and putting it in the job listing still doesn’t make it right.

            Anyone who has taken the time to be interviewed, and particularly if they did so twice, deserves – at the minimum – some sort of notification that they didn’t get the job. How long does it take to send an email that says, “Thank you for taking the time to interview with us. I am writing to let you know that we have selected another candidate who we believe most closely matches the job requirements of the position”? Not very long, that’s what. So for goodness’ sake, just do it.

            1. Kathleen_A*

              I just don’t get this. How could somebody not have “enough time” to send a general email even to several applicants? It doesn’t have to be individually hand-crafted. It just needs to say, nicely and politely, something along the lines of “Thank you for applying, but we’re giving the job to somebody else.” Once the email is written, you can use it over and over again, and sending it out will take literally 5-10 seconds per applicant.

      1. Maggie*

        Using the word ghosting is what surprises me most. Ghosting is for when you’ve had an established relationship, which in my mind has to be being in person at least twice. One phone interview with a “we’ll be in touch” does not a ghosting make. Welcome to the interviewing world in 2019.

          1. Maggie*

            For one, but not the other. If someone had only 1 phone interview with me, there is no way I would make multiple follow up phone calls.

            1. Kathleen_A*

              But…who said anything about phone calls? There are exceptions, of course, but for most people the best way to tell them “You didn’t get the job” is through an email. (A few people prefer a phone call, but they are the minority.) And since one only has to write the email once and then duplicate it to send to several applicants, I feel comfortable in saying that most employers do indeed have the time to do this.

              I think you’re making it out to be a much bigger job than it actually is, Maggie. It may not be important to you to let people know what’s going on, but it’s important to them…and it’s not hard or time consuming to do. So why not do it?

    3. Lena Clare*

      Wow, I’m **so** surprised by the comments. I didn’t realise how common this was.
      I’ve ALWAYS heard back after an interview whether I got it (obviously) or not. I think it’s extraordinarily rude and dismissive of the time and effort a candidate puts into preparing for a job to be ignored afterwards.

      1. Lucy*

        I agree. Not hearing anything after you’ve put an application in is annoying but apparently par for the course in some high-volume areas where they might have had a hundred applicants. Not hearing anything after you’ve actually met face to face is weird, surely? How many people can they have interviewed that they don’t have time to send a one-line pro forma “thanks for coming to see us but you haven’t been successful this time”?

        A delay I understand (while they’re negotiating with their first choice) but it does seem rude never to reply at all.

        1. Elizabeth West*

          I never expect a reply from just an application, but companies who don’t bother to send a rejection after I’ve interviewed typically go on my Nope Never Again list.

          They may get a hundred applicants, but I know they’re not interviewing a hundred people. Come on. Just reply, even if it’s a form letter, for cripes sake. If agents can do it, so can you. :P

      2. Marion Ravenwood*

        Yeah, it’s only happened to me once in 10 years since graduating, and they only directly said ‘sorry no, you didn’t get it’ when I emailed to ask for feedback (though given it had been two weeks I kind of knew by that point anyway).

        I have had the ‘only successful applicants will be contacted’-type messaging in response to sending applications/CVs, and I totally get that, but it’s very unusual not to get an acknowledgement of the outcome if you’ve made it to a face-to-face interview, even if it’s only by email. I’m in the UK though so not sure if this is a cultural thing, especially given that (in my experience and sector) it’s fairly common that if your application is good you’ll go straight through to an in-person interview.

        1. londonedit*

          UK here too and I agree that while I’ve plenty of applications disappear into the ether with no response at all (the ‘only successful candidates will be contacted for interview’ line is very common, because in my industry jobs tend to get a lot of applicants) once I’ve actually got to the interview stage (which, as you say, is generally an in-person interview straight away) then I’ve always had a response afterwards one way or another.

        2. SwingingAxeWolfie*

          Also UK-based, and it has happened to me a couple of times – however, on those occasions the interview had gone badly, so I wasn’t entirely surprised. I also didn’t follow-up afterwards and I can imagine I’d get a response if I did – that’s the worst part of OP#5’s experience. It just seems courteous to respond, even if the email is brief.

        3. rogue axolotl*

          I’m in Canada and I’ve never experienced a post-interview ghosting or this mysterious thing called a “phone screen” before, and I always wonder if they’re both more standard in the US.

          1. roisin54*

            I think it depends on the field you’re in. I’m a librarian in the US and of the dozen or so interviews I’ve done in two rounds of job searching I was ghosted once (I at least got a form rejection from everyone else), did a second round interview once, and all the phone calls I got were only to schedule interviews. The first job at the library I work at now required only one interview and that’s usually the standard operating procedure where I live for entry or mid-level positions. And phone-screening is pretty much unheard of, only long-distance candidates get phone interviews.

            1. Drago Cucina*

              For one library director position I had a phone interview. (I was told they had only called 5 people.) They had 30 minute calls with each of my references, and then silence.

              We send an email to everyone, from aid up, who turns in an application for an advertised position.

        1. PumpkinSpiceForever*

          That’s exactly what happened to my husband, with the added insult of the person chosen being a coworker that hated my husband for no reason whatsoever. It’s been at least a decade, and he’s still salty over it.

          1. Rusty Shackelford*

            Happened to me, when I’d been promised the job if I wanted it. I never heard back after the interview – even though the person I would be working for, who had interviewed me, was in and out of my office constantly – and I found out by seeing the new org chart left on the copier.

      3. The Original K.*

        It’s both common and very rude, in my opinion. I’ve mentioned it in the interview section on Glassdoor.

      4. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

        In my 20+ years interviewing for jobs, I have *never* had a company contact me with a rejection, unless they were working with me through a recruiter. Then they’d tell the recruiter. Otherwise, radio silence. Last time it happened was last year, I asked them when I’d hear back from them and was told within a week. Never happened. I had no idea it wasn’t normal until I started reading this blog.

      5. azvlr*

        I’m curious if there is a salary threshold for this. I could see it being more common for jobs with lower salaries (more applicants in theory), than for a $120k a year job where you know you are one of two, maybe three applicants.

        1. Lady Catherine de Bourgh*

          I had this happen to me last year for a $120k+ job in a fairly specialized field (3 interviews and then just totally dropped off the face of the earth, both hiring manager and company recruiter who had initially reached out to me ignored my follow ups). I don’t know if it’s more common or not but it definitely does happen.

          I would certainly never consider working there anymore, after seeing how they treat people. Are we allowed to name names? Because I will share the company name if we can. I think everyone should know when a company does this.

        2. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

          Not in my experience. I’ve had it happen all the way across the job title/seniority/salary spectrum.

          1. Kat in VA*

            Sadly, it happens in the $150k job arena too. Up to and including multiple phone interviews and an all-day, multiple-person, in-person interview where my husband was flown in from another state and put up in a hotel for three days. Once would be interesting, but it’s happened three times…with three different companies.

      6. Peachkins*

        When I was on my last job hunt, I would say more often than not I wouldn’t hear anything, even after an interview. I usually had to follow up myself, and I did at least receive a response in most cases. My husband applied for a job, had an interview, and didn’t hear back for almost two months. They actually ended up offering him the job.

    4. Lena Clare*

      As for the OP, following up every two weeks – indeed, more than once – is overkill.
      Extending the dating analogy, I’m just wondering if you’d do that to someone you’d had 1 date with?

      As Alison says, assume you’ve been unsuccessful after each interview (I’d assume it definitely in this instance given the evidence) unless you hear otherwise.

      Good luck in your job search!

      1. EinJungerLudendorff*

        I wouldn’t do that with a date, but this is after an interview with the company, where they told op they’d be in touch.

        At that point I would say they have a professional obligation to at least return his calls once.

    5. Mike C.*

      And yet employers and recruiters will whine and scream to bloggers if you do the very same thing. The articles detailing this over the past few months have been particularly hilarious.

      1. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

        Yup, I’ve seen the articles, and was puzzled. “How dare they do to us the same exact thing we routinely do to them?”

    6. StellaBella*

      Yep – I was ghosted recently: interview mid November…. crickets….new HR contact as my follow-up email to my HR recruiter stated she no longer worked there (after 3 months only sooooo!), not a peep from that new person either … just crickets. Then 2 months later (last week) the person I interviewed with finally accepted my linkedin connection request. But no note, nothing. Annoying but reality.

    7. Trout 'Waver*

      I firmly believe that if you interview someone and don’t follow up, you are a complete and unmitigated asshole and deserve shame. Full stop.

      The fact that it is so common is appalling to me.

      1. Lady Catherine de Bourgh*

        Totally agree. It takes all of ten seconds to send a standard “thank you for your time, we’ve decided to go another direction” email. Even if you have half a dozen candidates you’ve interviewed, that’s just one minute out of your day. If someone has taken the time to interview with you, it’s literally the least you can do for courtesy’s sake.

        1. Kat in VA*

          Agreed. There are even templates in Outlook that have a premade email and all you have to do is plug in the candidate’s email…and the rest is filled in automatically.

    8. Michaela Westen*

      I still remember how hurt and angry I was when this happened to me in the 90’s – several times. It was especially hurtful when the interviewer clearly liked me and basically said I would be hired, and then ghosted me. It literally adds insult to injury.
      It’s also not very smart to do this to people! If they catch someone who is sufficiently unstable, they might get violent. I certainly had violent feelings about this.

      1. Jennifer*

        I agree that it is hurtful. Disagree that you should avoid doing this because people can get violent. Rejection is part of life. How would that person handle it if they get fired, or reprimanded at work, or turned down by a coworker for a date?

        1. Michaela Westen*

          I’m not saying a potentially violent person should be hired. I’m just saying one of the things common courtesy does is show respect, and respect makes a big difference to an unstable person who will not have violent feelings because they weren’t ghosted.

    9. AnonyMouse*

      Probably one of the only nice things about higher ed is that most institutions use a system that automatically rejects candidates who didn’t get the job once they close a position. You at least find out that way. It’s a little rude when you make it to the final round, and instead of the office notifying you personally they just send the automated rejection. But I guess it’s better than being flat out ghosted…

    10. LifeCoachJo*

      Yeah, I’ve seen those articles about employers being shocked that Candidates are ghosting them , when in reality they’ve been doing it to Candidates for years.

    11. Old retired me*

      You mean I shouldn’t expect to hear back from the great interview I had with Netscape (remember them?) back in 1997 where the interviewer PROMISED I’d hear from her ‘next week?’

    12. Crazy dog lady*

      I was ghosted by a company that actually flew me in for an in person interview after 2 phone interviews! That was a first. So bizarre to pay my travel and then ghost. Its a pretty big gov’t organization too.

  3. Sami*

    OP 3 — While I agree with Alison’s advice, I wonder if you can get some more information that will help you make your decision.
    Do you have a trustworthy contact at that company wherein you can ask about the future of that position/project?
    Also it could be worthwhile to at least interview for it and ask why the position is short-term and what the future is for the work/position.

    1. Bertha*

      I second the applying/interviewing. I was in a position I disliked so much that I applied for a few temporary positions — of course, they were in academics, so they were more like “visiting” positions that still had benefits, and lasted a year (though possibly renewable). One contractor position I was contacted for was going to pay a boat load of money per hour, but zero benefits (so of course, I’d have to use some of that “boatload” and buy my own). In both cases, they were risky, but I’d have more money and/or a bit more time to figure out my next move. For a four-month gig that is advertised externally, I’d be very surprised if it was really much of a foot in the door, and/or if it would be extended.. but, you never know until you ask. As another commenter mentioned below, you might get some clarity that it would NOT be a foot in the door, and at least that make you feel less like you missed out. I know getting more details on the positions above made me feel better about not getting hired!

    2. the corner ficus*

      Yes, unless you know that it could become permanent it’s not worth the risk.

      I have an employee who just did the same thing (although his reason was that a lot of our pay is tied up in company benefits and he wants to forgo health insurance and 401k in favor of just taking the money, which we don’t allow) and I’m scared for him. He’s going to work at a call center and could have his contract renewed for years… or he could be completely without pay in 6 months. He wants the money so badly because his uninsured girlfriend had a pulmonary embolism and the cost of that procedure has them on the edge of eviction. Well, what happens if he has a similar incident? It gives me a stomachache. Really, really think it through before you commit and ideally ask about health insurance options at your temp agency. Sometimes they’re fine but sometimes they’re more expensive than the average company.

      1. Artemesia*

        Every person I know who has taken this kind of risk has lost including someone who was promised his job back if he took a year’s leave to travel ‘if the economy is good and we need the position.’ He had worked there for decades but they decided they didn’t need the position when he took that year’s leave. I’d take this time to start a serious search for a full time position; the only time when it makes sense to take a temp job like this is when the current job is literally intolerable AND the person has a spouse who can carry them and provide health insurance until a new full time job is obtained.

    3. Namast'ay in Bed*

      Trying to get more information is a great idea. My company hires a lot of temp-to-perm positions, so a 4-month position with us would actually probably be “we need a permanent person so as long you don’t suck this will almost definitely turn into a full time role”. But they’re usually upfront about the ability for it to go full time.

    4. Cereal Killer*

      This is one time where I somewhat disagree with the advice given. There are lots of factors that Alison didn’t address. Sometimes if you are looking to make a career change to have to take some risks. I was in a very similar situation years ago. Working at a job for 7 years and was really hating it at the time and looking to make a bit of a change. Interviewed for a contract role for a position I was really interested in. It was six months, and turned out to be a great move for me. I did well there and while I didn’t stay after the six months, I had a foot in the door of the industry I wanted to be in, and great references that lead to where I am now. Of course I would fully take into account Alison’s advice that 4 months is a short time and if you aren’t prepared to be unemployed afterwards (both mentally and financially) then it’s not worth considering.

      But, there is no harm in applying and even interviewing to learn more about the position and see if this would be the right move for you. Once you have more information- you can weigh it properly. And even if you don’t end up taking it in the end you might learn something through the interview process that will help you be more appealing the next time you come across a similar opening.

      1. designbot*

        Or if you’re so fed up with the current job that you may wind up quitting without having another job lined up anyway, this would obviously be preferable.

        1. OP3*

          Considering I have a ton of “suddenly quitting my job” fantasies I might have to at the very least explore this possibility…

          1. Michaela Westen*

            If you do get this or another temp-to-perm position, remember the small things are very important. Things like being helpful and friendly to everyone, pitching in for housekeeping (like putting food away and washing dishes), etc.
            One of my colleagues didn’t do these things and it’s amazing how much that influenced my feelings about her. She wasn’t friendly when I said “good morning”, she sat closest to the sink but never, ever, put food away or washed dishes, she was not usually supportive or sympathetic. She treated me like an enemy for her first 3 1/2 years and I had to confront her a couple times. She was oblivious and distracted and would take over conversations that weren’t about work. Her position was eliminated, she tried to find a new one and didn’t – I wonder how much these behaviors had to do with that.

          2. AliceW*

            I’ve quit full time jobs with benefits to do temp work- without even having an actual temp job lined up. There were lots of temporary opportunities in my city and I was financially able to accept less money. It worked out great for me as I was able to try out some industries/different jobs and interview for other full time jobs on the side. I was only a few years out of college so it seemed like the best time to take the leap. IF you are able to afford to quit, go for it. I found temping worthwhile and made good contacts with a number of recruiters since many agencies have temp and full time work available.

    5. Cascadia*

      Yea, I’m thinking 4 months leave might be a family-leave position? Seems like a common length of time to be out for maternity or paternity leave, in which case it might not result in anything full-time at the end.

    6. OP3*

      OP3 here – I unfortunately don’t know anyone at the organization. I’ve been weighing whether I want to interview / ask or if I could find someone to email and ask about it.

      1. Ophelia*

        It might not be the worst thing in the world to interview – if you get called in, you have the chance to meet the people that work there, see if the organization is a good fit, etc. And even if this isn’t the right option for you, you can also follow up clearly and politely with them to reiterate your interest in exploring other opportunities with them in the future. (FWIW, I agree that this looks like it’s possibly backfilling someone who’s going on family leave.)

      2. Michaela Westen*

        Even if you don’t end up taking this position, making contact by interviewing might lead to other positions down the road.

        1. Shutdown and Out*

          A year and a half ago, I was offered a contract assignment with an initial three-month term at a major company in my state. Of course the recruiter gave me the old “could become permanent” promise (and thankfully, the contracting agency offered reasonably priced health insurance). I was brought on to help a department meet an end of year deadline. I eagerly took it because A. It was more money than I’ve ever earned before and I seriously needed money to replace an old car and pay debts. B. I saw as a way as ending a serious break in my career. When I got there, I quickly saw the company at which I worked used a lot of contractors and several employees in my department were hired as regular employees after starting out as contractors. So I had hope that if I worked hard and there was a need for me, I’d eventually become a regular employee there. At the end of the initial three months, I was told I was going to be let go. Just before my last day hen they found another need for me and kept me for four more months. Then my department combined with another related department, and I was no longer needed.

          OP, my biggest mistake was that I spent so much emotional energy thinking this contract job was going to turn into The Job and stopped job hunting. If you take this assignment, keep job hunting — and step up the hunt if you see signs that they cannot or will not make you a permanent employee.

          1. EventPlannerGal*

            Absolutely agreed. I had a similar experience at a prestigious charity that took me on for a 3-month temp-to-perm gig. I soon discovered that there were a number of people who had worked there for, like, two years who were still classed as “temps”, because every time their fixed-term contract expired they were offered another one… but only for another three or six months. They were never offered permanent contracts because there was always, mysteriously, *something* they weren’t quite doing right… so no bonuses, no benefits and lower pay because hey, you’ve been here two years but technically you’re still a temp!

            I’ve been wary of temp-to-perm gigs ever since. OP, if you do decide to go for it you need to go in assuming that this will not become permanent. If you feel like the experience you’ll get there in that time will genuinely help you on your job search (and it might, there are some jobs where the hiring manager just really needs to tick the “yes I have done x thing before at a previous job” box) then that’s great, but do not mistake a foot in the door for an actual job.

          2. londonedit*

            I’m currently on a year’s contract, covering someone’s maternity leave (this is very common in the UK; most people take 9 months or 1 year as maternity leave, and someone will usually be brought in on a contract to cover their work. I know people who have made successful careers out of hopping from one year-long maternity cover contract to another!)

            There was no suggestion that it might lead to anything permanent, and the employer isn’t allowed to ask the person on leave if they’re planning to come back (I think possibly not until a certain point before their leave is due to end? Not entirely sure). But everyone here seems to like me, I really enjoy working with the team, and people (including my immediate boss) keep saying that if there’s any way they can possibly keep me on at the end of my contract, they’ll do all they can to make it happen. Which is all lovely, and very flattering, and I would be happy to take up a permanent position if one came up. Having said that, there’s no way I’m counting my chickens here. I’m acting as if my contract will end as agreed, and I’m going to start looking around for other opportunities in good time before my contract is up. It would be really foolish of me to sit here assuming a job offer will land in my lap just because the boss says they’d love to keep me if they can.

    7. lifesp*

      I was going to say the same thing. I wonder if there’s a reason Alison didn’t suggest asking whether there’s a possibility the role could become full-time? Is that just not done for short term positions (since it explicitly states that it’s 4 months)? I would think there could be no harm in making absolutely sure by asking.

  4. Caramel & Cheddar*

    I’m desperate to know either how good nanny cam co-worker’s data plan is or how much she slows down the work wifi by streaming video all day long.

    1. valentine*

      OP1: Tell the ED, who I hope will tell her to cut it out. I can’t think of a job where this would be okay. I would also be on edge if she’s reacting to the images. I go silent when people attend to their phones. Where does livestreaming not cancel out the need for being in the same space?

      1. Julia*

        I have to disagree. Alison’s first paragraph is totally reasonable, and follows the lines of her previous advice on the topic of “my coworker is wasting time”: if it’s affecting her work, it matters; if not, leave it alone.

        I would go one further and say that LW should only go to the ED if it is affecting *their own* work. Otherwise, it’s really none of their business at all. It doesn’t matter whether we can think of a job where this would “be okay”; what matters is the work output and the ability to get along well with the team.

        I *might* have a different opinion if she were watching sports or CNN all day. But nobody sits and stares at a nanny cam for too long; it isn’t that distracting. The likelihood is quite high that she’s keeping it around to watch for serious problems with her child, which is reasonable.

        1. Someone Else*

          As an IT person, actually the possibly-streaming-over-company-wifi angle is a really solid one for bringing this up to management. Maybe this person has unlimited data and is using their own, but if there have been any wifi issues internally (and OP may not know that IT has been trying to track down who is eating the bandwidth) the company in general might want this to stop, having nothing to do with the distraction-factor.

          1. Julia*

            I think *if* IT makes noises about bandwidth problems, it might make sense to ask the coworker herself to check whether she might be the source of the bandwidth problems. Talking to someone’s boss negatively about their work habits is such a serious act, with implications for your relationship with that coworker, that I tend to believe it should be a last resort. It should be reserved for situations in which A) the problem is affecting you directly and B) you’ve talked to the person and they aren’t going to fix it themselves.

            One exception I can think of is for employees who are working toward a management position – if you are nominally leading the team, or are demonstrating to your boss that you can take on management responsibilities, it can make sense to make someone else’s problem your problem. In that case, you’re taking ownership of a team issue in service of transitioning into a new role. But in this case, LW is just annoyed and needs to focus on their own work.

        2. Anita Brayke*

          Now see, Julia, this is where I come down on this question and I’m relieved to know I’m not alone. I was surprised to read Allison’s answer as she’s usually in the “if it doesn’t bother you directly, just leave it alone and let the manager manage.” I did read the comment about bandwidth being used in the office and even then still come to the conclusion that OP #1 should just leave it alone. Odd, because I usually can see Allison’s point. But today is an off day, and maybe I’m more “not myself” than I thought.

        3. JulieCanCan*

          I don’t know, this would bug the living bejeezus out of me. Just witnessing my coworker watching a phone screen all day would infuriate me. Sounds incredibly entitled and it needs to be nipped in the bud. She’s there to work, along with everyone else. If she needs to be a witness to every move made at her kid’s daycare center, maybe she isn’t ready to have the kid in daycare. I’m sure it’s hard not being with her child but her current solution is obnoxious.

          I’m anti-phone and especially anti-personal cellphone in the workplace already, so this pushes buttons. Do people born after 1985 understand that we used to survive perfectly without a phone/computer in our pocket at all times and (*gasp!*) phone messages went unanswered and unrecorded if we didn’t have answering machines at home? There was no “immediate” anything because we were free of devices and could just >*live life*< and enjoy the present. But we lived to tell the tale.

          I’d be inclined to do whatever necessary to make this stop.

          1. Julia*

            The thing is that it would bug me too. The difference is that I believe that just because something bugs you, doesn’t mean you’re entitled to try to change someone else’s behavior when it doesn’t directly impact you.

            1. Lobsterp0t*

              Haha whoops, I was snarky to someone called Julie and not Julia.

              Where’s Amy Adams when you need her

    2. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      I have unlimited data and have for so long… My brain still breaks a little when people remind me they still have ones that charge per use.

      1. Anonomo*

        Same here (even though I only got unlimited a year ago), and Ive actually done the constant stream when we have a new sitter (never at work, but a good 2-3 hours on date night). I think I can understand the Coworkers anxiety if she had a bad experience with care but it should taper off eventually and if it hasnt thats worrisome.

        1. Jenny*

          My brother had a bad daycare experience (despite good references and reviews, he caught a worker hitting the kids), so I really understand the anxiety. The nanny cam is a way of spot checks and a way of letting the carer know you can check up on them.

            1. pleaset*


              #1 annoys me as a parent and citizen. Maybe watching at the start with a new childcare provider, or if there is a particular issue. But all the time in general? That is sad.

            2. Observer*

              That’s the thing that is really not clear. It is STREAMING all day. But is she actually WATCHING it all day? The fact that it’s propped on her desk says probably not. And, having it streaming actually makes spot checks LESS disruptive because you can just glance over rather than having to stop what you are doing, get into the stream etc.

      2. Doctor Schmoctor*

        Lucky you. In the wonderful country where I live, the average contract gives you 2GB data per month. And then you’re still lucky if you actually get what you pay for. I pay for 5GB, but I only get 2. Lovely

      3. Rez123*

        Same. Where I’m from I don’t think any service provider offers anything else. I was on another forum where people talked about their phone plans. It was really surprising how much the differences were in western countries.

        1. Baby Fishmouth*

          Canada has horrible phone plans – most plans offer 2GB, and I don’t think I’ve ever heard of anyone with unlimited data. The max I’ve ever seen is 10 GB and that plan was like $150/month.

          1. Maris Crane*

            Unlimited plans were recently discontinued by the major providers in my province. Very frustrating.

          2. Ms.Vader*

            I have 10gb for $60. Canada is also a much larger country so infrastructure is way more expensive. But our data plans definitely need an overhaul.

          3. The Man, Becky Lynch*

            Y’all have bad service too! My phone automatically switches to Rogers when I’m in Canada and it’s spotty.

            J recall a decade ago my Canadian friends could text the U.S. without any extra charges or fuss. They did away with that and they all moved to using apps.

          4. Rez123*

            In FInland. Unlimited data, text, calls €19,90 with fast internet. My personal maximum is €22 to pay for phone plan. I used to live abroad so I took the cheapest contract to keep my home country number and it was €5.90 with unlimited data, calls and texts but the internet was painfully slow. Glad we have something that is not painfully expensive compared to other countries

          5. I'm Not Phyllis*

            I have 4 GB and it’s ridiculously expensive. I only have that much because my employer pays for half.

      4. RUKidding*

        I know right?

        Or people who tell me they get charged per text.

        We have five lines on our personal plan and six company phones (we’re small) and we communicate *primarily* through text/in person.

        Every once in a while I look at our usage/review the bills and plan options, etc. to see if there’s money to be saved or options not being utilized.

        If we had to pay per text, on either personal or business we’d be bankrupt both personal and business inside of a week.

    3. Sales Geek*

      Either she’s on an “unlimited” plan (read the fine print on these) or it’s possible her phone’s internet data is coming in via the company’s wifi. This is technically easy; much like you’d have the wifi connection information for friends, relatives, retail and/or fast food restaurants (e.g Starbucks) etc.

      This depends entirely on the company’s policy on WiFi use. When my former employer first deployed WiFi in our offices all you needed was a legit userid/password and you could freeload on the corporate network pretty much unfettered. Over time, security requirements grew much stricter and you’d need special software installed on your mobile device (laptops, phones and tablets) in order to connect. But it was still easy to use the corporate WiFi. You could use our “guest” network (used by our customers) which only required a company userid/password to get “outside” data. Or you could apply through the IT folks to get personal devices enabled. Either way you could watch your nanny cam all day long on the company network without using a single byte of your phone’s data plan.

      It’s important to remember that everything you did on the corporate network was logged and subject to our policies on internet use (basically no porn and no hate sites). But you could stay logged on to eBay/Facebook/Netflix to your heart’s content as long as it didn’t interfere with getting your job done…

      1. Caramel & Cheddar*

        I said she might be using work wifi, I was wondering if it’s slowing down the network for everyone else to be streaming video all day. In all the places I’ve worked, doing that would be noticeable (yes, our wifi was/is terrible!).

        1. SalesGeek*

          C&C: Only if it’s a small office with the worst service the local ISP can provide. That said, the current state of “everyday” internet service provides a pretty large pipeline for the average office worker…you could likely run a 100-person office with the bandwidth I get at home.

          There’s all kinds of caveats to this but the deciding factor would be geography…in most sizable cities bandwidth shouldn’t be an issue. And modern video compression is really, really good.

          Full disclosure: I spent thirty-some years in tech sales and my company/customers almost always had the biggest internet pipeline that was commercially available. These were large, national/international companies. I didn’t cover anything smaller than, say, regional grocery chains.

          1. Caramel & Cheddar*

            Ah, see, that’s where there difference is. I’m in non-profits and the idea of having the biggest pipeline is a pipe dream! We’re not a small office but we certainly don’t have the best or fastest service, and upgrading to a better network is cost-prohibitive and almost never a priority in the grand scheme of other org priorities.

        2. Turtle Candle*

          I doubt one person streaming nannycam-quality video would even be a blip on the wifi, to be honest. Even on my ordinary home wifi streaming is unnoticeable, even when it’s an HD movie.

        3. Jennifer Juniper*

          If it’s slowing down OP’s work or has audio, then OP has a legitimate gripe for their boss. Nobody wants to work listening to random kid noises all day.

  5. Lacroix*

    #3 – Similiarly to Sami above, I think a key here is getting more information, even to the degree of being explicit in your ambition : In the interview, something along the lines of “If I accepted this position, I would be leaving a secure full-time position. Is it possible to get an idea from you as to whether there is any possibility that this four-month placement may be extended or made permanent?”

    Obviously it is very difficult to get any kind of concrete guarantee, but you may at least get some more definitive indication that there is NO prospect of a longer-term role.

    I also agree with Alison that you are risking a LOT if you abandon a secure position with no guaranteed income after the four month period.

    1. MLB*

      Agreed. Even though it’s listed as a temporary position, there could be a small possibility that it becomes permanent or more longer term. If it’s something you’re really interested in, it’s worth applying and getting more details. And if it turns out it really will only last 4 months, you have to weigh the risk that you’ll be unemployed vs being able to find a new permanent job after the temp one is over.

  6. ooo*

    have two vegan coworkers who sit fairly close to me. I know this because they bring it up a lot in casual conversation

    You’re kidding.

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      Let’s not do that, please. There are people with all sorts of interests who bring them up obnoxiously often, and lots of people with those same interests who don’t. There’s no reason to turn this into vegan bashing (any more than letter #1 should be turned into parent bashing).

      1. ooo*

        I’m sorry, foreal! I meant it as a joking allusion to the stereotype (I figured someone was going to say it), but I totally flubbed the tone there and it’s not the venue anyway. Just so everyone knows, I am fully supportive of most everyone’s dietary choices (cannibals and Draculas aside), and vegans impress me enough that I may make the switch myself someday.

        Anyway, if you have not already and want to delete the comment, you obviously don’t need my blessing, but you have it!

            1. Jules the 3rd*


              I have long argued that sarcasm just doesn’t work on the internet because it’s so tone-dependent, and that a lot of jokes are highly ambiguous too. (since about 1995, when an internet joke almost blew up a 5yr+ friendship).

              I was deeply gratified to see, last week in a friend’s ‘Intro to On-Line Class’, a line warning people that sarcasm does not work well on the internet / in class discussions, and people should try to avoid it.

  7. voyager1*

    LW1: I going to assume if it actually impacted her job you would have said so in your latter.

    Let this go about the nanny cam. This isn’t a hill to die on.

    1. MusicWithRocksInIt*

      Not everyone can really tell at a glance how much work a coworker is getting done. I used to have a coworker who had sportsball playing on his work computer all the time and I can’t really say how much it affected him. Some people said he was really behind at his job, others thought he did well for how much he had to do. I’m sure if we had any kind of good management in place they would have put a stop to it – but we didn’t. I feel like if this was the kind of thing that was ok in that office the LW would know better than the new person.

      1. voyager1*

        Where I work today, nobody would care about a baby cam on a phone. Everyone has ear buds in their ears listening to podcasts or a TV show.

      2. Close Bracket*

        And that’s a case where his sportsball didn’t affect *you,* and it would be up to the people who were affected to bring it up to management. LW didn’t say it was impacting *them,* which makes me think it’s either not their problem or just not a problem.

    2. MLB*

      Agreed. As Alison said, unless this co-worker’s distraction is negatively affecting OP’s work, it can be filed under nunya.

      Since they do report to the same exec though, it’s entirely possible that OP is having to pick up the slack of co-worker if she’s spending all day distracted. If this is the case, she definitely needs to say something. I’d start with co-worker, and if nothing changes, then report to the exec.

  8. Close Bracket*

    I’m curious why you don’t think you can mention it to your mutual boss, because I think she’s the correct person to speak to, not your coworker.

    Why wouldn’t LW go directly to the CW first, if it’s disturbing her?

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      If it’s disturbing her, she should. But if her concern is that it’s impacting the coworker’s work, that’s not something she has standing to address herself with a peer.

      1. JamieS*

        If she doesn’t have standing to address it as a peer, which doesn’t necessarily have to be a correction or an order to modify behavior, then I don’t see how she has the standing to go over the coworker’s head and report the behavior to their boss.

        1. Ask a Manager* Post author

          She doesn’t have the authority to tell the coworker what to do.

          She doesn’t need any authority to give her boss a heads-up about what’s happening in the office.

          1. voyager1*

            I disagree, there are tactfull approaches to bringing this up with the coworker. Going to the manager comes off really paasive aggressive to me. The coworker may not realize how much she is viewing her phone and would appreciate the heads up that folks noticed.

            1. JB (not in Houston)*

              It’s not passive aggressive if the OP isn’t doing it in order to get her coworker in trouble but instead because instead she thinks the manager would want to know (I would definitely want to know if one of my direct reports was doing this). If it’s disturbing the OP enough that she can’t get her work done, it’s worth talking to the coworker about that. But otherwise, it’s worth mentioning to the boss in the way Alison suggested. Tone and wording matter here. It should be said in a casual, offhand, “just so you know, in case you care” kind of way and not a “please punish this person, but first, tell me how wrong her behavior is so I can enjoy her being in trouble” kind of way.

            2. Nacho Fridays*

              Nope anyway you go telling your co-worker they cant have something on their desk makes you a horrible coworker.

            3. NerdyKris*

              There is definitely no tactful way to tell a coworker “Hey, I don’t think you’re working hard enough”, if their work output isn’t affecting you at all.

          2. thankful for AAM.*

            I find when or if to give the boss a heads up a confusing thing. It still feels inappropriate and not my business. I suppose the correct thing is to add when giving the heads up, “do you eant me to give you a heads up about things like this?”

          3. Doodle*

            I would encourage the OP to mention it to her co-worker — hey, I see you’re on the nanny cam a lot. A heads up about that, since you’re pretty new: it’s not really done in this office / the boss is a stickler for keeping non-work distractions at a minimum/ or whatever OP thinks is the issue.

            And then if it doesn’t stop, take it to the boss.

            People make all sorts of mistakes in reading the office culture. It’s happened to me (not a nanny cam) — once, a co-worker alerted me, I stopped, and then I let the boss know and apologized. Another time, a co-worker took it straight to the boss — if I’d been alerted, I would have stopped and taken it to the boss myself. I saw this as sneaky and under-handed and indeed, this person turned out to be known as “the snake”.

            1. Zillah*

              But it’s not clear that that’s the case, as far as I can see – the OP doesn’t say that it’s against workplace culture in a way likely to harm their coworker, just that it’s bothering them. It would bother me too, so I get it, but I don’t think that a statement like “it’s not really done here” is necessarily appropriate.

              1. Doodle*

                Sure, I wouldn’t say anything to the co-worker unless there was a reason to do so — not fitting the culture, boss doesn’t like it, or whatever. If there isn’t a reason, I wouldn’t say a thing to either the co-worker OR the boss.

            2. Close Bracket*

              if I’d been alerted, I would have stopped and taken it to the boss myself. I saw this as sneaky and under-handed

              Yeah, this, and also passive aggressive

              and indeed, this person turned out to be known as “the snake”.

              And yeah, that.

          4. MLB*

            She may not have authority over co-worker, but if co-worker’s all day distraction is making OP pick up the slack, she has every right to say something to co-worker before she takes it to boss.

            1. Ask a Manager* Post author

              Yes, that’s what I’m saying. If it impacts the OP, she has standing to speak to her coworker about it directly. If it doesn’t, she doesn’t have that standing (but can still mention it to their boss).

              1. Close Bracket*

                If it doesn’t impact OP, either with the noise or by impacting her work, why would she bring it to the boss? That’s not a case of bringing a problem to the boss’s attention bc she doesn’t know if it’s a problem. If anyone is impacted, it’s on them to bring it up. Getting involved in something that doesn’t affect you really is at minimum being a busybody. I would go so far as to say it’s tattling.

          5. Close Bracket*

            She doesn’t have the authority to tell the coworker what to do.

            That’s true, but she does have standing to bring it up. Actually, she doesn’t even need to address the nanny cam. She has standing to say, for example, “Hey, I need turn around on X to be Y so I can Z. Can you try to hit that?” and then go to her boss if that doesn’t happen.

            Idk, it just seems better to go directly to the source rather than complain about someone to higher ups without ever telling them that there is a problem. This isn’t a harassment or bullying problem where the recipient/victim shouldn’t be expected to confront the perp.

        2. LH Holdings*

          I absolutely agree with this. If this does not affect the LW and she makes no claim in the letter that it does other than the fact that she is giving it some headspace, then why go to the boss? Just because something bothers you, doesn’t make it an issue that the LW needs to visit upon someone else. If ya’ll are working together and it become a problem a simple, “Can you please put that away until we’re done” should suffice. But this need to “tattle” is just unnecessary when it does not impact you is just…odd. If the manager has questions/concerns about the person’s work output, they can observe that themselves.

      2. Jennifer Juniper*

        Why would OP care if it’s impacting the co-worker’s performance? That’s not her business. Telling the boss would make her come off as a tattletale.

        1. JulieCanCan*

          Not really. OP might believe the boss would want to know. I certainly would want to know if one of my direct reports was doing this. And I’d make sure it didn’t continue as soon as I was made aware of it.

          No one can focus 100% if they’re paying attention to a phone screen all day. It’s not humanly possible.

  9. Kai*

    To question #2
    I’m vegetarian and unless you harass me to eat meat I usually don’t care (it has happened before and it’s terrible). If I for some reason become uncomfortable it’s up to me to move becuase all your doing is eating. Pretty much don’t worry about it. You aren’t doing anything wrong by just eating, if they ever feel uncomfortable they can move. Also, they most likely just mention it for potlucks becuase it can be frustrating to be at a group event without anything to eat. Also if you happen to read this, do they mention it to everyone or mostly to each other, because if it’s with each other they are most likely just talking about it without meaning to make it a big deal.

    1. Approval is optional*

      This. I’ve followed a vegan diet for 30 + years LW, and I rarely notice, let alone care about, what other people are eating. (The harassment -ugh – is different of course). If it’s too much for me, I just move away if I can, or stare at something innocuous if I can’t: I’d never expect the other person to move. As a society we talk about food a lot – what we had for dinner, where we’re going to dinner, what flavour birthday cake we are ordering etc etc etc – often vegans just ‘stand out’ because they’re different.

    2. Tallulah in the Sky*

      +1 for all of the above :
      – reasonable people won’t be bothered by it, or at least won’t tell you
      – if you don’t urge them to eat meat, you’re fine (it also happened to me)
      – and same for mentioning it at potlucks or other work events where there will be food (you’d think after two years people will remember but nope, I’ve learned it best to mention it every time; plus people are often just forgetful and feel horrible when they realize there’s nothing you can eat, so everyone is happy :-) )

      1. Kay Webble*

        Yes, this is so true. A quick reminder to my hosts that I’m vegan – and that I’m happy to bring a few dishes for myself if that helps my host, and a box of chocolates or bottle of wine for them when they go out of their way to accommodate me – has, in my experience, always been far better received than my hoping that someone remembered to tell them I don’t eat animal products. In my early vegan days a few people hosting me for lunch or dinner felt really bad that they had nothing for me when I didn’t tell them about my dietary choices. I figured at the time, just, communicate kindly and gratefully and omnivores who care about you will be perfectly reasonable and accepting of your dietary choices.

    3. Avis*

      I don’t think it’s fair to say that if the coworkers feel uncomfortable with the food smells, they can move. Presumably they’re working at their desks, whereas the OP is opting to take her break at her desk for convenience or comfort. The onus should be on her to move if the food smells are disruptive.

        1. Yorick*

          They may not be eating at the same time. You can’t just move from your desk when your coworker has smelly food.

    4. londonedit*


      I haven’t eaten meat since January 1994, and when people find out I do occasionally get comments along the lines of ‘Ack, sorry, I’ll keep my chicken sandwich away from you’ or ‘Oh no, will you hate me if I order the steak??’ Nope, I will not hate you and I really don’t need you to keep your sandwich away from me! People are different, but personally I don’t eat meat because I don’t like the taste and texture. I’m not offended by the fact that meat exists as a thing other people eat. And I’m not going to comment on anyone’s food choices! So go ahead and order the steak – as long as you’re not trying to force me to eat it, I really won’t mind.

      1. Lena Clare*

        I’ve had comments like that too. I suppose people are trying to be considerate, and of course I don’t mind that other people eat meat, but I do wonder what they’d do if I actually said “yes, please move your chicken sandwich away from me” (I mean, how would they eat it anyway – are they planning on putting the sandwich in the next room while they remain at their desks?!)

        Or “yes, our working relationship would be irreparably damaged if you ate steak” *rolls eyes*.

        1. Quackeen*

          Why would you *roll your eyes* at people who are actually trying to be considerate of your feelings and your comfort? Seems to me that they wouldn’t ask, unless they have a plan to move and eat elsewhere if you truly are offended or need them to.

          I know plenty of people (and we’ve had AAM letters from same) who do try to force their beliefs and habits onto others, so it’s not out of the realm of possibility.

          1. Myrna M*

            +1 Quackeen. Rolling your eyes, even inwardly, at someone trying to be thoughtful is pretty petty.

        2. Michaela Westen*

          Maybe they’ve had experience with militant vegetarians trying to force them to *not* eat meat, and they’re wary.

        3. Kay Webble*

          Maybe it’s the same thing as when you’re eating off a communal plate and there’s one serving left, and someone asks “was anybody going to eat that?” It’s so rare that another person speaks up and says “yes, actually, I was once my plate had some more space on it”, so the question usually works out well for the asker. Maybe the assumption is that the vegetarian probably will say it’s okay, but they want to leave the option open and they want to be polite.

      2. media monkey*

        agree, and this is specifically what we told my 10 year old when she decided to go veggie (we are not veggie although we eat a lot of vegetarian food). she can choose not to eat meat, but she can’t choose that for other people, or make them feel bad about eating meat.

        but i think it is nice that the LW thought of her co-workers as many people wouldn’t!

      3. stump*

        Yeah, I always found those comments to be weird. After the people who do this find out I’m vegetarian (usually after I guess some bizarro surveillance of my lunch and usually a “WHERE’S YER MEEEAATT???” because I sure never bring it up because I just want to be left along with my lunch, yanno), it’s almost like they’re trying to get me to grant them absolution for being a ~dirty sinful meat eater~ or something weird like that. The “I’ll make sure not to eat meat around you~~~” is always said in this weirdly guilty tone of voice like they’re trying to apologize for tainting me or something. I mean, I don’t care if you eat meat but okay, sure, fine, I officially deem you Morally Okay and Good Enough Even Though You Eat Meat, I Guess. Now leave me alone and go eat your tuna wrap without getting weird about it.

        I mean, it’s way better than the “OH MAN, IT’S AN HAMBURGER, IT’S SOOOOO GOOOOOOOOOOD DON’T YOU WANT OOOOOOONNNNNNE??????????????” crowd, but still, geez people, quit Making Things Weird.

        1. SwingingAxeWolfie*

          I completely get this. My friend and I called it “Vegan Popeing” – i.e. when someone feels awkward and seeks absolution for their meat-eating sins from you – the Appointed Vegan/Veggie Pope. Like you, I’d just rather not have a conversation about it, because it always feels really awkward and weird when it’s brought up.

          1. Jennifer Juniper*

            I’m guessing those people are so worried about offending others they feel they must ask permission for everything. I’m like that and I’ve pissed people off by doing that.

        2. Joielle*

          Ha, yes. I was vegetarian for almost a decade while working in a conservative part of the country, and it was brutal at times. Even the well-meaning people made it weird.

          I started occasionally eating meat again a few years ago after getting a job where I made enough money to buy non-factory-farmed meat (basically I’m the Portlandia “what was the chicken’s name” bit). It comes up in conversation once in a while that I used to be vegetarian and people naturally want to know why I stopped. There… doesn’t seem to be any non-judgmental-sounding way to say that it’s because I can afford humanely-produced meat now. Like, it’s this one-two punch of humble-bragging that I make good money, plus implying that the meat the questioner eats is inhumane. But that’s the actual reason, and I don’t know how else to explain it! People are weird about food no matter what you do.

          1. Witchery*

            Not that you asked for help – but you could say “you learned” about XX farm near you that produces “humanely-produced” meat. This then could teach the listener and avoids the salary issue. If they ask or say that it costs more, you could just say that it’s worth it to you, and you have a little less because of it.

          2. Dr. Pepper*

            You don’t have to go into details. You could say something like you’ve found a source of meat you really like, or that you think is super tasty. Make it positive, and make it a personal preference rather than any kind of value judgement. Or just say you wanted to eat meat again. You don’t owe people an explanation. Most people don’t really care, and the ones who do care (about you, not the idly curious), won’t be offended. You have a better job than previously, you make more money now, you can afford nicer things. Presumably you wouldn’t be ashamed to drive a slightly nicer car or wear nicer clothes. No reason to feel guilty for buying nicer food.

            I’m like you, I buy very little meat and what I do buy I try to source as ethically/locally/humanely as possible. Same with eggs and dairy. Doesn’t always work, and it does cost more, but it’s worth it to me. I generally don’t talk about it unless someone asks directly, and if they’re going to be offended, well, they asked. I fully believe in voting with your dollar.

          3. Ophelia*

            I’ve done the same from a different angle – I was a meat-eater, am now mostly vegetarian, and pretty much only eat meat/eggs/etc. that were humanely and sustainably raised (I also flat-out avoid certain foods that are by definition inhumane). I find there are two options for explaining it – either saying something like that directly implies the Portlandia joke, “Oh, I only eat meat rarely, I try to get to know it first!” or kind of flip around the humble-brag into something practical, along the lines of “the more I dug into it, the more I decided I was ok eating meat as long as I really knew where it comes from; that just means I eat it pretty rarely since it’s expensive.” You could always just go vague and say, “I’m still mostly vegetarian, but once in a blue moon I eat meat.”

            I don’t know if this really helps (and I live in an extremely liberal area), but I don’t *think* I’m a jerk ;-).

      4. Birch*

        This is what kind of baffles me about these types of questions–why would a reasonable vegan be offended or upset by someone eating chicken pasta or whatever in the same room as them? It’s the same as anyone being in the same space as someone eating something you don’t like or choose not to eat. Sure, some things are pungent, but that’s a totally different problem that applies equally to everyone (see: microwaved brussels sprouts). IMO these issues happen because people are proactively defensive against the unreasonable people on both sides who will either yell at you for not being vegan or try to get vegans to eat things they don’t want to. And it’s the same end result as almost every other situation around food that comes up–if someone has a problem with something you’re eating that does not affect them in any way, they are unreasonable and you have a whole other problem than their diet choices.

        1. Violet Fox*

          There is a very good reason why the general polite things with work lunches are not overwhelming or lingering smells (had a coworker that we had to ask to actually eat in the break room because his food stank up the office for hours), and to generally not comment on what other people eat because it’s their business.

        2. Trout 'Waver*

          There are a lot of unreasonable vegans. Many vegans are vegan for what they consider ethical reasons, which means they think non-vegans are unethical and proselytize. Reasonable vegans don’t really talk about it, leading non-vegans to interact with only the unreasonable vegans over veganism.

          1. Birch*

            That was my point–that the people who have problems with others’ diets, no matter what they are, are unreasonable and therefore Not Your Problem.

          2. Zillah*

            Many vegans are vegan for what they consider ethical reasons, which means they think non-vegans are unethical and proselytize.

            Your last sentence has a lot of truth to it, but you’re kind of undercutting it here. There are plenty of vegans who are vegan for ethical reasons who don’t consider everyone else unethical for eating it, and many more who consider other people to be unethical in that specific regard in the same quiet way that we judge people for any number of things without actually turning it into A Thing.

            1. Trout 'Waver*

              It’s really hard to judge people as unethical without in some way changing how you interact with them. Everyone thinks they can, of course, but few if any succeed.

              1. Zillah*

                Really? That’s not my experience at all – and I think that might (again) get to your last sentence, which is that you generally just see it when people are super overt about it.

                I mean, for big things that you feel super strongly about, sure, I agree. But there are plenty of other things that we have vague feelings about that IME, we mostly don’t let get to us. I’m grossed out by the idea of eating meat because of the whole it-used-to-be-an-animal thing, and I guess that that sort of extends to thinking it’s gross when other people do it? But pretty much everyone does things that I wouldn’t choose to do, and I don’t analyze it that deeply. I feel like most of us fall into that boat.

              2. Kay Webble*

                Not my experience either. Ethics are a major part of why I’m vegan. I don’t think my sister is the devil incarnate for eating meat, though.

                The only thing that’s changed about our interactions since I went vegan is that I do some extra food shopping for myself before I stay over at her house on weekends.

        3. Parenthetically*

          I think lots of “reasonable” vegans would be upset about people eating meat because it’s a deeply-held belief for some of them that eating meat is immoral, and I do think it would be absolutely fine for a vegan to say, “Hey, I’m going to eat my lunch elsewhere because it really does bother me to be around meat.” But ultimately, as you rightly note, it’s how they express or don’t express that view that matters.

            1. Jennifer Juniper*

              I would thank that person, apologize immediately, and throw my own lunch in the trash. Then I would be certain to only eat peanut butter sandwiches and fruit for lunch, because I like those, it’s affordable, and it’s vegan.

              1. Michaela Westen*

                I can’t eat peanut butter or fruit. Or dairy, eggs, or soy. I eat chicken and pasta for lunch and I will continue to.

                1. Jennifer Juniper*

                  I realize I am privileged to be able to eat a wide variety of foods. Therefore, I have the luxury of restricting my food choices to keep the peace with others. I don’t expect you to do so.

                2. Michaela Westen*

                  I think there is a little more to this. Why should you have to throw away your lunch? You paid for it and/or prepared it, and you’re hungry! No one should have the power to make you go hungry.
                  As Parenthetically says, if a vegan is bothered by you eating your lunch in the lunchroom or at your desk, they should be the ones to accommodate, not you.
                  If I could eat peanut butter and fruit, that wouldn’t be enough for lunch – I need a meat and a starch. There again, no one should have the power to dictate what you eat for lunch. Your lunch should be determined by your specific physical needs.

              2. Jasnah*

                That’s such an extreme reaction that I wonder if it’s even a helpful response. You would structure part of your diet around the needs and approval of your colleagues?? What if your other coworker has a nut allergy, and your other coworker is gluten free, would you continue to structure your lunch to match everyone else’s needs (even though none of them are your needs, and nobody asked you to limit your own food)?

                I understand not waving your burger in their face but I wonder if your colleagues would feel undue stress being made responsible for your diet as well as theirs.

                You say that you don’t expect others to follow your lead, but at the same time I wonder if you could do this without others inferring that you judge them for not doing the same.

                1. Jennifer Juniper*

                  If someone has a severe nut allergy/gluten intolerance, they can have reactions from someone eating the offending item around them. I would be more than happy to not eat anything but fruit for lunch in those cases, since I would not want to kill those around me. Of course, I would only do that if people actually tell me that they have those problems.

              3. Parenthetically*

                Haha what? You’d THROW FOOD AWAY because someone else was vegan? That is really extreme.

      5. Bagpuss*

        I wouldn’t ask about my chicken sandwich at work. I might ask whether you would prefer me not to order steak if we are eating out together, because eating out ought to be a pleasurable experience, and if me having a steak on the table in front of you is going to make your meal less pleasant because you don’t like looking at bloody meat, or the smell of steak makes you feel queasy, I’m happy to order something different so we can both enjoy our meal. However, i would b less likely to ask in a work setting, or if I’m out in a large group. Most of the vegetarians and vegans I know are nice, considerate people who don’t try to push their views onto others, and it seems polite to considerate to them.

        I am aware that some vegans and vegetarians do find the smell and appearance of meat upsetting or unpleasant, and I’ve no issue with making a fairly minor accommodation so my friend has a more pleasurable experience., assuming that there are other things on the menu I can readily eat.

        I won’t ask if you’ll hate me, because that seems ridiculously over dramatic, plus if you hate people for eating meat you’d presumably hate me just the same if I did it when you weren’t watching as when you were!

        1. Birch*

          That goes a little far for me… I would hope that if someone is that upset by the presence of a particular food, they would take the initiative to suggest a restaurant they like. Same for food allergies, or people who don’t particularly enjoy seafood or garlic. We don’t need to assume that most vegans and vegetarians are emotionally traumatized by the presence of meat. And for the ones who are–that’s on them to bring awareness just like it would be on them to make people aware of their allergy, not on the rest of the world to assume that about them.

        2. UKApplePie*

          As a long term vegeterian-basically-vegan, I think steak is pretty revolting to look at but, but I’m not going to get my dining companion to change their food!! For many meat eaters, steak is pleasurable – why do I want to reduce their pleasure for the sake of mine? You just subtly position your water glass/ salt and pepper so it reduces or hides the view.

    5. Just Elle*

      Agreed. Lifelong vegetarian. If I got upset every time I saw people eating meat, I’d have a really hard life. It doesn’t bother me at all (people making a big show of eating extra meat in my face to ‘make up for’ my portion does though).

      That said, I’ve met vegetarians/vegans who really take it to the next level. They view animals as equal to humans, so watching people eat meat is (to them) equivalent to watching cannibalism. I think that’s a *they* thing and not a *you* thing though – and in my experience they would have brought it up with you if they fell into that camp.

      Societal norms side with being to eat lunch at your desk here. But this might be one of those times where you should just ask them. They’ll probably reassure you they don’t care at all, and you’ll fell better.

      1. Jenny*

        I have found that attitude is more common among brand new vegetarians, who are usually about to go back to meat eating.

        But, for instance, my friend has celiac. Yeah, she misses pasta (like some people miss cheese when they go vegan), but as long as we clearly label and avoid cross contamination, it’s all okay.

        You don’t have to restrict yourself severely, just be aware of your actions and be kind (don’t use bacon fat in the Green beans and not tell people, don’t mix spoons at a potluck, etc.)

        1. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

          I have found that attitude is more common among brand new vegetarians, who are usually about to go back to meat eating.

          I think you’re right – at least in my experience, the only time I got preached at was by someone at a potluck meetup event, who was apparently *considering* going vegan. He asked me if he could sit in the empty spot next to me, I said sure, his next question was “Are you vegan?” (I had a plate of cheeses and cold cuts in front of me.) He then went on to tell me how he was considering it for himself, and launched into a full-on MIM sermon (as I was trying to eat my cheese and cold cuts), until I stood up and said I was going to get a drink of water and never came back to that table. For all I know, he may have never even gone vegan in the end. OTOH, my friends in the same group who had been vegan their entire adult lives, never commented on my food, or on anyone else’s, directly or indirectly.

      2. Marion Ravenwood*

        This has been my experience as well. I was vegetarian for a period as a student, and whilst most other vegetarians I knew took the live-and-let-live approach, there were one or two who were *very* vocal about ‘meat is murder’ etc. So even though it’s only a small group giving everyone a bad name, I can see why someone might be a bit cautious if they’ve encountered that type of behaviour previously.

        I agree that OP #2 should ask her co-workers – if they’re reasonable people, they’ll probably say no (and appreciate being asked), but it might help the OP’s peace of mind to at least ask the question.

        1. Free Meerkats*

          When confronted by the MIM! crowd, I respond with the fact that I’m ordained in the United Church of Bacon and how dare they impugn my religion? I turn the outrage back to them, Praise the Lard!

          And they are the only people I will eat a cheeseburger at. When dealing with rational vegetarians/vegans I’ll not do that.

          1. Jean (just Jean)*

            Please define MIM! I’m trying to decipher this abbreviation (Minimally Invasive Meat-eater? Maximally Impolite Meat-renouncer? Meat is Murder!) without much success (oh, wait a minute, never mind…)

            In other words, +1. A person’s morality does not depend on whether they do or don’t eat meat or other animal products…unless they become noisy / self-righteous / and/or unstoppable about inflicting their opinions on others.

            1. Michaela Westen*

              Yes, because it’s the disrespect of trying to inflict your opinion on others that’s the problem.
              Like religious people trying to force you to go to their church – same thing, different subject…

              1. Michaela Westen*

                IME the people who would be in a straight-edge band wouldn’t agree with the sentiment!

      3. SheLooksFamiliar*

        My vegan and vegetarian friends and co-workers have always been respectful of others’ choices. I’ve never heard name-calling or teasing, and never arguments over our diverse convictions.

        Still, there was this one time when someone made a scene about eating meat. She was a friend of my host, at an Easter brunch. This lady knew meat would be served yet she glowered at us as we ate our ham. Nasty looks escalated to pointed comments about how she could never eat a formerly living thing. I was irritated for the guests and especially for my friend, the host – not because of the vegetarian guest’s convictions, but her decision to flog guests publicly at a meal she knew would include meat.

    6. thankful for AAM.*

      Ok, the harassment! I know the joke, hinted at above, is the vegan/veg ppl will tell you they are. In my experience tho, that is only after the non-veg folks push and push and push foods on you. No thank you, I tried everything (polite fiction), my plate is full, no thanks, etc. Finally, I’ll say, oh, I’m vegan. Which they know bc i have worked here for 5 years!

      I don’t think you have to even ask, everyone can eat their own food. Just don’t keep asking them if they miss it or pushing them to try foods. There was good advice upthread about when they talk about vegan/veg topics, to each other (just a convo over a shared like) or to everyone (but I have rarely encountered that myself).

      1. Unethical Vegan*

        Yes, exactly.
        For the last two years, I’ve followed a plant-based diet for health reasons. But “vegan” is a handy label that’s immediately understood. I always tell people I’m not ethical about it, and if a little milk or eggs are baked into a vegetarian dish, I can still eat it.

        My brothers tell me I’m the worst kind of nearly vegan, because I’m too laid back about it. But I base my philosophy on a friend of mine’s approach – she’s been vegetarian for 25+ years, but if she find a bit of ham chopped up in a salad, she just shrugs and eats around it. I like that kind of low-maintenance approach, and it served me well when I was in Malaysia for work, and sometimes, dishes that were on the Vegetarian menu would arrive at my place with little shrimps or bits of chicken floating in it.

    7. iglwif*


      I’ve been vegetarian for 25+ years, and I am completely unbothered by people eating meat around me (heck, nobody else in my family is vegetarian except one brother, so people eat meat around me ALL THE TIME); I just don’t want to be a) made to deal with raw animal bits or b) pressured to eat meat.

      OP, you’re almost certainly just fine to keep on with doing what you’re doing!

      1. Just Elle*

        Raw chicken is the stuff of nightmares. Fact.

        My husband is a meat eater. He thinks my ‘icky factor’ about meat is amusing – aka, my springing into action to bleach the counters if cooked meat touches them. But otherwise, we coexist quite peacefully and never once have I been grossed out by his meals. Steak places have the best sides, and I love the excuse to eat only mac and cheese and mashed potatoes as a meal lol.

    8. epi*

      I was a vegetarian for about 7 years, and for many years have eaten very limited meat. My husband was raised vegetarian and is the same way.

      I would say most of our friends either are vegetarian or vegan, or like us were in the past and limit meat now, or just like vegetarian food. I have never actually met a person who can’t be around others eating meat. In fact, people we know are so low-key about it, I honestly couldn’t tell you which of my friends or acquaintances currently don’t eat meat. Partly that is because we just assume someone will want to avoid meat when we host, so we never need to be told.

      If the OP’s coworkers can’t be around meat, they are very unusual. If they expect others to assume that, or are silently fuming because no one asked their permission to heat up a non-veggie lunch, they are loons. It sounds like they are pretty assertive about reminding people of their dietary needs, so the OP is almost certainly fine.

      IME I think vegetarians and vegans who let you know about it are really misunderstood. They have to do that or they will end up at a lot of meals where there is nothing they can eat, or only something really sad. And speaking from experience, often that happens even when they do speak up, because people are rude. Also food is a really popular hobby right now– cooking, eating out, trying new things. Is someone making sure you know about their meat-eating lifestyle when they tell you they went to a well-known steakhouse, or made a great roast chicken last weekend? Or are they just talking?

  10. Suisse is strange*

    #3 – Rather than try to tell you what to do, I just wanted to share my own experience and my own preferences with short-term positions and what I found worked/didn’t work for me.

    Based on my experience working both in locations and fields where fixed-term contracts are more common, I would be very hesitant to accept a position of less than 6 months. Here’s why: First, it’s really hard to start a new job, do well at said new job, and job search at the same time. I took a 3 month consulting gig while otherwise unemployed once and really had difficulty getting many applications in. I usually start job searching 3 months before the end of a contract/my ideal start date, so with a 4 month job, you’ll only have 1 month to focus on the new job. Secondly, I personally find it typically takes me 6 weeks to 3 months to feel comfortable in a role. With a 6 month contract, that gives me 3 months to learn the job, and then I still have 3 months to really do the job well. For a 4 month position, the scope of the job might be more limited so you’ll be up to speed more quickly, but then again it might not.

    I (finally) have a permanent contract, and my current thinking is that personally I wouldn’t leave my job for a new contract of less than a year. (That said, I like my job and don’t have any plans to leave, so my thinking is perhaps a bit more picky than if I was desperate to find a new job).

    1. Lucy*

      I agree that fixed-term contracts under six months are more likely to be discrete and well-defined projects whereas contracts advertised for six months are more likely to be open-ended.

      I triple agree with Alison that LW3 would need to spend almost all of that four-month period actively job-hunting. If you are unhappy and want to make a big change then it could be the right opportunity, but it doesn’t sound like that’s actually true in this case.

      1. EPLawyer*

        If the company wanted this to be a temp to permanent position they would have said so (most likely). Hoping this turns into a permanent position when all signs indicate it is for 4 months only, is likely believing it will all work out over facing facts.

        OP3 I know you want to change fields, but risking your ability to pay your bills is not the way to do it. Also, how many “dream jobs” have we read about here that turned out to be anything but? You are going in hoping your dream temp job turns into a dream permanent job. That is unlikely.

      2. KRM*

        Something like 3 or 4 months can also end up being “we need someone to cover a maternity leave or a leave of absence” job, where they need basic functions covered, but have no intention of making the job permanent. It might give you an ‘in’ for other jobs opening in the company, but it’s not something to count on.

  11. PABJ*

    #1 My boss does this with her dogs. It’s actually a little bothersome because they aren’t terribly well behaved and she has one where she can yell at them when they misbehave. We have our own offices, but the walls are pretty thin and not sound-proof at all.

    1. Mookie*

      Does she call them by their names? (What are their names? Which one’s the worst? I bet it’s a Duchess or a Bruno; they’re always the troublemakers.) Does she suddenly shriek “stop that!” to her computer? This is weirdly fascinating and I’d probably spend my lunch outside her office listening to her coo over / lecture her dogs. Throw in some cats or rats and a sensitive enough microphone and set of speakers and this is my new daytime soap of choice.

      1. Just Employed Here*

        “Does she suddenly shriek “stop that!” to her computer?”

        I tend to do this, or at least mutter it. I don’t have dogs. It’s just the computer. I should probably stop doing it.

        1. SigneL*

          I talk to my computer ALL THE TIME: “hurry up!” “oh, no, don’t freeze!!!” “HAHAHA! FUNNY!”

          My computer is a very good listener.

          1. thankful for AAM.*

            I found my coworkers think I am talking to them when I talk, rudely, to my computer. How can they think I would talk to them like that! And I realize, I am probably disturbing them so I need to stop.

            I can picture their letters to AAM. Coworker talks putloud to her computer all the time. I respond lime she is talking to me as a way to let her know it is disturbing me, but she just laughs it off. What do i do?

            1. BadWolf*

              Often the computer grumble is a prelude to asking a coworker for help or commiseration. I had a coworker who was very vocal and had to train myself out of responding (checking if he needed help, etc).

          2. Jerusha*

            I actually ended up getting myself bumped up the list for a computer upgrade at work by talking to my computer. One of our IT staff was near my office on an unrelated manner, and heard me saying, with exasperation, “Oh, you are not either out of memory! Now cut that out and give me my document!”. He popped his head into my office, looked at the model of my computer, and said that it looked like I was due to be upgraded reasonably soon anyway, and would I like him to put me on the schedule. Yes, please!

          3. nonegiven*

            A long time ago I set the computer sound for a terminal stop to be a voice saying “I’m sorry, I’m afraid I can’t do that.”

          4. Kat in VA*

            Guilty as well.


    2. LawLady*

      Umm… I do this. I mean, I’m not watching all the time. But I definitely check in on my dog from time to time. But we do have our own offices and I don’t think anyone has even noticed.

    3. lifesp*

      SHE YELLS AT HER DOG THROUGH A CAMERA??? IDK about dogs psyches, but it seems to me the dogs would not know that it is their owner disciplining them, and might be very alarmed by the disembodied voice yelling at them!!!! (not to mention how irritating it would be to overhear!)

  12. WS*

    #4 Healthcare jobs are one kind where you really, really can’t tell about tattoos until you get there. In my experience, about 50% of places are completely fine with anything that’s not offensive, including facial, neck and hand tattoos (piercings may be a different matter for safety reasons). The other 50% are very much against showing tattoos except for That One Doctor who is covered in them, but somehow gets away with it! Asking should get you a clear answer quickly.

    1. Lucy*

      I also think that the location of the tattoos and the particular job is very relevant, as healthcare jobs nowadays are best practice “bare to the elbow” to reduce the spread of infection. The entire tattoo will be visible pretty much at all times so it’s definitely worthwhile addressing in advance.

      FWIW I don’t think it should be a problem and could be useful screening for the kind of workplace/employer you DON’T want :D

      1. OP#4*

        Hi there, letter writer here. Thank you both for your comments. I agree, that it might be helpful screening tool in terms of culture. Quick note… The role is not patient facing. It’s working in the corporate office for a health system. But I’ve had other indicators that it might be a pretty traditional culture. I appreciate Alison‘s advice, and I will be as direct as possible if/when an offer comes through!

        1. Lily Rowan*

          I recently interviewed someone who was wearing a jacket with three-quarter sleeves that showed some tattoos she had on her forearms. Since full-length sleeves are so much more common, I wondered if she wore that on purpose to gauge the reaction. (She didn’t get the job for other reasons!)

          1. OP#4*

            I debated that. While I LOVE my tattoo art, I’ve also had some pretty visceral reactions from people. My tattoos are easily covered with a long-sleeve shirt, but I’m debating if I want to be part of a culture where I can’t bring my whole self to work. Thanks for sharing your experience.

            1. Lily Rowan*

              Yeah, the answer to that question is going to be related to how desperate you are for a job, unfortunately. I wish everyone could be their whole selves at work!!!

              1. jiminy_cricket*

                I am the person who wears 3/4-sleeve blazers (when weather appropriate) to interviews in order to gauge responses to my full sleeve. That said, I have still had administrators who weren’t present at my hiring insist that I wear long sleeves year-round. Luckily that was at a hospital, so not a huge temperature issue as I was nearly always cold. I work in healthcare, but I’m a social worker so it’s an interesting intersection of norms. I agree with OP’s comments about wanting to find a place where I can be my whole self. Good luck, OP!

                1. Michaela Westen*

                  I’m 99% sure the clients of a hospital social worker would not care about your tattoos, or any tattoos that aren’t offensive.

          2. Indigo a la mode*

            Interesting. I honestly wouldn’t even think to consider whether my tattoos are showing when dressing for an interview…they’re just part of my skin at this point. It would be like consciously deciding to show my ears. Maybe she felt similarly?

            (Not saying that that’s the “right” answer, just that I honestly forget that I might give a different first impression to people if they can see my galactopus tattoo.)

    2. Où est la bibliothèque?*

      I’ve always found tattoos in professional contexts kind of…impressive, in a way? They underscore that professional behavior and demeanor is just that, and isn’t just the result of someone having an inherently formal sort of personality.

      They mean that someone is putting thought and effort into their professionalism, because their default state is maybe a bit more free-spirited. (Sorry if I’m stereotyping!)

    3. Kat in VA*

      I just got home with my husband this weekend after he did a stint in the CCU (diabetic ketoacidosis, what a ride).

      I’d say at least 50% of the nurses had visible tattoos, mostly forearm sleeves. I know this is an administrative and not clinical position, but the attitude towards tattoos is slowly changing, I think.

  13. Just Employed Here*

    I fully agree with a 4 month contract being way too short to give up a stable situation for (or to even learn the new job and get much of significance done, but I digress).

    But I wonder at what length of contract Alison would consider this a fair risk to take. 1 year? 2 years?

    Of course it also depends on how secure OP’s job really is, how desperately she wants to move on, how normal recurring time limited contracts are in the industry, etc.

    1. Jaybeetee*

      For me, if I was in the LW’s shoes, trying to get out of what sounds like a crappy job (at least for her) and into a new industry, I’d consider a 1 year contract a safe-enough bet. It varies by industry, but I’d think generally by the one-year mark, you’re a) working on projects with a wide timeline that could well be extended, b) you’re more likely to make enough of an impression on colleagues/bosses that even when the time runs out, they’ll look to keep you on in some way or another, and c) even if they can’t and it’s a hard 1-year contract, that’s still a year’s experience in that field, which will make finding another job easier. Plus, as another commenter above alluded to, it gives you time to learn and settle into the role without having to immediately worry about job-hunting. (This was what I found most stressful back when I was temping – you never really could just relax and *stop* job-hunting).

      Also, at least in my experience of contract work, if there’s possibility of extension or being hired on permanently, they typically say that upfront in the job posting. Employers know that’s more attractive than a “hard” contract, so they don’t tend to hide it. If the contract LW is eyeing doesn’t mention this, she can ask, but it sounds like it would probably end at four months, and she has to decide if that’s worthwhile for her.

    2. Nacho Fridays*

      It also really depends on the the pay for the contract. Contract work is really only lucrative if they are not giving you benefits. 3 years ago my husband moved to contract work since the pay for contract work bumped him up over 50% and in my job I was able to add him to my insurance. The first year he did it we saved the extra income as a savings net for if he had trouble finding work between contracts. The first year was bad but now on average he is not working 2-3 months out of the year but the excess in pay makes it worthwhile. But you really need to be budgeted for this to work if like most people you have a family to support and a mortgage, and when the contract is slowing up you have to step up and do the work while seeking out your next contract.

    3. Someone Else*

      I think it’s not even necessarily just the length that matters. It’s whether the company has indicated there’s any chance of it becoming a full time role. For example my company once wanted to create a certain role, but the highest higher ups weren’t completely sold it needed to be. (whereas everyone in the department was like PLEASE WE NEED ANOTHER HUMAN) so it got approved as a short term contract role, and if the person did well and things started going more smoothly, basically the job would prove itself into existence and be in the budget the next fyear. Unless we made a bad hire for the contract role, it really should’ve been self-evident. But if it’s something like a parental leave cover, or a need for a specific project with a known start and end…even if that project were a year, that’d still be risky because sure by the end the company knows you and the quality of your work, but if the project is over and they don’t need you, then they don’t need you.

    4. MarfisaTheLibrarian*

      Also maybe how bad the LW’s current situation is? If the choices are “quit with nothing lined up,” “exist in hell on earth for the foreseeable future” or “quit with 4 months of work doing cool stuff in a great place lined up,” that third one is definitely better, and gives a better work environment while job searching

  14. Rollergirl09*

    LW #1 I have a hard time believing this is not impacting her work. Say it wasn’t a nanny cam, but she was watching Netflix on her phone all day, would that be acceptable? I wouldn’t think so.

    1. Just Employed Here*

      And on Netflix, you can pause, go back if you missed something (maybe you can here as well, but then you’re missing what is happening at the moment), and it’s presumably less interesting than the wellbeing of your offspring.

      This is beside the point, but I wonder how this even works: Do the kid and the nanny stay in the same room all day? Do they not go outside all day?

    2. Jenny*

      I have a coworker who occasionally puts up a video of her dog cam. These cams aren’t really riveting so it isn’t really comparable to Netflix. You don’t actively watch all day. Whereas a lot of people I know will have radio/music/podcasts on during the day. It is about that level of engagement. I have found when I am writing some passive noise (like an audio book of something I am familiar with) actually helps with concentration.

      1. Just Employed Here*

        I think there’s a huge distinction between audio and visual here.

        In my office, listening to music or whatever else on your headphones is fine, as long as it’s quiet enough that you react if someone mentions your name slightly louder than normally, the (collective) phone rings, or something else requiring your attention happens.

        Keeping a screen open all the time would not be fine. It’s fine to have one of your multiple computer screens show something (usually in part of the screen) if there is an important ice hockey match on, Olympic javelin throwing, or a royal wedding (only if they are high up in the line to the throne, not just any princes and princesses). These rules are completely unwritten rules, and are considered common sense.

        1. TechWorker*

          This is weird to me cos I would generally assume that there’s no tv at work regardless of whether it’s a big sporting event. On the other hand, if I’m working late and doing something dull (eg something that involves me doing stuff for a minute, waiting for a couple of minutes for a test to run or something to compile, repeat) I think it’s fine to have the tv on in the background.

          I also watched tv in the background for the entirety of my degree and it worked fine for me but hey, I generally assume it’s not ok in the workplace at all!

          1. Lucy*

            I would generally agree, but I know some workplaces will allow major sporting events (e.g. your national team in the World Cup finals) because they’d rather have people in the office slightly distracted than taking time off to watch it at home.

            1. Footy is much more important than life and death*

              Our office subscribed to some cable channel specifically for the World Cup and showed every match in the conference room.

              At the World Cup in 2006, I was attending a meeting for a MAJOR deal (think 8 figures) and we stopped the meeting to watch the World Cup final.

              1. Joielle*

                Here in Minnesota, the only sporting event important enough to be shown on our conference room TV is the annual state high school hockey tournament! Haha. I’m not originally from here and this blows my mind every year.

                1. Blue*

                  I’m in Chicago, and the only sports-related thing I can remember my office showing in the conference room was the Cubs’ parade after they won the World Series, ha. (No one would care if I had a sporting event up on my own computer, though, as long as it was in the background and I was still getting something done.)

            2. media monkey*

              in the UK they would rarely expect you to work during a home team (particularly England since I am in London) game. our office screens all games during working hourse and often provides drinks and snacks (assuming it’s not breakfast time for the drinks!) I work in an international team and people here are from all over the place, and anyone can go and watch any game they want. Assuming work is made up and they are not missing any deadlines or urgent tasks of course!

          2. Just Employed Here*

            Yeah, that’s a good assumption to make, I think (the “just don’t do it”).

            But every workplace is different, and this is what flies at ours. So only major, infrequent events.

          3. Marion Ravenwood*

            When I worked in the press office for a government department, our office had four massive TV screens on one wall, plus a fifth on the other side of the office and a smaller wall-mounted TV in the corner. These were ostensibly so we could watch rolling news channels/listen to radio and make notes of any interviews with our ministers, but if there was a major sporting event on during work hours (Olympics, Wimbledon tennis, World Cup etc) at least one screen would be showing that. In general it was background noise, but if something big was happening – say we were potentially going to win an Olympic medal – people would stop working for a few minutes and a small group would gather round to watch.

            Similarly, my last job would often set up a big screen in our boardroom for England World Cup or European Championship games – you were encouraged to treat it as your lunch break if you wanted to watch some/all of the game, but generally it was at managers’ discretion. I did also occasionally watch TV in the background on days when I worked from home in that job, but generally not things I needed to concentrate on or hadn’t seen before (again unless it was sports or breaking news).

            1. MusicWithRocksInIt*

              This would drive me nuts. I don’t think I could even work like that, with TV’s everywhere. I even hate restaurants that need to cover every inch of wallspace in TV’s. They always draw my attention, even if I don’t care what is happening on screen at all. It makes it so much harder for me to focus.

              1. Marion Ravenwood*

                They were on mute most of the time, but yeah, it was pretty distracting. I much preferred the job after that where whenever we had anything like this we’d either just pull up the news channel on someone’s computer or wait for the transcript from our media monitoring company.

          4. Falling Diphthong*

            I think this is more akin to having the security camera feed from the parking lot visible at the reception desk, rather than running Gilligan’s Island in the background. You glance at the video, nothing alarming or particularly interesting is unfolding, your attention shifts back to work.

            Unless you’re the person who works on the hellmouth, where I imagine the video feeds show the squirrels hotwiring the vehicles and the occasional passing demon.

    3. Doctor Schmoctor*

      Not quite the same. I’m sure she just keeps the phone on her desk and glances at it every now and then. It is possible to do your work and keep an eye on a child at the same time.

      1. Myrna M*

        Completely agree. Especially if she had an unfortunate experience with her previous caregiver, I can see why this would give comfort. I’m really not seeing the issue here, to tell the truth. The comparisons to tv are inaccurate – she’s not following a narrative or story; she’s got this on presumably to glance at it at every once in a while and make sure everything’s fine.
        I think – sorry- the LW is sort of a busybody, and should focus more on coworker’s output. If in fact she even has any authority over her. And if she doesn’t, then she shouldn’t be focusing on this at all.

        1. valentine*

          I’m sure she just keeps the phone on her desk
          OP1 says no.

          presumably to glance at it at every once in a while
          I would understand this assumption if the phone stayed on her desk. This surveillance is creepy (like the person in continuous contact with her husband) and her holding the phone takes it up a notch.

    4. LQ*

      Eh, we used to have a thing with a group of people I worked with where we would watch one of the eagle cams (and generally bet on when the chicks would hatch). It was 99% nothing, 1% oh, check this out. I’d guess most nanny cams (or dog cams) are the same. And for stuff like Netflix. I could totally put Futurama on in the background and it would just be a little hum of stuff because I’ve seen it before (several times) vs something that’s brand new. I’ve absolutely had jobs where something like the show you’ve seen before in the background would be absolutely acceptable and wouldn’t impact your work anymore than the occasional need to get coffee or go to the bathroom.

      1. Tardigrade*

        Yeah, I’ve downloaded well-worn shows to my device and watched them with headphones in my office while doing mostly rote work.

        But the difference here is I have my own office where nobody else can be put off by this, it isn’t outside the culture of my workplace (and I’ve been here nearly 10 years to know), I don’t do this all day every day, and I’m not using my work’s wifi.

    5. Jen*

      I feel the same way. There is no way that this is not impacting her work.

      And I have two kids – I get how very hard it is to leave your kid and go back to work. It’s HARD. I’ve struggled with it and I’ve seen other women struggle with it. There was the one woman who tried to work from home every day with her newborn. She didn’t think it was affecting her job. It was affecting her job. There was the other woman who brought her child into the office every day and attempted to work while he did his normal baby things. Neither of those situations worked and both women ended up quitting and staying home with their kids. You can’t have the best of both worlds with kids. You can’t be like “I have a full time job AND I get to see my kid all day long.” – it just doesn’t work. You have to make a sacrifice and you have to make a choice and the sooner that you make the choice on what your post-kid life will look like and move forward with that post-kid life, you’ll be much happier.

      Watching a nanny cam all day long while you’re at work is distracting. Also, it’s not the best way to go about accepting your decision to work. It’s like trying to keep one foot on the ground and one foot in the pool and make both sides happy. You’re not really swimming but you’re also not really free to move about the ground.

      1. Susie Q*

        You’re not OP’s co-worker. You have no idea how easily she is or is not distracted. Maybe your job would be impacted but maybe OP’s co-worker is doing just fine.

        I have numerous colleagues who have their phone or tablet open to the nanny/daycare cam. They all manage to get their work done. It’s not like they are watching Game of Thrones or something incredibly riveting.

        1. Jen*

          I do feel strongly that most people can’t multi-task that well and our attentions aren’t really able to focus on more than one thing like this. Having a video on – a video showing someone you are personally invested in and attached to – is something that is going to make you split your attention to two different places when it should just be focused on what you are doing to the best extent that you can. I personally don’t think that’s the most professional thing in the world or the most effective thing in the world to focus on what your baby is doing miles away.

          But then I’m also one of those people who doesn’t really even like people to wear headphones at work all the time so I’m kind of a stickler for “The office is distracting enough, so minimize the distractions as best you can.”

          1. Rollergirl09*

            The LW says she has her phone in her hand most of the day, but I’m the one who is out of line for suggesting it may impact her work? I’m a mother, a single mother at that, I know that I would be super distracted by what was going on in the camera.

          2. Susie Q*

            Maybe the headphones minimize distractions.

            Maybe you’re unable to multitask but it doesn’t mean others can’t.

      1. Myrna M*

        Thank you. That analogy is ridiculous. There’s no story to follow or dialogue to which to pay attention – it’s something I assume she’s glancing at every once in a while, and I make this assumption because as a mom myself, I would think that actually staring at a nanny cam all day would be incredibly boring.

    6. Indie*

      Isn’t this yet another reason to kick it up to the boss though? The only person who truly knows how affected her performance is? Even if it is, for all we know The Boss is well aware and has okayed it while le kiddo settles in to new arrangements.

    7. CC*

      Not at all the same thing. Nanny cams don’t have riveting plots. Or audio. You’re just glancing every so often to make sure the nanny isn’t killing your kid. It’s like checking a sports game every so often for the score. Or listening to music in the background of work on headphones. Nowhere in the letter does OP actually say it does impact her work somehow so it just feels like tattling to me.

  15. Jenny*

    As long as coworker has the video passively on in the background, I think the nanny cam could be fine. It sounds like something happened before and coworker may want it to feel safer afterward. Obviously, it is boss’s call, but if the LW is feeling distracted, I would see if you can find some way of mitigating it (smaller size, lower volume) so coworker can still feel okay.

    1. Myrin*

      I think of lot of this hinges on how passive this really is. OP says “[h]er phone is open and in her hand or propped on her desk”, which could mean it’s in her hand 90% of the time and as such bound to be distracting; it could just as well mean it’s on her desk 90% of the time so that she can just briefly look up at it if need be.

      (FWIW, something about the repeated use of “watching all the time” makes me think this is not so much an exaggeration as a literal observation. In which case there’s no way she’s paying as much attention to her work as she should. But I could obviously be exactly wrong in my interpretation of this, so I’d love for OP to weigh in.)

      1. TheRedCoat*

        Possibly, or it’s ‘Whenever I happen to be walking by’. I have a coworker who seems to be on the same break schedule as me- that doesn’t mean he’s spending 100% of his day in the bathroom.

        1. Myrin*

          With the additional information in OP’s comment below, that does indeed seem to be the right interpretation!

    2. Joielle*

      This is what I was thinking. I don’t have kids, but I could understand being anxious about childcare after having a bad experience. Maybe (hopefully) the frequency will decrease as the coworker gets more comfortable with the nanny.

  16. Anonymiss*

    #3 – I agree with others above… I feel like this does vary by field, and you need more information about the field to know how valuable 3 months could be. I know in my field, it’s common for people to hire out of temporary positions, even if not immediately, and 4 months experience could be very helpful. But in your field, that might not be the case at all. I would try to get a notion of this during the interview – and you can choose whether or not the risk is worth it then…

    I think since you’ve already got a job, it might be worth being straightforward about it – “I’m really excited about this position, because I have wanted to work with this company for a while and doing this sort of work. Do you think this position is useful as a springboard to continue working here and in similar work elsewhere?” Worst thing is you learn it’s not a good fit and move on.

    1. 8DaysAWeek*

      This is a really good point.
      If you are interested in the position, it wouldn’t hurt to go through the interview process to find out more and specifically why it is only a 4 month contract.
      In my line of work, we sometimes hire contractors for as little as a month in order to fill in for an employee out on leave or to help out during an increase in work. And we never look to hire them full time, no matter how good they are. We just don’t have the funding to bring on full-time help.
      I’ve also worked in IT where we have had contractors for 10+ years! We had the work and the contractor did an excellent job and we just kept renewing their contract. And cheaper for the company because we don’t pay them benefits (another thing to consider if you go into contracting/temp work).

  17. Quake Johnson*

    It’s interesting to me how people think of not hearing back after not being hired as being “ghosted.”

    1. J*

      Yeah, I don’t know if they’re actually equating it to a dating situation, though — to me, it just feels like people find the word a useful shorthand to use in a variety of situations. (And if an interview process was long with a lot of contact, it would actually feel like a reasonable comparison to me.)

    2. Falling Diphthong*

      Ghosting has existed since it became possible to just not respond to someone’s attempts to reach you via a method other than walking up and talking to you.

      So you can ignore their letters, you can instruct the butler that you are not at home to Mr. Fergus, and you can let job candidates guess that the lack of follow-through means you aren’t hiring them. You can’t ghost people if you live in a small hunter-gatherer tribe, or are on one of those isolated island mansions beloved of mystery writers.

    3. Roscoe*

      What term would you prefer? I think it gets the point across, even if its a term that was originally used for something else.

    4. Rhymes with Mitochondria*

      Why wouldn’t it be? You’re communicating back and forth and someone just stops in the middle of the process and doesn’t inform you what’s up.
      Ghosting isn’t limited to dating. Any human can do it to any other human in a any context.

      1. Quake Johnson*

        I suppose, I just feel the term “ghosting” carries heavy negative connotations. Ghosting someone you were dating is seen as Very Rude. On the flip side ending an applicant’s candidacy is a normal part of business.

        I find Ghosting implies something shady happening, which doesn’t match simply not hiring a person, IMO.

        1. Rusty Shackelford*

          “Simply not hiring a person” isn’t the shady part. Interviewing a person, especially after telling them you’ll get in touch, and never communicating with them again, including declining to respond to their reasonable attempts to contact you… that’s the shady part.

        2. Roscoe*

          But its not the fact that they didn’t hire them that made it ghosting. Its them saying “we’ll let you know within X amount of time”, and then when you reach out again them ignoring you.

          Similarly, its not ghosting a person to not want to date them anymore. But if they reach out to you and you ignore them, that is when it becomes ghosting

        3. Observer*

          Well, not having basic courtesy IS shady. The problem here is not that the company decided not to hire someone, and I find it odd that that’s what you are focusing on. The problem people have is NOT HEARING BACK.

          1. a1*

            Shady? really? I’d say slightly rude, or even outright rude, but shady? not at all. That implies they were deliberately trying to trick the interviewee/candidate into something. Not just being forgetful/busy/uninterested/unthinking/unsympathetic.

          2. Quake Johnson*

            Eh, I guess it’s just happened to me so many times that “They didn’t hire you so they’ve stopped talking to you,” seems normal to me.

        4. Indie*

          I actually think business ghosting is way ruder than in dating. (I don’t care if a company doesn’t call, but it is not particularly impressive for their reputation when there are automated systems). Ghosting (relative strangers) in dating is often the absolute way to go, especially if you meet someone pushy or scary. It’s something you should try to avoid and we should endeavor to say farewell properly, of course, but I have to say that when dating people have ghosted me (one time I was ghosted after they texted me to ask my favourite movie) I was usually relieved at the efficiency of such a message and at the time saved.

          1. ArtK*

            Ghosting is unprofessional. A simple “sorry, we went with someone else” after you’ve interviewed isn’t hard to do. For jobs that get hundreds of applications, no response to the application is ok (mostly.) But a company with that kind of job should have an ATS and it’s easy enough to program a “Thanks for applying; we’re going in a different direction.”

            I commented in the open thread about being ghosted after an interview. This by the CEO of a company that makes money selling expensive courses for entrepreneurs. You’d think that basic courtesy and ethics would be part of the training. At least in a “be nice to the people you meet on the way up…” kind of way.

          2. Jasnah*

            I agree, in dating it’s clearly due to a safety issue and also it’s very hard to politely turn someone down. In the business world rejection is a common thing and the safety risk is much lower. Plus if I were getting paid to date people and could escalate safety threats to my boss, you bet I would respond to every person!

    5. Dr. Pepper*

      Because when you apply for a job, you’ve presumably put time and effort into it, and if you hear NOTHING it feels like you’ve just tossed your resume at a brick wall. If you’ve gotten at least partway through the screening process, there’s been some back and forth communication, and in most human interactions, there’s some sort of “closing” statement if a conversation is ending. To have an exchange abruptly halt is jarring and annoying, because again you’ve put time and effort into the process and to be left hanging sucks. In these days, this is called “ghosting”. While mostly used in the context of romantic or other personal relationships, the term applies to any exchange that abruptly ends when one party stops responding with no explanation or closing statement made. You may argue whether or not this is acceptable and/or should be expected when applying for jobs, but the fact remains that it does often happen this way and it sucks for job seekers. And would be rude in just about any other human interaction context. There’s a reason we have phrases like “good bye”.

    6. Observer*

      Please. When someone takes the time to interview, getting back to them is common courtesy. ESPECIALLY when they actually came to your office, also if you gave them a timeline.

    7. MLB*

      It’s a totally appropriate term. If you’ve only applied and hear nothing back, not a big thing. I would even say if you had a quick phone screen and hear nothing back, it’s not that big of a deal. But if you have taken he time to personally interview for a position the very LEAST you are owed is a “no thanks we’re not interested” form letter via email. Unfortunately most companies choose the “we’ll just pretend they no longer exist” route, which is, in fact, the very definition of “ghosting” someone.

    8. The New Wanderer*

      Think of it as a relationship lifespan having several parts. Meet, interview, one or both parties arrive at a decision whether to continue the relationship, and convey that decision to the other party. Ghosting is omitting that last step when the decision is “end the relationship” because the other party is never informed that this was the decision made. Since it’s an expected part of the relationship lifespan, it violates social norms to not do it.

      In a dating relationship it’s usually out of cowardice (avoidance of an awkward or difficult conversation). In a working relationship it’s usually out of a lack of consideration (disinterest in showing basic etiquette) for the other party. But it’s the same end effect.

  18. Persephone Mulberry*

    #3 I actually asked on last Friday’s open thread about people’s experiences with having a temp position turn permanent and although the sample size was small, the responses were not encouraging.

    FWIW, the potential ease of transition from temp to perm could be influenced by whether it’s a staffing agency filling the position or the company directly, but I assume it’s an agency placement because I don’t see many companies direct hiring for short term contracts, presumably because they don’t want to deal with all the HR onboarding/off boarding (which is exactly why staffing agencies exist in the first place).

    1. Just Employed Here*

      Where I am from, it used to be the case (10–20 years ago) that people would get fixed term contracts, prove their worth, and then get that contract renewed as a permanent contract.

      Now, it seems that fixed term contracts are only offered if the need/funding is only available for that time.

      1. Just Employed Here*

        Pressed Submit too early…

        Anyway, this is why I would be very careful about seriously entertaining the idea of a fixed term contract nowadays. Employers know they are turning away a lot of applicants by advertising a fixed term position, so I assume they have a good reason for doing so, and that it will be one I won’t like.

    2. Cat wrangler*

      I took a temporary job last autumn and given my feedback from my immediate managers, it appeared all was going well 8 weeks in when my manager reluctantly informed me that prior to recruiting me, they had made a job offer to an external candidate. This person had taken 6-7 weeks to accept the role and so they had to let me go. Apparently as it was an offer without time limit, they were at risk of being sued if they had yanked the offer (they had started to think that the candidate wasn’t interested and discussing making me the offer instead). Suffice it to say, I wasn’t impressed by this but the nature of the beast with temp work is that it can end at any time. Don’t give up a permanent job for a temp role.

      1. nonegiven*

        They should have put a limit in the previous offer, “We expect to hear from you by $date.” then rescinded the offer.

    3. Namast'ay in Bed*

      I’m currently in a fulltime position that started as a 3-month contract position. Several caveats –

      1: This was advertised as temp to perm, so the opportunity to go fulltime was advertised up front
      2: I was unemployed at the time, so if it didn’t turn permanent I was no worse off
      3: My company apparently does this all the time, most people are brought in first as contractors and then are transitioned to fulltime employees. How that works or how long that takes is above my paygrade – I went permanent not too long after starting, but we also have some contractors who have been here for years.

      So it seems like I was in a very fortunate position to land where I did. Overall I can’t recommend leaving fulltime for short time unless it would be really worth it – like you were planning on quitting your job without another lined up anyway, you have a spouse whose insurance you go on/you’re under 26 and can go on your parents’ (assuming US based), the part time position will pay so fantastically you could survive unemployment, or you will make such fantastic connections it will set you up for something else.

      But if it’s just a cool ok temporary job? I totally get the inclination to dive in head first just at the chance it could be awesome, especially when compared to your current unhappy job, but this short term job isn’t your last chance at happiness – better things are out there, and I bet you can find them.

      Good luck op#3!

    4. bookworm*

      In the cultural heritage fields (libraries, archives, museums), frequently we receive grant funds to complete much-needed projects that only give us enough funding to have a contract person on staff for 3 or 4 months to work on X Stage of the grant. At my institution, we are up front about it being a part of a grant-funded position that will end on X Date, but we still get applicants who just want to get their foot in the door because they claim we’re they’re dream job. Even when we tell them the likelihood of getting hired on full-time is close to zero, they say they’ve received advice from parents or friends that once we see how good they are, we will *want* to hire them full-time. In fields like this [and in many non-profits!], this just isn’t possible, unfortunately. If you’re trying to leap from a stable job in another field to a short-term contract at a cultural heritage institution, I wouldn’t recommend it.

      1. Just Employed Here*

        Yeah, same thing for a lot of science jobs. There are specific pots of money. Sometimes, there is some left at end of some project that can be used for previously unplanned staff costs to pay someone to stay a bit longer, but there isn’t necessarily a *job* that someone gets to have, regardless of how much they like you.

    5. Kat in VA*

      I mean, it does happen. My current position was originally a 3-4 month staffing agency contract backfill for a woman going on maternity leave. The company had me come in a month-ish early so I could ramp up before she went out. She came back, contract was over, we parted ways. Five months later, she quit and they offered me the job full time. It does happen, but I’d say my case was the exception rather than the norm.

  19. Ruth (UK)*

    I’m vegetarian (though not vegan) and I’d be upset of I found out my coworkers were avoiding eating meat around me for fear of upset/offense etc as I wouldn’t want them to feel I would expect them to alter their diet due to mine.

    A lot of people didn’t know I was veggie for a long time as I bring my own lunch and it never came up but a colleague I’m friends with used to be veggie and I’ve ended up chatting about it a bunch with him now, and another co-workers went veggie at the turn of the new year and has talked about it a lot so it’s come up more.

    Which leads me to a thought… I do think one reason vegans often bring it up a lot is that veganism has risen dramatically in the last couple years which means that a high number (though of course not all) of vegans are new(ish) vegans. I think when people have recently altered their diet/lifestyle in such a way, it’s more likely to be in the front of their mind and come up more often. Also, it’s fairly easy for me as a veggie to avoid meat without explicitly mentioning it much but it’s harder for people to avoid all non vegan products without letting people know as dairy and eggs etc are in so many things.

    But basically, unless you harass your coworkers to eat meat, you’re fine (I once had someone ask me if I’d be offended if they slapped me with a piece of bacon. I said I would be, but not because it was with bacon). Equally, they should also not harrass you over eating meat (which it doesn’t sound like they’ve done at this point anyway).

    1. Mookie*

      Agree with your third para. I was raised a veg, so it’s not a novelty to me but people have fun talking about their eating preferences and comparing notes and meals. Provided the conversation is not harmful and remains positive (no weird adjacent body-shaming, for example), I find it interesting to listen in on. Getting into eating and cookery and growing food is fun, challenging, and yummy, satisfying bodily and emotional needs; not everybody can, but I wish anyone who’d like to had the time, budget, and abilities to do so.

    2. A.N. O'Nyme*

      I once had someone ask me if I’d be offended if they slapped me with a piece of bacon
      What? I just…What? Were you in some weird cartoon where it is customary to slap each other with food?

      1. Ruth (UK)*

        I was in a café with some people I didn’t really know but we had just been playing sport together in a casual situation. Most of them ordered bacon butties but I’d already eaten recently and got nothing (there were things on the menu I could have had, like egg baps etc). Someone offered me some of theirs and I declined (but didn’t say why. I just no thanks). Another guy said “you’re not VEGAN are you?” And I said no but I am veggie and he said “oh so would you be OFFENDED if I slapped you with this piece of bacon?!” And I said “yes but not because it’s a piece of bacon. I’d rather not be slapped at all” (I also added something about it not breaking vegetarianism to be hit with meat, only if I actually ate it…). Anyway, then he dropped it.

        1. Sara without an H*

          Sounds like congenital silliness, rather than anything to do with diet. You handled it well.

        2. Dr. Pepper*

          Wow. I imagine he thought he was hilarious. Yes, I would be highly offended if someone slapped me with bacon, and I love bacon. Being slapped- with or without an item of food- is not a customary gesture of respect. WTF is wrong with some people?

    3. Plants*

      Yes, being vegan can be a catch 22 in that you don’t want to be That Person constantly talking about it, but you have to mention it with some regularity if you don’t want to end up in awkward social situations where you can’t eat anything.

    4. Observer*

      They asked you WHAT?! That’s just utterly bizarre.

      How did this person react to your response? I hope it made them rethink their question / “humor”.

    5. Quake Johnson*

      The worst for me is when people find out I’m veg they invariably say some form of “YOU’LL NEVER CONVERT ME, I JUST LOVE STEAK SO MUCH HAR HAR.”

      Like…I have no intention to ‘convert’ anybody and honestly couldn’t care less what you put in your mouth.

  20. Spencer Hastings*

    The nanny cam letter, along with the comment thread started by Close Bracket above, raises what I think is an interesting question. In the letter about the oblivious rich coworker from the other day, the LW was encouraged (by Alison and most of the comments) to talk to the person. At the time, I got to thinking: but does the LW have the standing to tell Rich Coworker to consider changing her behavior? So I was intrigued to see “standing” explicitly come up here.

    I guess the difference between the two is that Rich Coworker’s behavior was directed (at least in some instances) at that LW, while Nanny Cam Coworker isn’t watching the feed “at” the current LW?

    (P.S. I’ve commented before, but I’m trying out a new pseudonym. I don’t think I’ve ever seen anyone using it here, but if someone does, I apologize and I’ll think of another fictional character to be!)

    1. Indigo a la Mode*

      Your guess sounds right, and I think there are two more differences: 1. The rich coworker advice had a tone of helping her out–more of a “hey, you may not realize, but…” vs. bringing an actual complaint to her; and 2. this one has a real potential work productivity issue, which is under the boss’s purview, as opposed to the rich coworker letter where she was mostly just irritating her coworkers.

    2. LGC*

      I guess the difference between the two is that Rich Coworker’s behavior was directed (at least in some instances) at that LW, while Nanny Cam Coworker isn’t watching the feed “at” the current LW?

      That’s actually exactly the point Alison makes, I think!

      The reason why Alison’s answer was different than the usual “speak to your coworker ” was because the coworker watching a nanny cam on mute doesn’t directly affect LW1 in and of itself. (There are many ways it could, and if those come up then LW1 could address it directly.) It can very easily be a performance issue, though.

    3. ooo*

      Rich Coworker was also in her first job out of college, which Nanny Cam Coworker does not appear to be. That alone gives more experienced colleagues the standing to introduce her to workplace norms.

      1. Jasnah*

        I think this was the key difference for me. If a junior/recently transferred in coworker is doing anything weird, whether or not it affects you, I think senior coworkers have standing to take them aside and say, “hey, not sure if you’re aware, but we don’t usually do that here.”

        If nanny cam watcher was new to the workplace/that office, I think OP could gently mention that it might make them look distracted at work, we’re not really allowed to watch things/listen to things here, whatever the unwritten rule is. But if OP isn’t her senior (in tenure or standing) then I think it would come off as bossy.

    4. MLB*

      IMO I think it’s dependent on the behavior affecting the OP, and less about the context of what’s happening in each situation.

      For rich girl, I suggested OP speaking to the rich girl and letting her know that her speaking about her wealth was not appropriate in the work place. Based on the letter, it seemed that rich girl’s conversations included or were directed at OP.

      For nanny cam, I feel the OP has the right to speak to co-worker IF her distraction is affecting OP’s job. Because they report to the same executive, they may share duties. If their duties are completely separate, then no I don’t think OP has the right to say anything directly to the co-worker or even to the boss.

  21. NewHerePleaseBeNice*

    I used to work with someone who had cat cams in her flat – one in the sitting room/kitchen and one in the bedroom. She would have them open on her desktop all day, with exclamations of ‘ahhhh! he’s washing!’ ‘oh look, he’s asleep’, constantly. And several times per day we’d get a running commentary on how if [cat] was not in the sitting room or the bedroom he must be in the bathroom, which was where his litter tray was. I’m a cat person, but not even I want to know the circadian rhythms of your cat’s bladder and bowels…

    1. Constanze*

      Aaargh. I love cats myself, but come on… I am always surprised that these people hold jobs…

    2. Namey McNameface*

      I don’t want to know anybody’s bladder and bowel related information. For any reason. Am I a terrible person?

    3. Falling Diphthong*

      On the other hand, if you ever need to pass coded information to someone, now you know that appearing to talk about the circadian rhythms of your cats’ bowels would work.

    4. annakarina1*

      I have a cat, and I wouldn’t be interested in watching a cam of him all day, he would just be napping in various rotating spots and not be very interesting to anybody.

  22. frystavirki*

    LW #2: Most people are going to be fine with you eating lunch they can’t eat around them, and if it does bother them, they can address it with you. I don’t have the experience of a voluntary dietary restriction like being vegan, but I am somewhat gluten intolerant and used to eat completely gluten-free. I never felt like people were eating bread AT me. Though that could be different simply because bread smells GOOD to me, not potentially gross.
    In any case, your coworkers sound like they’re pretty good at advocating for themselves (since they’re telling people ordering food for the office what they can eat) and will probably be able to tell you if they’d rather you ate meat leftovers outside or something like that.

    1. Database Developer Dude*

      But what if they did say something like that? Why should it be the OP’s problem if a vegetarian or a vegan doesn’t like that they eat meat?

      1. MLB*

        This. Unless it’s a severe allergy that affects someone by being in the vicinity of a certain food, I shouldn’t be forced to eat by myself in a special room or told what I can or can not eat.

      2. Victoria Nonprofit (USA)*

        In this case, since there isn’t another comfortable place for the LW to eat, I would say “I’m sorry, I appreciate that my lunch makes you uncomfortable, but there’s no other air-conditioned space for me to eat. I’ll do my best to keep the smell to a minimum.”

  23. Constanze*

    That is really not okay. I am really surprised that people think that maybe it is fine if she is passively watching or she is not disturbing other people. There is no way this is not distracting her ! It is really not okay, and this is definitely not a good look for the office.

    Change “nanny cam” by “my coworker watches football / soap operas / Netflix” all day and the reaction would be very different. The double standard for kids is just ridiculous.

    If the coworker is worried about her kids, then tough. She can quit. She clearly has forgotten all social and workplace norms. There is no reason why she should be cut some slack for something so outrageous.

    Tell your supervisor. This is definitely the kind of things she would want to know.

    1. Indigo a la Mode*

      I don’t think this is about a double standard for kids. (If it matters, I am not a parent.) I compare the nanny cam less to TV shows (which have a plot that must be followed) and more to, like, the seasonal live Bear Cams that parks put up during salmon spawning season. My team totally turns that on and occasionally checks in if someone catches something, but otherwise it’s just pretty waterfalls in the background of our work.

      That said, I am tracking that her connection to her child is probably rather more than my connection to fishing bears, and per Alison’s advice, the cam should be turned off if it’s truly distracting from productivity. I don’t think this is as outrageous a breach as your comment is coming across, though.

      1. Constanze*

        Really ? I am surprised. The Bear Cams, I would never watch at work either (except for a minute with coworkers, because it is very cool, but that’s it). I don’t think having any kind of constant video at work is okay. I used to work in government and we had the news on pretty much constantly (on mute) : it was legitimate, but it was really distracting. There is no justification for having a personal video all day long at work.

        I really would think that someone watching their kids all day long doesn’t have her priorities sortened out. When you are at work, you are at work. I hate these people who are unable to separate themselves from their children.

        1. Lucy*

          I commented on the weekend free-for-all about going back to work when you have children. I am quite good at compartmentalising so work is work and family is family and generally they don’t bleed into each other – I can quite happily forget I have children for several hours when I’m in the zone.

          I think that nanny cams (and similar set-ups for daycare nurseries etc) entirely prevent that kind of compartmentalising, and I would suggest that this constant vigilance is stopping the coworker from being able to give up her child to daycare. Now, I absolutely understand why she would feel compelled to do that, but I think it’s unhealthy and absolutely distracting.

          Rather than analogies with Bear Cam or Netflix or the news channels, I would say this is more like having a tab open with your spouse’s location showing all the time. Absolutely fine to check occasionally to see if they’ve arrived in their office yet, or ARE YOU STILL AT THE HARDWARE STORE SERIOUSLY IT’S ONE BAG OF NAILS STOP STROKING THE POWER TOOLS, but it’s seriously unhealthy to have that open All The Time and I genuinely can’t see how someone could be 100% focused on work if they do that.

          1. Future Homesteader*

            Yeah, as both a former daycare worker and a current new parent who literally just went back to work after having my first child, I find this to be abnormal and not healthy. Although it’s possible there were genuine problems with the daycare (in which case, this becomes more understandable but still not healthy), I’m wondering if someone who would be CONSTANTLY watching her childcare providers like that has other issues. She either has serious trust issues with the people she’s selected to watch her child, in which case she needs to find a better solution (someone she trusts, or maybe not leaving the child) or she herself is having major problems leaving the kid and I truly hope she’s recognized that and is addressing it. Of course it’s hard (I miss my baby all day long), but that level of attachment isn’t good for her or baby, at least not if she’s someone who needs to be working for whatever reason. It sucks that we have to give our kids over to other people if we don’t want to, but that’s (un)fortunately how it works for lots of us. She needs to find a way to make peace with it or find another arrangement. If I were doing this, I would hope my coworkers/boss would call me out on it.

            TL;DR, I think it’s unacceptable and OP should absolutely say something to the boss. Hopefully the boss can address it in a compassionate way, but it can’t continue (for so, so many reasons).

            1. Susie Q*

              You have an advantage over OP’s coworker. You’ve worked in daycare and therefore have an understanding what happens in a daycare. I would assume you would be a lot less worried.

              And your OP’s boss or her co-worker. You have no right to say that it can’t continue.

          2. Gazebo Slayer*

            “ARE YOU STILL AT THE HARDWARE STORE SERIOUSLY IT’S ONE BAG OF NAILS STOP STROKING THE POWER TOOLS” cracked me up. I’ve definitely been known to get distracted at stores like that (though not usually hardware).

            Also… sometimes a power tool is just a power tool. 8-)

          3. Quackeen*

            It’s sort of like the letter from late last year where the LW’s coworker was FaceTiming with her husband all day.

            I feel like, while there’s no way for any of us to be certain what percentage of the coworker’s attention is on the Nanny Cam, it’s generally speaking not a good thing to do anything *all day* while at work. Except, you know, work.

            1. Indigo a la mode*

              Oh, I don’t think that’s the same at all. With that one, the husband was watching the OP’s office all day and that’s VERY different from a passive nanny cam streaming to the office. Being recorded at all times is a completely understandable personal concern for the FaceTimer’s coworkers. Having something on a screen that makes no noise and that you don’t have to look at isn’t, really.

          4. Indigo a la mode*

            Well…the question is regarding streaming video constantly at work and the resultant division of attention, so Netflix and Bear Cams are a fair comparison. This isn’t about the issue of keeping too close of tabs on someone.

            I agree that it’s good to compartmentalize, but I can certainly understand this being a big worry for parents when they’ve had a bad experience with child care. If it’s what she needs to feel safe for a little while (I doubt she’ll continue to watch for years on end), and it’s not detrimental to any of her work that involves me, this wouldn’t bother me at all. It’s just not my business.

        2. Just Employed Here*

          Aargh, the constant news on tv reminds me of a former colleague (whom I’ve complained about here before), who used to have Bloomberg TV on constantly. (He didn’t catch the above mentioned unwritten rule about having tv on on part of a screen only during major, infrequent events. He was also overly sensitive to feedback…)

          It’s great that you’re so interested in finance, now would you please do your €^^%#$- finance job instead of watching tv?!

        3. Jenny*

          I once had a job for an office department of a large organization that included a zoo, and my coworkers would have the animal cams up. I didn’t find those distracting. Depends in thr office, I guess.

        4. Susie Q*

          Distracting for YOU but not everyone. People have different things that distract them.

          I really hate people who think they know everything but are unable to think outside of their narrow tiny bubble.

      2. Nita*

        I agree, watching babies can be mind-numbingly boring so I really doubt the coworker is devoting a lot of attention to the video feed. Since OP says there were issues with the day care, she might just have the feed running so she can glance over and make sure she’s not seeing anything alarming. Hopefully this is a temporary thing until she feels comfortable her child is in good hands. Not all day cares are both good and affordable at the same time, and I’ve heard some horror stories about ones that seem great but turn out to be flat-out unsafe.

        I think OP should start by talking to the coworker, who may be oblivious that this is coming across as her not paying attention to work/too wrapped up in worrying about day care to worry about her job. If it becomes clear this really is messing with her ability to work, and she refuses to cut down on baby cam watching, that’s when a conversation with the boss should happen.

    2. Only Oracle is a database*

      “There is no way this is not distracting her ! ” <– U know this how, u are the oracle at Delphi or something?

      1. Lucy*

        I’m not the commenter you’re replying to, but I think it’s the context: she’s watching it because she has been burned before. Without that history it could be that she has it playing on her phone but barely glances over and forgets that it’s even there for hours at a time.

        1. XYZ*

          With that history, that could easily still be the case. Commentors are making a lot of assumptions not in evidence from the letter!

          1. Lucy*

            Yes, they are, but it is right there in the letter:

            “There were issues with daycare, so now she watches the nanny cam all the time. ALL. THE. TIME.”

            1. Observer*

              Well, actually from the rest of the letter it’s not cleat that she’s actually WATCHING it all the time.

              That’s why the question of her productivity is so important here – is she getting stuff done or not? The OP doesn’t mention that. If she’s getting stuff done, she probably is not actually watching all the time.

        2. JHunz*

          With that history in place, it could just as easily be the case that having it not running causes anxiety that takes up more of her mental bandwidth than actually paying attention to the feed does.

    3. Doctor Schmoctor*

      It’s not necessarily a distraction. Unless she’s constantly glued to the screen, it’s perfectly possible to keep an eye on her child while she’s working.

      1. EventPlannerGal*

        It sort of sounds like that’s the case, though – “she watches the nanny cam all the time. ALL. THE. TIME.” That sounds like a step beyond just keeping an eye.

        1. Indigo a la mode*

          But it’s not like the mom-coworker wrote in and said that she watches it all the time. That’s the crux of most of the comments about this – the OP is not the person with the nanny cam and, unless the mom-coworker is talking to the camera every few minutes, can’t really speak to how much time the mom-coworker spends actually engaged with the video. I get that she’s annoyed that the camera is on all the time, but I don’t know that she’s the ultimate authority on how mom-coworker splits her attention.

          1. EventPlannerGal*

            After seeing the OPs update I’m more inclined to agree with you, yeah. I do think that as a *general principle*, you usually can tell when someone’s attention is being split between their phone and something else; no, you can’t pinpoint the exact degree to which they’re engaged with each thing, but you can tell that they’re not solely focusing on one or the other. However, in this case it doesn’t sound like the OP has enough sustained contact with the mom-coworker to be able to tell if that’s what’s happening.

    4. MissDisplaced*

      Agree, it’s not good optics if she’s new to the job. But I think NannyCam lady may have a somewhat more justifiable reason for this though. It’s mentioned she ‘had issues’ with her previous daycare facility. So, I’m just guessing she may be spooked or extra anxious about her kid and this is a new childcare provider. If indeed something bad happened previously, this is understandable and that’s not quite the same as Netflix or sports for entertainment purposes.

      I’m also thinking this may subside as time goes on, and she won’t feel such a need to have it on constantly.

      And for the record, I know plenty of people who check their dog or cat cams, or Ring and other security cams often too. Maybe not always-on, but several times a day. However, if this causes a bandwidth issue, manager is in rights to stop it, be it child or pets.

    5. MLB*

      I have worked with plenty of people who play games on their computer, check social media, etc. instead of actually working. Yes it’s annoying, but unless it affects you and your ability to do your job it really is none of anyone’s business.

    6. EventPlannerGal*

      I’m another who has a hard time believing this isn’t affecting her work; it kind of reminds me of various letters we’ve seen in the past with queries about working from home with kids, and IIRC the advice is usually that you should have some form of childcare in place to avoid the inevitable distraction. Obviously watching on a nannycam is going to be far less distracting than the kids being physically present, but at the same time IMO it’s also a step beyond a puppycam or local news or whatever.

      (I may be biased here though, as I’ve literally never worked in any office where any of the things people are mentioning in this thread, eg watching Netflix or sports matches, would have been acceptable!)

      That said, even if it affecting her productivity I don’t think there’s all that much the OP can do unless it’s also affecting her. If it’s just a weird thing that she’s aware that the coworker does but doesn’t affect her, I’d probably leave it.

    7. Delphine*

      If the coworker is worried about her kids, then tough. She can quit. She clearly has forgotten all social and workplace norms. There is no reason why she should be cut some slack for something so outrageous.

      I dislike how…extreme this response is. And how common it is in letters where mothers are the focus of the conversation. The more we jump to “quit” or “drop out” in response to women who are balancing parenting and careers/education–in a society where the bulk of parenting still falls to women, despite the existence of partners–the more we are complicit in upholding obstacles that prevent women from succeeding. Something can be a problem that needs to be fixed without us demanding that women quit their jobs over it.

      1. valentine*

        the bulk of parenting still falls to women
        Can these women not dump their useless partners, live communally, and not outsource childcare to poorly paid women who can’t do the same for their children?

  24. Al-ster*

    Temp jobs as opposed to permanent….
    It is risky but then the alternative can be stuck in a job you dislike. I left a permanent job with no job to go to, got a few temp jobs and ended up much happier and better paid. Depends whether you think it’s worth it.

    1. SpellingBee*

      You should also consider the fact that, if you’re in the US, temp positions typically don’t offer benefits. If you’re covered by a partner’s health insurance plan that might not be a problem, but don’t forget to factor that into the decision.

  25. Namey McNameface*

    LW5: I know lots of hiring managers do it, but I can’t get over how rude and inconsiderate it is to ghost on job applicants. It only takes a short time to send a decline email – it’s the least you can do for someone who made the time to come to meet you. Better luck next time.

    1. Fergus*

      Interviewing and hearing crickets is quite rude, but if I don’t want job. I don’t respond now. Why they would do same to me

      1. Flash Bristow*

        That’s rude too, assuming you mean you had expressed interest in the job that you were then offered. Leaving people hanging in that direction isn’t fair either!

        (Unless of course you mean you simply see a job advertised or receive a job spec as unsolicited spam, but you don’t choose to contact them and say “Hi! I exist, but guess what? I saw your job advertised but it didn’t interest me! Ha!” in which case I’m frankly boggled.)

    2. Neosmom*

      When this happened to me (2 interviews for an admin position, then three weeks of nothing), I emailed the company and asked them to remove my name from consideration – unless they had a new opening in HR since it seemed like they needed assistance in that area. They called me with an apology. I still consider it a bullet successfully dodged.

  26. GM*

    Re LW#1 : Not sure why she needs to keep the nanny cam on all day and look at it all day? My son is in daycare too and i check the live feed every so often, about 3-4 times for the entire duration he’s there. I understand the anxiety for sure but I can’t imagine getting much work done while its going on in the background.

    1. Just Employed Here*

      Is access to a live feed from daycare something people normally have? We’re on our second round of daycare and I’d never even heard of this before this thread…

      1. media monkey*

        never heard of it being a thing in the UK (personal experience of 2 different settings and friends with experience of many more). i cant imagine watching a load of kids painting or eating or sleeping is especially exciting but i would guess if someone has had a bad experience (presumably at a previous setting!) then it would offer a lot of reassurance.

        1. Agent Diane*

          I’m struggling with the privacy implications of live-streaming from a daycare. Do all the parents sign up to allow other parents to be watching their kids? Is the CW’s nanny aware of the cams?

          More constructively, I think Alison’s point about whether mutual boss has seen this is most pertinent. If co-worker locks the screen etc whenever boss comes by, it suggests she does not have permission for this level of cam-gazing.

          1. MsSolo*

            Yes, that’s the bit that’s making me wonder. I don’t know what US privacy laws are like around kids, but frankly, I can’t see a UK day care doing a livestream because of the sheer volume of incredibly detailed and legally rigorous permission forms they’d need (for adults as well as the kids, so all the parents picking up their kids would need to agree too), plus the insurance implications, and the risk that as soon as they take on a new kid the whole system has to be shut down because their parents don’t want to their kid appearing on it. It’s a lot of effort for a business in an underfunded sector to go to.

            1. doreen*

              I’m not sure about the permission forms or the insurance implications , but a private daycare in the US runs no risk of having to shut the system down because a new kid’s parents won’t agree. The daycare is perfectly free to make acceptance to the program contingent on the parents giving permission. Government-run daycare centers may be different.

      2. Project Manager*

        Every daycare my kids have been in here in Texas has offered it. I’ve never actually used it.

        In retrospect, perhaps I should have – we left one daycare after witnessing another child strike ours while the teacher ignored it (I don’t mean typical toddler pushing, I mean a vicious attack that left bleeding claw marks on his face. And we saw her look right at it happen and turn her back) and another after witnessing the teacher fall on our infant, resulting in a fracture to his femur. (Bonus: when we took him to the hospital for treatment, they called CPS on us because this type of injury is very common in abuse situations. That was fun.) Who knows what else happened that we didn’t see? Ugh.

        1. WoolAnon*

          Calling CPS was so sick – what, are they trying to discourage parents from bringing in their children for care?

          1. Observer*

            That’s a bit of a catch-22 because the ER very often is the first – and LAST – chance for someone to get a vulnerable child some help. Look at it this way – if Project Manager or spouse had actually hit their infant so hard that they broke his femur, CPS would absolutely be appropriate. Because people who hit their kids that hard are really dangerous to those kids. Is the ER really supposed to ignore that?

            The real question is whether CPS handled the situation appropriately or not.

      3. iglwif*

        I’d never heard of it before this thread either, but my kiddo is now a teenager, so there’s a lot of child-surveillance tech now that didn’t exist back when she was in daycare (video baby monitors, for instance). So when I hear about something like this I tend to chalk it up to the changing times.

        I can understand OP’s co-worker’s desire to keep tabs if there was a bad experience at daycare, but I confess the situation as described sounds like A Bit Much to me as a parent.

      4. Just Stoppin' By To Chat*

        I live in a large metropolitan area with many tech companies in the US (so this might be influenced by that) where some higher-end (read: expensive) daycares offer a live stream. So it’s definitely a thing…just not sure how common it is.

      5. agmat*

        We visited two daycares before choosing. One offered it, one didn’t. For a variety of reasons we chose the one that did not. I really need to be able to separate myself and just work.

        I live in a smaller town so most things don’t have all the bells and whistles here, but the nanny cam option was part of a larger chain of facilities.

      6. Jennifer Juniper*

        Also, who the heck would have access to such a thing? If it’s anyone with a device, that is creepy.

  27. Bookworm*

    #2: That’s nice of you and I’d say the bigger concern would be the smells rather than what you are eating. If they haven’t said anything about any of your concerns, you’re probably okay.

    #3: Been there, done that. I left at the height of the Great Recession because the job simply made me miserable and I was having trouble sleeping. I was out of work and sometimes I wonder what would have happened if I had stuck it out (ie better for my career) but mentally I couldn’t take it. It didn’t lead to a new job at the new organization but I was much happier, so in that sense it was very much worth it. Good luck in whatever you decide to do.

    #5: There’s nothing you can do. Take this as a sign that this was not the best fit for you. I’ve had this happen to me a few times (they fill the position and don’t actually reject me OR a few exactly as you described). I’ve even reapplied, thinking it might work but of course it never has. Things happen and all that but if they couldn’t even let you know they went in a different direction that’s just rude, because you DID put in the time/labor (emotional, physical, etc.). A place to avoid in the future.

  28. LW1*

    Coworker and I have each have our own office and our daily jobs have very little overlap. That being said there are days when I walk by her office several times a day and other days when we are working together on a small component of a bigger project. When I turn the corner to walk by or into her office 9 out of 10 times she her her phone in her hand.

    1. Jenny*

      I guess I can see that as frustrating, but do you have any complaints about her work performance itself? Is she not doing her part if your projects? If that is the case, sure, talk to boss but frame it in the context of work. But if she is just on her phone but still gets her work done, I think you leave it alone.

    2. AvonLady Barksdale*

      I’m going to come down on the side of “not your problem”, then. If it’s not affecting your work, then leave it alone. The only way I might address it is if you heard people saying nasty things about her and her phone, but in that case, I would advise those people to talk to her themselves. When you work on a project together, does she get her portion completed well and in a timely manner? Then leave this be.

      1. furloughed fed*

        Yeah, I have never understood how anybody in an office who is busy doing their own job can be so sure about what a coworker is doing ALL THE TIME.

        I think going to the boss would be tattling and OP would be pretending to possible be alerting the boss to something, but in actuality the OP just doesn’t like what coworker is doing. Office life would be so much better if people could just MYOB.

        1. a1*

          I think tattling is a really strong, and loaded, word. I’d follow Alison’s advice for all the reason’s she has stated.

    3. MissDisplaced*

      I agree this is not good optics, especially if she’s new and presumably still learning the job.
      However, I also think this might be separation anxiety and/or new daycare facility anxiety?
      I believe it will likely subside as time passes, and for that reason I’d say leave it be unless it really affects your work, bandwidth, or she’s not responsive because of it.

      If it becomes a case where others are commenting on it, you might enlighten her with something like, “Hey CamLady, I’ve noticed you tend to watch your phone a lot. Generally our office culture frowns on a lot of personal phone use at our desks, and you may want to keep it to a minimum or breaks/lunch/whatever.”

      1. Myrna M*

        Totally respectfully, I think in this case this advice shouldn’t apply. From the letter writer’s own description,this doesn’t impact LWs work at all, and we have zero evidence it impacts the coworker’s work too. It could well be she just has it on to glance at every once in a while, for comfort’s sake, and the letter writer herself says she only knows because she’s basically monitoring this poor woman. I know at my company I wouldn’t want policy dictated by a busybody. We don’t know that other people think this way at all, and if they do, whether they too just can’t mind their own business.

    4. ValkyrAmy*

      Every single time the CEO walks into my office to talk to me, I have my phone in my hand. He comes by 2-3 times/day, and for whatever reason, always catches me catching up on my words with friends games. I get all my work done, don’t spend all day on my phone, but it probably looks like it from his perspective. (He also knows that I get all my work done and am productive, so presumably he doesn’t actually believe I do nothing but stare at my phone and occasionally answer emails…)

      1. AvonLady Barksdale*

        During my first job out of college, my boss traveled about 75% of the time. For a span of about three months, EVERY TIME he called me, I was away from my desk. Usually in the bathroom or getting coffee. Rarely at the same time (one day he would call at 10, another day at 2, you get the idea). I was with him for three years and he thought I was the best admin he had ever had.

    5. Myrna M*

      “When I turn the corner to walk by or into her office 9 out of 10 times she her her phone in her hand.”

      This is so completely none of your business, and honestly, after hearing now that your daily jobs have little overlap, it seems petty AF. I think maybe you should be focusing on your own work, don’t you?

    6. Observer*

      In other words, you actually have no idea how much time and energy is actually spending watching this nanny cam.

      It’s really not clear why you are so hung up about this. But I’ll say this – As a practical matter, if you bring it to the boss, do NOT put it the way you did here, because it’s actually not something that you know for a fact. You know that you’ve seen the phone in her hand a lot of the time not that she’s actually watching the cam “ALL. THE. TIME.” That is completely your conclusion, very strongly worded based on very scattered data.

  29. Apropos of Nothing*

    Our local blood bank has a “no visible tattoo” policy, and one of the phlebotomists has one on her wrist that she covers with a bandage. Apparently this makes people think she’s slit her wrists (or hiding old self-injury scars, or something similar)! I guess this would be an argument against wrist tattoos, or no-tattoo policies, or both….

    On a side note, I would be so so tempted to write “tattoo obscuring device” or something similar on the bandage. But then I am also a wuss with a short attention span so I wouldn’t have a wrist tattoo to begin with.

    1. Bagpuss*

      I’d be very tempted to draw on the bandage / sticking plaster to match the tattoo, (assuming i had the artistic ability, which I don’t!)

      I don’t have any tattoos and have never felt at all drawn to having any, but I do find attitudes to (non-offensive) tattoos odd. Some years ago, my business partners and I were looking to rent out a shop unit we own, next to our office, as we didn’t need the space. We had some interest from a local tattoo artist and 2 of my partners were absolutely adamant that we could not rent to them, it would be inappropriate, put people off coming into our business, and we would lose custom because people would know we were the landlord. I suggested that we might also gain custom, it would bring people past our door who might not otherwise be there, that while it might put of some of the older or stuffier among our clients, it might have the opposite effect on others, and that either way it was unlikely to have a major effect, and they were prepared to pay the full rent we were asking.
      It was very odd to me that one of the people who was very against it was also the only one among us (at least as far as I know) with a tattoo. Despite having a tattoo herself she still clearly thought of ‘people with tattoos’ as scary and different….

      1. iglwif*

        I am also 100% uninterested in getting tattooed myself and 100% baffled by some people’s attitudes towards tattoos, tattooed people, and tattoo artists.

        I feel like part of it is generational? My little brother (who is 40) has so. many. tattoos. Like, is covered in them except for his face basically? And at the same time is a responsible adult who owns a car, pays his rent on time, makes sure his cats are fed and cared for, cleans his apartment, and has a responsible job. He’s been working at one thing or another since he was a teenager and his employers have universally thought he was great — he’s smart and hardworking and a person of integrity. Meanwhile my mom (who is in her late 70s) also thinks he’s great, but is always fretting that all the body art will … hold him back somehow?? Even though it CLEARLY HAS NOT. And I keep pointing that out and it makes no difference.

      2. CM*

        Yeah, I also don’t have any tattoos and don’t understand why they’re stigmatized. I was even taken a-back by this question, because it seems to me that if the drawing would be acceptable as a piece of framed art on your desk then it ought to be acceptable as a piece of art on your arm. The canvas doesn’t make it different.

    2. Joielle*

      This is why I’ve stayed away from wrist tattoos! I have a number of tattoos but nothing below a 3/4 sleeve on my arms and nothing below the knees. There’s no good way to cover a tattoo that peeks out below a long sleeve unless you go the bandage route (which looks like you’ve seriously hurt yourself) or always wear a big watch or something (which can be a nuisance to wear for long periods). I do like the “tattoo obscuring device” idea though :D

      1. Sally*

        I have had a tattoo on the outside of my wrist for 3-4 years, and I have never had any issue with it. When I first got it, I went on etsy and bought a wide lace “bracelet” to cover it, just in case, but I’ve never felt the need. The phlebotomist might want to consider something like that if the tattoo is in a location where it would help.

        Regarding people’s reactions: People who see my tattoo for the first time sometimes stare for a few seconds and/or comment on it. I’m white, middle class, and middle aged, and while I might be inwardly hoping I don’t get any negative feedback about my tattoo, I try to outwardly project that I don’t care what anyone else thinks about it, and all of these things tend to impact the reaction I get from others. Also, I live in Boston, where many, many people have many tattoos. I’m planning to get a much larger tattoo on the inside of my other (dominant hand) forearm, and I expect the reaction to be a bit different to that one, but I hope people continue to keep any negative opinions to themselves.

        1. OP#4*

          Letter writer here. Thanks so much for sharing your experience. I do think that the cultural attitude toward tattoos are changing, but I know it surprises/shocks some people when they first see my body art (I’m in the Midwest). I got both tattoos in my mid-thirties, and they bring me great joy. For the most part, I think people follow my lead on them. I’m excited and proud of them, so people tend to be positive (at least to my face). It’s not a teenage mistake or something that I’m embarrassed about. It’s a part of me, and I’m proud to bring them to work if they’re welcome!

      2. aebhel*

        Same. I have a lot of tattoos, but they’re all easily covered by business casual clothing. I mean, I wear tops that show them all the time at work, but if I was in an environment where I needed to cover them, it wouldn’t be an issue, and I like that.

  30. AnonToday*

    Thank you Alison for being kind about watching videos while working. Some people, that’s the equivalent to audio for them. As long as they get their work done, it’s not actively bothering anyone else, they should be left alone.

    1. Leela*

      When I’m doing personal work at home, or homework when I was in school, I found it impossible to get started without video. I usually chose a series I’d seen many times before (usually Futurama) that I could tune out but without it being on it’s like I couldn’t sit down and focus at all.

    2. Just Stoppin' By To Chat*

      I work in the tech industry, and I’ve seen developers stream Netflix or some other context on an extra monitor throughout the day while they’re coding. Sometimes that nature of the work is such that it helps with concentration, etc.

  31. 653-CXK*

    OP#5: Having this post-interview ghosting done to me at least six times, consider their silence their answer, as cowardly as it might be. I will wait two weeks before sending out a status request, and if I don’t get it, I end it right there (and of course, if they respond back, it’s a plus)

    Ironically, the companies that do send out the Letter of Nope (Sorry You’re Not Moving Forward) letters gain my respect – also, if they’re good companies, they’ll have your resume on file and they might find something else that fits your skills.

  32. Dragonfly*

    #1, I would leave the matter alone. Presumably the new employee is doing the constant monitoring of the nanny in an open manner, so that the supervisor is in a position to notice the practice and take a stance on it, or not.

  33. Roscoe*

    #1 . Im squarely in the “not your business” camp on this one. If the volume is up and its distracting YOU, that is one thing. But it just sounds like the fact that you know about it bothers you, since you didn’t mention it impacting her work. I mean, if you want to go to your boss, thats your business. But I’d look at the things you do that likely don’t impact your work, but you don’t want your boss knowing about. How would you feel if someone who it didn’t impact at all decided to go to your boss about that? Maybe you are a perfect employee and follow rules to the tee, but most people aren’t. Whether that may be taking longer lunches than allowed, or having other websites up that have nothing to do with work. This just sounds like a way to alienate new co-worker.

  34. Gazebo Slayer*

    Don’t do it, OP3! Unless your perm job is abusive and horrible!

    I temped for eight years. On multiple occasions I was told it *might* become perm, but that never panned out. It was financially disastrous – mostly low-wage jobs on and off, with weeks or months of unemployment in between – and it utterly destroyed my resume.

    I finally got myself fired from my last temp job last year (yeah, I suck) and have now resigned myself to being all but permanently unemployable. I have a part-time job I got afterward that literally didn’t even ask for my resume or job history, plus some gig economy/freelance stuff. I plan never to go back to temping, and also never to even look for a “real job” – because I know I’m unworthy of one.

    Don’t be me.

    1. The Original K.*

      For what it’s worth, I know people who freelanced/temped for a long time and went back into full-time permanent work (inasmuch as jobs can be permanent). I’ve read such stories here.

      I don’t know you but I highly doubt you’re unworthy of a full-time job.

    2. Jaybeetee*

      I graduated with an arts degree in 2008. That was a bad year to graduate with an arts degree.

      I taught abroad for a year, then returned in the midst of the Great Recession. With one or two bright spots, 2010 – late 2016 was mostly a series of low-paying, no-benefit jobs, awful work environments, call centres, temp contracts, general awfulness. I considered going back to school several times, but couldn’t afford it, and it often felt like *nothing* was hiring other than STEM-type jobs I knew I’d be useless in, training or not. Relatives tried to convince me to go into dental hygiene for awhile. I finally got a permanent job in fall of 2016. In 2018 I was able to transfer to another department and an even better job.

      Today, I work at literally my dream job (actually what I went to school for!), in a very secure position that is *almost* layoff-proof (nothing is 100%, but this industry is probably about 90% secure-for-life. I work with people who have been here for decades). Good salary, good benefits, good hours, lots of other perks, short commute, my reviews have been good, the people are nice, the work is interesting and low-stress.

      Take a break for awhile if you need to. But don’t give up. It can still happen for you.

    3. MissDisplaced*

      Agreed! Don’t do it unless:
      1. Your job is SO MISERABLE and you’re being abused and need to jump NOW.
      2. You actually want fewer hours, semi-retirement, consulting, etc.
      3. It’s part of a career-change plan (for experience).

      Most of these do not lead to permanent full-time positions. I did this back when the economy was bad, and I did several concurrent stints with same company. Never considered for full-time openings (they see you as the Temp).

    4. Jasnah*

      I don’t have anything to say about temp vs perm jobs but I do want to say that I deeply disagree with the idea that you are “unworthy” of any job. If you are happy with the jobs you can get, great, but please don’t frame your employment decisions as what you “deserve.” That’s such a guilt-laden idea that I can’t imagine it being helpful to you, and it was painful to read. I wish you the best of luck in finding a job that satisfies you!

  35. Is pumpkin a vegetable?*

    I may or may not have been prompted by the nanny cam headline to check on my dogs to see what they are doing.

    1. Falling Diphthong*

      Dog 1: sleeping on couch. Dog 2: sleeping on other couch. Cat 1: sleeping in middle of king-size bed. Cat 2: sleeping by radiator.

      I work at home; no one is on video. And it now occurs to me: When we had a young cat who had just recovered from a bladder infection, my husband set up a motion-activated camera so we could see if he had any problem. (Most likely by peeing in the kitchen, how we figured out the infection.) I left a note for the various child cat-sitters so I wasn’t secretly filming them–all were visible looking around and spotting the camera and waving after reading my note–and spouse spot checked the recordings, but it wasn’t like we spent the vacation glued to the feed of our cat wandering around the kitchen.

      1. RandomusernamebecauseIwasboredwiththelastone*

        We had to set up a pet cam the last time we went on vacation. We left 3 post-op cats who were recovering from significant injuries (Don’t ask… long story… cats are all fine now) with our neighbor to check on them. One of the cats was relegated to the bathroom because of the injury. So I decided to buy a webcam so the neighbor could keep a closer eye on that one without having to be over at the house all the time.

        We posted a note on the bathroom door as a reminder that all activities were being broadcast and for personal use the other bathroom would be a better option :)

        They told us when we came home that our cat was the star of the clinic he works/volunteers at. The cam was set to notify and record when it detected movement, so when it would ding everyone in the back office would run to the phone to watch my cat. (So I guess I’m in the camp that the cam can cause a distraction in the office!)

        1. Peggy*

          Took me a minute to realize that “the clinic he works/volunteers at” referred to the neighbor not the cat. I thought for a moment that you had one very impressive, socially active cat!

    2. ElspethGC*

      I don’t have a cam for my cats, but I am partial to the TinyKittens livestreams. They have newborns at the moment!

  36. Ella beebee*

    My former boss (who I shared an office with) did this with her “cat cam.” She had streaming feed of her cats up all day long, and was constantly watching it/commenting on it/making me watch it with her. I love cats, but this defintely impacted everyone in the room’s ability to do our jobs because of the constant cat interruptions.

    1. The Original K.*

      This would drive me insane. I’d probably have to switch offices, if that were possible. I don’t like cats and do not care at all what people’s cats get up to during the day when their owners aren’t there.

      1. No Tribble At All*

        As the office cat lady — this would also drive me up the walls. I get very easily distracted by videos, and I’d want to be distracted by videos of kittennnnnnnsssss!!1!!!1! If you give me cat videos you will get no work done.

    2. Database Developer Dude*

      “Ooooh, look at the kitties”

      “No, thanks, I’m working”

      What’s she going to do, fire you?

        1. Ella beebee*

          She one time cried because someone didn’t want to talk about her cats, and then brought it up continuously for days. No joke. Trust me that a simple “no thank you” didn’t end the conversation. There was a lot wrong with that job, the cat thing is just one of many reasons I’m glad to be out of there.

  37. gecko*

    I’d be bothered by OP 1’s nanny-cam coworker just by how creepy it is, but it’s possible I’m an outlier. I also really wouldn’t want to be accidentally watching that footage myself. But judging from the comments it seems to be more or less commonly accepted, so I’d just note to the boss that she’s constantly watching this, and if I didn’t feel comfortable doing that, ask her to keep it on a much lower profile.

    1. iglwif*

      Yeah, I’d be a bit creeped out too I think, although the fact that OP and Co-worker each have their own offices makes it less creepy (i.e., there’s not another person sitting there potentially watching all the time). Even though, if Co-worker has had a bad daycare experience in the recent past, I’m sympathetic.

    2. pleaset*

      It might be more or less accepted, but I think it’s wrong. Continuous digital surveillance in our daily lives is a bad thing in general. If there are specific reasons for it, cool.

      But just in general – no. Not for workers, not for educators, not for kids. Especially kids – if the kid is old enough to understand it there, s/he should not be socialized to accept that as OK.

      1. Susie Q*

        The camera isn’t there to watch the kid. It’s there to watch the nanny make sure they are doing their job correctly.

        1. pleaset*

          Regardless of purpose, it’s socializing kids that continuous surveillance in spaces they are in is normal.

          And frankly, I think it’s wrong to surveil workers like that. For workers, for educators and for kids. Continuous digital surveillance in our daily lives is a bad thing in general.

          1. Susie Q*

            A nanny was just sentenced to 15 years in prison for shoving a baby wipe down an infant throats.

            Foster parents running a daycare allowed a troubled 10 year old girl to be alone with a 6 month old baby whom the girl dropped and stomped to death.

            The camera is there to protect both the nanny and the child. Plenty of people work in places where there is video surveillance such as retail stores, etc.

  38. Lauren*

    #2: I am vegan, so I figured I’d add my perspective to the chorus. I’m vegan for moral reasons – and personally, as long as you’re not waving your spaghetti and meatballs right in my face or being similarly obnoxious (which you’re clearly not), I’d have no problem with you eating your lunch in the same room as me.

  39. Erin*

    #1 – I want to suggest leaving it alone, assuming your/her boss is going to see it at some point. But this is pretty distributing IMO so I understand if you feel the need to speak up.

    If she’s that concerned about daycare she should probably have the kid in a different daycare, but something tells me she’s the sort of person who would be doing this regardless of who is watching the kid.

    I would be weirded out by this as a coworker, because I’d feel like I was accidentally spying on someone if I happened to glance over at it. If I was the person’s boss, I’d be concerned she didn’t have her full head in the game, unless it was a trial thing at a new daycare and thus temporary.

    1. TheRedCoat*

      I don’t see how this is disturbing? (I assume that autocorrect ate your word). I have a video feed with my baby monitor- when I game, I occasionally check it out to make sure he’s fine when I’m not in the same room. If my daycare offered me the opportunity to glance at my kiddo in between spreadsheets, I would. He’s fun to watch, and I like to know what he’s up to during the day. I have coworkers who have pet cams or live shelter or wildlife stream feeds up all the time too.

      BTW, it’s usually not as easy as ‘find a new daycare’. There’s vetting (which likely can only happen during business hours), there’s waitlists for good ones, registration fees and sign ups and…. it’s not as simple as just going to a different grocery store.

      1. CupcakeCounter*

        It was recommended to me to start looking at daycare options when I was 5 months pregnant. I ended up on 3 different wait lists and only got confirmation that I had a daycare option about 3 weeks before I went back to work.
        If I’d had an issue with my son’s daycare you can bet your butt I’d be on that nanny cam monitor until I was able to move him.

  40. Database Developer Dude*

    OP#2 – Not have your lunch at your desk because others are vegan? What’s next, if you have a Muslim or Jewish coworker, are you going to stop eating BLTs? If you have a Catholic coworker, are you going to not have anything meat-based on Fridays?

    There’s a big difference between respecting someone else’s choices, and letting their choices dictate YOUR options. I wouldn’t dream of trying to tell someone else what they needed to have for lunch (excepting the office etiquette scenarios already cited by others)…and I don’t expect them to tell me either. Grown adults mind their own business.

    I’m afraid by taking this tack, you’re opening yourself up to bullying by others.

    1. Peridot*

      I think there’s a big, big spectrum between “considering other people’s situations” and “opening yourself up to bullying.” If I shared an office with someone who was devoutly religious and had a problem with the smell of pork products, I would at least consider having my lunch elsewhere. That doesn’t mean I’d have to stop eating pork forever.

      1. Database Developer Dude*

        You would at least consider having your lunch elsewhere based on someone else’s RELIGION? Seriously??

        1. Victoria Nonprofit (USA)*

          Of course I would, depending on how difficult or inconvenient it would be for me. I have, for example, forgone a drink at dinner so my Muslim colleague could sit with me (rather than at a separate table by himself, where alcohol wasn’t served). Why wouldn’t I?

            1. Ask a Manager* Post author

              That’s a bizarrely adversarial way to look at it, to the point that it sounds like an agenda about religion in general. If I have Tom Petty on and a friend comes over who hates Tom Petty so I turn it off, I’m not “letting someone else dictate my choices.” I’m taking the other person into account while we’re sharing space.

              1. Database Developer Dude*

                We’re not talking about outside-of-work stuff here, we’re talking about *at work*, where one presumably HAS to be.

                1. Ask a Manager* Post author

                  Same thing would apply to Tom Petty at work in my office that someone enters.

                  And again, you don’t HAVE to change what you’re doing. But if you CHOOSE to, that’s you choosing to, not letting someone else dictate what you do. It’s a really weirdly adversarial way to look at it.

            2. Victoria Nonprofit (USA)*

              No, that was my own choice. I choose to be kind to my friends and colleagues, and consider their preferences and needs when I spend time with them.

              1. Database Developer Dude*

                But we aren’t talking here about social situations, we’re talking about *work*, where one presumably *has* to be.

                1. Victoria Nonprofit (USA)*

                  I don’t see how that’s relevant. I am obligated to go to work, but I choose how I behave toward my colleagues.

                2. NerdyKris*

                  Work is a still a social situation. That might be where the disconnect is coming from. All interactions with another human being is a social situation, and acting like being considerate doesn’t matter because it’s “work” is a very tone deaf way of looking at society.

                3. Database Developer Dude*

                  Except this is not being considerate. It’s taken to an extreme. What’s next, if I don’t like brussels sprouts I get to ask that no one bring them into work?

          1. Database Developer Dude*

            Not only that I’ve been out before with Muslims. As long as THEY don’t drink, it doesn’t matter what anyone else does….

            1. Victoria Nonprofit (USA)*

              This is obviously a tangent, but: Different folks have different practices,and — c’mon, you know this — your anecdotal experience doesn’t determine truth. Many Muslims cannot/will not sit at a table where alcohol is served. (Feel free to google for lots of discussion among Muslims and other Islam scholars about this.)

        2. Peridot*

          I would consider changing something that was relatively easy for me to change in order to accommodate someone else, yes. This is how civilization works.

          Maybe there’s nowhere else for me to eat my hypothetical lunch, so I ask my coworker if they can take a 20-minute break somewhere else, and I spray air freshener after I’m finished eating. There’s no reason this has to be I WANT WHAT I WANT AND SCREW YOU.

          1. Database Developer Dude*

            And since being vegan or being a particular religion is a choice, how is that not the same thing?

            1. Coffee Bean*

              What it seems like you are implying here, is that they should change their lifestyle (dietary, religious, etc.) so that they conform with your choices. That is a HUGE change, nor should we want that change at all because diversity is important. But, for you, eating your lunch on the patio or in a break room is not a big deal, and would make the work environment more pleasant for everyone.

              The LW did not say that they were asking him/her not to eat meat, simply just asking how to be considerate and accommodating for all the different people they share a common space with.

            2. Peridot*

              Okay, first of all, I am not religious, but let’s not reduce someone’s religion to “a choice” on the same level as veganism. There are all kinds of complicated familial and cultural issues at play.

              Second, I don’t understand your point. Are you saying that asking my hypothetical coworker to leave for 20 minutes is as bad as my coworker asking me not to eat pork? How is one supposed to navigate through life without negotiating these kinds of compromises with people?

              1. Coffee Bean*

                You’re right Peridot – and you said this much more eloquently than I did. That was the exact point I was trying to make, but didn’t have the words at all to express it.

              2. Database Developer Dude*

                Because absent physical reactions, it’s a personal preference. We all have to be at work, and if the work culture is “eat at your desk”, then my choice of meal (absent the normal office etiquette things) is none of your business and vice versa.

                I would no more demand a Muslim or Jewish or vegan coworker eat meat than I would tolerate them demanding I not eat meat (or specifically, pork…I love me some BLT).

                What’s bizarre, is that so many people think it’s okay think about “Oh, maybe this person’s preference should inform what I eat”. No. People as a group, if you give them a centimeter, they’ll take a meter.

            3. Jennifer Juniper*

              Some people have to be vegan for medical reasons. Most people don’t choose their religion, since they were raised that way. Others don’t have the privilege of choosing a religion at all, since they live in a place where it’s not legal/safe to belong to anything other than the established faith.

        3. Chicken Lady*

          I used to eat chicken sandwiches at my desk but ate burgers in the breakroom since I was surrounded by Hindus all day.

        4. NerdyKris*

          It’s called being a considerate human being living in a society? They’re talking about eating lunch in a slightly different location within the office, and you’re acting like they’re being banished and their homes searched. That’s a massive overreaction.

          1. Database Developer Dude*

            No, I’m not, but go ahead and extrapolate out to the other extreme. Nice strawman.

    2. RandomusernamebecauseIwasboredwiththelastone*

      Totally agree.

      There’s a line between being aware and respectful of coworkers/others and allowing others to dictate your reasonable choices. Since the OP is asking the question they are on the right side of aware and respectful so they can be reasonably assured that they are not being ‘that guy’ in the office.

    3. TeacherNerd*

      We (Catholics) only have a no-eating-meat-on-Fridays obligation during Lent. I promise you it doesn’t bother us one way or the other if you eat meat on Fridays at any time during the year. :-) YMMV.

      1. Myrna M*

        Yeah actually I am Muslim and though I think it’s super sweet of previous posters to think to accommodate me I would never want them to refrain from eating what they normally do – or having a drink – because of me! Dictate is on me, you shouldn’t have to suffer. :) Again, I think it’s really kind and comes from such a decent and good place but neither I nor any Muslim I know would require or even want such a thing.

        1. Database Developer Dude*

          Now, having said that, and what really disturbed me one time, was a military school I was going to, where we had some exchange officers, and some of my classmates thought it was a funny idea to trick them into eating sausage by telling them it was beef. That was not cool, and I lost a few friends for calling them out on it. The exchange officers were from Egypt and Saudi Arabia, and were Muslim…

          1. Myrna M*

            Aw, that was super cool of you. What a cruddy thing for them to have done!

            I mean if it was bacon though, at least I could have tried it and not gotten into trouble for it, haha. But sausage doesn’t smell appealing at all.

  41. Peridot*

    I once had a company get back to me about eight or nine months after a job interview. Something along the lines of “As you have probably figured out, we went with another candidate…” I honestly have no idea what the point of that email was.

    1. irene adler*

      Guess they figured you needed closure.
      I received an inquiry about a job, that turned out to be a job I’d applied to a year earlier. Was ghosted a year ago, and then ghosted again after the inquiry. Nuts to them!

    2. Rusty Shackelford*

      Possibly someone going through an audit? “Oh, no, we can’t check this one off, we didn’t send the mandatory rejection letters!”

  42. Jaybeetee*

    LW3, I’ll throw out a different possibility, with many disclaimers that frankly, most employers won’t go for it, but occasionally some do, so I’ll at least drop it as a potential option.

    Some places do allow for “leaves of absence”. If you know this is gonna be a four-month gig, nothing else, SOME employers might okay a four-month leave (where you might refer to it as “working on personal projects” or something). That said, even for places that allow this, it’s generally a jerk move to be granted leave like this, then leave permanently at the end of it. So assuming you could go that route, you’d probably be best to do it for a fixed period, get the experience at the other place and a break from the grind at your job, return to your job, and use that experience towards continuing to search for permanent work in the other field.

    I understand your conflict. Several years ago, I was actually working in a permanent position (I temped *a lot*), but it was becoming an awful environment and I was trying to get out of there. An old contact randomly called up asking me to take over a contract he’d been working on in an entirely different industry. There was only 6 weeks left on the contract, but he said they would likely renew and roll it over, especially if I did well. The work was interesting to me, and I WANTED to get out of where I was. But I also had little experience in that field of work, wasn’t confident that I could just dive in and do well at it, and ultimately decided it was too risky to leave my regular job for it. (Plus the timing of it would basically have me quitting with like two days’ notice – dude needed to leave his contract abruptly and he was trying to find someone to fill in immediately). I get why you’re thinking about this, and you’re the only one who can decide if the gamble is worthwhile to you.

    1. Jaybeetee*

      Oh, and Contract!Gig would have paid waaaaay higher than what I was making at the time, which was another consideration.

  43. your vegan coworker*

    LW2: Most people don’t think to wonder about this, so kudos to you for sensitivity.

    As AAM said, vegans are aware that meat-eating exists, but that doesn’t actually answer the question.

    People are vegan for different reasons: health, environment, animals. If it’s the latter, then yes, eating charred bird parts at your desk probably does upset and distract your coworkers, even though they know that they don’t have standing to say anything.

    Here’s the thing: In meat-eating cultures, children are socialized to eventually forget that ‘meat’ comes from animals, so much so that, as adults, they no longer see the animal behind the meat nor the violent and terrifying process by which the living being was transformed into a consumable commodity.

    Most ethical vegans no longer don’t see that. When the person ahead of us in the grocery store slaps a “steak” onto the conveyor belt, we see the cow and the process by which she was killed, and we wince or feel sad or feel angry or all of the above. In other words, the humdrum sight of ‘steak’ for you is an emotionally charged sight for many of us.

    Imagine, then, if you were to glance over at a coworker’s desk and see him engaged in the act of ripping the wings off a bird. Upsetting and distracting, right? That’s how your coworker might feel seeing you eating “buffalo wings” at your desk. Do what you will with that information.

    1. Rhymes with Mitochondria*

      No one is responsible for the thoughts in other people’s heads. If that’s where a vegan’s mind dwells, not coworkers issue.

    2. don't hate me*

      Yeah, and when I see someone wearing a MAGA hat it’s also emotionally charged, upsetting, distracting etc…but guess what? They get to wear their hat no matter what I think about it. If you have a problem with what other people eat, that’s YOUR problem.

    3. Victoria Nonprofit (USA)*

      The same goes for every ethical (and unethical) choice we make, and those choices are constant. I’m using technology that depends on minerals that are mined using child labor. I cannot guarantee that my clothing was not produced using slave labor. The peppers in my breakfast scramble were harvested, most likely, by migrant workers without the protection of labor laws.

      While we should expect ourselves, and each other, to make ethical choices, we will not make all the same choices. Your veganism is no more or less virtuous than your colleague’s commitment to bike commuting.

    4. furloughed fed*

      This is too much emotional labor for me to contend with as I go about my daily life. It’s your problem, not mine.

    5. RandomusernamebecauseIwasboredwiththelastone*

      I agree with the others. One of my favorite sayings is “You do you and I’ll do me” I’m not responsible for your reaction to my normal everyday activity or choice.

      If someone makes the choice to be vegan, or any other lifestyle. That’s great, I respect that and wish them all the best in the endeavor. I expect the same consideration in my lifestyle choices. You putting the responsibility of your reaction on me is not respecting my choices and in my opinion out of line.

    6. Mujj*

      I’m a vegetarian for all the reasons you listed and if my coworkers felt they couldn’t what they wanted around me, I would be mortified. Unless the person is unreasonable, they would never dream of imposing their standards onto you. At the same time, some people (including people I work with) automatically feel judged just by my existing as a vegetarian. They interpret my abstaining from something they partake in as defacto judgement of their lifestyle. I brush off the annoying remarks and don’t worry about how my lifestyle makes them feel, just as OP should not worry about how hers makes her vegan colleagues feel.

    7. Turtle Candle*

      You know, if a vegan coworker asked me not to eat meat near them, I’d comply out of a sense of friendliness… but they gotta ask. It’s way, way too much to spend my time and energy mind reading the people around me, especially as this isn’t just relevant to vegetarians/vegans—everyone has their personal beliefs that they find deeply important. (Alcohol consumption, blood diamonds, sweatshop clothing, the list goes on.)

      1. Millenial Lizard Person*

        If a vegan coworker asked me to not eat meat near them, I’d comply…. by not sitting near them at all. Sorry, I’m not making my personal lunches vegetarian.

    8. aebhel*

      In meat-eating cultures, children are socialized to eventually forget that ‘meat’ comes from animals, so much so that, as adults, they no longer see the animal behind the meat nor the violent and terrifying process by which the living being was transformed into a consumable commodity.

      I know a lot of farm kids who would disagree with that assessment, which is a product of industrialization and the distribution of consumable goods much more than ‘meat-eating cultures’, which have been around since the dawn of humanity.

      Regardless, this a bizarrely judgmental and unnecessary screed. If OP’s coworkers are bothered, it’s on them to say something.

      1. dawbs*

        Says the under-represented hunter in the AAM crowd (who had venison this week because I know how it was raised/lived, how and by whom it was killed, and how and by whom it was processed)

        1. aebhel*

          Yep. I actually have plenty of ethical issues with factory farming and try to buy ethically-sourced meat when I can (including from family and friends who hunt/raise their own livestock), but (a) for some people that’s not really an option and (b) there are a lot of ethical issues with the production of vegan staples, too.

    9. WoolAnon*

      In response to your ‘meat-eating culture’ comment:

      I’m in the US (California). I grew up in a rural area and we raised sheep and chickens (with Jr. Farmers, something that’s like 4H). We would get our sheep in about March then in October we’d have lamb on the dinner table. We learned from a rancher – and he would kill his own sheep and teach how to do so to any interested students, including my sister (who tended to get so attached to the sheep that she would keep them permanently and we had quite a few baby lambs born on our property).

    10. Observer*

      This almost reads like trolling, because it hits so many of the stereotypes about “self righteous vegans”.

  44. Argh!*

    Re: #1

    Like many annoying behaviors of coworkers, if it doesn’t impede the effectiveness of the workplace, it’s nothing to worry about. There are probably lots of nervous moms re-entering the workforce who do this without adversely affecting productivity.

    Presumably there’s some accountability for results there, so if it’s a problem for her work, it’ll come out in the wash. I’d just ignore it. Being annoyed by behavior that doesn’t affect me personally would be a bigger problem than the behavior itself.

  45. LaDeeDa*

    Nanny Cam- I don’t get what the big deal is. If it isn’t preventing her from doing her work, why do you care? I really don’t see what the problem is, sure think it is a little obsessive and weird, but as long as she is doing her job I wouldn’t say anything.

    1. mialoubug*

      I agree. I don’t understand how this is too different a situation from people who listen to either podcasts or music (with headphones or not) all day long while they work. If the company allows for music/podcast listening, she should be fine, particularly if the feed doesn’t have sound.

      1. Rusty Shackelford*

        Well, I think the difference is that podcasts/music don’t require the use of your eyes, so you can do most jobs even while listening to them, but constantly watching a nannycam pretty much makes it impossible to do anything else. But that assumes you’re actually watching it constantly, and not just checking in occasionally. I think it’s absolutely possible to do your job while running the nannycam in the background and glancing at it every once in a while. We just don’t know that this is what the coworker is actually doing.

    2. learnedthehardway*

      Another agree. Also, presumably, if the coworker is aware that the nanny cam is streaming all the time, I would say it is safe to assume that the Exec Director is also aware, unless the worker is actually hiding it.

      I would let this one go, unless it affects the LW’s job performance (either because it is a distraction to her or if the coworker is not getting her work done and it affects LW’s to get their job done).

      It’s not unreasonable for the coworker to monitor her child’s welfare, particularly when she had a bad experience with the last childcare situation. That probably gives her the peace of mind to be able to focus on her job, and she will probably get more comfortable over time that her current nanny is working out and as her child gets older.

  46. Database Developer Dude*

    For OP#2

    There is a big difference between being considerate of others by not having pungent smelling hot food in the office, and allowing for someone else’s religious beliefs or other beliefs dictate what a grown adult can or cannot eat when everyone eats at their desk.

    If you want to say one shouldn’t microwave leftover fish or curry or whatever because it stinks up the office for hours, that’s perfectly fine. That’s standard office etiquette.

    I do not bully vegans for being vegan, and I do not discriminate against someone because of their religion either. Nor do I let their life-choices impact mine.

    It’s not “considerate” to beg off eating pork because your office-mate is Muslim or Jewish. Just don’t offer them any. It’s not “considerate” to beg off eating meat at all because your office-mate is a vegan. Just don’t offer them any. In both cases, no mocking them for not having any. No commenting on their food at all.

    I know that if you worked with me, and everyone ate lunch at their desks, and you came to me asking me not to eat meat with my sandwich because you’re a vegan, my answer would be two words long, and those words would not be ‘Happy Birthday’. If you asked me not to eat pork because you’re Muslim or Jewish, you’d be looking at the business end of an EEO complaint with HR for trying to impose your religious beliefs on me, especially when I wouldn’t dream of trying to do the same to you.

    Some of y’all need to stop encouraging OP#2 to be a doormat.

    1. Peridot*

      I know I’ll get criticized for this, but I’m curious if OP is female, because this seems a clear case to me of how men and women are socialized differently.

      1. Database Developer Dude*

        No, it isn’t. Personal likes and dislikes should not be imposed on other people.

      2. Jen*

        I think you’re right! Women tend to be socialized to think of everyone else’s comfort much more often than men do.

    2. Jennifer*

      I agree. I am a veggie and think it’s to be expected that not everyone in the office eats the same way I do.

  47. Jennifer*

    I am honestly surprised by the number of people who think it’s rude not to let someone know they didn’t get the job after an interview. I don’t think it’s any ruder than a guy not calling you back after one mediocre date. After about a week or two in both situations, I took the hint and sent them off to the island of lost jobs/men. It sucks but you aren’t owed a job any more than you’re owed a second date.

    1. Lynn Whitehat*

      No, you’re not owed a job, of course. No one thinks that. But some kind of notification that you’re no longer in the running, so you don’t have to wonder. “Should I keep applying for jobs? Am I still under consideration?”

      1. Jennifer*

        I get it. I’d appreciate it too. As Alison said, it’s just a part of job hunting. You just have to put it out of your mind. I’d keep applying for jobs until I had an offer.

  48. Jennifer*

    LW1 This really boils down to office culture, as Alison said. If you work at a job where everyone has their earbuds in and is listening to podcasts or watching Netflix and the boss doesn’t care as long as work gets done, I’d leave it alone. I don’t see how this is much different.

    If it’s out of step with office culture, but not hindering your ability to do your job, I think it would be kind to employ a little empathy. She had a rough time with the baby’s daycare. Now she’s understandably nervous using a new nanny. Give her a little time. It’s likely once she says the nanny is competent and isn’t going to harm her child, this behavior will slowly taper off. If that’s not an option for you, I think it might be better to go to her directly and just tell her you’re giving her a heads up that she’s out of step with the office culture. Not telling her what to do, just a coworker helping someone out. I know I would appreciate that. If she responds negatively, then it might be time to go to the boss.

  49. Therese*

    I have so many thoughts on all of these posts.

    #3 is my life. I work as a bookkeeper and I really need a better job with benefits and higher pay. But EVERY.SINGLE.JOB that I see posted for bookkeeping is posted by a staffing agency of some kind. And I don’t want to leave my stable permanent job for a situation where I’ll be out of work in a few months. I’ve also been burned a lot by staffing agencies I’m afraid to trust them.

    #5 happens to me ALL.THE.TIME.

    1. Database Developer Dude*

      Much sympathy on the staffing agency thing, Therese. I broke my own rule twice in the last 18 years, and have been burned both times by staffing companies.

  50. LW1*

    Thank you to everyone for your thoughtful comments and questions. I think I needed a bit of perspective on the coworker. I think what I’m left with is a reminder for some compassion. It is out of step with the office culture, but I don’t know if she is getting her work done (and I shouldn’t because she doesn’t report to me). Her choice doesn’t impact me directly and thanks to the commenters who reminded me of that important fact.

    1. Myrna M*

      What a classy and kind response. My apologies for getting my hackles up about this — wish everyone (including me) can take constructive criticism with as much grace as you!

    2. AngryOwl*

      Very mature response (tone is hard I’m text but I mean this sincerely)! We all have those things, I get it.

  51. LawBee*

    LW1: I used to sit by a woman who micro-managed her son’s daycare, down to “did he eat three pancakes? don’t give him the yogurt until after he eats the grapes” level of managing, for breakfast, snack, and lunch, every single day. It was both annoying and kind of hilarious (I never knew that pancake consumption was so important) but I was still getting my work done, and her boss didn’t seem to mind. I’d let this go. At most, if you’re being distracted by the motion in the corner of your eye or whatever, you could ask her to angle the phone away from you, but other than that, there’s nothing really to complain about.

    1. dawbs*

      eh, FWIW I’ve been that parent.
      Not because I *wanted* to be that parent, but because when you’re dangerously close to scary thin and the doctors are breathing down your neck about nutrition and weight gain, it gets hard not to be a little crazy. (says the person who still sneaks butter and heavy cream into her 40lb, average height [yes, that’s still ridiculously small, but we’ve made it onto the charts and I ignore doctors better now] 8 year old’s meals)

      But I do also sometimes shudder for that parent too–I work at a place kids take field trips to and I will forever remember one morning when I started fielding phone calls 45 minutes before the scheduled field-trip-arrival time and finally reassured that parent, 15 minutes AFTER the scheduled arrival time (busses are always late), that no, her kid had not been in a car accident during the commute.

      Part of me was amused, part of me was annoyed [because seriously, I took 6 phone calls from this person–I had ‘real’ work to be doing!], and part of me felt really really sorry for the amount of agony and anxiety this parent was going to have (and this kid was going to face) for the next…14 years.

  52. JessicaTate*

    LW#3: It is a really risky move to take the 4-month position. There are cases where it’s a calculated risk worth taking for Reasons. Here are my bits of advice:
    1) Go ahead and apply/interview, even to get to know the company better and the work, and not play “what if” in your mind. Maybe you can get some hints about why the short-term position and whether that indicates a future or not.

    2) Remember that YOU are interviewing THEM in this process too. This is hard when you are eager to get out of one job and this one “sounds perfect.” Since this job puts you in a much riskier position from a security standpoint, it needs to be above-and-beyond in all other ways. If it’s not, the risk is doubled that you won’t have the financial security and you’ll be miserable. (This is the voice of experience talking.)

    My story was early in my career. I left a stable, secure, but very unfulfilling full-time job for a part-time/no-benefits job that I thought was “perfect” because it was a company more in line with my interests, the job in the field I was trying to break into, and it aligned with one of my hobbies. I was young, and I decided the risk was worth it for the potential career growth. It ended up that A) juggling two part-time jobs (one in my field, and one not) was far more exhausting than one full-time job; and B) there were many, many, many things about the new company and job that made my life miserable… many of which I could have figured out by being more critical during the interview process. This was my first lesson that in a job interview, the company is selling themselves/the job to you too.

    I can imagine scenarios where it works out well. But be really, really calculating and judicious in making that leap. And be prepared with contingency plans if it doesn’t. It’s not the end of the world, but it can be (needlessly) stressful.

  53. Mike B.*

    The rare occasion when I don’t quite agree with Alison…twice!

    OP1: I submit that it really isn’t any of your business unless she’s got the audio on (in which case you should politely ask her to turn it off, leaving the boss out of it) and/or she’s visibly ignoring other work to watch. If it makes her feel better to have her child in view while she’s working, good for her that we’ve got that technology now.

    OP3: I changed jobs under exactly those circumstances a decade ago, giving up a stable clerical job of two years for a more specialized temp role. That role didn’t work out for various reasons, but the calculated risk I took was still worth it–with that tiny bit of additional experience on my resume, I was hired for something much more prestigious and better paid (albeit still entry-level) at a well-known company shortly afterward.

    Sometimes the opportunities you want are not going to materialize while you’re in your current position, and if you can tolerate a little risk, it’s well worth it. I doubt I would have done this as a parent or a homeowner, but as a childless, apartment-renting bachelor, it was exactly the right move. They’re called dead-end jobs for a reason.

  54. Anonandon*

    I worked at a company once where a large percentage of our hourly workforce ate a lot of fish-based dishes. You could always tell when it was “fish day” in the cafeteria. Ugh.

  55. Just Stoppin' By To Chat*

    Re: #1 – I feel so bad for that child (and the nanny!). Barring any medical issues or something that the OP may not be aware of, it sounds like the co-worker is a helicopter parent. Eventually that child is going to go to school and the co-worker will need to find a way to trust that! Of course, the flip side is that the co-worker misses their kid during the day, and doesn’t want to miss out on anything. But still…that’s a lot of micromanagement to watch a nanny cam all day IMO.

    1. TheRedCoat*

      I mean, sure, it’s micromanaging if she was calling with demands for the nanny based on what she saw (“NO, the PURPLE blanket not the BLUE blanket!”) But… she isn’t. She’s just checking to make sure the nanny is doing her job, checking to see what the kiddo is up to. Making sure the nanny isn’t putting the kid in a closet to cry it out with a wet diaper for two hours (like happened to me, when I was an infant).

      Also, there’s a difference between ‘something I glance at off and on through the day but keep running’ and ‘something I stare intently at’, and if she was doing the latter, her boss would have noticed.

  56. CastIrony*

    This reminds me of my best friend’s boss, who is sensitive to smells and chewing sounds. My best friend eats when he isn’t in the office they share.

  57. GenXChick*

    OP3, I’ve done a lot of temping in NYC and at least here, when a temp job specifies four months, that’s usually because the role is covered by a collective bargaining agreement and after four months that temp would have to be converted to perm/union. The organization usually does not hire the temp, citing the direct hire fee to the agency as cost-prohibitive, and reposts the job, sometimes even using a different temp from the same agency for the next four months (I wrote the manual for my successors in this situation more than once!). If the benefits that come with the traditional 9-5 are something that you know you want, your best bet is to stay where you are and look while you’re employed. Even gigs termed “temp to perm” don’t come with a guarantee these days. They used to, but not anymore.

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