my coworker is a blood drive bully, non-monetary perks, and more

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

1. My coworker is a blood drive bully

I’m the newest and youngest employee at a small office that’s the perfect place to start a career in my industry. I love the work, and I like my coworkers. The problem is “Alice.” She’s the long-time office admin, a very sweet and upbeat woman in her mid-50s. She’s involved in all kinds of charities and volunteer work, all for causes I support. She never solicits donations (it’s against company policy); she doesn’t badger people to join her groups though she’s always delighted when someone expresses an interest.

One of her causes is the Red Cross. Last week they launched a blood drive in our neighborhood—actually there’s a “bloodmobile” parked on our block. Alice enthusiastically announced the drive, urging everyone to donate. You get a sticker when you do, and she wears hers prominently every day. She also keeps tabs on who’s gotten a sticker and who hasn’t; over the last few days she has affectionately chided any un-stickered employees, usually in the morning when we’re all getting coffee, and once at a staff meeting. (Also the office has an open floor plan.)

I fully support the Red Cross and their work. But I am a bisexual man, and not exactly celibate. The FDA still has a ban on donations from any man who’s had sex with another guy in the past year. I’m out to most people in my life, and not keeping it a secret from anyone else. But it hasn’t been an easy process and to be honest I’m still coming to terms with my identity, including how or when to come out (I’m not in a relationship and most people assume I’m straight). The one thing I’m sure of is that I’m done lying.

So whenever I see Alice coming at me with her big smile and her sticker I break into a cold sweat. I’ve dodged the question so far, sort of walking a thin line between the truth and the whole truth. It just feels like if I laid it out for her I might as well be making an announcement to the entire office: “Attention everyone! I have sex with men!” I’m not ready for that.

What’s worse is that our HR department is basically one guy: a gay man who casually strolled in with his “I donated” sticker the second day of the drive. I don’t know if he really did or what, and I’m truly not judging him. But it makes me feel even more self-conscious about coming out in this way, much less talking to him about it.

How should I handle this? The blood drive’s almost over; can I just wait it out? Or am I being a coward and a hypocrite by not explaining my situation to Alice? I feel so embarrassed and awkward about the whole thing, I’ve kind of lost perspective. But I can’t bring myself to wear that damned sticker if I didn’t earn it, and as much as I wish I could, I can’t donate without being dishonest. (I should add that I’m fully confident about my negative HIV status, so this really is just about being bisexual.)

You are 100% entitled not to explain the situation to Alice. You are being neither a coward or a hypocrite. People aren’t entitled to information you didn’t intend to share with them just because they’re pushy.

And Alice is being pushy. Yes, blood donation is a good cause, but people have all kinds of personal reasons for not wanting or being able to donate blood, and she should be more thoughtful about that.

If you just want to wait it out, that is completely fine! There is no shame in taking the path of least resistance here.

But if you wanted to say something to Alice, you could say, “You know, some people have medical or other reasons they can’t donate blood, and might not want to announce those reasons at work.” Ideally you’d add, “This kind of pressure isn’t cool when you consider that,” but you can leave that off if you want. (But do know that’s true, and it’s not just men who’ve had recent sex with men — you can’t donate blood if you’re on certain medications, including antibiotics, or have certain types of cancer, or ever tested positive for Hepatitis C, or a bunch of other reasons.)

And if you want to, you can also point out the same thing to your HR guy — as in, “I’m concerned about how much pressure Alice is generating around the blood drive. I’m all for giving blood, but given the whole range of medical and other reasons some people aren’t allowed to, I worry she’s inadvertently pressuring people to reveal personal medical info to her because she’s not taking no for an answer.” This framing is “I’m concerned for the office as a whole” and “this is a landmine for the company,” not “Alice is making me uncomfortable. (Although the latter would be fine to say too! It just sounds like you’d prefer not to.)

But you don’t have to do any of that if you don’t want to. It is perfectly fine to just wait this out. Hell, it’s fine to lie to/mislead Alice (“yep, I’m good”) if she continues being so pushy. You have zero obligation to share anything you don’t want to share.

2. Should I tell my employee to stop addressing people by their first names?

I am in a position where I have my own direct employee for the first time. My employee is wonderful and very capable.

My personal philosophy when dealing with other coworkers has always been to treat them with the most respect I can, even going overboard. Recently, my employee sent an email out to a different department attempting to correct their mistake (might not have been a mistake), and addressed it to them by using only their first name.

I wanted to get your opinion on this. Am I just super sensitive, or should I address this since she’s representing my team when she emails other departments?

It’s really, really, really normal to address coworkers by their first names, even ones you haven’t met yet! There are some organizations in the U.S. where that’s not the case, but they’re the exception rather than the norm.

The question here is, what’s the culture around names in your office? If most people use first names, you shouldn’t direct your employee to do otherwise, or it risks making her come across as young, naive, and/or out of step with your office culture. If the culture is that people don’t use first names, then yes, cueing her into that would be both a kindness to her and something you have standing to do as her manager.

But going overboard on respect isn’t always a good thing. Depending on exactly what you mean by that, it can actually create barriers between you and others. (Calling someone Ms. Warbleworth when everyone else calls her Valentina is a good example of that.)

3. What kind of non-monetary perks can I ask for?

My yearly review is coming up, but my boss gave a “sneak peek” in one of our weekly check-ins, and I knocked it out of the park. Also, the end of January will be my 15-year anniversary with the organization.

Unfortunately, we’re a nonprofit and we had significant funding cuts this year, so raises are off the table until next year at the earliest. Boss has been a really strong advocate for me and my work since I moved to this position in 2011. In our check-in, she expressed that I’m a valuable, essential employee here, and wanted me to think before my review about whether there were any non-monetary rewards they could give me (not completely in lieu of a raise–that’s still in the works for next year–but in lieu of being able to give one right now). The problem is … I’ve never worked anywhere else (besides retail jobs in high school), so I have no clue what to ask for!

I might ask about more vacation, but I currently get four weeks and rarely use all of it (especially because we also get a lot of paid holidays). A friend also suggested asking for the flexibility to work from home sometimes, which might be nice occasionally, but I wouldn’t do it often because a lot of my work requires two monitors (which I don’t have at home). Is there anything else I should consider? Boss said she would also think about it before we meet to see if she had any suggestions.

(Just in case it’s relevant: I love my job, and I wouldn’t be looking to leave even if they weren’t offering this, but I’m certainly not going to refuse!)

More time off is the big one, and I want to strongly urge you to start using more of the time off you already get. Take a week off and stay at home and lounge and read! Take a bunch of Fridays off. You won’t regret it.

Beyond that … Is there a class you want to take? A better title? A certain type of project you want to take on?

Also, is there anything at work that frustrates you and makes your job harder or lowers your quality of life? This may be the time you can say, “Could I move into an office that’s not right next to the bathroom?” or “I would love not to be in charge of the interns this summer so that I have more time to focus on XYZ.”

Read an update to this letter here.

4. What to do when I’m told someone will contact me to schedule an interview, but they don’t?

A couple times this past year when applying for a job, I’ve been told “my assistant / associate / whoever will reach out tomorrow to set up the time for the interview,” only to have them not reach out. It happened twice with two different companies, and both times after a couple days went by I emailed the original person and said something like, “I’m eager to set up an interview, and I wanted to make sure I didn’t miss so-and-so’s email.”

In a situation like that where they’ve been clear they want to set up an interview but it is someone else’s job to do the actual scheduling, should I refrain from reaching out when the timeline they give doesn’t happen? I know it takes longer for the interviewer to set things up but it seems strange that it takes a couple of days to even get the initial (clearly form) email about setting up a time.

Give it a few days past the day they told you to expect to hear before following up. So if they tell you on Monday that the assistant will contact you on Tuesday, I’d wait until Thursday at the earliest to check back. The assistant (or whoever) could be out on Tuesday, or just juggling higher priorities. But it’s fine to check back in a few days after the timeline you were given has passed.

{ 861 comments… read them below }

    1. Triplestep*

      LW#5 indicates she reaches out to the original person, which makes sense … Not sure how she’d have the contact info for the assistant.

      Alison’s advice is essentially “keep on doing what you do”, LW#5. You say you’re waiting a couple of days, and that seems reasonable.

      If you’re not getting responses after you reach out this way, the common wisdom around here is to put it out of your mind and move on. Getting ghosted during the interview process is demoralizing no matter when it happens, and I’m sorry if you’ve experienced this all-too-common phenomenon.

    2. Baby Fishmouth*

      Also, are you sure you aren’t supposed to be reaching out to the assistant to set up a time? I am an assistant, and I get cc’d on emails all the time that say ‘please reach out to Baby Fishmouth to set up an appointment’, but I find that most people seem to still mis-read that part and wait for me to reach out to them. Which takes a while because those emails don’t go onto my ‘to do’ lists if I know the person is supposed to be the one contacting me.

      1. WellRed*

        I’ve only ever had someone’s assistant reach out to me (and not in a job interview context). It seems more efficient to know one’s assistant will take care of scheduling appointments rather than rely on others to take the initiative.

        1. Adalind*

          I agree, WellRed. I’m an assistant and it would be in my exec’s best interest to reach out first since I know his schedule – i.e. These days and times are good, which one works for you? I’m assuming OP can’t reach out to the assistant because they aren’t on the emails!

          1. Your friendly neighbourhood EA*

            Also an EA and the amount of times I’ve seen my boss send an email saying “my assistant will set up a time” without cc’ing me or mentioning it to me is staggering. I monitor his sent mail as well as his inbox in order to catch these instances because otherwise it will fall between the cracks.

            So I say; you reach out to the assistant if you have their info. If you don’t, follow up with the original emailer once, and Alison’s timeline is perfect.

      2. Future Homesteader*

        I’m an assistant, too, and was going to say the same thing. Unless the email very explicitly says “Future Homesteader will contact you,” it’s usually much easier and more efficient if the person being contacted gives me their timeline first. If it’s an important or time-sensitive meeting I’ll put it on my to-do list to follow up, but if it’s something initiated by the other person and not time-sensitive, I just assume they’ll contact me if they want the meeting.

        That said, I’m generally more proactive with interviews because we’re usually the ones initiating. But the above goes more most meetings, particularly internal ones in general or external ones where the outside person approached us.

  1. Elspeth*

    Re. LW1 – there are many reasons why people can’t donate. For instance, I cannot donate because I lived in Scotland at the beginning of the Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy epidemic. I also was given the BCG vaccination as a child, which makes me read positive for exposure to tuberculosis. So really, no need to feel awkward for not donating (and don’t let the Blood Drive Bully make you feel guilty either).

      1. Feline*

        Oh, OP1, there are so many reasons you might not be up for donating that have nothing to do with your activities outside work. Years ago, an employee pressured into a blood drive wandered back in from the bloodmobile into my first-floor workspace and sat listlessly in my guest chair. Then she threw up in my recycling bin. She was thoroughly embarrassed, and she never participated in a blood drive again. So not being “up to” donating blood is totally legit (says my recycling bin). Perky blood drive pressuring lady should be the one feeling guilt about it, not you.

        1. Michelle*

          My son gave blood at school once (high school, parents had to sign a form if they were under 18), walked off the bloodmobile and promptly passed out cold. Luckily, a very strong and quick teacher was standing in line waiting to go on and caught him before he hit the ground.

          He still gets card from the blood bank asking him to donate because he is AB Positive and they say it’s rare. He’s like “nope, never again”.

          1. Adalind*

            My experience wasn’t AS drastic as your son’s. but I too gave for the first time in high school and my mother was like “never again!” I am 35 years old and she still won’t “let” me. lol. I almost passed out and apparently was as white as the tablecloth. I missed quite a few classes recuperating in the library. I did try again recently to see if I could do it, but my iron was slightly too low (another reason people can’t give!).

            1. Jennifer Juniper*

              I once got turned down because my iron level was one tenth of a percent too low. Then they called and bugged me to give blood before the deferment period was up. I was annoyed at that.

              1. bleh*

                Over my lifetime I’ve been kept from giving blood because 1) i didn’t weigh enough 2) i was anemic 3) my ex was a needle drug user. There are so many reasons that people cannot or do not give blood, that it’s just ridiculous for this woman to go on about it.

                1. AnnaBananna*

                  I was told I couldn’t because I just got a tattoo (this was several years ago) and they said wait until it’s been a full year.

                  There are SOOOO many reasons one can’t donate. Now I don’t donate because I already ‘donate’ blood for testing once a month (chronic illness, yes it does blow) and that’s frankly too many needles for my sanity. Instead, I donate time and money, and that’s good enough. Tell Alice to SHOVE IT.

                  That said, your potential ‘announcement’ made me giggle OP. ;)

            2. stitchinthyme*

              Reactions can change, too. I donated platelets regularly for 20 years with never a problem — I generally got right up afterward and walked out without bothering to stay for drinks or snacks. (This was not something I could do after a whole-blood donation, which is why I started donating platelets.) But then I started feeling nauseated or dizzy during or after donations, even with extra fluids or Tums (needed because of the anticoagulant they use to keep the blood from clotting — it binds to calcium, so ingesting something containing calcium sometimes helps). I could have dealt with that by just staying put for a bit after the donation, but my veins, which were never great, also stopped cooperating, to the point where even the blood center’s best phlebotomist took 20 minutes and needed to get help to get a good stick…and the ones who weren’t as good couldn’t do it at all. Add all that up and I eventually had to make the decision that my donation days were over. My husband still goes, but I simply can’t do it anymore.

          2. So long and thanks for all the fish*

            That surprises me- why would they need more AB positive blood when people with AB positive can accept blood of any type, but their blood is only good for other AB positives? Or was it plasma or something else?

            1. poolgirl*

              Because it’s much better to receive the same blood type if possible, even if you can receive other types. There’s much less chance of a reaction.

            2. J*

              Definitely the plasma and non-red cell components (former blood bank worker). Each individual has plasma antibodies to blood types different than their own. Ex: type O blood has anti-A and Anti-B antibodies. So type AB plasma is essentially absent of antibodies that could cause a transfusion reaction (type O is basically the absence of ABO antigens so there are no Anti-O antibodies). Positive/negative is a different antigen/antibody group.

            3. 30 Years in the Biz*

              Michelle’s son could also be CMV negative. This is an indicator of infection with cytomegalovirus. I think over 50% of adults are CMV positive. They give CMV neg blood to babies, so it’s highly desired by blood banks and might be considered rare.

          3. Amber T*

            Oh high school blood donations… my first time donating was in high school my senior year, and 10 minutes after donating I had to sprint across the school and be shoved up a flight of stairs (whoever designed my school did so extremely poorly). I felt AWFUL by the time I got to my class. I remember we had a lab… my friend/lab partner told me to just sit there, I’ll copy his work later. A few minutes later (as I’m half alive at my desk, I feel like I’m gonna puke. I start walking towards the door, make it to the last desk, and nope, I’m gonna pass out instead. I collapse into a chair, and my teacher runs over FREAKING OUT. Nurse came up with a wheel chair with our Vice Principal, who was so over the top cheery I threatened to puke on his shoes (I don’t think he heard me though). Turns out my friend had the same teacher the period before and puked during class, so teacher was extra sensitive about student donating blood. Oh, memories.

          4. Gumby*

            I’m astounded at this. Not that he doesn’t want to donate again, but that he was able to just walk off after donating. The place I donate makes everyone, everyone! sit for 15 minutes w/ juice and snacks. I have never in my life had as much as a dizzy spell after donating yet I am walked from the donation chair to the snack area (max distance between nurse and me = 4 in.) and a time is written on my cup when I am “allowed” to leave. Not a cup that I personally walk over to get from the juice machine, no, this is brought to me. I tried to leave a few minutes early once and while they didn’t exactly tackle me and tie me down the disapproval was strong. Maybe it is a difference between bloodmobile and permanent blood center?

            1. Michaela Westen*

              If I was to give blood, I would have to drink water and bring my snacks. Can’t eat the stuff they have because of allergies and sensitive stomach.

              1. AnnaBananna*

                Yep. The body needs plenty of fluid to generate more blood cells. Just allowing folks to walk away is irresponsible on the part of the bloodmobile.

            2. Ananas*

              In Canada, first-time blood donors are asked to remain in the recovery area for a bit longer (25 minutes?) because they are more likely to feel unwell.

              There is no formal/obvious system for tracking time, though, just a bevy of very concerned volunteers who watch you like a hawk.

              1. sailordiamond*

                When I was a grad student in Hawaii, the blood drive partnered with a local church largely attended by elderly Japanese ladies who fussed over the donors like they were their own grandchildren and brought crock pots full of oxtail soup and Portuguese bean soup and rice and lots of good things. It was an amazing experience. (I’m a semi-regular donor, when my iron is high enough.) It was the best.

            3. Emily*

              I had always thought this was a rule, too, but it might vary a lot by location. I’ve noticed at the current place I donate at, they aren’t very strict. I’m encouraged to grab drinks/snacks at the recovery area, but they rarely mention a specific amount of time I should stay there or actively keep tabs on me. Maybe they would be more fussy if I were a first-time donor?

              (For my own peace of mind, even though I’ve never had an incident, I always eat and drink and try to sit there for ~15 minutes before I drive home.)

            4. MeganK*

              I have had mostly bloodmobile experiences, and I’ve mostly always been fine after a few minutes to sit and eat cookies or fruit snacks or whatever.

              Then I gave at work a year or so ago. Like others in this thread, I was doing ok after the wait, went to my next meeting, and then experienced a sudden onset of feeling poorly (over about 10 minutes I tanked). I got up because I thought “oh no, I’m going to puke,” and then essentially passed out in the doorway. I was eventually sick twice at work and my spouse had to come get me. I was mortified and still have no idea why it was so bad that time (maybe I was dehydrated or hadn’t eaten adequately earlier in the day?), but also I have taken a hard pass on donating since then.

              OP #1, I concur with others here – there are SO MANY REASONS why people may not be able to give that a) you have nothing whatsoever to feel embarrassed about, but b) it is SUPER INAPPROPRIATE for your coworker to be pressuring people about this. Like honestly, if she gives blood this consisently, I feel like she should be extra extra aware that there are lots of reasons people can’t give. You would be fully within the realm of politeness to tell her “oh, no thanks, I can’t,” and then just give her a pointed look if she pressures you about why not. Because who does that?!

            5. Elizabeth West*

              I always donated and then got up and went back to my cube. But I tried to drink a lot of water BEFORE I went, which makes it a bit easier.

              And of course I took the Ho-Hos back with me. :)

            6. Jennifer Juniper*

              I once scared the poor old ladies running the blood bank because I mentioned I have nut allergies. Cue a bunch of kind ladies running around like headless chickens until I reassured them that I do not have peanut, walnut, or almond allergies. They then reassured me that the cookies they were serving don’t have pistachios or cashews in them.

            7. Anonny*

              I had a blood test done when I was a kid (about 2000s time) and they took like, a load of blood, asked me if I was OK, and I was like “sure yeah I’m fine.”

              Then I stood up, walked a few steps, and they were like “you are not fine.” And then gave me a snack and a drink.

              I dunno if this was standard procedure or if they could tell that I’d lie in order to get to the Happy Meal I’d been promised after the whole ‘fasting blood test’ thing. I was pretty excited about the Happy Meal. I hadn’t eaten for 24 hours.

            8. Ego Chamber*

              This is hilarious. I don’t know if it’s just a Bloodmobile vs actual building thing, but from my experience, they truly do not give a fuck about the people who do it as part of a high school drive.

              Teenagers are strong and resilient, I guess, and anyway they’re not supposed to use screwing off at the blood drive as an excuse to skip class (there are schedules, and if you’re late to class after it’s still counted as late).

          5. Professional Fainter*

            I have a condition called vasovagal syncope and I will pass out any time I am cut or even just have blood drawn for tests. Giving blood is simply not an option. (Add in a touch of anemia as well…)

            1. Sandman*

              Same. My dad’s been told to please not come back and donate anymore because he kept fainting, and I decided that on my own after I’d passed the gallon mark because I had to lay on the table for so long afterwards to avoid the same. I’d also traveled to a country that was banned because of HIV and was ineligible for a lot of years (maybe still?) because of that. SO many reasons people can’t give!

            2. misslucy21*

              Yup. Me too. The one time I attempted to give blood, my blood pressure dropped low enough that they had trouble getting things going and it was by sheer force of will and a squeezy ball that I managed to complete the donation (and later learned they might not have been able to use it, because it took so long). They thanked me and said please don’t ever try to donate again.

          6. azvlr*

            This was my son’s exact experience! He views himself as sort of a bad—, so it was alarming/funny when it happened. I heard a smack and he was on the ground (not hurt). He also has AB positive blood and they call him all the time. He is now a fairly regular donor. Last Mother’s Day we went together, and we resolved to make it a tradition.
            I wonder if there is a correlation between blood-type and falling out after donation.

          7. TrainerGirl*

            I’m AB- and I am constantly stalked by blood donation services. Not only for blood, but also platelets. I gave platelets once and was so sick for over a week that I decided never to do it again. It doesn’t matter how perky these folks are, I just say I can’t and please stop contacting me.

        2. TheRedCoat*

          Having passed out, pants down in the cafeteria bathroom to the point that they got an ambulance to take me out…. yeah. I’m still pretty wary about donating blood.

        3. Anna*

          I tend to faint when I have blood drawn, but as long as I am lying down when I get woozy, it’s fine. So I registered as a donor anyway. First time I gave blood I predictably almost fainted and although I did not find this a problem (I was on one of their lie-back chairs (what’s the word) and was fine after some rest and drinks), the blood bank now doesn’t want me donating anymore.

          1. DAMitsDevon*

            I haven’t donated blood in awhile, but I’ve found that the only blood drives I’ve almost passed out at were the ones at my dad’s office (I would go during my summer or winter breaks in college, because the company he works for gives out really good swag to people who donate, like this super soft, warm robe I still have). I’m not sure what it is about that location that makes me woozy, unless I just happened to not spend enough time sitting and resting after giving blood on those days.

            1. Anna*

              I know that word only as a comfortable chair to sit back & watch tv in, but if it can also be used in a medical context, then that is the word. Thanks!

          2. Dorothy Lawyer*

            Same here – I almost passed out and was told “You probably shouldn’t do this again!” by the tech.

        4. Clisby Williams*

          +1. I donated once at a drive held at my husband’s workplace. His boss donated, fainted, knocked himself out, and had to be taken to the emergency room. Don’t know if he ever donated again, but I wouldn’t have. Some people are phobic about needles. I gave up donating after two blood drives in a row where they couldn’t get enough blood from me, and I sat there feeling sicker and sicker and sicker. There are many reasons for not donating, and yours are nobody else’s business.

          1. Arjay*

            This is me. The initial stick is fine and my blood starts to flow, but after 5 minutes I dry up and no amount of squeezing/relaxing/ adjusting can get me up to a pint. After a couple tries, my frustration and the waste of time and supplies have led to me not attempting further donations.

            1. Drago Cucina*

              This is me. The flow would stop.

              I’m not allowed to give blood since I lived in Italy for three years, during the 80s. My very healthy, 30 something son cannot give for the same reason. He was 3 when we arrived.

              The reasons for not being able to give are vast.

          2. gmg22*

            This happened to me the one time I tried to donate (at my workplace at the time, which … how do I say this … was in a geographical area where I’m not originally from and which is stereotyped as being populated by brusque, pushy people, a stereotype that in this case definitely held true). I would describe my veins as “wonky” — I’ve had nurses and doctors even have a hard time with a simple blood draw. So I probably should have known it might be an issue, but what was really awful was that after the drip stopped at only half a pint, and I timidly asked the nurse “So that means you can’t use it?” she responded by snapping in a very irritated tone: “NO WE CAN’T, THE DAMN DRIP STOPPED!” I shuffled out into the waiting area, got my juice and cookie … and then promptly burst into tears, at which point she stuck her head around the divider and said “GOD! WHAT’S THE PROBLEM NOW???”

            Current-day me would have made a call of complaint to the local Red Cross chapter the next day and NOT minced words about how inappropriate her behavior was. Sadly little 20-something me was not so assertive. But I really hope that woman did not work blood drives on the regular.

            1. beatrix*

              Oh that’s awful–and also possibly not true (that they couldn’t use the half-pint). In Australia, they can use what they get either for research–fellow drier-upper here–or for infants. My mum is extremely petite and is not allowed to donate the full whack, but she’s extra happy to think that her blood is going to babies. That’s what she was told many years ago, anyway, and she donated regularly for at least 3o years.

              Mind you, the hassle of wonky veins/drying up is considerable and I felt very self-conscious even though everyone was very nice about it! I’m giving it a rest for awhile, too.

              1. Narcoleptic Juliet*

                No, they wouldn’t have been able to use it. The amount of anticoagulant in the bag is dosed for a full unit, and if only a half unit was drawn, the ratio wouldn’t be right. When “baby bags” are used, if they know ahead of time less will be drawn, they can take some of the extra AC out, but you can’t do that after the fact.

                Source: 12+ years as a blood bank employee.

        5. pope suburban*

          This is exactly why I wouldn’t do it again during a workday. I gave during a work blood drive once, and even though I took full advantage of their snacks and juice, I felt terrible for an hour afterward. I didn’t throw up, but sitting with my head down didn’t cut it, and I ended up having to close my office door and lay on the floor for a while. Any future donations are going to have to be when I’m not due back at work soon, after a full meal, in the company of someone who can help me. That’s just how it is for some people.

        6. DarlaMushrooms*

          I vomit every time I have blood drawn. It’s a vagal response I have no control over, and is fairly common!

        7. Rebecca in Dallas*

          There is a weight minimum (or at least there was) and the nurse kept questioning if I was *sure* I was over 110lbs. I was, but just barely, and I almost passed out with the needle still in my arm! They had those tables that they could flip so your feet were above your head and I had to sit there for a long time until my color came back and they finally let me sit up. Then they made me sit there and eat cookies for a while. I felt horrible for the rest of the day.

          I actually weigh less now and anytime there is a blood drive, I just say, “I wish I could donate, but I’m not able to.” I assume the weight requirement is the same as it was, but even if it’s not, I just don’t want to after that first experience. I think donating blood/plasma is awesome, I’ve had a close friend who needed blood after a serious accident and I helped organize a blood drive in his honor. If I could physically handle it, I would do it!

      2. E*

        I tend to pass out when I have blood drawn for a regular dr visit, not even blood donation amount. No one at my office questions why I choose not to donate, although I have told them the reason.

      3. Peachkins*

        Yes, just a simple “Sorry, I’m not eligible to donate” should be all you need to say. There are sooo many reasons why someone wouldn’t be eligible to give blood. Last time I went to donate, I’d had a sinus infection over a week before, and other than finishing up my antibiotics, I was fully recovered. Still couldn’t give because I was still on meds. Low iron levels is another very common reason. I don’t think anyone will think twice if you just say you’re not able to at this time.

        1. bluephone*

          Same, there have been many times where my iron count was too low by like, 0.000001 point or whatever.Or I finished sinusitis antibiotics 2 days before and they wanted me to have finished them 3 days before, etc. My sister tried to donate at least 4 times in college and every time, she fainted and threw up. My coworker is in remission for breast cancer. My mom was super anemic prior to her hysterectomy. And so on and so on :-/
          I don’t mind giving the Red Cross money because in so many cases, you literally can’t get blood from a stone (person).

        2. Amber T*

          This. And if she (or anyone) follows up with “why??” just give them a confused stare, raise an eyebrow, go “huh?” Anything to show that “uh, did you really just ask that?”

        3. tink*

          Yep, it could be something as small as “my veins roll or hide and it makes it traumatic for me AND the tech trying to draw my blood” (which is a problem my partner has).

        4. Beaded Librarian*

          And even guys can be too low on iron for donations. My coworker tried donating a work blood drive and his was too low. I did and had my usual oh I feel slightly nauseous when they went to take out the needle.

          Which is an improvement on the turn white as a sheet and start sweating that I’ve done in the past. I’ve learned a goood meal less than an hour before donating is a requirement for me for optimal results.

        5. Gina*

          I agree. It would be so annoying though having to explain anything else beyond that to obsessed Alice. Alice is great for drumming up support for this kind of cause, but there is a line in the sand where pushy becomes too much. I think Alison’s advice is great and I bet Alice’s will leave it alone soon after OP applies it.

      4. Lauren*

        If she asks why, be visibly upset … are you really asking me for my personal medical history right now? Don’t!

      5. RUKidding*


        I get a false positive for syphillis every single time they check…every time for forty years.

        Each time I go through the treatmet, “just in case” even though they/we know the reason it hits that way (an autoimmune disorder).

        Plus if I’d had it for forty years, *something* else would have manifested not the least passing it on to sexual partners or my child during birth.

        I know I don’t have syphillis. That said, I can’t donate blood but I dont want go through that ^^ whole song and dance with all and sundry.

        So OP just tell her “I’m good,” turn around and walk away.

        1. Rebecca in Dallas*

          OMG false positive for syphillis! Yeah, I can imagine not wanting to explain that every time!

    1. Hawk*

      Yes, it’s more than just medical reasons- there are lots of different restrictions because of having traveled to or lived in different places. You also can’t donate if your iron is too low. I have a friend who has chronically low iron and always gets rejected when she tries to give blood. I’m not saying you should lie to Alice- just tell her you’re ineligible to donate. She probably won’t ask why, unless she’s really rude and nosy. If she does, just be vague- “I have a medical restriction” or something. I think you’re more worried about this then you need to be.

      1. DArcy*

        Yeah, my mom was very hit and miss when she used to give because her blood iron was generally right on the borderline for eligibility. Okay sometimes, too low sometimes.

        1. MCMonkeyBean*

          That’s me too. I started to make sure I ate lots of iron-rich foods before the blood drives at work and it actually helped, but then for the last few years we have somehow gotten synced where they always come when I’m on my period and there is no way I’m passing the iron test then :(

        2. Emily*

          That used to be me, but a doctor recommended that I start taking a small daily iron supplement (not specifically for blood donation purposes, but it has helped me get above the minimum threshold more often!).

          I also started giving platelets instead of whole blood after I had an incident where blood donation actually dropped me into anemic levels and I didn’t discover until months later. Oops. I think of it as a win-win for me and the Red Cross, because my blood type isn’t that rare and platelet donation doesn’t affect my athletic performance.

      2. RaccoonMama*

        Yep- my iron is within normal physiologic ranges, but the Red Cross likes you to actually be above normal (maybe the upper limits), and I can never remember to just eat spinach and steak before donating so I often get rejected!
        I’ve also had bad reactions to donating where I’ve actually thrown up during so between those two things I no longer donate. Even though the second isn’t a restriction they place!

      3. ADHD Bender*

        Yup my iron has always been too low for their standards, though at a healthy level, every time I’ve tried donating and so at this point I’ve just stopped trying even though I grew up watching my father donate blood so always wanted to try it myself…

      4. On Fire*

        If pressed, I would probably give outrageously fake reasons: I was exposed to an alien life form when I went to Mars/was abducted by aliens; I have coffee instead of blood in my veins; I’m actually a 400-year-old vampire so I’m a recipient, not a donor. My husband is “allergic to needles: they make me sick at my stomach” – it’s phobia, not allergy, but it gets a laugh and people back off.

          1. Llellayena*

            That’s not entirely inaccurate in my case. I have to drink a large glass of water and run around the building three times before I can get the blood flowing well enough to fill a test tube. I don’t even want to think what I’d need to do to generate a pint!

        1. First OP*

          My sister suggested that I explain that, like Wolverine, I have Adamantium in my bones. So unfortunately I would heal immediately after the needle was inserted, and they’d never get a chance to draw the blood. (plus there’s a risk of transmitting werewolf-ism.)

          1. knitcrazybooknut*

            You’d probably also snap the needle in two, and you don’t want to *cost* the Red Cross money.

            (Yeah, not canon, but what the heck.)

            1. Nobby Nobbs*

              Yeah, it’s Luke Cage who canonically has that problem. Heavy metal poisoning might be an issue, though!

          2. sam*

            so the first time I ever donated blood (in HS), it took so long that…my vein actually closed up and started healing around the needle before I finished donating the entire pint. That was…interesting. It’s gone a bit better in the 30 years since.

            On your specific situation – I once ‘accidentally’ pressured folks regarding donating blood – my only excuse was that it was 9/11 and we in NYC and rounding up as many people as possible to go to the nearest blood center, and I (unthinkingly) asked a few of my gay co-workers to join (I knew they were gay, but it was 2001 and they weren’t out to everyone at work). They absolutely called me on it later, and I apologized profusely, and we we are still friends, and I have never pressured anyone again. (Of course, so many people tried to donate blood that day that we never even got inside the donation center).

            I’m a pretty regular blood donor – I have my gallon card – but there are plenty of times when I *can’t* donate. From medical – either I’m too anemic or my blood pressure is too low (when I went the day after 9/11, my pressure was 80/40. They didn’t quite understand how I was…sitting up and talking to them. Apparently my body shuts down when under extreme stress). I’ve also traveled to several places that result in not being allowed to donate for six months to a year afterwards (India, the Amazon, basically anywhere malarial).

            You also can’t donate if you have a bad cold, you’re on certain medications, for a year after getting a tattoo, if you’ve gotten certain vaccines recently, etc.

            !!!!BUT ALSO!!!! If you want to shut this woman up AND don’t want to disclose ANY of these things, you can go to the bloodmobile and explain in confidence to the nurse what’s going on, and they will probably give you a sticker.

            1. Polyhymnia O'Keefe*

              THIS. Also, in Canada, at least, you can go through the whole process, including actually giving blood, but they give you a bardode sticker to say either “use my blood” or “do not use my blood” based on the forms and questionnaire. Once you’ve gone through the whole list of criteria, no matter how you’ve answered, you are left to privately put a bar code sticker on your form that looks identical either way. If you have reason to not use your blood, even if you didnt disclose it on the form or to the nurse, that will mark your donation. You can go through the process, but your blood will be confidentially noted as ineligible. If you can bow out gracefully, that’s obviously better, but if someone feels they have to go through the process for one reason or another, that’s an option.

              1. Geoffrey B*

                I remember the same thing last time I donated in the USA, though I don’t know whether that’s universal.

            2. Blue Dog*

              I would tell her that you would love to, but you got a small tribute tattoo when one of your family members passed away and that you don’t want to talk about it anymore because it is too painful.

              You shouldn’t have to do this, but sometimes it is easier to just deflect.

                1. Baby Shark*

                  I’d tell her you just got a Prince Albert. Although if she’s this nosy, she may ask to see that too.

              1. Geoffrey B*

                Tattoos aren’t a lifetime exclusion, so this just seems likely to cause complications – “oh well, I’ll put a reminder in my diary for next January so you can start donating then!”

            3. Hematologist*

              They absolutely called me on it later, and I apologized profusely, and we we are still friends, and I have never pressured anyone again.

              You have nothing to apologize for. You organized a blood drive in the middle of a national crisis. You presumably would have accepted it if any of your co-workers had said they could not donate.

              1. Geoffrey B*

                Sam did right to apologise, for a couple of reasons.

                Pressuring a non-out gay/bi man to donate blood, in front of co-workers, puts them in an unpleasant position where he either has to be seen as a selfish jerk, or make up some excuse for why he can’t donate (which is itself unpleasant for people who dislike lying), or risk being outed to those co-workers. That is not a good thing to do to people.

                It also acts as a reminder of how gay men are stigmatised – imagine how it feels to constantly hear “giving blood is the best thing you can do, we’re desperate for blood” and then be told “…but not so desperate that we’ll take yours”. A straight guy who has unprotected sex with strangers without knowing their HIV or other STI status can donate blood; a gay man who’s been monogamous with his partner for fifty years and consistently used condoms can’t. It’s not hard to see how that might evoke memories of the not-very-distant, not-entirely-gone days when people treated gay men like lepers.

                It’s quite understandable that Sam didn’t think of this stuff in the immediate aftermath of 9/11, but it’s still good manners to apologise when you tread on somebody’s toes.

        2. Miss Petty and Vindictive*

          My personal fave ridiculous answer is “Oh, I would, but I found out they won’t give it back to me afterwards. Damn banks, always take-take-take!”

      5. Anne (with an “e”)*

        I am anemic and I have a heart condition, thus, I cannot donate blood. Whenever there is a blood drive, if someone asks me about it, I just say that I cannot give blood because of medical restrictions. There are so many reasons that people are restricted from donating. I would either ignore the bully or just say that there are medical restrictions for why you are unable to participate. It’s not a lie. A reasonable person should not push you further. If she does push further, she is being intrusive and rude.

      6. Loux*

        Yep, this is my issue too – I have chronically low iron. (In fact I need to go get tested for anemia again. Sigh.)

      7. MusicWithRocksInIt*

        Another anemic here. I’ve had people pressure me before to just ‘try’ but I don’t want to take up their time and effort when I know it won’t work, my doctor has to monitor this on and off and ‘not worryingly low’ is about the best i’ve ever been able to do. “Sorry, I can’t donate” is all you need to say.

      8. blackcat*

        So. Many. Reasons!

        I am too small to donate. At one point in my life, I was super fit and weighed enough and donated no problem. But I haven’t maintained that, and one time I lied to the red cross about my weight to donate.

        That did not end well.

        So yes, plenty of people can’t donate! And that’s fine!

        1. HalloweenCat*

          I have this same problem! It’s only been in the last year that I weigh enough to donate blood (and in that time I got a tattoo so I STILL can’t). The one time I donated blood in college, I weighed the exact cut-off weight for eligibility (or so I thought) and they just took my word for it. . . a blackout and puking in a Joann fabric’s parking lot later, we determined I did not, in fact, weigh enough.

        2. Seifer*

          Same! I had someone like “Alice” at my last company and after a couple of days of badgering, I finally told her that I’ve never weighed enough to donate blood and she was taken aback for a second and then said, “there’s a scale in manufacturing, we can go check just to be sure!” Uhhhh. No… thank you?

        3. GradStudent*

          Exactly my problem! I’m 23, just made that weight in the past year, and that’s because I been living an unhealthy life style. Now that I’m exercising again the weight it coming off and I’m pretty sure I’ll be under the limit by the time the next campus blood drive comes around.

          1. Mallory Janis Ian*

            Yeah, I was about 22 before I weighed enough to donate. Nothing wrong, I just hadn’t filled out yet and was still small and slight like a young teenager.

            1. Mallory Janis Ian*

              Ack — I don’t mean to imply that anyone else who is thin or slight is like a young teenager. Just that for me, being that thin was a product of youth, and my more mature body is just naturally more substantial.

        4. Clisby Williams*

          This too! I weigh enough now, but I was at least 30 before my weight was high enough to donate.

        5. Collarbone High*

          I *loathe* work blood drives because someone will always notice that I’m too small to donate and then I get a week of people telling me to eat a sandwich, you skinny minny, I haaaaaaate you, it must be NICE.

          (It IS nice to have acute inflammatory bowel disease, thanks for asking!)

          1. Michaela Westen*

            I had a sudden weight loss from PTSD several years ago and have been skinny ever since. Yes, it’s nice, especially the times I found I’d lost a few *more* pounds and was afraid I’d waste away and die.

          2. Hematologist*

            Of course, on the one hand, there’s your minor discomfort over people ribbing you a bit over being able to eat a lot. Counterbalancing that is the fact that BLOOD DONATIONS SAVE LIVES. By all means, go on loathing blood drives at work.

            1. Ego Chamber*

              Did you miss the part about “inflammatory bowel disease”? She’s being harassed at work for a medical condition that’s slightly inconveniencing her coworkers (in theory, even though it’s none of their damn business). Getting criticized for something is unpleasant, getting criticized for something that’s totally inaccurate is effing exhausting.

        6. That Girl From Quinn's House*

          I have this problem too! It is weirdly embarrassing, because a lot of people interpret “I can’t donate blood because I’m under the weight limit,” as some holier-than-thou insult on their appearance, not a statement of medical fact.

          1. Snarkastic*

            Yes, this is why I generally just try to avoid saying WHY I can’t give blood. It sounds like a humble-brag, when it’s just a fact.

          2. Shortie*

            This. People should really stop asking why about things like this. I try to avoid saying why, but if someone gets pushy enough, I tell them, and then we’re on with the predictable, “Oh, well, good for you. Glad you’re so skinny.” Urgh. No, I’m not skinny. I’m a very normal weight for my very short height.

        7. Vampyre*

          I am a very petite woman, I’m in the process of losing weight and my goal weight is between 105 and 110 (which is smack dab in the middle of the range deemed “normal” for my height according to most sources) if I do reach it (currently 15-20 pounds above it) I will not be able to donate blood because I will be below the red cross eligibility of 110 lbs.

      9. Trout 'Waver*

        Too high in iron is also a reason that blood can’t be donated. The treatment for too-high iron is to draw blood, but it has to be thrown away because it is unusable for donation.

      10. SciDiver*

        You also can be rejected if your iron is too high! Happens to my sister occasionally when she donates.

        1. QoB*

          Just a PSA for anyone whose iron is ‘too high’: please get checked for haemochromatosis! It’s really easy to treat but if it goes untreated long-term it can cause chronic damage to your liver (as well as diabetes/arthritis and other unpleasant things). It’s particularly likely if you’ve got ancestors from north-west Europe.

        2. minuteye*

          Sorry to stick my nose in, but iron levels high enough to make the red cross nervous should really be checked out by a doctor (especially if they happen more than once). It can indicate hemochromatosis, which is fatal long-term.

          I would not normally derail like this, but a lot of people don’t know that high iron is an issue, and it’s killed multiple relatives of mine.

        3. CaliCali*

          Donating blood can actually HELP with hemochromatosis, though — my ex has it, and he’s a regular donor in order to keep his iron levels normal.

      11. Doodle*

        I would not tell her I’m ineligible. That’s an opening for prying and speculating. It’s none of Alice’s business. Just say, I’m so sorry, I can’t.
        And if she pesters after that, Alice, I said I can’t. Please don’t ask me again.
        Etc., increasingly cold and clipped.

        1. henrietta*

          Unless Alice has access to the who-gave-blood lists (and I highly think she does not), what harm could come from a simple “Oh, I don’t wear stickers; I don’t like the adhesive on my clothes.” ?

            1. Close Bracket*

              Are blood mobiles covered by HIPAA? Phlebotomists are medical personnel, but they aren’t treating patients. I’d be interested in the answer, if anyone knows!

              1. Narcoleptic Juliet*

                Not usually. We have to be trained to be HIPAA compliant, but blood donors aren’t covered under it. My department at a blood bank also treats patients with iron overload disorders, among other things, and those people are covered under HIPAA, but the average blood donor isn’t. And blood drive chairpeople (the local contact for a blood drive, not a blood bank employee) often get lists of donors from previous drives, and may be responsible for setting up the appointments themselves. That’s not protected health information at all.

          1. Vampyre*

            Slightly tangential:
            This is a lot like when I vote. I ALWAYS vote, but I have no interest in a little sticker. It reminds me of elementary school and a particular substitute teacher who used to dole out gold star stickers and a single (yes a single) goldfish to good boys and girls…when we were in 5th grade.

            I am an adult and responsible for my own decisions and I don’t need to advertise what I have or have not done with a sticker.

            1. SpaceySteph*

              Similar tangent– Once after I voted I forgot to take the sticker off, washed the shirt, and it left a permanent discolored oval on the shirt right over my left boob. Luckily it was an exercise shirt so I wear it anyways (I’m already not winning any beauty contests when working out), but since then I try not to put stickers on my clothes for fear I might ruin something.

        2. Kit-Kat*

          I would either do this or do the Return Awkward to Sender method and ask why she keeps asking. (And follow up with stuff like, oh it sounds like you’re asking about my personal medical information. That’s personal.)

      12. Lara*

        Yup, I can’t donate because I’ve been to Belize within the past year. Alice isn’t entitled to learn why you’re ineligible, unless you choose to tell her on your own terms.

        1. Catleesi*

          I had to defer because of travel too. I think in situations like this, a little white lie to get someone off your back is harmless. Tell her you traveled recently, that you’re anemic, or that the sight of needles make you pass out. It’s none of her business, and its not fair that she is stressing you out over it.

      13. SarahKay*

        Yep, I used to get rejected all the time due to low iron. I’d have the finger-prick test, fail that, and get sent over to someone that’d draw blood from the crook of my elbow (and this bit always hurt! which is odd, because the actual blood donation, on the rare occasions I passed, was fast and painless) and then I’d fail that too. After about four failures in four visits I got asked to go away and not come back for a year, because clearly it just wasn’t happening.
        OP#1, whatever you decide to do – lie low and wait it out, or tell Alice to knock it off – good luck!

      14. Just Another Techie*

        One thing I’ve done when I didn’t want to have an awkward conversation (in my case, recent tattoo made me ineligible) was to just show up at the blood drive, fill out the intake screening form, and have a nurse tell me I wasn’t eligible. Went fora walk, got a coffee, came back to my desk. “Oh I’ve been to the blood drive already, thanks!”

        But then, at that point in my life I was terminally conflict avoidant and had serious people pleaser tendencies.

        1. TJ Morrison*

          I was going to suggest that. Every time I donate, they give you the sticker before the questionaire.

      15. Old Biddy*

        I used to give blood regularly. I couldn’t give for a year since I’d gotten my ears pierced, and when I do give blood now it’s only a 50:50 chance that they can get a pint out of me due to fussy veins.

    2. dragonsnap*

      LW1: You certainly don’t have to lie — you have nothing to be ashamed of and she should mind her own business — and it sounds like you don’t want to. But if you wanted a white lie just to shut her up and move on with your day in peace you could tell her your iron is too low. I’ve been denied at blood drives before for that reason.

          1. Matilda Jefferies*

            Yeah, that seems like she’s intentionally looking for loopholes, and following the letter of the law if not the spirit. It might be worth raising with your HR guy if you feel comfortable, because there are probably others in the office who feel the same way you do about the pressure to donate.

            1. pleaset*

              Yup. And it might even be worth looking at the letter of the law – the policy might simply say “donations” or “contributions” which everyone has interpreted to mean money, but could be broader.

            2. Jaz*

              I agree! Blood donations are a charged subject for me; there are a couple of very personal and very painful reasons I’m ineligible to donate, so as simple as it is to say “I’m ineligible,” I think constant pressure like this from a coworker would make it hard for me to interact positively with her. It can be a very charged topic.

          2. First OP*

            To be fair, she’s not technically asking for blood, though pushing for it is probably worse. But there’s no rule against promoting a charity, as she and others have done for winter coat drives, canned food etc. On the other hand, a few Girl Scout-parents flagrantly disregard the money rule come cookie season. (And I have to admit I’m happy about that…)

      1. Michaela Westen*

        The thing that bugs me about the whole thing is the disrespect. Alice is being disrespectful and I would not want to accommodate her with a white lie or anything else to spare her feelings. I know I’m a little reactive about this after growing up with fundamentalists.
        If it was me I would want to let her know (in ways that wouldn’t get me in trouble) she needs to respect me and my boundaries. I’d probably just smile and say “no” whenever she brings it up.

    3. CoveredInBees*

      Yup. I’ve had a few reasons why I can’t donate over the years and there was finally a point in time that I could. I made it all the way through the different screens to the nurse taking one look at my veins and saying that I couldn’t donate but was welcome to a cookie. My veins are quite small (despite being well-hydrated, since people always ask) and they have to use a rather large needle for the donation. That needle would have caused serious damage to my vein if inserted.

      Some people are just not built to donate.

      1. Audrey Puffins*

        Same here! I’ve tried to donate several times, and I do my best to be as hydrated as possible and keep myself warm and do all the things I possibly can to try making a difference to my tiny veins, but I’ve never managed to get them to an acceptable state for donation, alas.

        1. KC without the sunshine band*

          Same here. I’ve been denied for my tiny veins, even when super hydrated. I stopped trying. But on the plus side: In college, there was always at least one prof who would give extra credit points for donating. All I had to do was show up, be denied, and get my sticker. Boom. Extra credit.

          When Alice bugs you, tell her you can’t. If she pries, give her the look of “You can’t be serious.” , shake your head, and walk off. She should get the hint.

      2. Hobbert*

        Me too! I’ve been rejected a few times (mostly for travel and once for antibiotics) and I was finally able to donate annnd nope, my veins are too small. Fine. I guess I’ll hoard all my blood for myself!

      3. Wintermute*

        I used to sell plasma when I was younger, and they blew out my vein in my arm so badly thanks to two bad blowout incidents that it’s difficult for me to donate now, they can use the other arm but they often prefer not to at all if you have vein damage. I constantly have to explain the whole story too otherwise people will assume I was/am an IV drug abuser!

      4. AvonLady Barksdale*

        This is exactly why I can’t donate. I tried once, back in high school. The tech found the vein and all was fine, then he inserted the needle and my vein collapsed. There has been only minimal improvement in my veins since then, and now people just don’t want to take the risk. When phlebotomists miss my vein on the first try for any kind of draw, I actually go vaso-vagal and it is NOT fun.

        “Oh, sorry, I can’t give blood.” I’ve been pressed on that once or twice. My reason isn’t overly personal for me, but I use it as an opportunity to tell people to mind their own beeswax in a subtle way.

        1. Kitryan*

          I’m a fainter – the build up of testing iron (which is also usually a bit low) and taking info triggers fainting/lightheadedness and then all the staff are worrying about me, I’m taking up everyone’s valuable time, and they won’t let me donate.
          Now, if it comes up I joke that I’m more trouble than I’m worth.
          For regular bloodwork I can usually handle it if I’m lying down and they’re pretty quick about it.

      5. Llellayena*

        Ooo, that’s good info! I’ve got small veins too, they always need to use a kid size needle to draw for testing. I didn’t realize that would be a problem for giving blood.

      6. Robin Bobbin*

        After baby #5 my mom got phlebitis [Phlebitis Definition. Phlebitis (fle-BYE-tis) is a condition in which a vein becomes inflamed…. The inflammation may cause pain and swelling. When the inflammation is caused by a blood clot or thrombus, it is called thrombophlebitis.] and spent several days in the hospital. The main vein in her arm was permanently damaged, so she could never donate. Who wants or needs to explain all that? None of their business! I’d just go with “Sorry, can’t donate.” repeated as necessary like a broken record. Requests for justification should be met with a look of incredulity and a repeat.

      7. TotesMaGoats*

        Red Cross asked my mom to not return decades ago because her veins were so small that she was an almost impossible stick. I inherited her veins. They like to collapse, roll, disappear. It makes getting blood drawn torture. I have to use a pediatric needle for draws. So no, I’m not going to donate. My dad and sister on the other hand, top of the list for Red Cross to call.

      8. TexanInExile*

        I pass out. I passed out the first time I gave blood because I thought the whole, “Have you eaten today?” question was for other people.

        That was decades ago. But just reading your comment – they have to use a rather large needle for the donation – is making me dizzy.

    4. Jen S. 2.0*

      Me three! Not donating means **nothing** about your sexual partners.

      I have no health or lifestyle issues that keep me from donating. However, my veins are so tiny and roll so much that it takes, like, three employees stabbing me for an hour to get a vein, and then another hour rolling the thing in my hand and having my arm rubbed to get a half of a donation. The Red Cross told me not to come back because I take up too many resources; they could get 4 donations in the time it takes to get a half of one out of me.

      I now skip office blood drives with a clear conscience!

      1. Pomona Sprout*

        I have that vein problem, too. I donated a few times in spite of that, but after being turned down twice in a row because my allergies were acting up (even if you know for a fact that you don’t have anything contagious, a sniffle or two will disqualify you regardless), I said, “Screw it. Why spend all that time waiting in line just to be rejected.” My allergies are year round and although I’m on a medication regimen that keeps me comfortable, I haven’t found any way to completely eliminate all visible symptoms entirely. So, for the foreseeable future, it’s a no go for me. My husband used to be a pretty frequent donor but had to stop when he was put on a medication that made it impossible (and no, nosy lady from the blood bank who called and asked, he is never going to be able to go off of it, at least not as long as he wants to continue to be, like, alive). Then there’s my daughter, who would like to donste but is under the minimum weight of 110 lbs. (she is not underweight; at 4’11” her weight is just right for her tiny frame). So we are 0 for 3, despite the fact we would all donate IF we could.

        My point being, as others here have said, there are LOTS of us who can’t donate blood for LOTS of different reasons, and kit’s nobody’s damned business what those reasons are, whether they are coordinating the office blood drive or not. I hope the o.p. will feel empowered to try out some of the scripts suggested in these replies, because it sounds like Alice could use use some educating in this area!

        1. Dragoning*

          I am also underweight to donate, and because I am O-…the blood banks get pushy about it. The number of times I’ve been told “just eat a sandwich!” as if that’s going to magically put 5 pounds on me overnight with my metabolism being what it is.

      2. Lauren*

        I have the same vein thing! Both my parents have small veins too; came in quite a problem when my dad had a health condition that meant a lot of injections (they ended up having to do an operation to hook a port into an artery so they could inject the port!) Clearly I inherited it from them.

        I tried to donate blood, but they said the biggest vein they could find in either arm was just big enough for the blood *test*, let alone the donation, so I can’t donate. They gave me a cup of tea and a biscuit anyway and told me not to come back.

    5. HannahS*

      And, crucially, Alice isn’t entitled to know any of the reasons why people don’t donate. She’s not entitled to know about whether someone’s on antibiotics, or anemic, a man having sex with another man, phobic of needles, simply prefers not to, isn’t willing to do it during the work day…it doesn’t matter. Alice shouldn’t be pressuring people to do any particular thing with their bodies that isn’t “show up reasonably clean to work.” I feel like you’re getting lost in the weeds here, because you wish you could participate and the blood ban is unjust and you’re not out at work, but I promise, Alice is STILL SO WRONG OMG. Here are some other ideas of things you can say depending on how annoyed you’re ready to feel:
      “Alice, it’s wonderful that you’re so enthusiastic about the blood drive. But you’ve brought it up a couple of times now, and we all know it’s going on. Not everyone is able to give blood, and not everyone is going to, and I think it’s enough, now.”
      “Alice, a lot of people can’t give blood, and I don’t think they appreciate being scolded.”
      “Alice, it’s really not appropriate for you to be pressuring us about this.”
      “Alice, if I decide to donate blood, it’s a private decision and I won’t be talking it over with you, OK?”
      “Alice, we’re all adults here. We’re all going to make decisions about our bodies without your input. I get that you’re enthusiastic, but you’re really starting to cross lines here.”

      1. HannahS*

        Sorry, I meant how annoyed you’re ready to sound/seem, which I mistyped as feel. I certainly feel annoyed at Alice!

      2. Jasnah*

        I love this! It especially gives OP a way to push back without resorting to a white lie. White lies are good and useful, but sometimes we want to say you know what, you actually aren’t entitled to any answer at all, Alice!

        Someone who had to alert their workplace about needlephobia on day 3 of a new job and wishes that it hadn’t had to go down like that

        1. MusicWithRocksInIt*

          Oh – needlephobia is a really good point. No one should be pressured at work with confronting a fear totally unrelated to the job. Or into telling anyone that they even have it.

          1. AJHall*

            The only time I ever tried to give blood I fainted in the queue, causing them to have to deal with me and so delay operations, and of course I wasn’t allowed to give blood. It’s not needlephobia; it’s a form of haematophobia and now I know about it, it’s fairly easy to avoid the circumstances when it comes up. But if I had an Alice in my workplace (and I have had people like that) I can guarantee she’d go on and on about how there was nothing to worry about, adding extra unwanted detail each time I said no, so that odds on I’d end up in a faint on the office floor. And fainting at the office is a right pain for everyone including me.

          2. Temperance*

            The only time I pushed back on someone who doesn’t like needles is when this jerk in my old office went up to people personally, including me, asking if we were donating blood. I said no, and he wanted a reason, so then I asked him if he was donating, and when he declined, what the reason was. Apparently, he was “scared of needles”, so he “did his part” by making sure as many other people donated as possible. Tool.

        2. Linzava*

          Yes to this, I feel like people don’t address this as an issue for not giving blood because it’s stigmatized as not legitimate. But it’s very reasonable.

          I personally don’t have this fear, but I do have illness anxiety, formerly known as hypochondria. If there were an accident, I would totally donate, but not at work. Any feelings of lightheadedness could send me spiraling for the rest of the day and a completely avoidable episode could render me fighting off panic attacks at my desk and on my commute. I would be really angry if I had to report my condition at my workplace over something so trivial as peer pressure.

      3. Triplestep*

        I like these scripts in theory, too, but I am not sure I’d advise the “newest and youngest [male] employee at a small office” to use them with “the long-time office admin, a very sweet and upbeat woman in her mid-50s.”

        What she’s doing is not OK, but given the dynamics, I am not sure the answer is “scold her as she is scolding others”. This could come back to bite him after others find out, which is likely.

        LW#5, I would pick one of these and modify it for tone … not for her sake, but to avoid any fallout you might get.

        1. jam*

          This might be another reason to go via HR guy?

          “Could you say something to Alice? I don’t want to rock the boat as the new guy but she’s being really pushy about the blood drive. Giving blood is one of those things where people who don’t do it might have really sensitive reasons for not doing it, and it’s really uncomfortable when she calls people out at the morning meeting. I really love this team, and Alice is so great at her job, I don’t want to be ‘that guy’ but this just seems like something that could cause a real problem for the company.”

          1. Ismis*

            I’m in Australia and it might be different where you are and what “information” you’re up for sharing, but diarrhea precludes you from donating for a few weeks. As a bonus, you get to have some additional Candy Crush breaks during the day. I recommend muting the app.

          2. c-*

            His being LGBT+ himself should ensure that he picks up quickly on the subtext about sensitive reasons. He ought to have your back, LW.

            Btw, just want to send some jedi hugs, if welcome, from another queer person. You sound like you’re dealing with a lot of stress on top of that bullshit bigoted giving restriction, and I hope you feel better and surer of your place soon. Deciding how to be out is real hard, but it is so worth it, and it does get better.

      4. EddieSherbert*

        +100. Awesome scripts.

        This one is personally my favorite: “Alice, we’re all adults here. We’re all going to make decisions about our bodies without your input. I get that you’re enthusiastic, but you’re really starting to cross lines here.”

      5. Dessi*

        “Alice, if I decide to donate blood, it’s a private decision and I won’t be talking it over with you, OK?”


      6. Forrest Rhodes*

        Your first paragraph is right on the money, HannahS, and my choice would be the first suggested response on your list—said collaboratively and cordially, and followed by a change of subject (or a departure).
        There are good and valid reasons why a person might decide to not donate blood, but giving Alice any specific reason at all is simply an opening for her to explain to you why that reason isn’t valid.

        1. HannahS*

          Yeah, that’s an excellent point! Immediately changing the subject can really help in awkward situations.

      7. MarfisaTheLibrarian*

        67% of the population (according to google, so take it with a grain of salt) ISN’T eligible to donate for one reason or another. Maybe Alice could use a reminder of that?

    6. Quoth the Raven*

      Yeah– I can’t donate either because I had hepatitis as a kid and I have a recent tattoo. But you can also be turned away if you have cavities, if you are underweight or have anaemia, if you donated, received or underwent surgery recently … a lot of reasons, really. That’s without saying some people choose not to donate blood because they don’t want to.

      I do wish I could donate (especially when someone I know is asking for donors due to a planned surgery), but most of the time all it takes is saying “Sorry, I can’t”. I’d repeat only once and then ignore it, or escalate it if it became persistent, or if someone was trying to make me feel guilty over it.

      1. Lily Rowan*

        Yeah, the recent tattoo has got to be the most common, non-controversial reason that a random coworker wouldn’t know about. And anyone who’s given blood recently would know the full gamut of reasons people are declined!

        1. Rae*

          “I just got a tattoo” isn’t a valid reason in most states anymore as long as your tattoo is from a state-regulated entity using sterile needles and ink that is not reused.

          1. Lily Rowan*

            Interesting — I just looked at the Red Cross website, and it turns out I’ve only lived in states that don’t regulate tattoo facilities! So everywhere I’ve lived, the one-year deferral would have been in place.

            1. Lily Rowan*

              Anyway, if someone asked me to give blood today, remind me to say I’m not eligible and leave it at that, to promote the idea that you don’t owe anyone an explanation! (I’m not eligible because I’ve donated too recently.)

          2. Aunt Piddy*

            In Louisiana you still have to wait a month, even if it was at a licensed tattoo parlor. (I donate blood and have several tattoos)

          3. Just Another Techie*

            Not in New England. Massachussetts, NH, Vermont, and Rhode Island all don’t regulate tattoo parlors to the Red Cross’s standards. (Maine and Connecticut do, however, if you’re in the northeast and want a donation-safe tattoo)

      2. AnotherAlison*

        You don’t even have to be medically “underweight.” I was at the low end of the normal range for my height, but you had to weigh at least 110 lbs. (That was a long time ago–not a problem for me now.)

        1. only acting normal*

          It’s because of blood volume, which has to be big enough for you to spare the donation amount. Short and light can be a healthy BMI but a (too) small total blood volume.

    7. DiploSpoonie*

      Travel can also get you restricted. I’ve gone to a lot of places with malaria, and I’m often unable to give for that reason.

    8. Arya Parya*

      I theoretically can donate, but due to a childhood trauma, I have a needle phobia. To me it’s really not worth the stress. (I have my ways to deal with it when it’s medically necessary BTW) But this is not something I share with everyone. A lot of people are afraid of needles, but usually not in the extent as me. When I tell I sometimes get really useless advice. No, simply looking the other way doesn’t help if I literally go into fight of flight mode. So I opt not to share this with people I don’t know that well.

      1. Loux*

        Right?! I am so terrified of needles and people’s advice is so useless most of the time. I’d like to give blood but between that and low iron it’s not possible for me.

    9. SignalLost*

      Same reason. I lived in the U.K. for two years and I read the restrictions as that giving me a lifetime ban (not great, as I also have a rare blood type). I get not lying but you could say you have a medical reason and be entirely correct: ridiculous as the male-sex ban is, it’s a potential medical issue.

      1. PhyllisB*

        My hubby has a rare type, too and the blood bank would call him like clockwork every six weeks to come donate. Alas, he had lymphoma 17 years ago, (he’s fine now) but he can never donate again.

        1. Adjuncts Anonymous*

          My husband’s blood type isn’t rare, but he also had lymphoma and leukemia. Nope, nobody wants his blood except for the monthly tests! Glad he’s doing well.

          1. Shutdown and Out*

            I also have lymphoma. Since lymphoma is considered a blood cancer, I’m ineligible to donate blood. (As if I would want to pass my cancer on to someone else!) There’s no way I want to tell anyone at work that I have lymphoma, much less an office busybody like Alice.

      2. ZK*

        Ooof, #1 I feel for you. I will never be allowed to donate blood because I spent more than 3 months in England during the Mad Cow outbreak. Before that, I couldn’t donate because I had fresh tattoos. There are all kinds of reasons for not being allowed to donate and Alice really needs to back off.

        1. soupmonger*

          That is just not true. If it was, then the entire population of England alive at the time of mad cow disease would be exempt from donating blood. Don’t know where or how you got this idea from, but it’s way wrong.

          1. Kiwichick*

            New Zealander here – many of us can’t donate either because we lived in the UK at the ‘wrong time’…
            From the NZ Blood Service website:
            You must not have lived in the United Kingdom, France or the Republic of Ireland between 1980 and 1996 for a cumulative 6 months or more.

          2. Charis*

            This is my frustration at being forbidden by the US Red Cross rules from donating blood. My dad had to have a ton of blood products before he died and I really would like to give back. There are zero proven cases of someone getting BSE from blood donations and everyone in the UK above a certain age was living in the exposed area. If it were a problem we would know. It makes me angry, especially when I hear all the legitimate reasons that a large part of the population have for being unable to donate–medical, psychological, religious. And here I sit: non-squeamish, not anemic, chubby and juicy, no recent tattos. I have even been told that I am an “easy stick”. Sigh. To top it off? I was a VEGETARIAN when I lived in Cambridgeshire. I explain that, they don’t care.

          3. Anja*

            It is not necessarily wrong, depending where you are. I’m assuming in England and Europe in general they have to have different rules. I can’t give blood in Canada because I spent more than five years in Germany during the 80s/early 90s, but I’m assuming I’d be able to give blood in Germany. In Canada (per the ABCs of eligibility on the website):

            You are not eligible to donate if you have spent:

            – A cumulative total of three months or more in the United Kingdom (UK) between January 1980 and December 31, 1996.
            -A cumulative total of three months or more in France between January 1980 and December 31, 1996.
            -A cumulative total of five years or more in Western Europe outside the U.K. or France from January 1, 1980 through December 31, 2007. Western European countries affected are Germany, Italy, Netherlands, Switzerland, Austria, Belgium, Spain, Republic of Ireland, Portugal, Denmark, Luxembourg, and Liechtenstein.
            -A cumulative total of six months or more in Saudi Arabia from January 1, 1980 through December 31, 1996.

          4. Geoffrey B*

            Several countries do indeed ban the entire UK population from that era from donating. For Australia, the exclusion is “people who lived in the UK for six months or more from 1980-1996”. Not sure why you assumed ZK’s statement was “just not true” here?

    10. Anony Mouse*

      I can’t donate because I don’t meet the weight requirements. This is bringing me back to my high school science teacher who gave extra credit to students who donated blood; but he also made a rule that students who couldn’t/didn’t want to donate would get extra credit for making a poster promoting the blood drive.

      1. ADHD Bender*

        Your science teach sounds great! My high school science teacher tried a similar thing when the drive came to my school but only gave credit for actually donating. I waited most of my free period just to be told my iron was too low… and didn’t get any extra credit…

        1. Future Homesteader*

          That’s actually against the blood banks’ own rules for perks – when it comes to official incentives, they have to be offered to everyone who ATTEMPTS to donate blood, in order to not incentivize lying about health information. If they knew about that, they would have shut that down (hopefully).

      2. Tiny Soprano*

        Phew, that could have gone badly! Glad your teacher handled it well. I’ve never met the weight requirement either, but I was also in the UK at the wrong time so couldn’t donate even if I suddenly gained weight. OP sure doesn’t have to reveal his reason for not donating because there are many, many invisible reasons which are plausible.

      3. RandomusernamebecauseIwasboredwiththelastone*

        College Professor gave extra credit for giving blood… no alternative if you couldn’t. I was just off of a semester and summer living in Scotland during the mad cow outbreak, so banned for life.

        I needed the extra credit (Statistics was not my strongest subject) so I went and lied my way through the donation and then checked the little box that says “Don’t use this blood” so they would destroy it.

        Yep, total waste of time and resources for everyone involved.

        1. Turquoisecow*

          Wait, what? That’s an option? Why donate if they can’t use the blood?

          I tried to donate once but I have a slightly irregular heartbeat and the nurse freaked out that they couldn’t get a clear pulse reading and they wouldn’t go any further. I went to a cardiologist and they did a bunch of test and concluded I was fine.

          1. RandomusernamebecauseIwasboredwiththelastone*

            Yep it’s an option… someone explained it below in the comments.

            As to why donate if I was just going to tell them to pitch my donation… I needed the extra credit and didn’t have another option to get it. I asked the professor if there was another way for those who couldn’t donate and he said “No… this is it”.

          2. Observer*

            It’s an option because what the OP and RandomUserName describe is not uncommon- and it’s not even the worst that happens. I seem to recall some pretty over the top stories on this blog.

            In any case, they know that some people are going to lie about their status because they are being pressured into giving blood and either the pressure is such that it doesn’t really matter that they can’t give blood or the person faces significant problems if they disclose the reason. So, to avoid that they have this checkmark on the form which no one but the blood bank is ever supposed to see.

          3. Temperance*

            It’s so that no one is outed against their will. Plenty of people who are disqualified from donation due to stupid and arbitrary rules on who is fit to donate do this for their own safety at work.

    11. Piano Girl*

      I cannot donate for medical reasons. My son, though, has high iron, so it is beneficial for him to donate, and he does it regularly. If someone bugs me about donating, I usually turn the topic to my son, which allows me to not only get their attention towards me, but I also can brag about my son! Win-win!

    12. Tau*

      Yes! OP1, you’re thinking about the MSM restriction because that’s the one that applies to you. However, there are all sorts of reasons why someone can’t donate. I’m unlikely to be donating blood at any point in the near future because I have a health condition that leads to low iron and have spent most of the last four years oscillating between “healthy”, “anaemic” and “wow your hemoglobin levels are so low that we’re not certain how you’re still walking around”; it is hopefully now under control but a) I’ve thought so before and been wrong b) the thought of voluntarily letting large amounts of my blood leave my body currently gives me the creeping horrors. As a result of that, if I hear someone can’t/won’t donate my mind will probably jump to medical restrictions.

      I’m wondering if it would help to focus on the possibility that your coworkers might include someone like me, or someone who survived cancer, or who had some of the other exclusion reasons. It can be easier to spot inappropriate behaviour when it’s directed at people not us sometimes, and standing up on behalf of your other non-donating coworkers may make it easier to say something like:

      “Alice, I know you mean well, and I appreciate all the work you do to support these sorts of causes. However, there are a lot of reasons why someone might not be allowed or willing to donate blood, many of them very personal in nature. I know you would never want to make someone feel they have to reveal, for instance, medical information, so I wanted to let you know that your behaviour around the blood drive is beginning to come across that way.”

      (I don’t know if you have to be quite this careful about the wording, but if you worry a blunter correction would end in her getting defensive or in her feelings being extravagantly hurt it’s worth a shot.)

      1. Margaret*

        For sure- most of my family can’t donate because they’re on different medications, many relating to heart, blood pressure, or mental health. There are so many reasons it’s really inappropriate for her to be pressuring people at work.

        But that said, OP, it’s possible that your colleague from HR donated and simply marked that the donation was to be used for research. I’m also routinely screened out, but still give, only what they take goes straight to the research department. In case that eases some of your feelings about going to him!

      2. Michaela Westen*

        Many years ago my father had a dog who had a heart condition when he was older. When the dog went to the vet, the vet would listen to his heart and say, “I don’t understand why this dog is still alive. Take him home.”
        The dog was alive and cheerful for several years like that! :)

    13. neverjaunty*

      This. As someone who has both donated blood and received a life-saving donation, I would like Alice to go sit in a corner and feel bad about herself for, I dunno, a week or three. She’s being an intrusive ass.

      1. Kit-Kat*

        This kind of thing riles me up for similar reasons… I’ve benefited a lot from blood donations but for the same medical reason can’t donate. It’s a kind of ableism assuming everyone is “healthy” (put in quotes bc some of the eligibility rules may not have tons to do with one’s specific health) enough to donate. I really like the scripts about how it’s a personal decision or potentially pressuring people to reveal medical information, above.

        Luckily for me I’m obviously petite so while I’ve heard this directed at others people assume I can’t donate due to my weight (also true, but even if I weighed enough I still couldn’t donate).

    14. Emma*

      I’m on bloodthinners due to a pulmonary embolism, so I can’t donate. I’d be mad if someone was pressuring me!

      1. RUKidding*

        Reason #856 I cant donate. I take Warfarin (same reason). I just came off of it for a week with a bridge medication (injections…ugh) so I could have dental surgery and already have a blood clot in my leg. Back on it now so hopefully this will go away soon…

        1. Emma*

          Bummer. I’m on Eliquis. This is my first incident with a blood clot, they’re still testing to see if I need to be permanently on it or just for 6 months. So I’m a newb to the bloodthinner world. Good luck!

    15. Mary Richards*

      Yeah, I’m also ineligible to donate (due to the weight requirement), so I feel you! I don’t get into it; I just say “ I’m ineligible” and people usually back off without needing further explanation. But Alice sounds nosy, and I love some of the scripts people have suggested!

      Also, I always spread the word to others when I see a blood drive. Not sure if it’d help if you said something like “I’m ineligible, but I posted the info on FB/brought a friend/something else,” but it may!

    16. Beatrice*

      I’m eligible to donate and capable, but choose not to because in the past, it made me feel sick and lightheaded for a couple of days after, and because after that experience, my local blood bank still aggressively pursued me to make repeat donations until I stopped trying to explain myself and just told them firmly to stop calling me. I’m pretty sure I’m more able to donate without feeling unwell afterward now, but I’m not willing to open the doors with the blood bank again.

      1. a good mouse*

        If you’re interested in trying donating again, you could check out some local hospitals to see if they have their own blood bank center, or if your bad experience was with a hospital then check out the red cross. I’ve donated both ways before, and I’ve only gotten a follow up call or letter when it was 8 weeks later and no hassling if I didn’t come in after that.

        I always prefer donating directly to a hospital personally, because the red cross charges the hospitals for the blood and I can just as easily cut out the middle man to give the hospital my blood cheaper and faster. (In California you get a coupon for a pint of Baskin Robbins ice cream! ‘A pint for a pint.’)

        1. Dragoning*

          I haven’t donated to the Red Cross in years and they still send me emails monthly and call constantly.

          I’m type O neg. It depends on how in demand your blood is.

      2. CheeryO*

        Yeah, “I don’t want to” is also a perfectly good reason to not donate. I’ve given blood a few times and always end up almost passing out, then needing to sleep for the rest of the day and feeling ill for another day or two. Plus, I’m a distance runner, and donating impacts your endurance for a weirdly long time.

        1. AMPG*

          Seconding this. I used to donate pretty regularly, but had enough bad experiences with unpleasant or incompetent Red Cross staff (including being scolded when I got a bad stick and wasn’t filling the bag fast enough) that I finally gave up. I realized I couldn’t in good conscience reassure someone else who was nervous about the process. I’m still willing to donate directly to hospital blood banks when I get the chance, because I find that the staff are much better.

    17. Akcipitrokulo*

      I had open heart surgery with transfusions in the eighties, so I can’t either. I used to donate before rules changed.

      Also there are religious groups which would be unable to donate.

      So I’m at 3 protected characteristics so far… this might be a case that actually falls into the creating hostile environment criteria!

    18. Kirsten*

      I can’t donate either, because of really low blood pressure. (Any time I have blood drawn or get an injection, the extra drop in blood pressure is enough to make my body try to pass out.) Technically I guess I’m not forbidden from donating, but I avoid it since it would cause a scene!

      1. BookishMiss*

        Same. I even have to be horizontal to get a flu shot, so donating blood is NOT an option for me.

    19. Gerta*

      Yep. I donate regularly whenever I can, but despite being generally healthy, I have been prevented from doing so due to low iron, tuberculosis (I actually had the disease, so was barred under UK rules for the year I was being treated and then a further two after that), and also because I have travelled in areas considered risky for malaria. Right now I have just passed the 4-month mark to be able to donate again but they will want to do a blood test for anti-malarial antibodies first. So yeah, it’s just not that simple for everyone, even committed donors. Your colleague sounds like someone needs to make that clear to her.

    20. I don't know who I am*

      We had one of these at my old job and I couldn’t donate for medical reasons. When she harassed me I just said “My blood isn’t good enough” in a really cheery voice. She never asked again. Maybe something to keep in mind in case the blood drive comes again (ours used to be yearly).

      1. Joielle*

        Ha! I love this. Sounds medical but vague, and is just confusing enough to throw someone off while you walk away.

    21. Copenhagen*

      My mother can’t donate, since she live in England during the outbreak of mad cow disease. My father can’t donate, since he has travelled to Brazil and Japan too recently. My sister can’t donate, since she keeps fainting when she does. And up until now neither my fiancée or I could donate, since my fiancee is bisexual, and the rules in Denmark were pretty strict about “men who’ve had sex with men can’t donate ever”, and people who have sex with “high risk” people (i.e. men who’ve had sex with men) couldn’t donate either.

      Soooooo… Being pushy about wanting people to donate blood, is bound to put someone in an akward position. I can not imagine an office, where every single person would be eligible to donate.

      1. wittyrepartee*

        Wow… Japan?! I just donated a month after going to Taiwan. When were those rules written?! Japan’s medical system is pretty top notch.

        1. LSC*

          This isn’t so much about a country’s medical system as it is about endemic diseases, such as malaria, yellow fever, mad cow disease, zika… The CDC travel recommendations for Japan include vaccines for Hepatitis A and B, Japanese encephalitis and rabies. Depending on the endemic illness, different restrictions will apply (some are temporary, some are permanent).

        2. Just Employed Here*

          It’s not about the medical system in Japan, I think, but about the prevalence or certain diseases.

          Some of the country restrictions (at least where I give blood) are permanent, and others temporary. I once went with a colleague who had recently been to Hungary. Hungary was an unexpected problem, because of some specific outbreak, but it was fine because she’d only been to Budapest and not elsewhere.

        3. Totally Minnie*

          It depends on the part of the country you’re in. I was turned down after I spent a summer in China. If I’d stayed in the big cities, or flown from one city to another, it wouldn’t have been a problem and I still would have been able to donate. But since I took buses and trains through rural areas that are a higher malaria risk than Beijing or Shanghai, I was ineligible for several months.

      2. Kimmybear*

        I’ve traveled too much to be able to donate and my iron levels are always low. I just use the travel excuse rather than get into the medical but in my field, most of us have traveled too much.

    22. Green Great Dragon*

      After I threw up on my second attempt I got a polite ‘Thanks but no thanks’. There are a *lot* of reasons to not donate.

      The adverts always make it sound like they’re desperate for more, but the people running it and whoever makes the rules are clearly not that desperate (I can understand some medical restrictions but as a short person I’ve never understood why they can’t just take smaller amounts from underweight people, for example).

      1. Everdene*

        I simultaneously vomited and fainted on my second attempt (my first I only vomited) – who knew that was a thing? The nurses kindly requested I never darken their dokr again. Subsequently I can’t donate for other reasons, including recieving blood transfusions. If someone tried to make me feel bad for that, however lovely they act, we would have words.

      2. Slartibartfast*

        Most blood bags come with a set amount of anticoagulant in them, and if they aren’t fully filled, that anticoagulant isn’t properly diluted. This is a BIG problem, because you could then kill the person who receives the donation, because the anticoagulant can cause the heart to stop if you receive too much too fast. It also makes it very hard to calculate how much blood to give if you aren’t working with standard volumes.

        1. Green Great Dragon*

          That makes sense but still, making half size bags and combining them seems an obvious solution.

          1. SpellingBee*

            But you’d still have double the proper amount of anticoagulant for the volume of blood, so that wouldn’t work.

            1. t.i.a.s.p.*

              I think Great Green Dragon means the blood bag manufacturer creating half size bags that have an appropriate amount of anticoagulant for that size of bag.

              1. SpellingBee*

                Ah – I read “making” to mean making up half-full bags on the spot, not manufacturing smaller bags to use for smaller donations. Never mind! :)

          2. Seeking Second Childhood*

            I think there’s also an issue of immune reactions to a donor — by combining, you’d be doubling the chances for an already ill/injured recipient.

          3. fposte*

            I doubt it would be worth the additional cost and risk of changing from the current standardized model. (And for a lot of partial collections, you don’t know in advance that it’s going to be partial, so either you use two bags for everybody or you’re still throwing away a lot of partial collections.)

          4. Observer*

            Not necessarily – changing the bag sizes has a lot of potential ripple effects both for collection and for storage and use.

        2. Rusty Shackelford*

          I’ve had a donation attempt time out before they were able to fill the bag (I didn’t even know there was a time limit!) because of my crappy veins, and they told me the blood would have to be discarded because the blood/anticoagulant ratio would be off.

      3. Observer*

        No, the people who make the rules just understand that some risks are just too great. Yes, there are SOME rules that are outdated and should be changed, but even those have reasonable roots. And given the risks of tainted blood, it’s easy to understand the hesitancy to lift a rule that once had validity.

        Also, if blood donations are PERCEIVED to have blood of people who have issues or problems, that also creates a risk that transfusions will not be used even when they are necessary. Given the history of tainted blood in various countries, this is a real and significant issue. There is no point in collecting blood of people won’t use it.

        In the case of underweight people, you have to realize that even aside from the issue of anti-coagulant, there are other reasons why it might not make sense to allow it. For one thing, for a lot of people if they can’t give a whole unit, they can’t give a half either. I’m not talking about people who are small – they are likely to be able to give a half a unit. But if you are underweight, that’s different and you’re dealing with a bigger health issue there.

        If someone is throwing up when they donate that’s their body saying that it can’t tolerate the donation. It would nuts for any donation center to allow someone who clearly has a problem to donate blood, even it we don’t really understand why the problem exists.

    23. cncx*

      yup, where i live i’m not a candidate because i have a tattoo and because i visited a part of mexico with alleged “bad water” within the last ten years. There are so so many reasons for not being a candidate for donation

    24. Melloknee*

      100% this! LW, I can’t give blood because of tiny, travelling, collapsing veins. I’m way more trouble than I’m worth, even getting enough blood for a test vial can be an hours long ordeal. I was just lucky enough to be born this way. Feel free to borrow this excuse if you need a little white lie for Ms. Pushy.

    25. Asenath*

      I used to love giving blood but had to stop because although I had no health problems, I’d spent time in a part of the world where I might have been exposed to certain diseases. So of course I stopped donating, and the few times anyone suggested I give blood, I just said I wasn’t eligible. There are so many reasons one might not be eligible to donate since the organizations involved became properly cautious after the contamination scandals that few if any people will question which one you have.

    26. Seeking Second Childhood*

      Gallon-plus donor here. I consider this a medical topic not suitable for office nagging. She is harassing you & your co-workers.

      My military vet co-worker can’t donate because his unit’s supplies came out of the UK.
      I know people who have low iron levels so the Red Cross defers them every time….I’m one of them*, which is one reason had to stop donating. The other resson is my veins scarred easily and are now “rollers”. Ouch.
      (*My dr is not concerned…..but injured patients need all the blood they can get.)

      That said, at least some Red Cross regions accept blood tagged for research–might be worth asking about if you would otherwise be interested. (If you are, put your sticker in a place Ms.Pushy doesn’t see it. She doesn’t need too know AND if it comes to a point where she gets offensive you can pull it out and prove your point.

    27. CatMintCat*

      I lived in England during the lockout time for “mad cow disease”. I didn’t actually eat meat at that time so don’t feel any concern personally, but rules is rules. I’ve also had that pressure to donate and it isn’t fun.

    28. Obelia*

      I can’t donate because I’m in the UK and have received a blood transfusion. I remember the day our (very open, hospital-based) team all tried out the “can you donate?” questionnaire and only about a quarter of us were eligible!

      1. MusicWithRocksInIt*

        Just curious – what does the UK do about their blood supply? Do they have different rules than us or do they need to import their blood? I mean, most people in the UK were probably there when mad cow broke out, so it sounds like almost everyone would be disqualified.

        1. Lucy*

          Different rules- we certainly don’t import our blood! We have blood donation drives here too. I’m not aware of any cases of mad cow transmission through blood transfusion in the last decade or so

        2. londonedit*

          People in the UK donate blood in the UK. We also have lots of rules about who can and can’t donate, including having to leave a certain amount of time after surgery/tattoos/piercings etc, and I believe you can’t donate blood in the UK if you’ve had a blood transfusion yourself (which is what Obelia was getting at, I think – it’s the transfusion that excludes them, not the living in the UK bit).

          1. MusicWithRocksInIt*

            Do they have the terrible rules about gay people as well? I like to imagine they are better than us at things. But that is probably because I would love to live there and like to pretend it would be better in all ways.

            1. Just Employed Here*

              Here in Finland they removed the ban on donations from men having sex with men a few years ago.

            2. Michaela Westen*

              There was originally good reason for that ban. HIV spread first through the community of gay men. There was no way to detect it in someone’s blood. There were cases where patients got HIV from a transfusion. It was terrifying.

              1. c-*

                Nowadays, tho, it doesn’t make sense anymore. There are HIV tests and the virus is as spread among straight and queer people as among MSM, if memory serves. Screening for the gender of your sexual partners is homo/biphobic and ineffective, they should be screening for unsafe sexual practices instead (f. ex., sex without condoms and things like that).

        3. ElspethGC*

          We imported blood products to treat haemophilia from the US a few times in the 1970s, and now it turns out that said blood products were contaminated, and over 3,000 people have been infected with HepC and another 1,000+ with HIV. Using British blood is *much* safer. (The blood was mostly taken from people in US prisons who were paid for it to be used. Paying people for blood is bizarre, and really needs to stop. It just encourages people to lie about their risk status.)

          The mad cow ban is a very just-in-case thing. There have been no known cases of it being transmitted through infusions, and there’s also no evidence that it could possibly lie dormant since the 1980s. The rules here are instead that you can’t have had vCJD and can’t have had a blood transfusion since the outbreak.

            1. Tara S.*

              Blood banks can and do buy blood from each other all the time. Supply and demand – NYC may have a lot of donors, but they have way more need than they can get from donations. Another small town might have way more in donations than they can handle, so in the name in not letting it expire, they can sell it to other blood banks. There was a good podcast about the economics of blood in the US, I’ll try and find a link.

              1. Narcoleptic Juliet*

                Dragoning is right, but isn’t referring to blood centers being paid for blood. In the US, it’s illegal for donors to be paid for “donating” any blood product which will be used for transfusion. Actually, it’s illegal for any sort of compensation to be provided at all, not just money. Any ice cream, movie tickets, T-shirts, etc. must be given to anyone who *presents* to donate, not just to those who are successful at it. This is to remove any incentive to lie about risk factors that would impact eligibility.

                As for people who sell their plasma, that plasma is not ever transfused into anyone. It’s used for “further manufacturing.” It gets made into medicines, testing reagents, for research, etc.

            2. MusicWithRocksInIt*

              I know you can be paid to donate plasma – but i’m not sure how different the risks are with plasma vs. normal blood.

              1. Dragoning*

                Plasma donations actually involve putting a lot of the blood parts back inside you. I think they define it based on human cells..but you can donate plasma twice a week, I think. So it’s a less risky arrangement.

          1. skunklet*

            I’m banned b/c I might have Mad Cow (I’m in the US) and was stationed in Europe, but not the UK, in the 90s. Come to find out (and I did find it on the FDA’s website), the US Gov’t banned the importation of British beef to the US in 1989 – but continued to feed the SAME meat to its active duty military population in W Europe through 1996, so anyone that was in theater there for either 3 or 6 months can’t give blood either… I would’ve thought the incubation period for Mad Cow was shorter than 27 years, but I guess not…

          2. Jennifer Juniper*

            Why the flying fish would anyone think taking blood from prisoners is a good idea? That population is more likely to have health risks that would make their blood unsafe than the general population.

    29. Christine D*

      Did you know that mono can cause hepatitis? And that mono-induced hepatitis gets you blacklisted from ever donating blood to the Red Cross, despite being hepatitis-free decades later? Now you do!

      And now you know why I can’t donate :-)

      My sister in law has hemochromatosis and can’t donate. There’s TONS of reasons why people can’t, and a simple “I’m not allowed to donate for medical reasons” is all you need to say. Don’t budge if she pushes.

      1. fposte*

        Interestingly, it may not even be hepatitis–it’s that viruses can cross react to the hepatitis test.

        1. Christine D*

          My liver numbers off the chart and the ultrasound showed a enlarged liver…so likely hepatitis :-(

        2. Agnodike*

          “Hepatitis” just means inflammation of the liver and is a well-known complication of mononucleosis caused by Epstein-Barr virus. EBV also cross-reacts with some serological tests for other causes of viral hepatitis.

          1. fposte*

            Right, and Christine has expanded. But the screening for Hep B specifically is a regular precursor for donation, and it’s not uncommon to get a cross-reaction on that from another virus (doesn’t have to be EBV). I thought she might have been referring to that kind of screening result (she wasn’t, though).

        3. AMPG*

          You’re also banned for life if you get a false positive for hepatitis, which is how a relative of mine who used to donate multiple times a year got banned. She was really sad about it.

    30. Brightlights*

      Pushy blood drive people drive me nuts. I have chronic Lyme and can’t donate. I was once followed around the college commons by a well meaning ditz pestering to know “one good reason” I couldn’t donate.

      I’m now very loud when I experience this again. “I have Lyme disease and the Red Cross has told me I can’t donate. But how would you feel if I had just told you I had HIV? You need to respect when people tell you no, and they DON’T owe you a reason.”

      It generally shuts people up and I hope that while their mouths are closed they do some thinking.

    31. Jeannie*

      I’m kind of wowed by all the ways people can be ineligible! Here’s one more: pregnancy. I just passed my first trimester and would hate to have been pressured for something like this before I was ready for the pregnancy to be public knowledge…

      1. delta cat*

        Yep, I give blood when I can but have been unable or unwilling to at certain times for various reasons, and while I’m not sensitive about having a cold or getting low iron if I give too frequently or wanting to wait until after a big athletic event I’m training for, fertility treatments are a whole other story…

      2. ElspethGC*

        There are certain fertility treatments that mean that if you’ve had them, you can never donate again. Not only could giving your reason reveal that you’re currently undergoing fertility treatment, it could also reveal that you attempted treatments in the past and they failed. Having to reveal the latter to your coworkers would be horrible.

      3. ayahbanaya*

        This happened to me with an extremely pushy Red Cross volunteer. The last time I donated I was trying to get pregnant, so they deferred me and put a note on my record not to contact me again for 6 months or however long the deferral was. I ended up needing to do IVF, and it was a long painful multi-year process. I did not appreciate the volunteer who called me and got real pushy when I said I was ineligible, “But your deferral has expired, you should be fine to donate now!” Me, icily: The conditions of my deferral have not changed. “Well, can I just ask why?” Me: from the arctic circle: No, you may not. [click]

      4. Just Employed Here*

        And yet another (at least where I am): breastfeeding. So it’s been a few years now for me, what with having been trying to get pregnant and then being pregnant before this.

        I’ve really enjoyed donating before (we go with a group of colleagues and enjoy the chance to have a chat in a different setting away from the office), but I’m not going to wean my greedy little toddler (although he’s way past needing my milk) just because of this. Nor do I want to lie on the form.

      5. m00nstar*

        Yep, and I learned that having birthed a child in the past year was reason for me to be ineligible here. So I was out the last time we did a blood drive too.

    32. Sick of Workplace Bullshit*

      Yep, same for me–I lived in England for more than six months during the early 90s.

      I’d also like to point out that Alice IS violating the company rules against soliciting donations. She is naming and shaming people for not doing what she thinks they should in relation to a charity of hers (which, by the way, I support. I’d still donate if I could!) HR needs to shut that down.

    33. (Not A) Retail Manager*

      Here here with the anemia! I’m better now, but I couldn’t donate for years. I also have been getting tattoos slowly but surely over the past few years. Since tattoo parlors are not regulated in my state (although every place I go is very sterile!), I have to wait 12 months before donating blood.

      OP, sorry you have to deal with this well meaning but pushy co-worker. They’re the kind of person we all have to navigate, but that doesn’t make it any easier to deal with. Good luck!

    34. Shoe Ruiner*

      It’s also ok to just not want to give blood. No one should have to try to get a reason out of anyone!

    35. Think more, speak less :)*

      Another reason one cannot donate for some time is recent miscarriage. I hate to think what could happen if this well-meaning person pressured someone who could not donate because of a recent miscarriage that had not previously been revealed at work. Blood, to me, is firmly in the realm of personal medical information, and no one should be pressure into revealing personal medical information, especially at work.

      Well-intentioned people often don’t realise that their well-intentioned chiding can have negative consequences. A gentle reminder of this might result in some re-thinking.

    36. Hosta*

      Here’s another one: I have a fairly useless blood type and donate plasma, platelets and other useful blood products via apheresis instead. I can do it once a week. If I donated whole blood, I have to wait a month. I don’t really see a point in being less useful so someone can see my sticker at work.

      My father donated blood like clockwork until he aged out of donating. He got an award for how much he donated over his lifetime. He also never donated through work because the donation dates were always too early, or he’s have to delay a week or two to hit them. Some people handle donation on their own, and it’s a crap move to pressure them to do otherwise.

      1. Dare*

        To Hosta: as someone reliant on a plasma derived treatment for immune problems, THANK YOU!
        It’s been out of stock three times in the year I’ve been on it. Donate more plasma people!

        1. Hosta*

          Oh my gosh, I love it. I get to sit and do nothing for two hours while people bring me blankets, and then I go to the really fancy coffee shop nearby. Sometimes it’s the highlight of my week.

        2. Hosta*

          Bonus, for anyone considering it: you don’t feel tired because you’re not losing red cells. You’re good to go pretty much immediately.

      2. Emily*

        I used to donate blood, but now I pretty much exclusively donate platelets! It’s not…fun, exactly, but I like that I get to watch a movie and then not worry about my iron levels afterward, especially since I’m a petite woman who likes to do a lot of athletic activities.

    37. Manatees are cool*

      In my country you will be rejected as a donor if you have received a donation in the past (I don’t know whether this is the same as the USA, a man only has to be celibate with other men for 3 months in my country.)

      1. Gumby*

        It’s not. There was a short period where they asked about being a previous recipient maybe 5 – 10 years ago, but they still took my blood. Possibly they marked it for research only but they didn’t say anything about it to me. For the past few years they haven’t even asked about previously receiving a blood transfusion.

    38. AliceBD*

      I love donating blood but I was asked not to come back because I have a delayed vasovagal response. I am 100% fine with donating (and freak out the techs because I prefer to watch the needle go in — hurts less!) and fine when I get juice and cookies afterwards and then I leave and go home and faint. Several times in college I felt faint after donating and I have fainted in public twice after donating, one time requiring an ambulance ride to the hospital because I fainted at a gas station (was caught by a bystander) and they called 911 as you do and I was not coherent enough to say don’t take me. The Red Cross paid for all my medical bills. So while I love donating and would happily do it with a friend who would drive me home, they don’t want me and my doctors get upset if I ask. (Possibly related: I’m fat but very short, so I don’t know if my height is correlated with my amount of blood?)

      My mom has tiny veins that roll and she was asked not to come back because they don’t have needles small enough for her. My veins are also small and I had to stop donations in the middle because the needle slipped out of my vein.

      Lots of reasons you can’t donate even if you think it is fun to do and wish you could do it!

      1. Ada Lovelace*

        Same! I’ve figured out I have a 45-60 minute window to get home and lie down before it all goes to hell. In college, I donated between classes and found myself running out of class because I couldn’t breathe or I was close to fainting or vomiting. I did donate at the blood drive at work in September and I scheduled it for the very last appointment in the afternoon and spent the entire day eating and drank 48oz of water.

    39. Hey Anonny Anonny*

      I’ve probably been eligible to donate, but I’ve never done it. For a very long time I weighed 116lbs, above the Red Cross’s cut off, but on the borderline of being underweight for my height, combined with borderline low blood pressure, and not infrequent anemia (uterus owner, so it came and went). I’ve gained some weight and gotten my anemia more under control, but I’ve still got the low blood pressure and occasionally almost collapse getting out of bed or the tub. Even if I didn’t collapse giving blood, it would probably incapacitate me for days.

    40. Mockingjay*

      I’m the same as Elspeth. I lived in Europe at the time of the epidemic, so I am ineligible.

      In the past, I used to get a lot of pressure to donate at work blood drives because I have a fairly rare blood type, but my younger self’s weight was too low. It was so awkward trying to explain that yes, I don’t weigh much; no I’m not anorexic/bulimic/starving/depressed. Some people just don’t weigh much or have a fast metabolism.

      That pressure taught me a lot about boundary setting. Nowadays I never discuss any medical details about myself. LW1, I would simply ignore her comments and go about your day. Just smile and walk past. Don’t engage.

      1. HQetc*

        Yeah, I commented below, but people get weird about the weight thing. I’ve more than once been told that not being eligible to donate blood must mean I’m unhealthily! underweight! egads! Because clearly they will only refuse to take your blood if you yourself are on the verge of death. Like, no, it’s just that they have a minimum amount of blood they take, and if you are small (and thus have less blood even if you are totes-magoats healthy) that amount would be too high a percentage of your overall blood volume.

    41. Polaris*

      Every time it’s come up in my life it’s managed to be within a year of my getting a new tattoo, which also bars me from donating.

    42. anonanners*

      I don’t donate because I have impossible veins – nurses have only been able to take blood from my arm once in the last 10 years (after I had eaten nothing but popsicles all day, and was super hydrated), and usually end up having to go for the veins on my hand. Not only is that way more painful, but I sincerely doubt that a blood drive would be able to get enough out of my hand to satisfy the required donation amount as the blood also flows pretty slowly. My understanding is that they must discard partially filled bags. Sounds like a painful and fruitless experience for everyone involved.

    43. Celeste*

      It’s worth noting that the Red Cross has a spot you can check on their paperwork saying, do not use this blood. They know that these workplace drives cause social issues in some situations and that is their way to let people have a workaround in situations where the donor feels they cannot afford the optics of not donating blood. I’m not sure it would feel good to waste the time, money, or even my own blood, but sometimes a person can feel like it’s really just the best way to handle what feels like high stakes.

      The Red Cross is happy to accept monetary donations for its disaster services, so that opens up another avenue if you still want to be a “donor”. Now that my anemic blood always gets rejected, it’s becoming not worth the aggravation of trying, so I’m open to this for myself.

      OP, I’m sorry that you work with someone who is so ignorant and obnoxious. I hope that one of the scripts given above can get through to her. Some people have unhelpful ideas about 100% participation. This is a blood drive, not a puzzle with a missing piece! The Red Cross is grateful for all that they receive, and your coworker should have the grace to be thankful for all who CAN donate and do.

      1. Former Red Crosser*

        Yes, this. The social pressure, as the OP is experiencing, can be high so the Red Cross has ways to indicate not to use your blood on the form & with a different bar code on your bag. That may be how your gay colleague got his sticker. (And just to confirm, it’s the FDA which regulates blood & blood products in the US, it’s not up to the blood banks to determine if they can use blood from men who have sex with men.). There are so many factors that screen out willing donors, those exist with the goal of protecting both the donors & the blood supply.

        We had blood drives at work at the Red Cross. I told whoever was recruiting donors that I’m an “adverse reaction” donor – in my case vaso vagal response & fainting – and they’d leave me alone.

    44. Wannabikkit*

      I’m in a similar boat. I’ve lived in New Zealand for decades, but I was a child/teenager living in England at the time of the BSE epidemic. I suspect this will apply to a large percentage of the British immigrants that live here.
      Is the BCG vaccination the usual one for TB? I have been vaccinated against TB but since I was a kid at the time, I have no idea of the details.

      1. Elspeth*

        Yeah, I got the BCG (Bacille Calmette-Guerin) vaccination as a child in Scotland. It’s for the prevention of TB, and also childhood tuberculous meningitis, I believe. It kind of sucks, because I really would have liked to donate since I have the universal donor blood type. A bit of a moot point now, though, since I’ve had cancer and also a couple of blood transfusions as well, so several good reasons for not being allowed to donate.

    45. HQetc*

      Yeah, I just got curious, and was looking at the Red Cross website, and it actually says only 35% of the population is eligible to donate. A lot of those reasons, even seeming less fraught ones, are not necessarily things people want to get into (for instance, I am too small to donate, and I casually mentioned that to someone who was soliciting donations and it turned into a really weird shame-y conversation about how my (totally non-existent!) eating disorder indicated my surrender to the patriarchy (wut)). So I think there is a really good chance you aren’t the only one in the office having internal panic every time Alice’s gaze drifts their way.

    46. GradNow LawyerLater*

      Exactly. My entire family is ineligible to donate for various reasons, even though we fully support the Red Cross. My parents travel to do medical work in high-risk locations, my brother spent last year abroad in a country that makes him ineligible, I don’t weigh enough… Alice is being ridiculous, especially as it’s pretty well known that there are MANY restrictions that make you ineligible.

    47. Jess*

      Exactly, the last time I wanted to donate blood I wasn’t allowed because I’d gone to a certain region in Italy that was on the blacklist for some reason. I never expected a trip to Italy of all places to be an issue, but there you go. There are SO many random reasons you wouldn’t be allowed to donate.

      And OP – I feel you on being the newest, youngest, bisexual employee. It’s not easy, and I expect even more so for a man. Good luck!

      1. First OP*

        Thank you! I appreciate the empathy, and tend to agree with you on the last point. (Though it’s pretty ridiculous for a white guy to be envious of women’s “privileges” and bisexual women certainly have to deal with a bunch of sexist crap that doesn’t come my way.) There’s a weird bias against bi guys, from both straight and gay people, though not all that many fortunately.

    48. MommyMD*

      And Blood Drive Bully is NOT a “sweet” person. She hides her bullying and harassing ways behind a smile and sweet voice. She should be turned into management and called out. What you do with your BLOOD is a deeply personal choice.

      1. First OP*

        I have to defend her a little. She’s more ignorant than bullying, and I know she doesn’t intend to make anyone uncomfortable. But– she does.

        1. pancakes*

          I’m not entirely convinced intent can be assessed over the internet. Whatever her intentions are, she’s a busybody, and clearly hasn’t give much—or possibly any—thought as to the many reasons why coworkers might not want to discuss intimate details of their life, health, or sexuality with her.

        2. pancakes*

          Wait, I’m sorry, I think you’re the letter writer, in which case you’re perfectly capable of assessing her intent. I still think she ought to put more energy into thinking this through, but I see what you mean.

    49. Vemasi*

      Yes, my friend was an infant in Spain in the early 90s, and even though she was fully formula-fed at the time, there is no way to test to prove she is not a carrier for mad cow disease. So she will simply never be able to donate, no matter how much she wants to, unless they come up with a test someday (I am science illiterate, don’t know if that is even possible). No matter how much she wants to, and she’s very sensitive about it, so she would not appreciate being bullied and reminded.

    50. Dust Bunny*

      My dad worked in Africa for five years. I’m not sure if he’ll be able to donate again someday or not. My mom is an organ transplant recipient and on a zillion medications. Nooooope. I’ve been anemic in the past and couldn’t donate then (I can now). Tons of reasons. Alice needs to back the heck off.

    51. Anonymeece*

      I’ve tried several times to give blood and was turned down because my pulse rate was too high/blood pressure too low/anemic… It’s not even “can’t give blood because of BIG REASON”. Sometimes it’s just “body stats not cooperating today”.

      There are a ton of reasons why people can’t give blood! It’s very weird to pressure someone into doing so given all the things that can bar a person from doing it.

    52. MechanicalPencil*

      I have quite a few reasons I can’t donate. I’m quite anemic. I’m underweight by Red Cross standards. I’m on several medications that preclude me from donating. I have low blood pressure. Doesn’t mean I wouldn’t like to donate if I could, I just literally can’t. Alice needs to back the truck up and chill with the donation shaming here.

    53. Not So NewReader*

      OP#1 . Just one more voice of support. My husband had hep C and he never donated. While, I do not have a doctor’s formal backing I feel I would probably have difficulties with giving blood. What those difficulties are is no one’s dang business, the one asking just needs to accept my NO answer.

      It sounds like the woman is asking everyone around you but you have successfully dodged the question each time. Sometimes it takes more energy to dodge than it does to confront. While you have shared your reason with Alison and the rest of us, your reason is private. Just as my husband’s hep C was private. And my concerns are private.
      Did I mention “private”?

      Separate out the other quandaries you are sorting here and just focus on this blood bully. Let’s say she made cupcakes and wanted you to eat one. But you don’t eat cupcakes. This is crystal clear, right? If she keeps nagging you to eat a cupcake she is way out of line and needs to be told. She is nagging everyone about donating blood and this is NOT COOL. If you tell her “this is not cool” you might be surprised by how she reacts. Something about the phrase not cool that gets people’s attention.

      Okay you have an added wrinkle: she is nice. You know nice people cross the line. It happens, nice people screw up. So with nice people I come in on a lower plane, give them the benefit of the doubt. “Hey, Alice, you know people may have private reasons for not donating and if you keep asking them that is really not cool.”
      There. You said it. Now if you see it again, you can go back in on it. “Alice, you are still after people to donate blood, I want you to know that could be really upsetting for some. You seem like a nice person so this does not fit with everything else I know about you. I know you would not want people upset about giving blood or not giving blood.”

      I will say this about donating blood. Decades ago I volunteered for the Red Cross. They had me calling people to remind them to donate blood. They gave me a packet. And in the packet was a section on all. the. reasons. people have for not donating. There was a paragraph under each reason instructing me how to respond to each excuse. So I did their calling list. I did it once and never again. I realized people are pretty much self-selecting. The ones who want to give blood will jump right on it themselves, they don’t need that added push. The other folks are probably wise not to give blood, for any number of solid reasons.

      Think about other things you would not donate to and think about how you would handle that. Change your focus. Repeatedly asking someone for something is rude. Period. You don’t need to go through a big analysis of your life. This is causing you way more upset than it should. The woman is rude. You are fine.

    54. Facepalm*

      My veins are extremely hard to find. (When I had to have my wisdom teeth taken out, for instance, they were even looking in my feet for a suitable IV site before luckily finding something near my knuckles). And I often have low iron. And I had traveled to odd places. So I don’t even bother. My workplace hosts a blood drive in our office every 2 months or so and people who donate are eligible for prizes. We used to have a very enthusiastic employee who would a cost people in the halls and ask if they’d donated yet. I shut her down by saying I wasn’t allowed and she was so taken aback that she apologized and never asked again. Not sure that would work if the person were very nosy or insistent, but don’t feel weird about not wanting or being able to. Lots of people pass out or are afraid of needles. There are a ton of reasons you might not want or be eligible to donate and sexuality probably isn’t what most people would even think of first. You don’t have to come out over this.

    55. 2 Cents*

      I’m on a medication that I *can* donate, but it inevitably leads to many phone calls among blood drive staff and higher ups “just to double check” (even though it’s on the ok list), and honestly, it’s more hassle than it’s worth. So I’d tell Alice to stick it (punny Friday!).

    56. whimbrel*

      hmm interesting, I didn’t know that BCG makes you ineligible to donate! My kid had that vaccination, I will keep that in mind for the future if it ever comes up.

      1. The Gollux (Not a Mere Device)*

        I don’t think that’s true in general: I had that vaccine as a child, and donated enough blood to earn a gallon pin (which I am vaguely annoyed they never sent me).

    57. gbca*

      One more reason – I get crazy lightheaded when I give blood and have passed out before. I would not choose to do so during the work day.

    58. Just lie*

      Lie, lie, lie, if she won’t leave you alone or if she is the type that will keep prying, lie, tell her you already donated recently and you can’t donate again for x number of weeks. That you donate on your own time. I am unable to donate for medical reasons and I have lied about donating recently and therefore being ineligible to donate again. It will get them off your back.

    59. TempAnon*

      To add to the list of reasons one can’t donate…I started triggering false positives on the syphilis test! I do not have syphilis, but the quick/cheap test they use for blood donation can trigger on other things. So I’m on the permanent “do not donate” list because my blood isn’t worth the hassle.

      I don’t tell people this, because what’s going to stick in their mind? Syphilis!! Not “false positive, don’t have it.”

    60. LRB*

      There are a host of reasons I’m not eligible to give blood (and never have been able to): living in Western Europe for more than 6 months in the 90s (Mad Cow scare), having taken anti-malarials in the past year, having gotten a tattoo in the last year, having had sex with a man from West Africa, having had malaria in the past 5 years, having had Dengue, having had latent TB…
      So many, many, many reasons.

    61. Anna*

      Same except I lived in Spain as a teen and military bases were getting their beef from the UK. I just tell people I can’t donate because I might have the mad cow.

    62. Joielle*

      Yeah, I’d just say “I can’t, bad veins” in a tone that suggests regret, with this facial expression :-/

    63. Book Badger*

      I faint even when getting a routine blood draw for medical reasons (in amounts much smaller than usually get drawn for donation). I would love to donate, but refuse to for that reason: I am sick of having to be scraped off the floor because I did a blood draw again.

    64. Michaela Westen*

      I never donated blood when I was younger because I was sick all the time and didn’t understand why. It was from unmanaged allergies.
      Years later I saw something about people with IBS, which I was also diagnosed with, not being allowed to give blood.
      Now the official diagnosis is functional dyspepsia, which I’ve had since birth. I tried googling and got conflicting results about whether I’m allowed to give blood. I never have and don’t plan to, I don’t think I’m up for it.

    65. TheBeetsMotel*

      Yo; non-eligible English-American here too. It sucks, because I’d LOVE to donate, but I’ll likely never be allowed to :(

    66. Wendy Darling*

      I can’t donate because they literally cannot get the blood out of my body. My veins suck and they have a tough time getting enough from me for blood tests. I’ve tried to donate blood a few times and they had to give up, so I just don’t waste their time anymore.

      Which is a shame because I’m O- and I’d be happy to donate if my body would cooperate, but it will not.

    67. Hummer on the Hill*

      What Elspeth says. I donate regularly and there’s a lengthy list of disqualifiers, most of which have nothing to do with your sex life. Just smile ruefully, say “sorry, I can’t” and return to your work. If she persists, say “why do you need to know?”

    68. DataGirl*

      I work for a hospital so there are constant blood drives. I feel guilty for not being able to donate, but the fact is I’m a fainter. I don’t mind needles at all (covered in tattoos) but I always get super light headed even after a blood draw at the doctor’s office and I have passed out more times that I can count. Once I made it out of the office to faint on their front steps, that was fun. Another time I collapsed in the hallway. I can’t imagine what would happen if they took a whole bag’s worth instead of a few vials. Point being as everyone else said, there are tons of reasons why someone can’t donate, so Alice needs to back off. And fwiw- I think the FDA rules regarding sexual activity are ridiculous.

    69. A Cita*

      Also, as a female who has dated bisexual men who have plenty of sex with other men, I also hate getting that blood donation pressure. In response to the times when I’ve explained why I can’t donate, hoo boy do the homophobic and biphobic comments come out about how I could feel comfortable sleeping with bisexual men/i.e. how can you do that????? (Response: “With aplomb.”) Now when people ask if I’ve donated, I just say, “Nope.” And I leave it at that, and let them think what they will. I don’t have time to listen to someone puzzle through their previously unexamined biphobia.

    70. crochetaway*

      Yep, I have a minor blood disorder that makes it so I can’t donate blood. I don’t take meds for it, never been hospitalized, forget I have it 99% of the time, but everytime someone looks at my blood, they’re like woah. So lots of reasons why people can’t give blood. I think Alison’s script is pretty good above. If talking to Alice doesn’t work, then I would go to HR.

    71. Not That Kind of Lawyer*

      Great advice as always. Don’t give if you don’t want to, and don’t worry about giving any excuse. I don’t know if this solution is something you may be interested in, but in Louisiana, you can donate blood, but a label is put on it saying the blood is not to be used for transfusion. The blood may later be used in labs or med schools I’m told, so still helping others but in a different way. It is confidential (yay HIPPA) and you still get a sticker. I don’t know if the Red Cross has a similar practice (here we have a Blood Center so the Red Cross does not run our blood drives), but if you want to, you can find out if it’s an option.
      BTW, I often get turned away from donating because my iron is too low. I try to take pills before I go, but sometimes it is so low, I’m borderline anemic.

    72. Anon for Now*

      That is the same reason I can’t donate. I can’t donate because I live in the UK before 1996 for more than a year. So I’m banned from giving by the FDA (or at least I was the last time I check). It’s kind of bummer as I’m O negative and I know every blood bank would like my blood.

    73. iglwif*

      Yep! There’s so many reasons that a reasonable person will hear you say “[I wish I could but] I’m not a candidate for donation” and quit asking, and your sexual orientation never has to come up. (Of course, not everyone is a reasonable person…)

      I was a regular donor for a few years (age 18-21), and then I was diagnosed with ovarian cancer and Canadian Blood Services has never let me donate again :( So I confess I do encourage others to donate — but in a very general way, not in a “Have YOU, PERSONALLY, donated blood this week???” kind of way, because YUCK.

    74. HeatherH*

      Agreed. I can’t donate because my veins are too small. Literally. I’ve gone multiple times, made it through the questions and tests and then they can’t find a vein big enough to handle the needle. It’s not a big deal and you don’t owe an explanation to anyone.

    75. Oranges*

      I can donate. I want to donate. However my veins have other ideas. They collapse/stop bleeding/whatever that’s called(2), the needle slips out of them(3), the blood coagulated in the tube(1), the phlebotomist(?) couldn’t actually puncture/find my vein(2).

      I have only successfully given blood once. Once out of 9 times. Personally I don’t wanna get my inner elbow all bruised and gouged for nothing. Esp. if I’m taking up space which a different person could use (can happen with bloodmobiles).

    76. Kelly*

      I’m also unable to donate blood – for the rest of my life! I lived in England for two years when I was quite small during the same epidemic.

      Blood drives in particular are sensitive since there are a variety of medical conditions, circumstances, and living situations which would prevent someone from giving blood. You might mention this to her and say that from a Human Resources perspective, the firm would be safer not pressuring people to donate since this can violate medical privacy.

    77. soupmonger*

      Well that’s weird, because I had the BCG and also lived in Scotland during that time, and I’m a donor.

    78. sfigato*

      I had skin cancer and can’t donate.
      I also used to have severe issues with needles (I’m better now).
      And since the reasons to not donate are super personal and private, the coworker needs to back off.

    79. I Write the Things*

      I didn’t know there was a vaccine for it!

      My husband is in the same category. He lived in England at the time. And I can’t donate because of medications. I’d flat out tell the office badger that, but I can understand why LW1 didn’t want to.

      LW, I love Allison’s advice here. Announcing the blood drive is as far as she should be taking this, and it’s so common to not be able to donate for one reason or another that I’m sure you’re not the only one she’s making uncomfortable. This is definitely something with mentioning to her.

    80. Vicky Austin*

      I can’t donate blood (well, all right, I DON’T donate blood) because I’m squeamish when it comes to blood and needles. I once tried to overcome it but I panicked at the last minute and wasn’t able to go through with it.

    81. Former Librarian*

      Ugh, I had an Alice at my previous job.

      I don’t donate blood, and it no one needs to know if it is because I have a fear of needles (true), if I am medically ineligible (true, I have Gilbert’s Syndrome which causes me to falsely test positive for jaundice), have recently gotten a tattoo (…sometimes true), or any of a dozen other reasons.

      You may find that you need to be firm with Alice.

      The Alice at my work wouldn’t let up about wanting to know why I don’t donate – we started with me trying to ignore her, escalated to me saying that it wasn’t any of her business, and ended up with me pointedly asking her to take a trip to HR with me so we could discuss her persistent harassment in an appropriate setting. (My Alice ended up with an official reprimand in her file and cold-shouldered me for a few months.)

      If Alice is badgering you about this, that could fall under harassment and you absolutely should escalate that to HR.

    82. beepboopin*

      I am HORRIBLE with needles. It has been documented in several instances that a simple blood draw at the doctors office sends my blood pressure soaring (freaks the nurses out every time). So I don’t donate blood because I am pretty sure I would have a full blown panic attack in the middle of it. So there are so many reasons why people can’t/won’t give blood and its no ones damn business. I was pissed when a woman at my husbands work did a similar thing and pressured him into giving blood. He felt awful the rest of the day but mainly was embarrassed about being pressured into it. I applaud those who donate but really, people need to chill out about blood donation, especially since it can be a very sensitive issue for some people.

    83. Ryleigh*

      There are so, so many things that prevent people from being able to donate that I’m sure the letter writer isn’t the only one Alice is making uncomfortable. As someone who used to donate very regularly and had to stop because of low iron levels, I know I’d be especially annoyed with Alice

      Current/past illnesses, what countries you’ve spent time in, what vaccinations you’ve received, what medications you’re on, who you’ve had sexual contact with, if you’ve gotten piercings/tattoos recently, and just your health on the day of donating can all get your donation refused. And some of those things, like not having had sex with a man within a year (if you’re a man) go even furter and say that you can’t even have had sex with another man who has had sex with a man. The questions about these things seriously go on for pages and pages, so I’d be highly surprised if LW was the only person there who was ineligible to donate.

  2. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

    OP#1, as Alison notes, you owe Alice no explanation. She has no right to chide people or to interrogate their choices. There are all number of reasons why someone might not donate, but they should never have to justify to anyone why they’ve opted out. Please don’t feel like you have to out yourself or break into a cold sweat. In this case, it’s Alice whose behavior is inappropriate. If she asks if you’ve donated, a cheerful “Nope!” should be fine (and feel free to keep walking past her).

    I really wish people would stop peer pressuring others in situations like this.

    1. Jasnah*

      I like that response too! And I agree about the peer pressure. Sometimes it becomes a kind of virtue signaling, like “if you are a truly kind and compassionate person, you would…” Sigh. Alice, how often do you floss, huh?? Wait till she gets on you about recycling and conserving water.

      1. sheworkshardforthemoney*

        It reminds me of a previous letter where someone in an office donated their bonus and challenged everyone else to do the same. Keep your hands off my bonus and my blood. I can’t give because of anemia, but still.

    2. irene adler*

      Not disagreeing. Sometimes I find that when I give the answer I know they don’t want to hear, I get hounded. Yes, that’s wrong on their part. Doesn’t seem to stop some people though.

      So I say “Don’t worry about it!” + big grin when asked such things. Repeat as needed. It’s not ‘yes’ and it’s not ‘no’. Because, really, the answer is no one’s business but my own.

    3. MLB*

      Agreed. This is definitely one of those “No” is a complete sentence situations. I say this all the time, and usually get blasted for it, but bullies and boundary pushers don’t respond well to subtle answers, and when you provide “excuses” they have an answer for everything.

      I wouldn’t avoid her, and if she keeps pushing after the “Nope”, a simple “It’s personal and not something I want to discuss at work” is the only explanation that’s needed.

      1. Michelle*

        If she pushes after the no, I would say “None of your business Alice. Don’t you have work to do?”

    4. Lindsay gee*

      I’ve been given a lifetime ban from donating blood in Canada despite being a universal donor. I tested a false positive once and that’s all it took. Honestly, there’s a million and one reasons why people can’t donate blood and if she’s a supporter of the red cross she should know this. Don’t feel any pressure to explain why, just say that you aren’t able to for medical reasons. If she is pushy, respond with “Why would you need to know why I can’t donate blood? That’s a weirdly personal thing for you to ask about”.

      1. Ananas*

        I’m also in Canada. I’m waiting out a 6-month donation ban because of a needle stick injury–I poked myself with the needle that had just been used on the cat. (The cat jumped when the needle hit her, and I poked my thumb.) So truly, there are a zillion reasons why people can’t donate, even if they want to.

    5. Tara S.*

      Also, OP1, everyone is sharing stories about blood donation but I also want to stress – you don’t have to feel guilty or like you are hiding if you don’t come out at work. I know that when we start to affix labels like bisexual to ourselves, it can feel super important and meaningful, a part of ourselves that we really start to love. In that way, it’s almost as if we don’t say something, we are lying by omission. But that’s not true, especially at work. You don’t know lots of things about your coworkers, and it’s fine if they don’t know this about you. Personally I don’t talk about my romantic life at all in the office, but instead just try to bring a queer-friendly vibe to the office. (Referring to people’s “partners,” regardless of orientation or gender, gently reminding people about pronouns, etc.) I know especially for bi folks there’s a lot of stereotypes and pressure about bi people and “trying to read as straight” to fly under the radar, but those are false. Especially at work, you don’t owe it to anyone. Hugs and love, you’re doing great.

      1. Rapunzel*

        This this this this. You only ever have to come out when YOU decide – when you feel safe, when it feels right. We put so much pressure on ourselves to be out and to be good representatives of the community, but at the end of the day, the decision lies with you regarding who you will tell and when.

        I know it’s especially frustrating because bi-erasure is so SO prevalent. I’m a bi woman, but married to a woman, so my coworkers all assume I’m gay (so many confused looks when I mention ex-boyfriends or assumptions that I broke up with men because I “chose” a woman – nope, still attracted to multiple genders, but thanks for playing!!) Just please remember that there is no “right” way to live as an authentic version of yourself. You are who you are and no charity-shaming co-worker gets to bully anything out of you. Lots of love and support!!

    6. Dr. Pepper*

      I’ve been hounded to donate blood (and my long hair too!) and my response is usually “Nope!” When they come back with whatever badgering or guilt tripping tactic, I go to, “I have no intention of doing so, please stop asking.” Of all the things in the world, my own body is something I firmly lay claim to and anyone who doesn’t respect will be rebuffed. And no, I don’t feel guilty. Any reason not to donate blood is legitimate, including “I don’t want to”. Why? “Because”.

        1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

          I’m super sympathetic with this one—I get hounded for my hair, too. It’s bizarre what people think they have a right to demand from you as a “donation.”

      1. Eukomos*

        Eeesh, people who tell other people they should donate their hair give me the heebie jeebies. “You ought to cut off a part of your body that’s a significant part of your self expression and give it away because I think you should!” And it rarely crosses their minds that this could be inappropriate. You’d think people would clue into demanding other people’s blood not being appropriate, though. Blood, of all things!

    7. Rezia*

      You could say something like “Alice since you’ve been a long time volunteer with the Red Cross, I’m sure you know that there many reasons why someone may not be able to give blood. I’m one of those people. So please stop asking me.” Optional to add with a big smile, “But tell me about your weekend/how your other volunteering thing is going?” to immediately change the subject.

      Let me emphasize. You are NOT a coward and a hypocrite. Alice has no reason to need to know your personal details. You do not owe it to her, or anyone, to explain if you don’t want to.

      I cannot give blood because I don’t weigh enough. I don’t need people to comment on my weight or BMI or whatever, so I’m never going to open the door to that subject area.

    8. janzed*

      This hits home with me because I contacted Help when I was very young due to a blood transfusion. When I was a college student, I had an appointment for a liver biopsy during spring break. Someone who I thought was a friend asked me what I was doing during the break and I told her. She proceeded to tell me all friends that I had Hep C and contracted it during sex. This incident and a few others where family members treated me differently because of Hep C caused me to be more guarded about telling others. A coworker badgering me about giving blood would have hit a sore spot with me. Allison’s advice is direct and to the point. OP doesn’t owe an explanation to anyone.

  3. Kathlynn*

    OP4, are you sure that they said they *would* contact you, or might contact you, depending on your resume. Hopefully if they did say that they would it’s just an accident. But I know that one of the things most managers (retail) say when they get a resume is that they’ll contact you when they are hiring. Which is usually an empty promise.

      1. Kathlynn (Canada)*

        I wasn’t saying that the LW is in retail. I was trying to indicate the industry the managers I’ve encountered work in, as it is an often asked question, when people are wondering if something is industry specific.

  4. FTW*

    OP2: it would be very rare in the US, and most international companies, to address someone in the same company by their last name. Even outside companies. Unless you are in a specific company or country culture where this is undisputably the norm, you may want to adjust your frame of reference for formality in the workplace.

    1. Autumnheart*

      I’d consider it really demeaning if a manager told me to address peers in the workplace as “Ms./Mr. Lastname”. That’s a direction one gives to a child who is speaking to adults, not to an adult speaking to other adults in a professional collaborative setting. It would be one thing if the people being addressed were in the C-suite, or new external clients that one is meeting for the first time.

      If I worked in an office with a person who insisted on calling everyone Ms./Mr. Lastname when the norm is to be on a first-name basis, I would think that person didn’t understand appropriate office behavior. I definitely wouldn’t interpret it as respect. It’s not a Victorian boarding school.

      1. Czhorat*

        Even kids don’t use last names as much anymore; my kids (age 7 and 12) address their teachers as Mr/Mrs/Ms LastName, but friends’ parents and other adults by their first names.

        The world is far less formal than it once was. There are relatively few people who would be expected to use last names.

        1. valentine*

          I suppose they could be a last-name-only culture, but I assumed honorifics and, in a first-name culture, I would experience it as sarcasm if a colleague addressed me as Honorific Surname to ask me to correct an error. Same energy as Missy, but with plausible deniability.

          1. Czhorat*

            That seems standard for daycares and preschools.

            Primary and secondary school teachers are still Mr and Mrs LastName. College professors are, I suspect, still Dr. or Professor.

          2. Totally Minnie*

            Former early childhood teacher here. Ms. Firstname sort of becomes your professional name after a while. Even the other adults were calling me Ms. Minnie.

      2. Elizabeth West*

        When I see people insist on calling people by one name when they prefer another, I think of a guy I knew in college who lived in my apartment complex. He insisted on calling me “Beth” when the entire world called me “Liz,” even after I corrected him, repeatedly. It was weird and boundary pushing.

        I don’t even insist that children, including my own nieces and nephews, address me with an honorific. It’s just Liz. If people in your office use first names, use them.

    2. Japananon*

      I work in Japan, where it is common and respectful to use last names in the workplace (with the proper honorific). But when we talk with the American office, we use first names for them. They address us with a mix of last names and first names.

      At Oldjob I interacted with not American coworkers but clients from around the world, and had to be more formal. I stuck with last names and appropriate title unless explicitly instructed otherwise (and would even be reprimanded if I was not ‘respectful’ enough).

      All this to say that I don’t really think this coworker was out of line for US work norms, and if there was some cross-cultural element in play then that is something that will need to be explicitly explained.

      1. EddieSherbert*

        My (American) company just expanded to Japan in 2018 and… I never even thought about this! Very interesting. We’ve just been using first names, but our office manager in Japan worked at another American company for many years before this, so he’s probably used to it.

        I would definitely need someone to tell me though, if last names were expected when working with him!

      2. WorkinginJapan*

        As a person who went from college straight to Japan, I am so used to addressing people by their last names in emails it feels wrong when I write someone’s first name. It’s probably partially cultural and partially me being young and feeling like everyone is an authority figure, still.

        Reading all the comments about being skeeved out when addressed by their last name makes me realize I should be more careful!

    3. Akcipitrokulo*

      If I got an email addressed to Ms Lastname from a colleague I’d wonder what I’d done to offend this person, wonder if they were just unaware of business norms (and if I should point it out). Leaning towards first as my automatic reaction!

      I’d also never use a last name for a colleague, because the only reason for me to do it would be to be deliberately making a point, and I’m not quite that rude at work. It would be a passive aggressive insult if I sent an email to M* Lastname.

      1. Akcipitrokulo*

        All of which may not be culture in your place… but is common enough to leave alone unless it’s a quick heads up to let them know your company’s culture is different.

      2. PM Punk*

        Totally agree with Akcipitrokulo’s take on this. At best I get mildly annoyed/concerned when people refer to me by my last name at work. It’s not necessarily something that people see as respectful.

    4. Scarlet2*

      Yeah, I communicate with international companies all the time (Europe, America and Asia), and 99% of people use first names.

      1. Violet Fox*

        The area of Europe I’m in, using last names really isn’t a thing. Not here or in the neighbouring countries.

    5. Washi*

      And if the OP is worried about politeness, maybe they can keep in mind that unless they are using Mx for everyone, they’re basically trying to guess the other person’s gender, which can itself end up being impolite when wrong! I love using first names for that reason.

      1. StressedButOkay*

        This, yes! Using first names avoids issues like misgendering , issues people sometimes have with Mrs/Miss/Ms, etc.

      2. Maggie*

        Came here to say this–I am MORE likely to use first name only when I haven’t met someone because I don’t know what gender they are. Corey? Lee? Kris? Who knows?! This is only going to get more precarious when the current generation grows up. Good luck guessing by last name alone whether my current high school students Ryan, Rian, Skyler, and Taylor are girls or boys! (It’s girl, girl, boy, boy–did you get it right?)

      3. lisette*

        Yes, good point. I often have to email military personnel, where is expected to be formal, so I cannot use first names. I am always grateful when the person is active duty and has a title (TSgt, 2Lt, etc) so that I don’t have to guess at gender! I have been emailing a “Jayce Lastname” for years as Ms. Lastname, and I just talked to him on the phone and learned he is not a Ms. Oooof.

    6. MusicWithRocksInIt*

      I used to have a coworker that everyone referred to by their last name. Not Mr. Lastname, just last name, the way high school boys tend to do. This was partially because we had three people with that first name and partially because his last name was short and could be said kind of musically. But when I emailed him I still used his first name (which I had to check the staff list for because no one ever used it) because that is how email etiquette worked in that culture and the culture of everywhere I’ve ever worked.

    7. kittymommy*

      I think the only jobs where we used last names are some very old school, traditional law firms (not recent, more like in the late 80’s/early 90’s) and medical practices where we used “Dr.”. And working for elected officials. And even in the last one we only use their title in formal meetings or forums, day to day most don’t use them.

      1. Blue*

        I work in a university, and I use first names for everyone but the highest-level administrators. I was nervous about it at first since some academics (mostly really old ones) are persnickety about being addressed by title. Stopping the “Professor Lastname” thing was actually quite deliberate on my part, since there are already a lot of weird power dynamics between faculty and staff. Calling them by title when I know they won’t do the same feels grossly deferential to me, and that’s not a tone I want to set in our working relationship. I’m very respectful in tone, but I address them as equals.

        1. Blank*

          I work in a university, and our culture is similar – mostly first names, but some deference for the higher admins. In my experience, where academics get bent out of shape is when someone goes for Mr/Mrs/Miss when they’re actually Dr/Prof.

        2. Totally Minnie*

          I hate title shaming. We had a client once who was mad at me, so he emailed my boss. Throughout the letter, he called her “Dr. Boss,” and referred to me by my first name. It’s absolutely intended as an insult.

    8. Just Elle*

      Agreed. My coworkers and I work with a contractor who absolutely insists on calling people Mr./Ms. LastName, and all of us complain about it. It feels super uncomfortable. Like, ok, do we now need to refer to him as Mr. LastName? Are we offending him by not? Do we have to use his formal name during phone calls or just emails? Also, its just… creepily formal when this is a person we work with all the time.
      And personally I find it reinforces weird power dynamics, where hes trying so hard to be respectful that I worry he wouldn’t push back if I gave him direction he didn’t agree with.

      So, quite honestly, I find it to be rude to try so hard to be ‘respectful’ that you’re making people uncomfortable. Another example would be making a huge deal out of insisting a woman take the chair you were sitting in when there are no other chairs available. Its not polite to offer more than once, its awkward.
      So in general, it might be time to reconsider your method of going overboard on respect, and consider that the truest respect is helping others to feel comfortable rather than yourself.

      1. WellRed*

        Yes and I wouldn’t be surprised if LW 2 is making coworkers annoyed or uncomfortable. I was uncomfortable just reading about going “overboard” on respect. It probably comes across as weird, fake or obsequious. Or all three!

    9. LW3*

      Thank you everyone for your opinions! And thanks Alice! I can tell that most people disagree with it so I won’t bring it up with the employee. I work in academia where titles are your life. I also work at a medical school with a mix of PhDs and physicians. Which might be why most people tend to refer to people by their Title Lastname. I think the culture of my instituition is to only call “Drs.” By their title and last name. What I mean by “overboard” is that I call everyone by Title Lastname despite their degree status. As for the possible gender mixups, our institution is on the smaller scale, so you are normally aware of everyone’s preferred gender pronoun. Hope this clears something’s up!

      1. Director of Operations*

        I also work in academia, with a number of MDs and the only time anyone is called or referred to by their title and last name is when a student is involved in the conversation. It would be very out of place at my university to call anyone by anything other than their first names when students are not involved.

        I think you should start paying attention to how the others around you address people, because I agree that you could be creating problems for yourself if you call someone Dr. Smith while everyone else calls her Jane.

        1. LW2*

          Thank you. Everyone at my institution does cal everyone by their Honorific Lastname unless they are the administrative assistants.

        2. AES*

          Also in academia, and I agree about the metric of “are students involved”? But in this case I’d also be careful about whether the PhDs might be touchy about being addressed by their first name if the MDs are routinely addressed as Dr. Some people I’ve met could be very, very touchy indeed about this. So my rule of thumb would be if a student is involved, titles for everyone; if a student is not involved, titles for no one.

      2. Linzava*

        I’m a student, and while I am in the habit of addressing my professors formally, I’ve been adjusting that rule. Often, when a professor writes back, they end their emails with their first name only.

        Now, my first email is always formal, but when they reply, I use the name they signed from then on. It makes me feel a lot less uncomfortable.

        As far as staff, I use first names just as I do in my workplace.

        1. TexanInExile*

          I emailed a professor I had decades ago to tell him that I still think about and use what I learned in his Philosophy 101 class. He wrote back – turns out he is from Milwaukee, where I live now, had gone to Madison, etc, etc. We exchanged several emails. He finally told me to call him by his first name, not Dr X, because I was no longer his student. But you know – I didn’t want to presume!

          (However, if I were meeting him for the very first time now, I would absolutely call him by his first name. It’s just that he used to be my teacher!)

          1. Kit-Kat*

            Haha, my kindergarten teacher was my parents’ neighbour until a few years ago and even my PARENTS still called her Mrs LastName. My mom once was like, it’s too weird. The teacher relationship can make it different haha.

        2. pleaset*

          My best professor in grad asked us to address her as Prof. Lastname and said when we got our degrees, we could call her Firstname.

          She said this wasn’t about her, but that we should err on a being a little formal if uncertain. With colleagues – no way would she or I advocate for formality in most situations in the US.

      3. Anonymeece*

        Hm. I work in academia too, so I feel like I can offer something.

        Are you revising your use of Title Last Name based on what they’re signing off with or using to address you? I start initial contact by saying, “Dr. Smith…” because we have had some people who threw a fit when we didn’t use it, but if they use my first name or sign off with “Jane”, then I switch to using that in future emails.

        Most of the professors I work with closely go by their first name, unless a student is directly involved in the conversation.

      4. EddieSherbert*

        Semi-related, but this reminds me of a time in college where I was a preschool teacher for one of my Professor’s kids. Even though he gave me permission to call him by his first name at the preschool (versus Dr. X at our college), I just couldn’t bring myself to do it. I think he found pretty amusing.

        On campus, Dr. X was VERY adamant about being called Dr. X by students (we probably had a 50/50 split on professors wanting to be called First Name versus Dr. Last Name).

      5. Blue*

        I noted elsewhere that I work in academia, and I deliberately use first names across the board. Early on, I used professor/doctor when emailing people, but when an individual replied with their first name (as was universally the case), I followed their lead. Eventually, I stopped using the honorific altogether because I felt like I was feeding into gross notions that staff are inherently lesser. So I work hard to make sure my tone is very respectful, but I address them as equals. I’ve worked at four American institutions, which varied widely in size and culture, and this hasn’t not been an issue at any of them (even the extremely prestigious liberal arts school I worked at for most of the last decade).

        I’d say that if the culture at your institution is to universally use titles and your employee is new and hasn’t realized that, I would flag that for them. But if there’s more to the situation (like the employee has previously communicated with these folks and knows that they always reply with first names), then I wouldn’t worry about it as long as the tone is respectful.

      6. Sara without an H*

        Hi, LW2 — Thanks for the additional information. The fact that you have a mix of PhDs and MDs does complicate matters, and I can understand your decision to just call everybody Dr. Surname. I recall that MDs used to be notoriously touchy about being called “Doctor” — while nurses, admins, and other essential staff (and patients) were addressed by their first names. Has this changed? (PLEASE tell me it’s changed…)

    10. BlueWolf*

      I always address colleagues by first name, but for external emails I always start with Ms./Mr. Lastname and then switch to first names if they reply with my first name.

    11. Jennifer Thneed*

      When I am emailing someone for the first time and I haven’t met in person, I will use both first and last name in my initial greeting. And that’s partly to give them a chance to say “Please call me X” if they want to, because I really hate assuming name use. After that, it’s first name only.

  5. nnn*

    In addition to all the other reasons mentioned for not donating, sometimes, even if you’re eligible on paper, the person screening you will determine that you’re not healthy enough that day. For example, I was once turned down because my blood iron level was too low that day, and another time because my blood pressure was too high at the moment when they tested it. (It seems to me that taking some blood out should help reduce blood pressure, but IANAD.)

    1. buttrue???*

      I gave blood once and was told my blood pressure was too low and I needed to go eat something before I could proceed. I didn’t eat and gave the blood fine. Big blood drive at college where they didn’t monitor where you went.

      1. AnonyNurse*

        There are so many reasons people can’t donate that are none of anyone’s business.

        Anyway, if avoidance gets old/hard, lie: make up a trip to a part of Mexico or Central America that’s a malaria risk. Say you donate at another facility (most pediatric hospitals accept donors directly). Your cardio routine has left you in such great shape that your blood pressure is too low (that is a thing that happens). You donate platelets so you can’t do whole blood at the mobile site. You can’t donate due to the secret radiation trials the military tested on you…

        It sucks that the US continues to discriminate through the blood supply.

        You can also go in and get deferred and still get a sticker and cookies. They specifically allow that just for these situations. So no one who may be pressuring you knows.

        1. Sam Sepiol*

          I’d be tempted to go the ridiculous route. My blood has been replaced by wine. I’m not human and my blood is not compatible with humans. Etc.

          Or, and here I’m channeling Carla in Scrubs when Turk first asked her out, offer a list of reasons that people have suggested, preferably including mutually exclusive ones, and end with “there’s a bunch of reasons, pick your favourite”. I mean don’t really do that, but it would be awesome and make a point. “Myblood pressure is too high, my blood pressure is too low, my iron levels are too low, I have a needle phobia, I donated already but I’m allergic to stickers…..”

        2. Jennifer Thneed*

          I learned this decades ago when HIV status was very stigmatized and I’ll bet it’s still true: you can let them take the blood and tell them privately to dump it. That way if you’re part of a work group that is doing donations as a team thing, you don’t have to compromise your privacy.

      2. Seeking Second Childhood*

        (Maybe best not to do that again… if I understood them right when I was rejected for low blood pressure, it makes you a candidate for fainting and makes it harder for them to find your veins…which can be painful.)

    2. Bagpuss*

      Heck, I donate regularly and I’d be very annoyed with Alice.
      You don’t her her any explanation, and as others have said, there are a huge range of reasons why people can’t or don’t donate, including the fact that you are not supposed to donate too frequently. I don’t know whether the rules are the same in the US , but here in the UK you can only donate once every 12 weeks if you are a man, and once every 16 weeks if you are a woman, so you’d expect to have a scenario where regular donors couldn’t donate at the blood drive because it didn’t fit their regular donation schedule.

      I do think you would be absolutely fine to say to Alice, or HR, or both “I’m concerned about how much pressure you are / Alice is putting on people to donate blood. There are lots of reasons why people can’t donate, including very private issues such as medical conditions, or sexual orientation or history. ”
      I think you could also flag up the fact that she is soliciting people to donate to a cause, which you’ve indicated is not allowed. Does the employer really intend that the fact that she is soliciting blood, not money, makes it OK.

      1. Bagpuss*

        PS – If you feel you have to respond to her, don’t make up a story OR give her the full reason. Just say “I’m not able to donate”
        If she asks you why, then it’s totally reasonable to let her see that you are offended, and to respond with “Are you seriously asking me to give you my private medical information!?” after all, information relating to eligibility to donate blood is medical…

        1. Even Steven*

          Bingo! This is like yesterday’s question about the sorta-vegan who pressured the writer to partake in iffy treats. Today’s writer owes no explanation to Annoying Alice – that would just open up debate. I would not say to her that not everyone is eligible to donate, or she will switch from rhinoceros to terrier mode and argue and argue and argue.

          Alice should back off, but tuning her out will also work. I don’t know that I would even discuss my preferences with her at all. At this point I would be down to an “uh-huh” and keep staring at my computer screen when she bustled past.

          But a question – why are her age range and the OP’s age range relevant? I am sure that the writer was just trying to paint the picture, but we should remember that there are pushy folks of all ages…..

          1. First OP*

            Of course you’re right, there’s no age restrictions on pushing! I was mainly trying to paint a picture, as you say, but also give some explanation of my insecurity at the office. I’m the rookie, and she’s been the beloved den mom for a long time.

        2. PVR*

          Or once she asks why, you can respond with, “I’d really prefer not to disclose the exact medical reason why as I’m sure you of course understand.” You can always elaborate that you prefer to keep that type of information private and emphasize that OF COURSE she understands and would respect anyone’s private information and is on your “side.” It’s sort of like forced teaming. She can’t really push the issue then without disproving your assertion of what a wonderful and understanding person she is.

    3. blackcat*

      ANAD either, but my understanding is that blood loss can actual cause a spike in BP/pulse before a crash. Basically, your blood vessels constrict to compensate for the reduced blood volume. The circulatory system isn’t like inert pipes, it’s active muscle systems.

    4. MLB*

      Regardless, she needs to stop pressuring people to donate. I don’t donate because nobody can ever find my veins. They end up having to wiggle the needle around making me queasy and I end up with a giant bruise every time. So I don’t do it. And I shouldn’t have to explain that to “Alice”. I understand his hesitation, but he needs to stop avoiding her and if she asks if he donated, just say no. If she pushes, say “it’s personal and not something I want to discuss”. Rinse and repeat.

    5. roisin54*

      I got turned down in college because my temperature was 98.9 degrees, and the volunteer insisted that meant I was sick and thus ineligible (I was not sick, I just run warm.) He even said I needed to “pay more attention to my body.” It had taken me a long time to psych myself up for it, because anything to do with veins and arteries and blood freaks me out, and the way he spoke to me turned me off the whole thing and I never tried again.

      1. Anon Accountant*

        I have notoriously small veins and in high school a Red Cross nurse was so nasty to me I won’t deal with them again. In our area they’re always having drives but our local Red Cross people are so nasty people won’t go back.

    6. DCGirl*

      If it’s the Red Cross, they’re familiar with workplace drives and will give you an out. Just walk up and say, “I’m being very pressured to do this today/I don’t want my coworkers to know I’m gay and can’t donate/I don’t want my coworkers to know I have XYZ disease that precludes my donating blood…” The nurse will just say you’re not eligible today.

    7. LunaLena*

      Gonna point out that it’s possible the HR guy didn’t actually donate either – I’ve seen people who got rejected from donating blood get given the “I donated” sticker because they showed up and tried, including those who were rejected for health reasons. I think it’s quite possible that he wears it to keep Alice off his back.

  6. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

    OP#2, I’m intrigued. Does your workplace usually address people as Mr./Ms./Mx./Mrs. [Last Name]?

    Speaking personally, I find emails that address me as “Ms. [Last Name]” come across as distant and formal, but not necessarily more respectful (in many circumstances, it reads as less respectful).

    1. Laura H.*

      Would that roll into etiquette of a first contact though?

      I tend to lean more formal on first contact OR if I haven’t been told “please call me firstname”

      1. Akcipitrokulo*

        For external contacts maybe… depending. Certainly a job application! But for colleagues, I’d say first name is more polite unless it’s specifically the culture where you are to use last names.

        I had reason to email Bigcheese Grandboss, one of top 4 people in company for first contact. I really paid attention to every semi-colon in that email :) but wouldn’t have dreamed of referring to them by anything other than their first name. Did go back and forth about whether to start “Dear Bigcheese”, “Hello Bigcheese”, “Hello” or something else, but Ms Grandboss would have been completely inappropriate.

        But does depend!

      2. MLB*

        In my 20+ years of working in a corporate environment, I can only think of 2 people I addressed by their last name. One of them was older, and everyone called him Mr. (shortened version of his last name). The other was a doctor, so he was Dr. (Last Name). It depends on the environment, but I think it’s rare.

    2. lammmm*

      I’d be kinda weirded out of I got an email from a coworker (whether I knew them or not) that was addressed to ‘Ms. Lammmm.’ It would also make me awkwardly conscious of my interactions (even via email) with them, which would lead me to take twice as long (at least, plus a lot of second guessing my wording) to respond to any emails this person sends me.

    3. Engineer Woman*

      I’m in this camp also. All the places I’ve worked at, if emailing a colleague you’ve never met, everyone used first names. It would seem very strangely formal otherwise and I’d think the email sender just a little odd.

      1. Où est la bibliothèque?*

        If someone in my office addressed me by last name in an email, my first thought would be “what did I do to piss them off?”

      2. Antilles*

        All the places I’ve worked at, if emailing a colleague you’ve never met, everyone used first names.
        This has been my experience too. In fact, my experience has even been that even *outsiders* tend to use first names – pretty much the only time I get an email referring to me as “Mr. Doe” instead of “John” are spammers or mass marketing.

    4. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      It gives me a knee-jerk reaction of annoyance if anyone my peer level calls me Ms. I can accept it when I call a customer service line and they try to be formal, I squash it immediately after they suffer through trying to say my last name the first time.

      Unless it’s a highly formalized company, I would quit sooner than be told to address an internal message to anyone in such a manner. Not even ownership or c-suite is getting that kind of formality. It feels restrictive and very Parent/Child.

    5. Snow Drift*

      In my experience working with engineers, the group tends to refer to each other by last name only, without the honorific. So, an e-mail would read “Smith is handling the chocolate teapot inventory, and Jones is handling vanilla teapots.”

      But in my area, every third person is a Mike or a Dave, so you kinda need to do that. LW’s situation sounds more like a mis-match of norms.

    6. LW2*

      My workplace culture is a mixture of both but on the regular, people tend to use the Honorific Lastname. Mostly because I work in academia where titles are Very Important.

      My go to is to use the honorific and then if they insist on first names, I will use that instead. But the first contact is always formal.

      1. Not a Real Giraffe*

        I used to work in academia too, and in some cases (like if I was emailing the Dean of the school), I would use honorifics fullstop. But if someone signs an email reply to me as “Bob,” I’m going to take that as a sign that it’s okay to start calling him Bob instead of “Professor/Assistant Dean Smith.” I think if you’re waiting for someone to insist upon using their first name, you are waiting too long.

      2. MarfisaTheLibrarian*

        Oh man, all my academic life (as an undergrad, grad student, and librarian) has been extremely informal

      3. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

        Oh, that’s fascinating—you’re totally right that academia treats titles as Very Important. We cannot let the serfs forget the pecking order, no? #facetious

        I also work in academia, and I only use the Honorific with people I do not know who outrank me (faculty emeriti, deans, provosts, etc.). So for example, I call my dean by his first name (his preference), but the first time I met him, I greeted him as Dean [Last Name]. I greet high-level staff I haven’t met—e.g., campus general counsel, president’s chief of staff—by their first names. If I were staff I would use [President/ Chancellor/ Dean/ Provost/ Professor] [Last Name] for first contact with all executive staff and faculty.

      4. Sara without an H*

        Hi, LW2 — Like you, I work in academia, and I used to do the same thing (start with Title-Lastname on first introduction, then switch to first names on request). But as I’ve gotten older, I’ve started using first names right away. After all, I’m older than most of the faculty I work with. (Still not sure how that happened!)

        None of this is logical, of course.

  7. Doctor What*

    Op #1 I am horrified for you! I am on a medication that makes it so I can’t give blood either. Even without a medical reason, no one should be antagonized into doing anything they don’t want to. AAM gave you some great advice…I hope it goes well!

    1. Hamburke*

      I take meds too – really common ones! I’ve also found out I was pregnant the day before a blood drive.

      FYI – they’ll give you a sticker if you screen!

  8. Autumnheart*

    OP5: You’ve given 15 years to an organization where you’ve sacrificed your own earning potential and your ability to retire, while going above and beyond for the company.

    Think about how many more years you want to do that. Another week of vacation, that you’re not going to take anyway, is not going to turn into cash when you turn 65.

    1. Jasnah*

      This is weirdly antagonistic… but to spin it around, hey OP, maybe there’s something retirement-related they can do for you??

    2. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      It’s a nonprofit. The whole point is often the mission. You’re rarely ever going to be swimming into retirement with diamonds dripping out of your pockets.

      Nothing about her question is about being underpaid, it’s one year without a wage increase.

    3. MK*

      That’s incredibly hyperbolic. The OP doesn’t say she is underpaid, and while I get that not being able to retire is an issue for many people in the US, is it really appropriate to assume that anyone not earning a lot of money has that problem?

    4. Où est la bibliothèque?*

      15 years in an organization that treats you well and appreciates your work, with a raise in the near future, with a boss you like and an environment where you struggle to think of something that could be improved…what a nightmare.


    5. The Librarian (not the type from TNT)*

      I didn’t read this comment as particularly antagonistic or hyperbolic. It is a valid point… That said, working for a nonprofit at perhaps below market value for an extended period of time (we don’t know that for sure) because you believe in the mission of the organization and work for wonderful bosses is also a valid choice.

    6. Kelsi (LW3)*

      Hi, I’m the LW, and I have no idea how you got that I’ve “sacrificed my own earning potential and my ability to retire, while going above and beyond for the company”

      I’ve gotten regular merit raises over my time here, and this is the first year since starting full-time that I haven’t received at least a cost of living raise. My agency also does matching contributions (I don’t remember up to what, don’t have the paperwork in front of me) on our 403(b)s, and mine is fully vested.

      I believe strongly in the mission of my agency, plus I genuinely enjoy the work I do. But I am not in financial danger, either.

      1. Nana*

        You say you can’t work at home, because you’d need a second monitor…any chance the job could provide that? [although I don’t think they’re terribly expensive]. One day/week working at home in jammies is worth a certain amount (I think).

        1. Kelsi (LW3)*

          It’s possible, but I also don’t have a great workspace at home–I’d be lugging the monitors to the dining room table, probably!

          1. addiez*

            Aw, that’s what I was here to say too – many companies have a policy in place to help with home offices, so it wouldn’t be a huge reach especially if they have an extra monitor or two lying around. If there’s a way that your office could make flex work easier, that could be a great thing to ask. Even if it’s a small folding table and a monitor or two…

    7. KC without the sunshine band*

      Sometimes you get to a point where more money doesn’t change your life nearly as much as non-monetary benefits, like more time off, the ability to take your dog to work with you, flexible hours, working from home, paid training/education, paid gym membership/exercise time, paid community service time. I’ve had all of this at some point in my career.

      I once worked at a place that had an archery range, a basketball court, and one hole of golf behind the building for employee use. I got pretty good at archery. I still suck at golf.

      LW, think of what could really improve your life. Do exercises like The Wheel of Life and such to decide what area of your life you want to improve right now, and figure out how to ask for something that would help that area. For instance, if you travel some and want to improve your love relationship, maybe you ask for the company to allow your spouse to travel with you and cover some of the costs. That’s just the first off-the-wall thing that popped in my head, but I bet you can come up with something great. Congrats on having this wonderful problem!

      1. KC without the sunshine band*

        I also used to work at a place that had a massage therapist come in one day a week, and a chef cook lunch one day a week. Both were awesome.

    8. Mr. Bob Dobalina*

      To be fair to Autumnheart, the same concern (a potentially eroded salary over a 15 year period with a nonprofit employer) immediately occurred to me, although I felt that it was off-topic.

  9. Ella*

    To OP #1, as a fellow bisexual person who doesn’t like the feeling of hiding myself, but also doesn’t particularly want to walk around constantly telling the world about my sexuality, I definitely understand your concern here. Situations like these can feel almost like you’re stepping back in the closet, which is a real kick in the gut. But when it comes to blood donation I think you’ve moved firmly out of “tell your truth” territory and into private medical information. Your coworker has no right to know why you can’t or chose not to donate blood, no matter if it’s because you have low iron, or travelled to a prohibited country, or have been blocked by the delightfully homophobic bans in question. That’s information no one but you or the medical professionals you interact with have any right to know, and you’re not letting yourself or the world at large down by keeping it private!

    1. Ella*

      Also, frankly, given the dazzling variety within human sexuality, it’s probably a bad idea all around to tie blood donation eligibility to sexual orientation. A gay man who abstains from certain sexual acts would be allowed to donate while a straight woman whose polyamorous boyfriend is seeing another man would be banned, and at that point no one’s going to grock the right sexuality for anyone involved if they make assumptions based on blood donation eligibility. :P Better to avoid the whole thing and stick to coming out – or not – on our own, non-blood draw induced terms.

      1. MJ (Aotearoa/New Zealand)*

        “while a straight woman whose polyamorous boyfriend is seeing another man would be banned”

        Interestingly, this isn’t the case in New Zealand — as a woman, you can’t donate for 12 months after having sex with a man who has had oral or anal sex with another man. (The same stand down as for men who have had oral or anal sex with another man.)

        1. Kiwi is more than a fruit*

          Because males in New Zealand are always 100% honest with their female partners about their sexual history? Sheesh.

          1. Rez123*

            Majority of the blood donation rules are based on trust. They won’t know if I’ve been to dentist yesterday, if I’ve had sex with a new partner within the last 4 months or paid for sex or went to Italy in October. Similarly I don’t know if my boyfriend has had sex with men in the past 12 months or done heroin but I will tick no in those instances since it is best to my knowledge. That’s why they test the blood. It’s about eliminating risks. Some of the rules are ridiculous and outdated.

      2. Jasnah*

        “A gay man who abstains from certain sexual acts would be allowed to donate”
        This is what I first thought, is oh, guess HR guy hasn’t gotten lucky??

        OP, I wouldn’t worry too much about HR guy, I don’t know if having the sticker is a guarantee that he actually gave blood. Regardless, I don’t think it’s helpful to frame it as a question of “earning” the “right” to wear the sticker. The rules are silly so please don’t think of this sticker as a standard you need to “meet or ‘fess up”!

        1. TL -*

          Or he knows he’s HIV negative and lied about his sexual activityactivity. Which is one of the few medical lies that, while I can’t encourage it, I won’t condemn it either.

            1. WorkLady*

              That’s what I was thinking. He could have donated but identified the blood as not usable for transfusion. I know people who do that at work-based blood drives to avoid these conversations. :(

      3. TL -*

        The question in the USA is have you had sex with another man or had sex with a man who has had sex with another man [in whatever time period]?

        The question is a bit ridiculous; they screen for HIV in all donations and gay men no longer have the fastest growing rates of HIV diagnosis (that is black women, despite most of the HIV outreach being primarily aimed at the gay community). But they are actually pretty thorough in their screening questions.

        1. Karen from Finance*

          Even though they screen for HIV, there’s a window of time where you may have contracted it but it wouldn’t show up in tests, so they’re trying to cover in case of risk.

          I think the question is because medically, it’s easier to get HIV through anal sex than by any other of the most common sexual acts (cunnilingus being the least likely), without using protection. But the gay community has been hit so much by the HIV crisis that now in general they have a much greater awareness about using protection than some other marginalized groups, who might not use protection at all, or for straight couples, focus on other forms of birth control as substitutes (which won’t prevent HIV or other diseases). This is why I think that the rule of keeping men who have had sex with other men is terribly outdated. Please someone correct me if I’m wrong.

          1. NewHerePleaseBeNice*

            One of the reasons I don’t donate blood (I’m in the UK) is the inherent homophobia of the NHS Blood Service. A gay man who was once sexually active (even with protection) but is now celibate would be precluded from donating, ever, as would a monogamously married gay man. Meanwhile, a straight man who goes out every weekend and bonks his way through every woman in Wigan without the mere thought of a condom will be welcomed with open arms by the Blood Service every 12 weeks!

        2. neeko*

          I remember hearing that statistic about Black women quite a while ago and I’m not sure about the current fastest growth rate. But the group with the largest amount of new diagnoses each year are Black gay and bisexual men. So it’s not like the outreach is without merit. And this is just reported anyway. Considering the stigma and legal repercussions with HIV/AIDS, so many people do not get tested.

      4. Leah*

        One of the questions asked on blood donation forms in the US is if you’ve had sex with a man who’s had sex with a man. So the straight woman w/poly BF would be disqualified as well.

  10. Startup HR*

    To OP #3, if you wanted to work from home regularly, could you request that they pay for you to get two monitors in your home office?

    1. Ginger ale for all*

      It’s an intriguing thought, to be able to ask for something non-monetary. I would try for the double monitors and to be able to have a month or so of 36 hour work weeks to be able to burn through some of the accumulated vacation time. Think of all the museum’s you could go to or long afternoon walks you could take.

      1. Willis*

        I’m seconding the 36-hr work week. Personally, I’d go for half-day Fridays or some Fridays off to burn through some of the excess vacation.

    2. Screenwriter/Mom*

      This is a great idea. The company could get a better deal on a monitor or perhaps has one they want to upgrade and you can take the older one. Even if not, monitors actually don’t cost that much these days, and it might be worth buying it yourself if you’d like to work from home. Definitely take your vacation time.
      Matching funds into your retirement fund would also be fantastic, even if you’re decades away from retirement (believe me, you’ll appreciate it when you suddenly find yourself that age!)
      I also really like Alison’s other suggestions: look around and see if there’s a nicer office; or see if there are tasks you can ask to have taken off your plate.
      Think about what the people above you in the hierarchy have as perks and see if any of them might be appealing to you.

      1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        Depending on options, woot actually has a big scratch-and-dent/refurb monitor sale going on right now too, I’m pondering upsizing one or two around my house :)

      2. Seeking Second Childhood*

        Good point — I’ve seen many monitors on Freecycle and BuyNothing lately because people have upgraded to bigger ones. You might be able to get yourself a pair for free.

      3. AvonLady Barksdale*

        Before I started with my current company, they switched out all of the computer monitors for larger ones and offered the old ones to employees. I still lament that I missed out on that, but I’m hoping it comes up again soon.

    3. Saturnalia*

      YES came here to suggest the same thing! A second monitor isn’t all that much money (especially compared to a raise), and working from home is a lovely perk to get into.

    4. miss_chevious*

      That’s what I was thinking — two monitors for home, or maybe some other new equipment if something needs to be replaced.

    5. buffty*

      Depending on your setup at home and what you have available, you could use a laptop or a TV as a second monitor with just the purchase of a cable. That might not work for all situations, but it’s how I handled needing two monitors to work from home until the let me take a second, unused monitor home for that purpose.

    6. Emily K*

      Another thing to consider if your company won’t pay for it is to check the secondhand market in your area.

      I actually have two external monitors at home and only one at work these days, because I got my two monitors used on Craigslist for $25 and $30 respectively. They don’t have the highest resolution and one of them makes everything look a tiny bit darker, so it wouldn’t be ideal for someone in design, but for basic web browsing, spreadsheets, document editing, and so on that I do, they perfectly meet my needs – I’d rather have three monitors even if the two external ones are not top-of-the-line than be limited to just my laptop.

      Everyone’s budget is different and even $25 is sometimes not in the budget, but LW, if you’re thinking it would cost $100+ to get a second monitor for home, definitely check out the second-hand market in your area because you can get monitors pretty inexpensively if you don’t mind sacrificing a tiny bit of image quality.

    7. Hamburke*

      Fwiw – I just bought a second monitor so I can work from home more easily and it cost about $50. I could have gone to the Goodwill Outlet downtown to pick one up for $20.

    8. JSPA*

      Came to suggest same. Alternatively / additionally, excellent lighting in the office (including daylight for day, warm white for late afternoon). The right to have potted plants (if not already so, and no co-worker allergy issues). Bus pass and / or gym membership and a long lunch break to make use of them to see the town / get exercise. Standing desk? Under – desk cycle? Basically, anything good for your health that work can likely get at a discount. Alternatively, exercise or bus pass or museum discounts for the whole office, if your happiness bends towards seeing everyone happier?

    9. ThursdaysGeek*

      That’s a great idea. I’m working from home today, and take the monitor from my home system and add it, so I have the laptop and the other monitor. It’s not as nice as the three monitors at work, but it’s sure better than one little laptop screen.

    10. Lauren*

      Ask for a title change. Even without a raise, your title change puts you in a higher salary bucket for a future role. If the place burns down or you are just over non-profit, ask for a title review in lieu of the raise. If you are a woman, you are more likely to be given the same title at your next job vs. a bump up from the one you have now. It’s life. men get to show potential and given titles, while women have to have already proven themselves with the title they are applying for. Get the title. Your conversation should be – is there any leeway with my title? Get Manager or Director, if you are Director, get Senior Director.

    11. Kelsi (LW3)*

      I didn’t want to dig into it too much (felt it wasn’t super relevant to the letter) but I actually don’t have a great space for working from home anyway–I’d have my laptop at the dining room table, probably, or a TV table on the couch.

  11. I work on a Hellmouth*

    OP#1 UGH! That stinks. I’ve been harassed about donating blood, but the few times I’ve donated I’ve 1) passed out, and 2) proceeded to be absolutely worthless for the next three days. Which I never feel is really the office pushy person’s business, you know?

    1. Just Elle*

      I’m the same way. I just really, really do not enjoy giving blood and it usually makes me sick for a few days. I respect the importance and value the charity, heck I was an EMT. But its just not a feasible thing for me to be doing all the time.

      When people get pushy with me (often) I’ve started just replying with a cheery “Actually, I think its a great cause but choose to give back in other ways. Donating blood isn’t for me..”
      You don’t have to give an excuse, you can just say you choose not to. And in many ways I think my response is more powerful than an excuse, because it hopefully reminds them that its ok not to donate… just because. I’ve never had anyone react negatively to my statement.

    2. CupcakeCounter*

      This is me as well. I tried one time when my husband was having surgery after a car accident (they always ask the family) and they ended up stopped way before they collected enough. Damn near ended up in the bed next to him.

  12. Raven*

    LW1 – I tried giving blood once, and then it made me nearly pass out *before* they even drew anything from me. (Like, I got in the chair, and then I saw all the equipment and stuff up close, and my body just like… noped the hell out of there.) So now, when asked, I just say that I can’t donate for “medical reasons”… which is true! So maybe you wouldn’t even actually want to donate if you physically could? (Maybe this isn’t a comfort, but if you’re looking for excuses, it’s possible that you may have one already.)

    Incidentally, this page has loaded up some ads for Red Cross for me lol.

  13. CC*

    LW 1–I’m sorry this is happening to you!

    Have you tried just saying, “I can’t” with no further explanation? I say that all the time even though I guess I technically can, though the last time I did it I passed out and felt terrible for the rest of the day. I don’t think I’ve ever been asked why I can’t—a lot of times people say “Oh me neither!” or “My friend can’t either!”

    1. lammmm*

      Every time someone’s mentioned donating blood (typically in passing) I make a comment to the effect of “Oh I wish I could, but I can’t”. They then tend to respond with “Oh so-and-so I know can’t either” and that’s that’s typically the end of it. But I also tend to deal with reasonable people so ymmv.

      1. lammmm*

        And my reason for “can’t” is a huge fear of needles. Last time I had to have blood drawn, the person drawing my blood had to distract me for about five minutes before drawing, and then it took another 10 minutes for me to even be able to unclench my fist.

        1. Tiny Soprano*

          The “I wish I could” phrasing is really good. It would probably stave off some of the “oh but have you tried xyz?” responses.

          1. Anonymous 5*

            Heh, I actually *stopped* softening my refusals with “I wish I could” because that phrase was invariably what prompted the “oh but have you tried…”

              1. Anonymous 5*

                Indeed. The silver lining was that as soon as I figured out to stop giving that kind of softening language, I realized that I needed to take a *HARD* look at my own interactions with others and make sure I was being respectful of others’ “softened” boundary-enforcement. Because you’re right: “I wish I could” (or the equivalent) shouldn’t invite further pressure!

    2. JSPA*

      There are a huge variety of deferrals. Previous trouble donating, travel to certain areas, certain vaccines, operations, medications. You don’t owe an explanation, but if you say “I currently can’t, but will enthusiastically do so WITHOUT further reminders of and when that changes,” it’s both entirely honest (well, assuming it’s true — and that if you either hit a “dry spell” or the deferral rules change, you would donate!) and should remind her that many people can’t.

    3. Jennifer Thneed*

      I used to tell people that I couldn’t donate because of Red Cross rules about people who have sex with men who have sex with men, and then they’d urge me to volunteer to help run the blood drive instead. I actually had to tell some people, “Look, I’m not going to support a good organization’s effort to do something that is terribly discriminatory” and that didn’t always go over well, but it was the absolute truth. I felt, and still feel, that donating blood is important; and I felt, and still feel, that this is a political barrier rather than a medical one and it PISSES ME OFF.

      Um. Sorry. Prepping to move and I think the stress is getting to me.

  14. Laura H.*

    Op 2, I second Alison’s mention of workplace culture/ norms.

    At my first location at a job, there was only one person we used Mrs. Firstname as the norm with. Even management for the most part did too. (She’s a lovely person and it just fits well.) One manager did the ‘Ms. Laura’ to me, but it was pretty consistent.

    At my second location, that Ms. Firstname framing is used with everyone. I didn’t quite get my head wrapped around that- it was a bit hit or miss.

    But paying attention to how addressing is handled is super easy to do.

      1. Applesauced*

        I’m re-watching the whole series for escapism (and it’s awesome) RIP Mrs Landingham

  15. Tinker*

    Heh. Before the change in the guidelines I was technically lifetime ineligible because I’m approximately a man and I have had sex with another man at some point in my life. That I wasn’t particularly aware that I was a man at the time is not included in the criteria.

    Nowadays I’m technically eligible, but I’m still approximately a man whose partner is not entirely not and I don’t feel like taking up a practice that is contingent on some very particular details of my relationships.

    Which is to say: I feel the awkward, and I’m glad that I don’t work at the place anymore that is big on blood drives.

    1. Lily*

      This is a really good point – these guidelines are not only based on homophobia, but an outdated and inaccurate gender binary that doesn’t capture all people AND is transphobic. Ugh. The Red Cross needs to do better.

  16. Liz*

    OP2, in my very first office job I sent out a bunch of invitations to meet with my new boss and referred to him as “Mr. X,” thinking it would be more correct to be formal. People in other departments reacted super poorly to that, because NOBODY went by last names there and it came off like either he or I was a stuck-up asshole.

    1. Rosalind Franklin*

      The new guy at my office asked a few days ago whether Dr. Smith would mind x action.

      My first thought was “who the heck is Dr. Smith??… ohhhh you mean Bill!”

  17. Amairch*

    Canadian here, but I had an embarrassing blood drive experience. I was all excited to donate, and then they asked me if I’ve ever had malaria. I was born in West Africa and so, yeah, I have. (I actually didn’t know so I had to call my mom. From the blood drive clinic). Even though it’s a completely treatable disease and I had it over 20 years ago, I can’t donate. And even though if I ever had a kid he or she could get the antibodies in their blood, the screening questions don’t account for that. They arranged a shuttle van from my workplace to the donation clinic so I had to ride it back early all by myself, so that was awkward. I’m still salty about that just because, I think that if having it *ever* in your life disqualifies you *forever* then that should be on the website along with the age and weight requirements.

    Anyway, bottom line is I would probably say something like “there are a lot of medical or personal reasons that someone might not be able to donate blood. I think it’s a noble cause and I appreciate your enthusiasm but I think it risks making people uncomfortable in ways they’re not willing to share.” Because I do think that people who are caught up in the idea of doing good sometimes forget that inability and apathy can look the same to a casual observer.

    1. WS*

      Yes, I had a kind of cancer that is a lifetime ban, but I had to seek out the information too! There’s a ton of reasons (some medically sound, some quite prejudicial) that affect blood donation eligibility, and they vary hugely from country to country. Most kinds of malaria more than a year ago would not be a problem for donation in Australia; the UK blood service has to manage CJD risk because they can’t ban their entire population from donating. It’s very complex!

      1. TL -*

        Yeah, it’s about managing risks. The USA can afford to be fairly picky; we’ve got a large population, lots of donors, and more O-/+ than other blood types (who can donate to many other blood types). But if you’re somewhere else, you may not have that luxury – more people would be hurt by not getting blood than helped by increasing the safety profile of the blood being donated.

        1. Asenath*

          There are people still around who remember what happened to their relatives when the collectors were less stringent about risks, so naturally the blood collecting organizations are very risk-averse. Anyway, it’s the blood-collection agency that gets to decide whether or not to accept a gift, there are many, many reasons it will reject a donation, and most people will accept a simple statement llike ‘I can’t donate’ without question.

        2. blackcat*

          But once they find out your O-, they hound you forever, even if you tell them repeatedly that you can’t donate. :/

          1. anonBlood*

            Us ABplussers are hounded for plasma even more, since that can’t be stored as long as whole blood.

          2. Sweet Fancy Pancakes*

            Same for O+. I donate frequently just so I can get 6 weeks or so of freedom from the automated phone calls.

          3. WS*

            Yes, my mother is O- but is a small woman and they were very sad when her weight eventually stayed below safe donation limits. They still call her every 6 months or so, just in case!

    2. Asenath*

      That’s actually changed over time in Canada – I could donate for years in spite of having had malaria, but my donation was processed and never used as whole blood. Then the rules changed, and they became aware of other diseases I might have been exposed to. I was disappointed when I was banned from donating, but not embarrassed. Its up to them to decide whether they want my gift; and as a potential recipient (like everyone else!) I’d rather they were over-cautious than not cautious enough. I still think my blood is probably good enough, but I’m going to let Canadian Blood Services make that decision.

    3. ElspethGC*

      I lived in Malaysia for seven months as a baby, so had to tick the “Living in another country for more than six months” box, and even though (at the time of first donation) that had been sixteen years ago, they still had to bring me a map of the country so I could show that where I lived hadn’t been a malaria-endemic zone. Equally, travelling to Kenya and Tanzania barred me from donation for four months after I returned (the length of time for stuff to show up on tests) even though I confirmed I’d taken antimalarials the whole time.

      Does your blood donation service really not have a comprehensive list of what bars you? The NHSBT site has a great little system where you can search for any country, medical condition, medication etc, and it tells you whether it’s relevant or not.

      1. Asenath*

        Oh, there’s a comprehensive list – I just googled to check – and it looks like with the latest guidelines, I might be able to donate again. But at the time I was turned away, it never occurred to me to check, because I had been exposed so long ago and donation had been permitted if the blood was used for plasma. And right about then, there was concern about some other countries I’d traveled in (exposure to HIV? Maybe Ebola and related diseases?) so even though I had never had any of those diseases, I was turned down.

      2. Amairch*

        When I went online to check, it mentioned travelling to malaria zones in the past few months or something like that. I guess I could have extrapolated from there that contracting it would also be a problem but I didn’t think that something I had and successfully treated a couple decades ago would be a problem when the screening question only mentioned traveling to malaria zones within the past few months.

  18. Beth*

    LW1, given what you know of Alice, how do you think she’d react if you took her aside and said something like “It’s great that this blood drive is happening and I know you’re trying to support it by drumming up volunteers, but with the tracking who’s donated and pestering people who haven’t yet, it’s starting to come off as scolding people who aren’t volunteering. There are all sorts of reasons people might not be willing or able to donate blood, and I’d hate for any of our coworkers to feel like they’re being shamed for something like that. I know you wouldn’t want that either–maybe it’s time to drop it and let people manage whether they donate for themselves?”

    From your description of her, it sounds like she’s an overenthusiastic but ultimately well-intentioned person who hasn’t thought through the impact her actions might be having on others. If that’s the case, and you have a decent relationship with her, having a ‘wake-up call’ conversation like this could go a long way towards both addressing the immediate situation and getting her thinking about her behavior for next time. But you know her better than us, of course, so follow your own judgement on whether this is a good idea or not.

    1. Pomona Sprout*

      Or maybe she’s an “overenthusiastic AND UNDER INFORMED but ultimately well-intentioned person” who might be influenced to rethink her approach through the use of a script such as the one suggested above.

      Of course, the o.p. is under absolutely NO obligation to school Alice, but he’d be doing a great service to himself and the rest of his coworkers, not to mention Alice herself, should he decide to do so.

    2. DisMuse*

      This sort of haranguing really can backfire. I—in an example of not particularly professional behavior—very nearly punched my manager when she went too far with the donation pestering (she said that my relatives* got so many blood transfusions, that I owed it to the system to pay the blood back?). I know, in retrospect, that she was probably trying to be cute about the whole thing, but my cousin had just died so I was not in the mood.

      We all got in trouble for that. Her more than me, though.

      *Hemophilia. Which is actually why I didn’t donate, since I’m a carrier and my clotting factor is for the birds.

      1. Seeking Second Childhood*

        JesusMaryandJosephANDthedonkeytheyrodeinon that was so inappropriate you’d have to be a saint not to be upset. I’m glad you got in less trouble than she did.

        1. Dismuse*

          Yeah, I mostly just got ‘we appreciate you were provoked, but next time come and talk to someone rather than losing your rag?’. She got put on a PPI, sent home for a few days, and had to go to some management course stuff. She also apologised, but it was that…you don’t know what’s happened to people! Don’t poke at them even if you don’t think it’s a tender spot.

  19. Not Australian*

    OP1 – I wonder if one solution might be to answer “I can’t/don’t give blood but I’ve made a financial contribution instead”? I’m needle-phobic, like many other people here, and was a huge disappointment to my aunt who actually earned medals for donating blood, but every time there was a suggestion that I should I just went and dropped a few coins into the collecting box instead.

    Your co-worker may (among other things, and I’m not suggesting her behaviour is appropriate) just be desperate to see the blood drive *supported*, but there are other ways of doing that than giving blood. I applaud her intention, although her methods certainly leave something to be desired.

      1. Loremipsum*

        I read a couple of years ago that due to improvements in medicine and health, the need for blood products has dropped fairly significantly. I recall reading in the article that one of the factors was the decline in non-invasive / open surgical procedures. But there is this entire infrastructure behind blood donation operations that is concerned about this, and the still-present need versus perception – and awareness the demand isn’t what it once was. Anyway, any time I see those signs out for blood donation appeals, i.e. “URGENT NEED” I take it with a grain of salt. Plus – I donated blood once as a teenager and almost passed out in high school so I decided I had done my good deed in that regard once and hopefully helped a few individuals, and won’t be doing it again.

        1. Jennifer Thneed*

          Plus elective surgery patients can do autologous donations, meaning about a month ahead of time, you give a unit of blood for the hospital to store in case you need it. I did this about 30 years ago, actually.) But there will always been a need for blood in case of disasters, auto accidents, etc, and I don’t see those getting fewer at all.

      2. Not Australian*

        I don’t believe I suggested he was obligated; it simply seemed one way of shutting up the aggressive vampire co-worker. He’s made a contribution, just not the one she’s trying to goad him into.

  20. Tau*

    OP2 – I’m from a more formal country, although my workplace is first names all the way. We also have to deal with the formality levels more because German has a T/V distinction (formal vs informal second person pronoun) and it turns out the word “you” crops up more in conversation than names do.

    From that perspective, I’d add: my rule of thumb is that the overarching thing is symmetry, i.e. the more senior person picks the level of formality and I follow suit. If the more senior person uses your first name, it would be inappropriate to call them by title in response. This is true even if office culture tends to titles. So to me, a blanket “use titles!” rule for your employee would be likely to make people feel uncomfortable, not respected.

    1. Japananon*

      Oh this is very interesting. In my experience you can almost never rely on symmetry across hierarchy levels as a guide for formality, because in my working language/culture I would need to speak more formally to a superior than they do to me.

      As a language learner it sucks knowing you can’t rely on others for formality clues, and sometimes has this weird “Jeeves, bring tea!” “Right away, madam” dynamic, but at least I can default to formal & polite for everyone just in case.

      1. Tau*

        Huh! This is interesting. Thinking about it, you’re right that symmetry doesn’t apply for all things that I’d consider “formality”, but over here it definitely applies for surname/first name nowadays with the exception of children. It makes sense that that’s culturally specific now that I think about it.

        So I amend my advice to: even in some cultures with a higher formality level, just using surname + title for everyone no matter what is still going to be inappropriate. This is in addition to the cultures that are more informal where it’d be out of sync already, which from what I’ve heard includes almost everywhere in the US.

        (I sympathise on the language learner front, by the way – I don’t even understand German formality rules myself, so I have no clue how non-natives manage. And I’ve been trying to learn Spanish, and that also has a T-V distinction but they draw the lines differently than we do…)

        1. Seeking Second Childhood*

          (Oh I so stumble over tu/vous in my French. I got a HUGE giggle from a French friend’s child when I –the visiting adult– spoke to her with a formal “vous”.)

        2. Myrin*

          Re: symmetry: I’ve always wondered if I’m just weird in that I don’t mind at all if some random grandma says “du” while I address her as “Sie” or if that’s something more widely applicable; inquiring mind wants to know but it’s actually never come up in my life so now I’ll have to make a concerted effort to find out! ;)
          (Now, the late-30-somethings I address by “Sie” who then start to duz (lol) me are something else entirely. I really bristle at that and it guarantees I’ll be annoyed for the rest of the conversation.)

      2. Ms Cappuccino*

        Same in France. We used to call our boss Mr lastname while he called us by our first names. This was totally normal for us.
        When I arrived in the UK I was very surprised by the level of informality in the workplace. It took me a while to call the manager by his first name.

    2. PhyllisB*

      Tau, that’s not really accurate in all areas of the country/world. I live in the Southern USA and if a minister or doctor refers to you by your first name, you do not refer to him/her by first name unless they invite you to do so. Now with a doctor/minster you have known for a long time and have a cordial relationship with, it’s fine to refer to them as Dr. Dan or Brother John (don’t really know the female equivalent. Sister so-and-so just sounds odd to me!!) But that’s here.
      Of course, I’m at the age where everyone calls me Miss Phyllis or Mrs. B so I’m the one who has to tell people to just call me Phyllis. :-)

      1. Lily*

        Yep, living in Germany and working in a hierarchical industry, never assume you can use du and/or firstname just because thr other person did so.
        You can only do it if they said “call me Firstname”(or you could insist on being called Lastname yourself but that’s going to give you a reputation.)

        1. Lily*

          It’s like the difference between “would you please…” and “Please do …”. Your manager is free to say the second one. You can’t really say that to her, though. If she wants to she can use the first version, but trying to insist on the first version won’t go over well for you.

        2. Tau*

          This is interesting – I’m German and I’d be very, very angry if someone expected me to call them Sie/surname while they were using Du/first name for me. Not a child, thank you very much! I wonder if this is a regional thing or if I’ve missed something somewhere. :/

  21. GermanGirl*

    LW1: I can’t donate at the moment for medical reasons that I wouldn’t want to disclose to the office busybody, so I feel you. The others have already given good scripts and I’ll keep some of those in mind for similar situations.

    LW2: Have you by chance worked and/or lived in a different culture? Extra formal does sound weird to most American ears.

    LW3: If I could pick a non-monetary perk, I’d definitely go with being able to take my PTO in half day increments.
    I sooo often need to do stuff in the city I work in and it’s not really time consuming enough to warrant taking a whole day of PTO but if I just leave early/come in late, it’s also hard to make up the hours within the week. So I’d definitely have an easier time using my PTO effectively if I could take half days of it.

  22. Magenta Sky*

    OP #1: One does no often see a bully described as “very sweet.”

    I cannot help but wonder if she’s the reason there’s a company policy against soliciting donations.

    If you shut her down, I would expect her to not take it well.

    1. Dr. Pepper*

      If this is the case, I would expect *everyone* to know about her and her cause, so even if she doesn’t take it well, it’s not going to reflect poorly on you. It’s going to be “omg Alice is so obsessed with this, look how she’s freaking out about it again”, not “wow Bob is jerk, he should donate blood”.

      1. Magenta Sky*

        Yeah, but it might also be “We’d better humor Alice and pretend to agree with her, or she’ll start on *us*, too.” It depends on how skilled she is at bullying.

    2. LemonLyman*

      I think “no soliciting donations” is a good policy and not an uncommon one. It prevents unwitting coworkers from feeling obligated to buy unnecessary wrapping paper (or something else) from a teammate for a kid fundraiser.

  23. Sam Sepiol*

    Anyone else think it’s weird that Alice presumes that anyone who donated will wear their sticker? I mean, it seems weird to me. And how is her sticker still sticky?!

    1. Recovering Journalist...*

      Agreed. In fact, I came on here pondering how to make a comment to that effect to Alice:
      “When I give I don’t feel the need to announce it to the world. It’s nobody’s business but mine.”

    2. WellRed*

      Yup! Wearing it the same day she gave? Sure! Day after day? Weird. Did she sew it on? Also, anyone else seeing a blood drive ad on site at this moment?

    3. Sylvan*

      Yeah, that was weird. For multiple days? Move on, Alice! Stop sticking the little shed fibers from Monday’s sweater on Friday’s blouse!

    4. LawBee*

      I don’t even take an I Voted sticker. I hate stickers – you forget it once, and that glue is on your shirt FOREVER.

  24. Rez123*

    #2 Formalities regarding names is such a cultural thing. When I’m from we never call anyone Mr and Ms. anything. Friends parents are called by first name (or Eve’s mom). Teachers go by first name/nickname since we are kids. Professors go by first name. Only instances I’ve heard people address people with Mr and Mrs type things is in when talking to high ranking politicians or military personnel. I remember when we moved and I had to go to American school it was so weird having to be so formal at school.

    1. LW2*

      Fascinating. I’m hearing so many different opinions on this. But everyone is definitely feel VERY strongly about their opinions. =p

      I think you might all be correct. I’m from the Southern US and I call everyone Ms. or Mr. even in the grocery store (current location =p) My employee is originally from New York, I’m wondering if it’s just a cultural difference then?

      1. Sylvan*

        Yes, that is a cultural difference! It’s a foreign concept outside of K-12 school to your employee, and she may also see it as disrespectful (like calling a woman “ma’am” may seem like rudely calling attention to her age).

        However, I’m in the South and was born and raised here, and I haven’t encountered Ms./Mr. as an office-wide norm at any job. This could just be a cultural difference between my town and yours, though. Do you know if Ms./Mr. been the business’s standard at your other jobs or your local friends’ jobs?

        1. LW2*

          I’ve only ever encountered Mr/Ms/Dr in all the settings I’ve been. But I’ve only held positions in two different universities spanning 10 years so still relatively new to the career based on my peers. I consider everyone more experienced than me.

        2. Tardigrade*

          Ditto. Live/work in the South and have never used Ms/Mr, even with my bosses and other higher ups.

  25. The Stale Prince of Some Place*

    I have been harassed about donating blood before. So I just lied and said I already did.
    I can’t donate because I’m underweight, and I’m not comfortable talking about my weight.
    People suck

  26. StellaBella*

    LW3 on non monetary perks…
    1. A half day off of work each week to take a course on a new language or computer skill
    2. A half day off each week to run personal errands or relax or go to a gym or something you enjoy
    3. How about 3 full weeks off work from 15 Dec to 5 of Jan? Plus other time off of 2 weeks in summer
    4. How about a chance to take every other Friday off as paid as that is only 20 ish work days over a year, after holidays, and way less than a raise so you work 90% but paid 100% for this year until raises in new year
    Good luck!

    1. EPLawyer*

      How about just a more flexible schedule if you don’t have one already? You don’t have to be in right at 9 but can come in later as long as your work is done. If you are salaried and the work gets done, managing your own schedule can be a HUGE perk. Just, oh hey, I feel like getting a hair cut today, so I will do it at 11 a.m. instead of using my lunch hour can be fun. Or do your grocery shopping in the middle of the day when the store is not as crowded.

      1. EddieSherbert*

        I like this one! I am salaried and have flex scheduling + some work from home opportunities and I LOVE it. Right now, there’s one morning a week where I volunteer for a couple hours and come in late. During the summer, if there’s a really nice day, I’ll take a long lunch and go for a bike ride or something. It’s excellent!

      2. Kelsi (LW3)*

        We already have a pretty flexible schedule–although I am non-exempt, so I do need to make up hours or take vacation if I do things this way.

    2. Hermione'sAtTheLibrary*

      Great ideas! Or if you want to work from home and the dual monitor thing is the issue — ask them to set you up with dual monitors for home use!

    3. Silence Will Fall*

      In my nonprofit days, we were facing a several year stretch without pay raises. The organization really looked for out of the box solutions to provide non-monetary compensation. I got two things:

      A flexible schedule that allowed me to go to the gym in the middle of the morning a couple of times a week. (Caveat: I’m 100% a morning person and do my best work from 6-10 a.m.) I’d get into the office around 6 a.m., work for 3-4 hours, then take off for a couple of hours to workout, eat lunch, run errands, etc.

      A schedule of half days M-Th with Fridays off during the entire month of July. (Super slow time for my org.)

      The end result was that I was actually able to take all of PTO each year. (The Fridays in July were additional PTO.) I was able to get through our busy season without feeling as burned out as I had in years past. And, the alternate schedules, WFH options, etc. that people worked out were so successful that even when raises started again, we were able to keep the non-monetary perks.

    4. lulu*

      You could also look at your responsibilities and see if there are some that you would like to pass on to someone else, to focus on others, if that makes sense in the configuration of your office of course. Maybe you would like to supervise someone, or to deal with external partners, etc.

  27. US MD*

    OP1 – US MD here, who’s had some experience in blood banking. One point about donations I haven’t seen mentioned as I’ve scanned the comments is that, at least in the US, there’s should always be a mechanism in place at blood donation centers whereby you can discreetly and confidentially communicate that you don’t want your donation to be used for a blood transfusion. Often this is in the form of a questionnaire you fill out privately during intake, or a small sticker you are given that you can discreetly place on your donation bag at anytime during the process. This doesn’t alert the staff or prevent you from going though the donation process – it just means that after the donation process as the blood products are being processed there will be a message communicated to discard your donation. I’m not suggesting you go that route, but just know that that option exists if you (or anyone else) gets peer pressured into donating alongside family or work colleagues. Perhaps this is what your gay friend did.

    You absolutely shouldn’t be pressured into donating blood products if you don’t want to. As people have mentioned, there are a ton of reasons for which donors are deferred (that don’t have to do with sexual behavior), so if people demand an explanation for why you aren’t donating and you feel compelled to answer, you can use any of them.

    Regarding the 1-year moratorium on blood product donation for MSM – it’s a regulation set by the governing body of transfusion medicine in the US (the AABB), and so all blood donation centers must adhere to it (the general rule is that an individual donation center can amend their donor criteria to be more restrictive, but not less restrictive, than the AABB guidelines). That being said, I do think that restriction is too conservative, as every blood product is screened for HIV as well as for many other blood-transmissable diseases. Unfortunately the stigmatizing restrictions against blood donation in MSM were put in place before there was a reliable screen for HIV (as a very cautious, kneejerk reaction to the HIV/AIDS epidemic as it emerged decades ago, when many people – particularly the transfusion-dependent like sickle cell patients and hemophiliacs – tragically did contract HIV from receiving blood products), and even decades later it hasn’t been lifted (though it was amended from a lifetime ban to a one-year ban).

    1. Elbe*

      A lot of places will also just give you the sticker if you explain that you’re ineligible to donate but don’t want to field questions from nosy people.

      The LW shouldn’t have to go through that effort in order to be left alone, but it’s another option that is likely available to him.

    2. Tara S.*

      Hmm. I donate pretty regularly and I’ve never encountered a form question like that. Maybe because I’m usually donating at mobile drives? (I’ve donated with Bonfils and Red Cross.)

  28. Everdene*

    OP2, “going overboard” with respect really caught my spidy-senses. Often when people overdo performative respect it comes across as facetious or sarcastic. Like you don’t actually respect them so you’re making a big deal of ‘showing respect’ so you can’t be accused of discrimination or something. (I’ve found this particularly as a female manager from older male reports.) It can feel really smarmy and oily to the person recieving this excessive respect.

    If you genuinely respect someone just treat them as a normal, capable human. This will avoid coming across as a superscillious hypocrite (think Uriah Heep)- which, from your letter, is not the impression I think you want to give.

    As for your report, if she’s a young woman, using Titles/Last names could give the impression she is unaware of business norms, subservient or childlike (like a pupil addressing a teacher) which might hinder others respecting her. You should instead encourage her to be polite and assertive in her communications.

  29. MsSolo*

    3# I work for a non-profit in the UK, and we’ve been talking a lot in our union about the non-monetary benefits recently. Some of these will be completely out of step with US culture, but some might not?

    Depending on how your PTO splits out (I understand in the US it’s common to lump sick leave and holiday together) if you have the ability to advocate for time off that doesn’t affect your holiday allowance:
    – parental leave
    – compassionate leave
    – volunteering leave (this is really big with us, and something I think a non-profit might be keen to get behind? We currently have 3 days a year to volunteer with other organisations as long as they’re not in direct competition with us)
    – learning days (either training courses or self-study)

    Non-leave related:
    – any training courses you want to go on? Even tangential ones (sign language is always handy!)
    – anything that would make your commute easier? Better bike parking, flexibility on start/end times, interest free loan towards a bus/train season ticket
    – interest free loans towards work related costs in general are quite big here for stuff that saves money overall (like season tickets) if you pay for a period up front but wouldn’t normally have the lump sum on hand to do so – works out neutral for the org, but cuts your costs.
    – anything health insurance related that I don’t really understand but appreciate is a big factor in US work!
    – to be the opposite of Alison, are there any projects you want in on, or any you want to start, that currently aren’t on your plate?
    – mentoring / shadowing opportunities?

    We have a homeworkers allowance and support with the costs of set up – work need to ensure they’re providing us with a fit work station whether it’s at home or the office, so they’re willing to pay for / contribute to / loan equipment to ensure that. Does your office have any spare equipment they’d be willing to let you use at home, on the understanding you’d return it if you ever left the org?

    Do US companies contribute towards pension pots, the way UK ones do? For ever 3% of our salary that goes into our pensions, our employer contributes 6% (and we’re actually on the low end, for orgs in the UK in our sector). If so, that kind of increase might be more budgetable than a raise (if there’s tax incentives in the US).