boss asked someone to take her family off her health insurance, how to encourage someone you’re rejecting, and more

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

1. My boss begged my coworker to take her husband and baby off her health insurance

So I recently started a new job in a very small office right before the New Year. As I was being hired, they were doing their budget for 2019. My boss, who is not my favorite person in the world, forgot to budget for my benefits. According to a coworker, he had asked (more like begged) her to take her husband and her baby off of the company’s insurance so that the budget wouldn’t be so screwed up. Everyone in the office knows about this. He had talked about it during a staff meeting and then someone told me after I came on. Everyone in the office has varying degrees of how they feel about this ranging from complete outrage to just kinda “Eh, that’s a normal Tuesday.”

What are your thoughts? My coworker has started talking about going to the board about this, among his various other issues.

It was wildly inappropriate, and it calls into question your boss’s basic competence on two fronts: (1) forgetting to budget for benefits (anyone who manages a budget knows personnel costs aren’t just salaries) and (2) trying to make this your coworker’s family’s problem, when the stakes are as high as health insurance. (I assume he knew or figured that the husband and baby could be insured through the husband’s job, but it’s still incredibly obnoxious and not how you handle any budget shortfall, and particularly not a colossal mistake of your own making.)

2. How to encourage someone you’re rejecting

I work for a nonprofit that hosts a summer internship for a well known university. My job, among other things, is to ride herd on the process of selecting the intern. My opinion on who to select is solicited, but I am not the decision maker. The internship is very popular and very competitive, so as we do every year, we had a number of excellent candidates to choose from. Unfortunately, we had a less than great experience with last year’s intern, so the decision makers this year were not in a mood to take chances.

It came down to a final three: two older, high achieving students with great references and on-point experience and a first year student who blew everyone away in the interviews, but had little to no experience. Because the decision makers were feeling risk adverse this year, they went with one of the older student. I totally understand and accept this.

By the same token, everyone agrees the first year had the highest ceiling of them all. If she’d had just a little of the track record of the other two, she might have pulled it off! Two of the three decision makers came to me afterwards and asked that I reach out to the first year and encourage her to apply again, especially if she picks up some relevant experience, course work, etc., along the way. Obviously no promises can be made, but if she did so, it would not surprise me in the least if she was the selection next year.

One thing I have learned about myself is I have a tendency to lay it on a little thick when I am trying to console someone, and that sounds insincere to some. I do not want to let this first year down easy, I want to let her know she missed out by a whisker, encourage her to pursue relevant volunteer work or coursework, and strongly encourage her to apply next year … again, without making any promises. Can you suggest an approach or useful language to do so?

I think you’re maybe getting overly invested in exactly the right away to reject this candidate. It’s great to let her know that she was a strong candidate and you’d love it if she applied again next year, but don’t think of this in terms of consoling her or cushioning the blow. That’s not really the appropriate role for you to take as the employer. (It might not even be a blow. This could be her third choice, for all we know.)

Instead, just be direct! Something like: “We all agreed you were a really strong candidate, and we’d love to see you apply again next year, especially if you’re able to do some related volunteer work or coursework between now and then.” And since you said that you tend to lay it on a little thick, limit yourself to three sentences in this message.

3. Company is hounding me after I downloaded their white paper

I’m a software developer with plenty of technical experience, but I’m trying to get better at industry experience, if that makes sense. I read advice to go to conferences, join the relevant professional organization, that sort of thing. So far so good.

I’ve also started downloading and reading white papers. They’re interesting! I like hearing what kinds of products other people are making! But I ran into a problem. One company wanted my email address before letting me read it. I gave them my work email, and didn’t think anything of it.

And then their sales rep Jane emailed me. I said I didn’t make purchasing decisions. Then their sales rep John emailed me. And Jane found our phone number and called the office manager asking for me. And found the name of one of the other project managers and called asking for him. And John emailed me again asking why I hadn’t responded. And Jane called again asking if a decision was made yet.

I’m not sure what to do. Was it dumb to give out my work email like that? Do I owe Office Manager and Project Manager an apology? How do I keep this from happening again?

Yeah, sometimes a white paper is just a white paper, and other times it is a gateway into aggressive sales hell.

But you weren’t naive in giving out your email address. This company is just particularly rude and pushy. Email John and Jane and tell them that you want your company taken off their contact list and not to attempt to contact you or your colleagues again. (Seriously, this is fine to say. They hear this all day long.)

You don’t really owe apologies here; sales people get ahold of potential leads and sometimes hassle them. Your colleagues probably know this. But you can tell them that you’re trying to get the company off this sales list.

4. My coworker reacts badly when I won’t come in on my days off

I’m a relatively new grad school grad working at my first real job ever. I’m running into an issue with a coworker where we are the same level in title but she feels as if she has seniority over me due to her having been there before me. We work in a professional field where accreditation is legally required and she acquired hers after I did, despite graduating way before I did, and as a result had to actually have me as her “supervisor” for a very short time for professional ethics purposes.

Recently, she’s been slacking a lot and her supervisor had a talk with me about potentially firing her due to her slacking off. But she will just skip off work and then expect me to cover for her. It’s gotten to the point where she texts me on my clearly designated off days to ask me to come back into work to cover for her. She’s gotten so used to me covering her duties that she feels entitled and reacts badly when I tell her that I’ve indicated that this is my off day and I will not be coming back to the office just to do her job. But as a green employee, I’m just always very insecure about doing stuff like this. So how do I draw boundaries with coworkers like this?

“Sorry, I’m off today and can’t come in!” You can drop the “sorry” if you’d like.

You also don’t need to respond at all. It’s your day off. Mute her texts and go about your day.

If you want to, you can tell her, “Hey, just so you know, I’m generally never going to be able to come in on my days off because I always make plans for those days ahead of time.”

This is all 100% okay to do. You shouldn’t feel awkward about this; it’s very, very normal to want to preserve your days off, and it’s especially normal not to want to do major favors for someone who’s rude to you when you say no. Plus, it really sounds like your manager would support you and not her if it ever came to her attention.

Read an update to this letter here.

5. My boss saw me guzzling chocolate in my car

After a particularly long day, I stopped at the convenience shop by work and got myself a well deserved candy bar. While waiting to merge back into traffic, I proceeded to shove it in my mouth, barely avoiding eating the wrapper. To my horror, my boss was the car waving me into the lane and witnessed me unhinge my jaw like a snake in order to get as much chocolate in my mouth as quickly as possible.

My question is, can I take FMLA due to dying of embarrassment or should I just email my resignation right now?

Just ghost the job entirely and let her think what she witnessed was part of your jubilance on your bacchanalian flight to freedom.

{ 592 comments… read them below }

  1. Ask a Manager* Post author

    Comments on #5 were starting to take over the whole thread, so I’ve consolidated them into the one thread just below. If you want to comment on #5, please do it as a reply there so that the people without chocolate don’t get buried. Thank you!

    And if you don’t want to read through a bunch of messages about chocolate before getting to comments on the other four letters, close the replies on this comment and the next top-level comment.

      1. EPLawyer*

        Yeah how do I get in on this. Don’t worry about suffocation, I’ll eat my way out.

        P.S. I am so glad you published 5, it’s been a long week and I need that letter. No, I need chocolate.

        1. whimbrel*

          Paging the gif of Homer Simpson stuck in the vending machine and being suffocated in chocolate! Homer Simpson please report to the chocolate thread.

      2. kittymommy*

        I don’t really want to be buried in chocolate but if there’s a pool of cake batter I’m down.

    1. MusicWithRocksInIt*

      Sometimes I think I’ve totally gotten a handle on guessing which thread will be the most popular, and then days like this just blow me away.

      1. Sloan Kittering*

        I have a theory it depends on the day of the week. People are more likely to be all business M/T/W but by Thursday/Friday they start getting whimsical and silly :P

    2. Not So NewReader*

      It’ll be okay, OP.
      My husband had pulled over to eat his sandwich. An officer stopped to see if Hubby was okay. My husband waved the sandwich at him. The officer smiled and went on. Next time just wave the wrapper at your boss.

      1. Ella Vader*

        Long ago, I was in stop-and-go traffic on a Sunday evening drive back from the cottage to the city, because probably everyone else going through this small town was doing the same thing. So I stopped and got a box of takeout fried chicken and was eating it while puttering along. Until the stop-and-go was the car in front of me stopped and I was going and bump! I spat chicken and coating and bones all over the steering wheel and dashboard. We got out to look at our damage, me thinking it was going to be so obvious I hadn’t had both hands and attention on the wheel. The other driver was driving barefoot. We both had old cars. There wasn’t anything worth exchanging any details more than a sorry. We kept going. I didn’t eat any more chicken til I got home.

      2. Wrench Turner*

        Contractor here and I am regularly observed eating cold spagettio’s, shoving my face in sandwiches, dumping chip crumbs, etc. by managers, fellow contractors and customers. And they can deal unless they want a really grumpy contractor making very expensive mistakes which would never happen if you LET ME STOP FOR LUNCH, DISPATCH.

        Maybe a month ago I did see a fellow contractor in traffic eating what I SWEAR was cat food. I’ve had tuna from the tin, no big deal, but by my toolbox that was fancy feast. I judge only because store brand tuna would have been cheaper.

    3. LGC*

      So I was prepared to think that letter 1 would be the one taking over the post. Then I read letter 5.

      I’m not responding to that letter per se, but I AM saying that if you ever decided to sell prints of that letter and your response (and split proceeds with LW5), I would totally buy one for my office.

    4. Boredatwork*

      lol OP – it was only *one* candy bar. I routinely get caught eating fastfood in my parking lot (in my car). Sometimes I just want to inhale my deep fired deliciousness without running the gauntlet of questions/comments/opinions of everyone I walk past with my delicious fast food.

      1. MCMonkeyBean*

        Yeah I thought this was going to be literally guzzling, like from a bottle of chocolate syrup.

        1. INeedANap*

          I feel personally attacked by this comment. NO I HAVE NEVER EATEN HOT FUDGE FROM THE JAR WITH A SPOON WHY DO YOU ASK.

            1. Rusty Shackelford*

              Oh no, you eat it right out of the fridge, and it’s like spooning soft fudge out of a jar.

              Or so I’ve heard.

            1. Seeking Second Childhood*

              Those of us who are Reese’s fans will drizzle it onto a spoonful of peanut butter.

          1. Relentlessly Socratic*

            One may or may not also choose to do this with Nutella. Pro-level, work two jars: Nutella and peanut butter.

            1. Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain*

              For texture get a bag of chocolate morsels and add that to the assembly line.

        2. lcsa99*

          Or a chocolate milk. But I would down chocolate syrup without a thought! I once treated a tiny bowl of hot fudge I got with my dessert at Outback Steakhouse like a shot glass (it was great until the chanting of “chug! chug! chug!” made me laugh and snort it all over the table.

        3. Oh So Anon*

          I was concerned that it would be an even more desperate chocolate-guzzling situation, like pouring a canister of Nesquik or Milo or cocoa powder straight into your mouth, no liquid involved.

          If my boss saw me do something like *that* I’d stop showing up to work.

      2. JM60*

        I can easily go through a half tub of ice cream if it’s right in front of me and I’m bored. The only issue here is that your boss witnessed the OP unsafely driving while distracted, which is a safety issue. Even then, it’s unfortunately common, and fortunately unlikely to affect things at work.

        1. JM60*

          To be clear, eating when driving isn’t necessarily unsafe. But you do need to be careful because humans tend to underestimate how much they’re affected by distraction, which is partly why I’m looking forward to advances in self-driving vehicle technologies. Humans in general are unsafe drivers, and banning humans from driving for safety reasons may make sense in the future.

    5. Need a Beach*

      LW #5, if it makes you feel better, we all have cringe-worthy emergency chocolate stories from work.

      My most recent: all I could find was miniature Mr. Goodbars, and I HAAAATE peanuts. My boss caught me spitting the bare peanut chunks back into the wrapper after having sucked the chocolate off. I looked like a deranged cubicle owl regurgitating candy pellets.

      1. Dame Judi Brunch*

        Hahaha, the imagery here! I’m trying to die quietly of laughter in my open plan office

      2. catwoman2965*

        Thank you! I almost spit coffee all over myself today. But I get it. While I don’t hate peanuts, I DO hate nuts in ice cream, so have been known to do the same thing with that. Its a texture thing, so i will suck the ice cream off peanuts and spit them back into a bowl.

      3. kittymommy*

        So when I was a kid* (hell, when I still do this) I once ate chocolate chip cookie dough as an after school snack. Now I’m not a big chocolate fan or a big chocolate chip cookie thing (I don’t like hard things in soft things for my food). So wanting to eat the dough, but also trying to be economically prudent and considerate of my mom who does like chocolate, I got a plate and proceeded to spit all the chips out onto the plate and save them for my mom. When she came home she was like – WTH is this mound of chocolate (?) solidified in some ungodly mess?? – Oh that the chocolate chips I saved for you!!

        Amazingly, she did not eat them.

        “kid = late teens early 20’s

      4. Jadelyn*

        I just had to hold my breath to keep from howling with laughter. I didn’t want to scare my officemate, or have to explain what I was laughing at…god I wish I had any artistic skill at all to draw the Deranged Cubicle Owl, patron deity of all covert office snackers.

      5. Medical Admin*

        And here I am, trying not to scare the patients away while I try to stiffle down my laugh :’)

      6. Deranged Cubicle Owl*

        Finally! I have a decent nickname for this site ;-)

        Now I can finally start commenting. Mwuhahaha

      7. Former Employee*

        “…deranged cubicle owl…”

        Not another deranged cubicle owl!

        However, I would begin to wonder if you actually perched on top of your cubicle so as to scare away the other cubicle birds.

      8. ZarinC*

        I have been known to do a similar thing–except with peanut M&M’s, cracking it in half and eating the candy shell and chocolate, spitting out the offensive nut in the middle.
        Cubicle owls unite!

    6. my little actuary*

      I misread it as “guzzling chocolate in my ear” and let me tell you, that was a confusing ten seconds.

      1. Secretary*

        I did that too! My immediate thought was… “Well I guess AskAManager has taken an interesting turn today.”

      2. kiwimusume*

        Me too…and I actually didn’t register it as out of place until I got to the end of that letter and was like “wait, so she didn’t put it in her ear? Then why…oh, CAR!” After Duck Club and the like, nothing seems too weird for AAM to me.

    7. Anon For This Story*

      #5 – I work part time at a car dealership (two nights a week), and I was zoning out on my way there and realized about a moment too late I was about to miss the turn into the parking lot. I had to slam on my brakes and still ended up ripping into the parking lot like a total A-hole while making high pitched shrieking noises mixed with obscene swearing as I’m hoping I will not crash into anything or tip over. As I’m half way into the lot, I look up and there is the General Manager sitting in his car waiting to turn staring at me with a disapproving raised eye brow.

      There was a note on my desk last night about proper parking lot etiquette.

    8. Janet*

      To me the worst embarrassments are the ones you can’t even try to fix later without it sounding strange — like what can you say? Say, boss, isn’t it nice to stop for chocolate as a rare treat once in a while? Just making conversation for no reason! One of my faves was the day I left work late and tired and waited through multiple lights for traffic to edge forward onto the freeway on ramp, only to have a car to my left try to zoom in ahead of me from the fast-moving non-on ramp lane. I was so cranky that I LEANED on my horn for like 20 seconds, and when the driver persisted, I gave him the finger. When I got home, my husband told me he was the driver in the other car, which would have just been funny except it turns out he was giving a manager at our company a lift home that day. And it got so much worse when he told me he had actually pointed out to the manager that I was driving that car and would surely let them merge into traffic. So they both just sat there closely watching my reaction in slow mo. Say, boss, isn’t it funny when you act COMPLETELY OUT OF CHARACTER while driving on a really cranky day? Just mentioning this for no reason, conversation!

      1. Database Developer Dude*

        But don’t you see, Janet? You’ve just given your husband something valuable!!! Now, if that manager wants your husband to do something after hours he doesn’t want to do, he can just tell him “sorry, but I can’t. the wife expects me home, and I really don’t want to piss her off”. The manager will remember you and let him off with a very sympathetic expression.

      2. Ada Lovelace*

        I’ve been laughing at my desk like a wheezing hyena through the comments but this just broke me.

      3. Sabina*

        Yes, trying to explain can just make things worse. I ran into my new-ish boss after work at the grocery store once. My cart was piled past the top with….booze, nothing but booze (I was buying supplies for a fundraising dinner to be held that night). Somehow “this is not for me, it’s for homeless kittens!” didn’t alleviate the awkward.

        1. nonegiven*

          I ran into my doctor in a warehouse club. I had 200 lbs of cat litter on a flatbed and two bags of frozen shrimp in the basket.

          She said, “You are having a large party for cats?”

        2. Need a Beach*

          I may need to change my user name to “Booze for Homeless Kittens” since somebody already claimed my owl one. :p

    9. AvidReader31*

      I once ate 3 pieces of pizza in under 5 minutes at a conference because I had limited time between meetings I was running. I did this in full view of my coworkers. They were just impressed. I saw wear that chocolate chugging badge with pride!

    10. Labradoodle Daddy*

      OP needs to join witness protection stat. Pretty sure they have a division for office embarrassment :P

    11. Nessun*

      Just came here to say – thank you very much to both Alison and OP5 for the absolutely lyrical use of the English language for a question and answer which both were entertaining, unexpected, and topical!

    12. Secretary*

      I feel like there’s a joke in here somewhere about the chocolate guy in Spongebob.


    13. Noah*

      I’m concerned that although this letter was written in a humorous way that this person is actually considering quitting and Alison is responding flippantly.

    14. Carsonelli*

      That post was the first thing to make me smile today after finding out some bad news. I was even in the process of plowing through an entire sleeve of thin mints while I read the post haha! Glad to know I’m not the only one out there with a double-jointed jaw for snacking purposes!

    15. LB*

      It’s absolutely cool, OP #5, people do this and worse all the time, including your boss.

      To add my story to the others, I once ordered a large pizza delivered to my office. The delivery man commented how nice I was for ordering pizza “for all your coworkers”. He couldn’t have known I was the only once there. So I did not tell him.

    16. Bulbasaur*

      A senior VP at my first job was known for keeping chocolate in her desk drawer. Various staff used to occasionally help themselves to it (with her blessing) if they were having a tough day.

      One of our office legends involved somebody coming into her office for that purpose, discovering that she was on a conference call with a client, and asking for “the Ghirardelli file.”

    17. StormyJ*

      I got pulled over once for eating and driving erratically. The polic officer said “Either eat and don’t drive” or “drive and don’t eat”. That was over 30 years ago and I still remember it!

    18. AFPM*

      I’m a few days behind, but just wanted to thank OP#5 and Alison for the MUCH needed laugh. What a fantastic question.

  2. Mockingjay*

    OP5, any boss worth their salt understands the need for emergency chocolate.

    My only advice is to restock your desk drawer.

    1. Ella*

      OP5, start buying gradually bigger and bigger candy bars and eat them whole at your desk, until your boss believes you’re some sort of junk food snake person and gives you a raise out of fear you’ll consume her next.

      1. SignalLost*

        Save the wrappers and make a criminal conspiracy montage on your wall. The day you eat a five-pound Hershey bar, put it in the center of the montage, exclaim you’ve cracked the case, and never add anything else to the montage. But definitely leave it up.

        1. FD*

          With crime scene photos, including one of the murder–a chalk outline in the breakroom filled with Cadbury egg wrappers.

        2. ThursdaysGeek*

          Hah! I’ve been saving the little foil wrappers on candy for several* years, making each one into a link on my massive and colorful chain. I’ve had a lot** of help, but when I bring it out (over 100′ long), it looks like I might have a chocolate problem.

          *Um, close to 10? Dove, Easter, and Halloween chocolates are the best. Kisses are too small and fragile.

          **Actually, almost all of it is from co-workers and my spouse, because chocolate is too important to me to just eat like candy.

        1. Jaydee*

          I need to talk to my 8 year-old about a possible comic book idea/alter ago for…who am I kidding, it would work for either of us.

    2. Wendy Darling*

      I was known at one job as The One With The Emergency Chocolate. Once or twice people turned up at my desk all “the vending machine is broken and I am dying”.

      1. SignalLost*

        I can’t have emergency chocolate because I have no restraint and I eat it in non-emergency situations. I admire those who do have it (and I know where they all are, everywhere I work).

          1. EPLawyer*

            Yeah my level of emergency would go waay down. Like “I had to clean up broken glass, I deserve chocolate” level.

        1. Jaydee*

          It’s not that they’re non-emergency situations, it’s just that different people have different thresholds for what is an emergency. For some people it’s “I just spent an hour on hold and finally had to hang up because the alternative was peeing my chair” or “the biggest project I’m working on just hit a massive snag and is now going to be delayed by months” while for other people it’s “I just had to reply to an email” or “it’s Tuesday” or “I went 5 minutes without eating chocolate.”

      2. Jules Verne*

        I am also The One with the Chocolate at my office, except it’s just a Halloween candy bucket that’s on my desk all year round and I restock it as needed.

        Once in a blue moon people pitch in candy or money for the candy bucket, but mostly it just comes out of my own pocket. I’m sure 95% of the chocolate is consumed by my coworkers and only 5% of the time am I actually eating it, but hey. I’m a team lead in a tech support call center. My reps need chocolate <3

        1. Sabina*

          And….has a co-worker ever hidden your candy bucket or threatened to throw it all away because it’s too tempting and SUGAR IS DEATH!!!!

          1. Jules Verne*

            Nope! They just thank me for the chocolate when they come get some!

            Sugar is not death; biologically speaking we need sugar to live ;) But admittedly in America we have WAY too much of it in EVERYTHING.

          2. Michaela Westen*

            I read that in ancient times sugar was considered a drug. Traders carried small bags of it and traded teaspoons of it.

    3. Tinker*

      The only solution to #5 is to take the example of my cat with his scratching post: aggressive destruction of the item, with the sort of eye contact that clearly states “if you got a problem with it, you can be next”.

      1. Quackeen*

        When I brought my newborn son home, my cat was extremely displeased. She peed on the diaper bag, maintaining Alpha eye contact the entire time.

        I was a little scared of her after that.

      2. Jasper's person*

        Your cat’s either a polite professional or a rank amateur, and I can’t decide which. My cat will do that exact behavior, but to the chair, sofa, blinds, and doorjambs. He has multiple appropriate scratching posts too. But the eye contact is…unsettling, especially when he’s staring down the barrel of the squirt bottle. My cat has a Dirty Harry complex.

    4. CatCat*

      OP5, casually slip into a conversation at work that you’ve been allergic to chocolate your whole life and never eat it. I’m sure a totally natural and not awkward opportunity to do so will present itself. Your boss will think she mistook someone else for you. Problem solved.

      1. SignalLost*

        It would actually be better to just buy a new car tonight. It can’t have been OP if the car is wrong.

      2. Captain Vegetable (Crunch Crunch Crunch)*

        No,no,no. You’re all making this too complicated. It was the evil twin. It’s always the evil twin!

    5. Jen S. 2.0*

      I’m only sad that OP 5’s emergency chocolate is convenience-store quality. I mean, at least hit Trader Joe’s or the Godiva shop or something.

      1. Just Employed Here*

        I’m sure there’s a Swiss law in place banning Godiva abuse worldwide.

        Also, my budget spreadsheet would wince if I did this to Godiva!

        1. Zoe Karvounopsina*

          My thoughts precisely! My emergency chocolate used to be Hotel Chocolat, before I looked at my budget and concluded it just made every emergency worse because then I had dramatically less money afterwards.

      2. CDM*

        If you live in Wawa country, they carry both Toblerone and Ritter in addition to the usual common brands.

    6. Bowserkitty*

      DYING AT OP5

      This would be my life!!!!

      Alison’s answer is the only acceptable outcome here, obviously.

      (I want an update so bad if the boss says anything, i am seriously internally laughing so hard at my desk right now)

    7. Brazilian in Poland*

      Op #5 you made my day haha I was dreading going to work today but at least I am not alone on this

    8. Thursday Next*

      It is a surefire way to recover from a dementor attack. I always carry a stash of emergency chocolate, for myself as well as fellow passengers on the Hogwarts Express we call Life.

      1. media monkey*

        exactly. blame a dementor attack. it always works and everyone will be happy that you learned defence against the dark arts so well at school.

      2. Marion Ravenwood*

        As a huuuuge Harry Potter nerd, this is my favourite response, and I feel it’s the only appropriate one. (Plus, OP, if you use it, you will identify the fellow Potterheads in your office, which is always good!)

    9. Shannon*

      I can’t believe OP1 didn’t say WHAT chocolate bar it was, if I was the boss this makes a big difference. :D

    10. This Daydreamer*

      Why am I picturing the boss watching the scene and moaning “chocolate” a la Homer Simpson?

      Oh, right. Because that was my response.

    11. Nita*

      While that scene is fresh in the boss’s mind, use it to your benefit. Suggest that the office needs a chocolate stash in the pantry!

      Worked for me… I once worked in a very small town, without a car. No grocery stores within walking distance, so I ate greasy subs from the local diner every day. Then I realized there are berries in the woods. I got a little carried away and on his way home, my boss saw me hanging off a roadside raspberry bush like a monkey. When I explained the next day, he very kindly offered to drive me to a store and give me a few driving lessons. (OK, the driving lessons ended with me almost pushing the tiny office into the creek. I’m an embarrassment magnet.)

      1. Lena Clare*

        This… raises so many questions!

        You nearly pushed the tiny office in a creek?? Tell us more!

        1. Nita*

          Very small office, barely more than a trailer. Very big truck. And the road to the office ran down a mountain. I didn’t grow up around mountains. Didn’t realize right away that when you’re driving down one, just keeping your foot off the gas won’t slow the car down. I only took down a side railing, but if the truck went any further it would have been office vs. truck, and the truck would have won.

      2. DiscoCat*

        what is it with today’s and yesterdays posts? I’m trying not to sound like a choking hciken from stifling my laughter at the desk X-D X-D X-D

    12. Anonymous Poster*

      Leave a trail of fun size candy bar wrappers behind you as you ghost in memory of your glorious exit.

  3. Wendy Darling*

    When I was in college I lived in the dorms and had a car and, as they do, my college sold more parking permits than they had spaces, so it was Lord of the Flies in the student lot. Especially since street parking was basically nonexistent.

    One day I was about to pull into the last remaining parking space known to mankind and some incredible asshole in a green Suburban cut me off and took it. I. Flipped. Out. Honked. Flipped the bird. Just as I was peeling out to try to find someone who was about to leave and steal their space, my academic advisor got out of the Suburban.

    If she saw me we never spoke of it. I graduted pretending it never happened. Possibly she was also pretending. (She did cut me off like a complete douchebag.)

    1. Murphy*

      I had a short stint working for a community college. On my way back from lunch, a car cut me off (they took a right on red without even stopping, turning into my lane where I was going straight). I threw my hands up in a WTF gesture, and the person driving the other car obviously saw my gesture and did something similar. I followed the car to the parking lot…and it was the president of the college. Eff that job for all sorts of reasons, but eff that guy in particular.

      1. fiverx313*

        i had a commute home once that basically started off in a traffic jam clusterfudge nightmare of all the cars everywhere trying to get into this one little circular on/off ramp to the highway. one day i thought the guy ahead of me had missed several good opportunities to merge, so i honked at him a few times. he flipped me off, i flipped him off, he merged, i merged, i pulled up alongside him to flip him off again… realized it was the supervisor of the department i worked closely with. he went :o and i went :o and the next day we had a mutual apology session and i decided to be a little less reactive in traffic…

      2. Zennish*

        I worked for the parking office at a university once. The president was a complete jerk who, among other things, would just pull up in front of whatever building he was headed for and park…fire lane, crosswalk, whatever, didn’t matter. I got reprimanded for repeatedly ticketing his car.

    2. Bunny Girl*

      College parking wars are a thing. I work at a college and holy crap it’s insane. Our campus is surrounded by residential neighborhoods and they’re all made because a lot of students and staff park in them, but there are no where near as many spaces as needed and the permits to park on campus are prohibitively expensive.

      1. That Girl From Quinn's House*

        My husband worked at a university that was located somewhere that had mass transit, but it was not possible or convenient for most people to take it. They charged $1000 a year for parking, despite the fact that the campus was huge, sprawling, and underbuilt. There was plenty of space to stack in a few garages and lower the price, but they seemed insistent on demanding that the low-paid staff and graduate students who couldn’t afford to live near mass transit either drive to work or spend over an hour doing bus/train/bus to travel 7 miles.

    3. Matilda Jefferies*

      Not work related, but since we’re sharing embarrassing car stories…

      My inlaws lent me their car for a few weeks several years ago. One day I was driving on the highway, stuck in bumper to bumper traffic. And the driver of the minivan behind me was honking and waving and flashing her lights at me for AGES. I was super annoyed – like, WTF, lady, I’m just stuck here in traffic the same as you are. What exactly do you expect me to do here?

      Eventually the super annoying driver pulled out to pass, and waved at me one more time as she went by. Turns out it was my mother in law – one of my favourite people in the world, and the owner of the car I was currently driving! Good thing I hadn’t actually given her the finger, as much as I had wanted to earlier…

      1. Loux in Canada*

        Omg that’s hilarious!! She was trying to get your attention and you were just like “WTF” xD

    4. Not Gary, Gareth*

      Oooh I have one of these!!

      For a short while, I went to a little community college high up in a tiny mountain town. I had a work-study job through that college that was walking distance from the apartment I shared with my (controlling, manipulative, a**hole of a) boyfriend.

      One morning after a rather piquant argument with said boyfriend, I was trudging angrily across the final crosswalk before my office when some dude in a huge pickup, waiting for me to cross so he could make a left, shouted out the window “COULD YOU WALK ANY SLOWER?!” in an unambiguously aggressive tone. Being in no mood to please him or any man, I flipped him the mightiest bird I could muster without even looking up and went on my not-so-merry way.

      I later ran into the head of the photography program I was hoping to get into… yeah, you see where this is going. He was the Crosswalk Yeller. He was sooooo shocked that I flipped him off, when he was “obviously” yelling at me as a joke, and he just couldn’t believe a “sweet girl” like me would do such a thing. He (fortunately, I suppose) thought the whole thing was hilarious, especially when I explained that I had no idea he was “joking” because all I heard was angry male yelling from a giant truck.

      No regrets.

    5. lazuli*

      I’m a therapist, and for a while I had a private practice in the small town where I live. I realized quickly (thank god not due to experience!) that I had to quell any temptation toward road rage because I got paranoid that it could be one of my clients. Can you imagine your therapist flipping out at you in traffic???

      1. SavannahMiranda*

        I can imagine it and I find it hilarious and redeeming. Probably more in my imagination than in your reality!

  4. Jasnah*

    I wonder if #3 would fall afoul of privacy rules like GDPR? I would think the company would have to state explicitly that the collection of your email could be used for sales purposes, but I have a veeeery basic understanding of it.

    I hate when sleazy companies use your information like this to market to you so I hope this becomes less of a thing. I’ve had people call my work based on my Linked In, or cold call and ask who they’re speaking to so they have a name to store in their database of gross pushy marketing.

    1. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      I’m not sure how it works with data privacy in other countries but in the US, data pertaining to businesses doesn’t have any protections :( It’s why there are holdouts who refuse to stop cold calling trying to sell goodness knows what.

      I have gone off on a few of the worst offenders because telling them to stop calling and we’re not interested fell on deaf ears.

      Now if they’re tracking down your personal information, that’s no good. I use burner emails for this nonsense for that reason.

      1. Bibliovore*

        That’s actually changing soon in the US, as California is doing its own version of GDPR. (So is South America)

    2. Just Employed Here*

      I would assume the OP ticked some box saying they’re happy to share this information when they downloaded the thing…

      1. Borne*

        It might actually be that the default is ‘opt-in’ and one would need to un-check the box to indicate that you are not interesting in their marketing.

    3. Lavender Menace*

      No, it doesn’t fall afoul of GDPR. First of all, GDPR only applies to citizens of the European Union. Some companies based outside the EU have decided to apply the rules to all their customers (more out of pragmatism than altruism), but they don’t have to. So if this took place outside of the EU, it doesn’t apply.

      Secondly, GDPR doesn’t prevent companies from collecting your personal information. It regulates how business process and store personal data, including given people the right to have their data erased from companies’ databases. Companies do have to give you information about what they plan to do with your data if you enter it in a box, but often the ‘consent’ is as simple as ticking a box with a statement next to it.

      If LW#3 is in the EU, they can request that the company eliminate all their data – but honestly, they can do that even if they are not in the EU.

      (I’m a researcher who works at a large company, and we’ve been dealing with the shift to GDPR for a couple years now. I’ll admit that it’s a nightmare on the inside, but it’s for good reasons so I’m on board.)

      1. Akcipitrokulo*

        Collecting and storing counts as processing though – and without explicit opt in, contacting is a no-no.

        1. media monkey*

          it is unlikely that if GDPR applies then the company will have contacted her without opt in. this is an area that i work in and honestly it is pretty bad behaviour by the company and also a huge waste of their time! i can understand the initial call but they should have stopped contact when she said she wasn’t the right person. also white papers cost time and money to produce – i think your email address is pretty fair trade to get that for free!

      2. Jasnah*

        I know GDPR is EU only, but I don’t know OP’s country or the privacy laws there. So my question is: If the law states “Companies do have to give you information about what they plan to do with your data if you enter it in a box,” and OP did not tick a box saying “we will also use your email for marketing purposes,” is this against the law?

        Maybe as Just Employed Here suggests, OP did unknowingly allow it. But if not then this could be a privacy violation, no?

        1. Jasnah*

          Sorry, I didn’t mean to derail, just not sure about how explicit businesses have to be about how they use the data they collect. I’ll leave this here.

          1. media monkey*

            yes, under gdpr they do have to have your consent to use their email for marketing purposes.

        2. Emily K*

          This is a very, very common marketing tactic. You fill out a lead gen form to get a free resource. There is a checkbox at the bottom that says “Yes, you can send me emails about Company,” and if you don’t check it you can’t download the resource. This is so common that templates for this type of form with pre-written consent language is included in most marketing software. It doesn’t have to be a lengthy detailed description of all the emails they might send, just asking for permission to send emails about the company.

          That said, usually these people just send badly written emails and you ignore them and that’s all that it really amounts to. I ignore dozens of follow-up emails every week in response to lead gen forms I filled out to download a resource. The people sending them are only expecting a 1% response rate usually.

          What this company did to OP is only unusual in that they have gone to extremely obnoxious lengths to try to make contact and get OP’s company into a sales pipeline instead of just accepting that 99% of the people that fill out their form are not going to respond.

          1. Jasnah*

            Oh I bet that’s what it is, and then it counts as “opting in” for the purposes of any privacy laws.

            Thanks for answering what I was trying to get at!!

    4. Annette*

      LW doesn’t say anything about the EU. We can assume she’s in USA. I worry GDPR will become the new HIPAA or hostile workplace.

      1. Jasnah*

        Sorry, I’m not in the USA so I don’t know the privacy rules there. My country has its own privacy law so I picked a shorthand I thought others would understand.

        1. Kimmybear*

          From a European perspective, there basically are none. Whereas GDPR considers lots of information to be private, in the US it falls into very specific categories like educational data (FERPA) and health information (HIPPA). Your email address isn’t really considered private.

        2. The Man, Becky Lynch*

          You’re being unfairly persecuted by people taking your comment so literally.

          You mentioned the EU protections but tbh I’m American,I googled it, saw it’s a data privacy act and could easily see it applies to other countries who have similar enactments.

          This is a globally sourced website, we should be able to see that of course laws are different everywhere else. So much so that individual states have different laws not just national ones.

          I’m sorry others aren’t being objective.

          1. Jasnah*

            Thanks for understanding. I guess I have to be clearer about when I’m using an example and when I mean that thing, specifically.

        3. JSPA*

          The problem wasn’t the term. It was the assumption that privacy laws are universal, and that every country has some.

          One could equally argue that the problem is that we all should, and some of us don’t!

          But in that case, I suppose you’re guilty of rubbing it in. It’s not as dramatic as when people in the US post to ask how to navigate having almost no vacation, little or no sick leave and little or no parental leave, often no protection from “at will” firing, not necessarily any right to take leave without pay, and a social safety net that does not generally allow people to consider LWOP…and people in the EU post to say that this can’t be possible / must be unusual.

          1. Jasnah*

            For the record I’m not in Europe and I’m not assuming privacy laws are universal, just common. I picked a shorthand I thought most commenters would recognize, like how many US commenters use “ADA” to mean laws protecting people with disabilities, I know what this is even though I’m not in the US.

            I was curious about how sneaky the company could be in collecting OP’s information, then using it for purposes other than those clearly stated. Maybe that could have been a clue for OP, if laws require clarity there. You’re projecting a lot of other motives into my question that aren’t there.

    5. Akcipitrokulo*

      GDPR – as described – yes, would be against rules.

      But depends partly on wording of the bit where they got the white paper. If it’s “enter email to get it” – not OK. If it’s “available to members only – please join” and at a separate part of process with default option “no” there is a part to opt-in to marketing, then probably ok.

      Either way, company have legal obligation to remove from sales list and delete all records if requested.

      Don’t think they are in EU though so may be different.

      1. Just Employed Here*

        There’s really nothing in the OP’s text saying she has asked them directly to stop contacting her.

        So we don’t know at all whether the behaviour of the company is breaking any rules (and, to be fair to Jasnah commenting above, they did say “privacy rules like GDPR”, not just GDPR). Common sense and decency – sure, laws – we don’t know based on the info we have.

      1. Gingerblue*

        “So you ask me my name, Cold Caller?
        I will tell you, but you must give me a gift in return,
        As promised. Nobody is my name. Nobody,
        So my boss and all my colleagues call me.”

        And the Cold Caller roared back pitilessly,
        “Nobody? I’ll call Nobody last of all the office, then,
        That’s my gift to you.”

        1. A tester, not a developer*

          And then you escape by hiding under the largest and fluffiest of your co-workers as you leave the building at the end of the day?

        2. The Dread Pirate Buttercup*

          I used to work at a groomers. When lead generators asked me who was in charge of, say, making long distance decisions for the business, I would give them the name of the owner’s dog, which helped screen out sales calls. That is, until one of the groomers answered when I couldn’t get to the phone, got a strange look on her face, and said, “Zöe can’t come to the phone now. She wouldn’t stop stealing treats, and we had to lock her in a cage for the rest of the afternoon.”

        1. Carrie*

          That was such a bogus trade, though. If the team couldn’t afford to keep Everyone without dumping a good third baseman, they need to just go into rebuilding mode for a few years.

        2. AKchic*

          I Don’t Know frequently leaves the storage room door unlocked and forgets to shut lights off around here. He’s in a lot of trouble when we actually track him down.

    6. MissDisplaced*

      In the US, generally when you fill out the form to download content, you are “Opting-in” to at least an email follow-up and hence, you become a lead. But some companies take this too far and begin the calling cycle immediately. Hence, I usually give a fake phone number but a real email.

    7. OP #3*

      I’m in the US, I’m afraid, and like Not Employed Here says, technically I never said they COULDN’T contact me — just that I couldn’t buy from them.

      Too bad for them. I liked their logging software and would have brought it up next time we were looking… but now I just can’t be confident endorsing them. Shame really.

      1. Matilda Jefferies*

        White papers are the actual worst. I’ve pretty much given up on them as a means of getting information, as they always lead to a Dante’s Inferno of sales calls. Sorry to hear you got stuck there too!

      2. Michaela Westen*

        I would be cautious in assuming white papers contain actual information. It would depend on how ethical the company is. There are companies who will write biased white papers to get customers.
        I would google and use good info sites like industry sites, government research sites, maybe industry organization sites… Like for medical I use WebMD for general info and PubMed or NIH or specialty sites like CAOG for specific info.
        Also the sales approach OP describes is not very smart. Everyone I’ve ever known understands that rude, pushy sales puts customers off, it’s not the best way to get business.

      3. Observer*

        But, DO tell them explicitly to stop contacting you. Some companies won’t stop anyway, but even a lot of stupid companies recognize this as a line to not cross.

      4. n*

        As others hypothesized, this wouldn’t be covered under GDPR. But the US does have telemarketing laws. And by law, if you tell a telemarketer to take you off their list, they must comply.

        But you have to actually say, “Take this number off your list,” or “Don’t call this number anymore.” You can’t just say, “I’m not authorized to talk about that.” Even unleashing a hell-storm of expletives doesn’t work. If you do that, your information will likely be coded in their system to have another, more aggressive telemarketer call you.

        1. Michaela Westen*

          See, that’s the thing. Who responds well to that level of harassment? If they were really trying to get a sale, they wouldn’t be abusing their prospects like this.
          It seems like they see it as a game, or get caught up in the challenge and lose sight of the goal.

          1. anonny*

            Often the salespeople are not the ones making the decisions about who they are reaching out to. They are given lists and told to call everyone on the lists, or they are using sales and marketing software that alerts them when someone downloads some content and they are mandated to begin the calling process. So it is often not the salespeople themselves who are anxious to make a sale, but rather the C suite who thinks hammering away at leads is the only way to get people to respond. And that a slump in sales means they’re not pushing their sales team hard enough, and mandatory call quotas become a thing.

        2. Jasnah*

          Oh, this is a good thing to know. This is part of why I was asking this question, perhaps there is some relevant law about using your information or cold-calling people and you just need to invoke the magic phrase to get yourself removed from the list.

      5. AKchic*

        I’d say that to them the next time they call. I’ve done it before with pushy salespeople.

        “I’m sorry, I don’t have the authority to make purchases, as I’ve told you multiple times, and I have both asked and told you to take me off your call list. My company was interested in making a purchase, but now I will ensure that you won’t be one of the companies the purchasers look at. Take. Me. Off. Your. List. Confirm you’ve taken me off your list.”

    8. Noah*

      I assume most readers here are not EU citizens. Also, I’m sure there was some kind of agreement box she had to check when she gave out her email, so it likely complied with Spam laws.

  5. it's-a-me*

    OP #3, next time they call, ask them to hold while you try to put them through to the purchasing manage. Then don’t.

      1. NewHerePleaseBeNice*

        Extra points if your telephone system has truly terrible plinky-plonky hold muzak like ours does. The cold caller won’t last a minute…

        1. whistle*

          Or beeps at you like my work hold does! (I hang up on every coworker who puts me on hold and never put anyone on hold)

        2. Baby Fishmouth*

          Or year-round holiday music – hearing some terrible version of “Jingle Bells” on a hold call in July makes me immediately want to hang up.

        3. Jayn*

          That gets interrupted every couple minutes with a reminder that you’re on hold and “someone will be with you shortly”.

    1. M*

      Bonus points for inventing a long-running saga of your (fictional) purchasing manager’s life.

      “Oh, sorry, I don’t make the purchasing decisions. Let me get George for you – his office is being renovated, so if you *just* stay on the line, I’ll get him to come and use my phone.” [hold button]

      [2 minutes later] “Terribly sorry for the wait, George is on his way over. With the hip replacement, it’s a bit hard for him to move, but it shouldn’t be too much longer.”

      ad infinitum.

    2. Marion Ravenwood*

      This is where having directors who are out of the office a lot for meetings helps. “Sorry, he/she’s not in right now, can I take a message?” “We only have one office number, but I can get them to call you back?” “They’re in and out a lot and I’m not sure when they’ll be back in, but I can ask them to phone you when they are?” There are a couple of persistent ones but by and large it works wonders to get cold callers to shut up and go away!

      1. wafflesfriendswork*

        Worrrrrrd. My boss is rarely in, but even when she is I’ve gotten pretty good at making sure I “take a message”, i.e. asking to take down a number while I perform the appropriate pauses and ask for their extension that I will never pass along to my boss because she’s never going to contact them anyway. OR I direct them to her email knowing she will most likely delete on sight.

    3. AnotherAlison*

      This method of sales is such a bad practice. I hope this post can be a small PSA to the companies doing it. If I really wanted to follow up or do business with you, I know where to find you. I can deal with one contact via email or phone, but really, I don’t want to be a prospect for the next 12 months because I was slightly curious about your tech (and then found out I wasn’t interested after reading your white paper).

      Also – investment advisors who call me at work on my work number and claim you advise many of my colleagues can also take me their prospect list, too.

      1. Antilles*

        One quick contact is fine. Shoot, there’s even an argument that it’d be potentially beneficial since I might have some questions on the white paper to talk through and/or get additional information.
        But anything beyond that is just going to irritate me and make me significantly less likely to deal with you even if I ever need your service.

      2. aebhel*

        Thiiis. Even if I theoretically would want to purchase something from the company otherwise, I never do it after this kind of hard selling, because I just don’t want to deal with them. I know they’re going to hassle me constantly and try to upsell everything, so I’d rather just go to a company that like… doesn’t do crap like this.

        (I eventually got rid of one particularly insistent salesman at my work by putting him on hold and just… leaving him there. Every time he called. One time he waited for 45 minutes before he finally hung up, but he did eventually stop calling.)

      3. Michaela Westen*

        Yes, the OP says above she was interested in their product but now won’t recommend them because of their rudeness.

    4. an infinite number of monkeys*

      I’ve mentioned this before, but one of the biggest perks of working in state government is that I can LITERALLY HEAR salespeople deflate, over the phone, when I express excitement about their product and give them the link to the state comptroller’s website so they can register as an approved vendor and respond to RFPs.

      I’m not a cruel person, but it gives me such joy.

    5. Smiling*

      I signed up for a few tech-related white papers using a fake name, but the real office phone number. When they call, I tell them that the person the are looking for no longer works in that office and that all IT has been outsourced. It usually keeps them away for about 6 months at a time.

    6. Drax*

      When people will not stop calling after I’ve said no, my favorite is to say “please hold” and hang up. Then continue literally every single time they call. They’ll call for usually a week before they get the hint. I’ve historically worked in small enough offices it’s easy enough to get everyone on board with it.

    7. pleaset*

      That’s OK.

      But first simply tell them not to contact you again.

      If I get a free white paper and someone follows up, that’s cool. That’s legit. And I should simply tell them I’m not interested. That’s not a big ask in return for the free info.

      Frankness is quick, and also it’s a gift to them to not waste their time.

      1. it's-a-me*

        I was thinking of the kind of callers I get, who are rude from the get-go.

        You pick up, do your greeting spiel, and they go “put me through to [name of IT head 3 years ago] now” and then getting their name and company name is like pulling teeth. Screw those people, they can hold forever.

    8. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      Many sales reps terminate the call after a minute on hold. I’ve done this trick for ages with people who don’t respect a “remove us from your call list” request.

      If they do hold until it rings back, I just hangup at that point. Whoops. Only about one out of 100 will have the nerve to call back right away.

    9. MoopySwarpet*

      We go to conventions so have a LOT of calls that come from signing up for them and the lists getting scrapped and sold. Mostly hotel accommodation scams. I yank them around as much as possible.

      Deals-U-Must-B-Interested: I need to talk to the person in charge of coordinating the Llamapalooza 2021
      Me: Which part.
      DUMBI: The Llamapalooza. You are attending?
      Me: Yes, but there are many parts to coordinating attending a show. There’s the llama transport, costumes, snacks, hay, brushes, grooming kits, neck braces, hotels . . . .
      Dumbi: The hotels. We have deals. The hotels are sold out.
      Me: You’re telling me that all the hotels in Vegas are sold out 2 years in advance?
      Dumbi: Yes.
      Me: I’m pretty sure you can always find a hotel in Vegas.
      Dumbi: No, not the one at the Llamapalooza. But we have deals.
      Me: So the Llamapalooza block of rooms has sold out before it’s even been opened up?
      Dumbi: Yes.
      Me: I find that really hard to believe.
      Dumbi: It’s true. Call them. They have no rooms. So you want me to find you deals?
      Me: We’re sleeping with our llamas. *click*

      Although, if I’m really busy, I just transfer them immediately to an unattended extension. The only problem with that is they usually call right back. Same with keeping them on hold too long.

      A previous co-worker would talk gibberish to them when she was bored.

    10. Star Nursery*

      I’ve usually just answered we are not interested and please remove us from your call list. Thank you and then hang up.

  6. Jasnah*

    #1 Your boss… forgot to budget for benefits? That is… wow. I’m speechless in the face of such rudeness and incompetence.

    Do people think “Eh, that’s a normal Tuesday” because they don’t think this is a big deal, or because of how your boss usually behaves? Because this is a big mistake handled poorly aka a Big Deal, and if your boss does this regularly I’d be very concerned. Even Michael Scott remembered employee benefits.

    1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

      Absolutely. I’d tell the coworker to go to the Board—this is gross incompetence. Trying to revoke benefits coverage “voluntarily” through pressure is in no way acceptable from anyone, let alone management.

    2. Lurker*

      Re: #1. Even if your co-worker agreed to this (which they shouldn’t), insurance doesn’t work that way. In order to cancel/change coverage in the middle of a plan year, they would probably need to have a Qualifying Event.

      If your boss forgot to budget for your insurance, that’s her issue and neither you nor your co-worker should be penalized. In addition to the concerns Jasnah brings up, I’d be concerned that the budget/cash flow is so tight that the company can’t absorb that type of error. I know OP said it was a small org, but even so, there should be some contingency in the budget.

      1. Augusta Sugarbean*

        That’s what I was thinking, that to change you need a “Major Life Event” not a “Major Jackass Boss”.

          1. Nita*

            True. Would definitely recommend going to the board about this soon, before the boss decides that this here is the only way to cover his pathetic behind.

          2. CmdrShepard4ever*

            But no one has lost their job. Even if the boss threatened to fire the co-worker if they don’t take the husband and child off insurance, the threat of losing your job is not a qualifying event.

            1. Lurker*

              That’s technically true. However, loss of job would result in loss of coverage which is a Qualifying Event. The employee would presumably be eligible for COBRA or Continuation Coverage, but that is normally not paid for by the company (unless you negotiate it as part of your severance/separation agreement).

      2. Dove*

        I’d be looking for a new job, if my boss went “crap, I forgot to budget for insurance and other employee benefits” and then started pestering my co-workers to switch their health insurance to reduce costs for the company.

        Even if the co-worker does go to the Board and the boss gets fired for this…it still doesn’t fix the situation, really, and it still means that the company has such tight budgets that they can’t absorb errors like this.

        1. Zip Silver*

          It doesn’t necessarily mean that the company can’t absorb it, but can very well mean that the boss will lose out on a revenue/budget-based bonus, which is a worse motivation for him doing this.

        2. Observer*

          I don’t think it necessarily says anything about the orgamnization’s finances. Benefits are actually pretty expensive, all told, so not being able to absorb an error like this is not a huge red flag. Beyond that, this mess doesn’t necessarily mean that the company can’t absorb the error. It could easily just be that the error is big enough that it will be noticeable in the budget – in a small budget it’s not a rounding error. And he’s trying to cover his rear.

      3. Harper the Other One*

        I suspect the budget CAN handle it, but the boss would have to fess up to the mistake. Boss is hoping to “fix” it so the board doesn’t hear about this. Which is why I definitely agree that the co-worker should go to the board.

        1. Natalie*

          Which, tbh, is insanely stupid. Budgets are wrong pretty much all of the time – if someone’s budget is perfectly dead on every year, then they are either budgeting so liberally as to be meaningless, or they’re fudging something. They’re planning documents, they perfectly accurate predictions of the future.

          Health care costs in particular are hard to control – the boss could have four people add their spouse next month and they’d have the same problem with their health care budget.

        2. aebhel*

          That was my immediate thought too. Boss is hoping to cover for their own screw-up at coworker’s expense. Very gross.

        3. Jadelyn*

          Agreed. The boss is trying to get someone to *drop medical coverage for their family* just so he can CYA, which is a despicable misalignment of priorities, and someone above him needs to hear about this.

      4. Psyche*

        Well, I think you can take them OFF the insurance, they just would be screwed and not able to get ON a new plan. Boss sucks.

        1. Jadelyn*

          No – in my experience, you’d need a QLE (qualifying life event – marriage, divorce, childbirth, child aging out, job loss/loss of coverage availability elsewhere) to make any changes to coverage, including dropping someone. And actually, if your plan did let you drop your family off your insurance, them losing insurance coverage generally counts as a QLE for them to get onto a different plan without waiting for open enrollment.

          1. Lurker*

            ^ This. You can’t just say “I don’t want insurance for my spouse/child anymore” in the middle of the plan year unless you got divorced, one of them died, or you lost your job. If insurance companies allowed it to be that easy to change elections, people would be adding/removing people every month to try to save money/get different coverage, etc. The paperwork would be immense, and also super confusing for doctors/medical billing, etc.

        2. GeeCee*

          I literally just got off the phone with my benefits person to see if I could drop my husband, who’s already covered by his own employer’s insurance, off my plan after I accidentally added him. (Long story involving a confusing website.) Big ol’ nope, at least until our next open enrollment.

      5. JSPA*

        The hiring was in December (“just before the new year,”) so possibly at plan renewal time?

        But really, if finances are that tight, let boss drop coverage. Maker of the mistake gets to fix the mistake at their own cost, if they can’t bear to own up to it.

      6. mcr-red*

        Really? It seems like when I had it happen it was on the company’s whim. Years ago, my ex’s work just decided that if spouses could get insurance through their job, they HAD to, they would no longer cover them. So I was out insurance there and had to go to my job’s more expensive insurance. It could have been close to coverage renewal when they did it and I’m not remembering it right, it was back one-husband ago, LOL.

    3. Casper Lives*

      Yeah, that’s really bad. Like cartoon boss bad. I’d also be worried about the financial solvency of this company if they cannot afford to have you and your coworker’s family on health insurance.

      1. Mongrel*

        Just to point out, the firm may not be in that bad a shape. It’s possible that forgetting to budget for benefits puts the boss in a very bad position and the reason he’s stressing so much is that is his job on the line so over exaggerates how badly it affects the company.

        He’s already shown himself to have facets of incompetence, lying to save his arse isn’t a big stretch.

        1. Observer*

          He’s already shown himself to have facets of incompetence and un-decency, lying to save his arse isn’t a big stretch.

          There, fixed that for you.

          The guy is a dishonest jerk, whatever the reason for his shenanigans is.

    4. AnotherAlison*

      One reason I actually like working for a F500 company. . .one individual’s mistake doesn’t usually affect my personal life.

    5. Turtlewings*

      My sister works for a private school. They’re having major budget issues this year due to the powers-that-be forgetting to budget for the payment on their building (which is only due every other year or something??). To cover the cost, they’re having to let in way too many students, most of whom were not initially admitted because of behavior problems. Essentially: “We forgot to pay the rent so here are your usual 20 students, now here are 10 more who ALL have IEPs, good luck.” She’s about to have a nervous breakdown.

    6. Justme, The OG*

      I am really only responsible for budgeting for a small number of people in a much larger system, but you ALWAYS include fringe benefits when doing the calculations.

      1. Jadelyn*

        Yes – it’s not “salary budget” so much as it is “total comp budget” which needs to include payroll taxes and benefits. That’s basic budgeting when you have staff as part of the budget! Boss is an incompetent jerk who’s trying to cover his ass by hurting an employee’s family.

      2. Artemesia*

        Heck I had few responsibilities for this sort of thing but knew to add it into grand applications. This is so basic. But how outrageous to ask someone else to reduce their benefits so you can give benefits to the new guy? Yikes. Absolutely go to the Board on this. Black and white douchebaggery.

    7. No Longer Working*

      I’m not sure why the family members’ insurance is costing the company money. I guess this isn’t universal, but every job I’ve had (and I’m retired now), the employer contributes a fixed amount of money toward each employees premium, and the employee pays extra for additional family members. Otherwise, employees with families get a bigger benefit than those who are only insuring themselves.

      If the company is paying more for the employees with family than those without, it could certainly stop. I had coworkers whose contributions toward their premium was huge compared to mine, but why should my coworker get a bigger benefit from the company than I do?

      1. Rusty Shackelford*

        My employer contributes toward dependent insurance if I choose to buy it. It may not seem fair, but it happens.

      2. Phoenix Programmer*

        Everywhere I have worked companies pay out more for family plans. It’s part of being competitive with benefits.

        Arguing that staff with families get more benefits and is unfair is kind of like arguing that staff who utilize the gym or EAP are getting more benefits then their coworkers.

        1. aebhel*

          ^ as long as the benefit is available to anyone who needs it, the fact that some people don’t need it doesn’t make its existence unfair.

          1. EditorExtra*

            Er, no. I worked at a job where the only perq was a transit account you could use to get free parking. It would have cost employees money to otherwise park there. It was valued at like $100 a month/employee. I rode my bike to work, losing out on $100 a month. If all the other employees who drove to work were not provided with the free parking, they would be out $100.

      3. Natalie*

        The method you’re describing isn’t common in my experience. I think fixed employee premiums (with different tiers for different coverage levels) is the norm, which also insulates employees against a spike in premium costs.

      4. pleaset*

        “Otherwise, employees with families get a bigger benefit than those who are only insuring themselves. ”

        Where I work we do get a bigger benefit with a family.

      5. Anna*

        Most places it’s a percentage, not a fixed amount. Usually 80/20. Some companies where I live pay 90%, but it’s not a fixed dollar amount because that would not be a good way to do that. My deductible is higher because both my husband and I are on my insurance, but part of that is because if we were on his (less expensive) insurance and his company found out I could be on my own insurance, they would charge him a penalty.

        It’s bullshit all the way down.

        1. Artemesia*

          Yup BS all the way down. Attaching health insurance to employment is insane for many reasons, the obvious one being if you get very sick you can’t work and you lose your job.

          My husband’s firm paid 100% for families; mine subsidized family coverage but there were still monthly costs for adding a spouse or adding a spouse and kids or just kids. There are many benefits that go to families in workplaces.

      6. aebhel*

        My employer covers 90% of cost for single plans and employee/spouse plans, and 80% for family plans, but they still end up paying more money for the family plans (it’s just that those of us who have them spend more too). This has mostly been the norm in the places where I’ve worked–I think most employers cover a percentage of cost instead of a fixed amount.

        I don’t see why it matters to other employees, though, as long as the money is there. It’s not like you’re losing money if you don’t have other family to insure.

      7. Jadelyn*

        Everywhere I’ve worked does percentage-based premium coverage: my current employer, for example, covers 90% of the premium payment for employees, then 80% of the premium for dependents. Some do 100% for employees and 75% for dependents, but in my experience it’s almost always set up to be a percentage of the premium, not a flat amount.

      8. ThursdaysGeek*

        At a former job, they covered ALL the cost of health insurance (and still do). So yes, those with families definitely got a bigger benefit. I don’t think any of us cared about that – they were covering all the health insurance costs!

      9. JSPA*

        I have not encountered this for health care per se in the last decade, but certainly for Dental and Vision and even prescription plan add-ons.

      10. Queen Anon*

        When I got married (20 years ago), married people at my job paid less for their insurance than single people. For some reason – I’m not certain, I think it might’ve had something to do with the fact that there were more married employees than not – it cost the company less to insure married employees. It was great insurance too, a fantastic HMO. I don’t know if you can get insurance that good anymore.)

      11. No Longer Working*

        I had no idea this was a common thing, based on my experience. Even more reason why my former coworkers need to find a better employer! Thanks for weighing in.

      12. Aitch Arr*

        I’m not sure what industries or sizes of companies you worked for, but that is very unusual.

      13. NotAnotherManager!*

        I don’t use my employer-sponsored health plan at all (and receive no additional compensation for declining it), which means that anyone using the available benefit is getting a bigger benefit than I do. I also don’t use the gym, pet insurance, or many of the partner-company discounts. It seems silly to begrudge employees for using a benefit that is available as part of their compensation package just because it’s not useful to you personally.

      14. Ella Vader*

        I’m in Canada, so our employer-provided benefits don’t need to include basic health care, just the supplemental bits (dental, vision care, prescriptions, physiotherapy, psychotherapy, semi-private room in the hospital, long-term disability insurance, life insurance, EFAP). Our employer definitely does pay more for someone with dependents than for someone who is single. We don’t pay for LTD for spouse or children and I can’t remember about life insurance, but all the other stuff we pay for, the same as for the employee. They just have to remember to tell us they have a new dependent.

      15. Former Employee*

        It’s not a bigger benefit. It’s the same benefit covering more people. And, yes, employees pay more for the family plan than they do for employee only coverage, but the company’s contribution is likely to be more for a family plan than for an employee only plan.

      16. Cacwgrl*

        Back in the day when I did this type of work, we were part of a pool for the insurance broker. Broker would give us per employee costs, single, single+dep, single+child(ren), family. We paid a set percentage of each and employees paid the gap. Obviously families cost more than single in most cases. But we also got summaries of major costs, so we knew what the biggest costs were to our insurance. One time, managers legitimately asked if they could know who the costs belonged to, to see if they could find out if other insurance options were available. One, they were more motivated by nosiness than goodwill towards the company and two, that’s such a violation that it wasn’t even discussed. It never came up again, but we did still receive the data from the broker.

        Long story short, it’s crappy to do but the boss might have inferred that the child and spouse cost the company more. So, so wrong, but it happens.

    8. OP#1*

      Hello! So yes my boss forgot to budget for my benefits and asked my new coworker to take her husband and baby off of the insurance (her husband does have insurance as a state employee). It is not that we are short on cash, obviously not flush with it either because it is a non-profit. He just refuses to admit to any mistakes to the board, he has imposter syndrome and a napoleon complex at the same time.

      Since I was told about this, so much stuff has happened at work and I am starting to go a little nutty. It is better than my old workplace though.

      1. OP#1*

        Also he constantly complains about the cost of our insurance because it is only the 4 women in the office that are on, plus my coworker’s husband and baby, and we are all of child bearing age. So that is an extra fun thing.

        1. OP#1*

          Oh and final thing, he lied to me about our 401K plan. He said that I would be fully vested at 7% after one year when I get 3% at 1 year and 7% at 5 years. I didn’t find out until I talked to a coworker, who he also lied to about the 401K plan. I confronted him (unfortunately he didn’t say it in writing) and he said that I misheard him, but he fed the same stuff to two other people in the office.

          1. No Tribble At All*

            OP, thank you for replying! I feel like commenters say this a lot, but…. your boss is a huge jerkwad. Just because it’s “better than your old workplace” doesn’t mean in it’s good! Got to love that griping about women costing more on insurance. Also lying about your 401k?! Can you guys make onboarding documents for new team members so they have the correct information in writing? Make sure the board knows what this guy is doing!

            1. OP#1*

              So it is a tricky situation legally for me. I was a state employee and this is a lobbying job. Because of that, I cannot technically legally ask about the specifics of the position (because it could be viewed as a bribe for a state employee). So officially I was not allowed to know my salary or benefits until I was done with my state job. We could speak in “hypotheticals” only and couldn’t have anything in writing because I was still under open records laws for the state. I hope that makes sense, basically my state has some of the most strict ethics laws.

          2. valentine*

            You’re…leaving, right? He’s untrustworthy and this is isn’t sustainable.

            If you only have his word for anything else about your benefits, see if he’ll confirm it in writing.

            1. Michaela Westen*

              If someone goes to the board and makes known what he’s doing, maybe he’ll be fired. If he’s allowed to stay and continue doing things that will eventually cause a lot of trouble for the organization, then OP should leave.
              Unless she thinks the sexual discrimination lawsuit and the lawsuit re lying about the 401k would leave her in a good position. I’m not being sarcastic, it’s possible.

            1. OP#1*

              At least at this job I have friends that all don’t like the boss. At my old job there were only 3 other people and they were all best friends so no one would talk to me. But no, my previous job I was regularly accused of violating ethics laws (which could send me to jail), had my boss dig through my trash regularly, only my boss’ friends would get raises and promotions, she accused me of forging our boss’ (aka a legislator) signature on something, which happened when I wasn’t in the office. I could go on and on, but she is at least behind me.

              1. arthuya*

                Welp, I’m still shuddering. if anything even more. So in this case you went from the fire to the frying pan. ;-) At least it’s improvement.

          3. AKchic*

            Please make a list of the problems and go to the board. Even the 401k lie. His mismanagement could cost you all your jobs if he isn’t watched closely.

      2. Observer*

        Start documenting your head off. If you can, go to the Board. Especially the complaints about the cost of insuring women – if your board had ANY competence they are going to be horrified about that (even if they agree with him!) Because, as others have mentioned, this IS a lawsuit waiting to happen. And a major PR disaster as well, which is especially tricky for any organization that actually does lobbying.

        Also, start looking for a new job. I know it’s easier said than done, but this is ridiculous, so ANYTHING you can do to get out of there is a good thing, even if they really are baby steps.

    9. AKchic*

      This is such a gross oversight, and so inappropriate that I agree with the coworker that the Board needs to be hearing about this.
      And under no circumstances should the coworker be dropping their benefits.

  7. DustyJ*

    LW #1 – Pressuring someone to take her husband off the insurance is bad enough – but her BABY? What kind of reptile is this?

    1. This Daydreamer*

      In single and childless and if I could get health insurance at work I wouldn’t give it up for anything. I just really hope the husband’s workplace has a good plan.

      1. RoadsLady*

        This is pure speculation, but for speculation’s sake, let’s say Coworker is the breadwinner and her Husband is the stay-at-home parent who, no, doesn’t have insurance of his own.

        Not that a company should influence an employee’s benefits based on the status of their partner.

        1. No Tribble At All*

          Right?! I provide Husband’s and mine health insurance. As a doctoral student, he can technically get health insurance through his college… technically. I’d be furious if someone assumed that because we’re married, I don’t need health insurance through my work because I can get my man to provide for me.

          1. catwoman2965*

            Exactly. Just like a friend of mine at work, and her late husband. He was self-employed and owned his own business. So SHE provided health insurance for both of them, because while he could get it for his company, it would be way too pricey

          2. Artemesia*

            I insured my husband because his firm (he was a partner) had to pay over 20K (10 years ago) for each partner and we paid about $1000 a year to add him to my insurance at my much larger organization. (His was a small law firm with several older employees with chronic health issues and the insurance was nuts)

          3. AKchic*

            100%. My husband can get insurance through his retail job. Doesn’t mean it is affordable, or in any way worth the cost. My insurance, however, covers the entire family, and is excellent. No way would I ever give it up if I were asked to do so because of someone’s ineptitude.

        2. AnotherAlison*

          There are all kinds of reasons one spouse may not have insurance. Mine is self-employed. One may work part-time, or heck, even full-time at multiple part-time jobs.

        3. aebhel*

          Or just has lousy insurance. My spouse works, but he and my kids are on my plan because his plan is expensive and doesn’t cover anything.

      1. JSPA*

        “Begged,” no less?

        I can see asking, “have you recently looked into the difference in coverage and cost between insuring via your husband and via this job” (and maybe offering to make up a small difference via a one-time bonus or gift, which might or might not be legal, but could have given him his CYA without causing any hardship).

        But “could you check in case it’s mutually beneficial” is so very much not the same as “please, please change plans.”

        1. Seeking Second Childhood*

          This is close to legit — but the first step is to find out if the employee has a second option. And the second step is to offer an ONGOING financial incentive to stay on that other option.

      2. motherofdragons*

        This blows my mind in the WORST way. I’m outraged. Please tell us your coworker didn’t actually go through with removing her family from her insurance plan because of his begging!

    2. MattKnifeNinja*

      My BIL has a job that only pays health insurance to the worker. You pay for anyone and the company pays zilch

      The front office is all women with families. The make a little above minimum wage. Mom is covered, but no one else.

      You’d be amazed how many people want to dump maternal child health from insurance policies.

      1. Evan Þ.*

        My dad’s job has that sort of health insurance, too. I’ve gotten the impression it isn’t at all unusual these days?

        1. No Longer Working*

          That’s what I was referring to further up the thread. The companies I worked for did it that way also. They pay for the worker, any dependents/spouses is up to you. Often the spouse has better insurance at their employer, so my coworkers only take the minimum with the shitty /more expensive insurance.

          1. No Longer Working*

            Edit: Years ago the employers paid the full amount of the worker’s insurance, as costs went up the employee had to contribute. But it was always the same amount per employee.

        2. Ann O'Nemity*

          Eh, it’s pretty stingy for a company to pay nothing for family coverage. On average, U.S. companies pay ~70% of premiums for family coverage. Depends on size of company and industry of course.

          1. MattKnifeNinja*

            These are small businesses. Little tier three suppliers that do work (example) the Big Three car companies.

            My BIL lives in the part of my state that isn’t necessarily rural, but it isn’t a big suburb. These are your job pickings: meth or a grow op (not kidding), health care (small segment), work at the outlet mall or little shopping area making minimum wage or the restaurants. There is some white jobs, but those aren’t for people like my BIL.

            He makes a glorious $16/hr, with 6 PTO (that’s the sick day bucket), health insurance for himself with optical. That’s better than all the other jobs he would have a shot at. BIL interviewed at another job, but their insurance was basically catastrophic only.

            My friend works at a private school. She can get insurance with dental only for herself. She can’t even purchase insurance for her family members.

            I know more people that have substandard health insurance, than have old school bells and whistles coverage.

            1. No Green No Haze*

              As long as we’re getting into the health insurance weeds here, I don’t know how unusual my situation is, but I’m guessing quite: I’m hourly, multiple-employers. My health insurance is a group policy my union gives me access to: unlike most people, I know the entire dollar cost of premiums paid by my employers plus my contributions. The employer pays a % surcharge on my hourly wages, and whatever’s left is up to me out of pocket. Work more hours, the employers pay more of the premium, I pay less. Get fewer hours, I get less contributed towards the insurance and the remainder still has to come out of my smaller take-home.

              No vision, no optical.

    3. NotAnotherManager!*

      Yeah, I’m POed on her coworker’s behalf – our insurance company incorrectly dropped one of my kids when they were about the same age, which we found out by getting collections notices from the pediatrician. I was LIVID – I can work around it, but I cannot NOT get healthcare for my kids. Fortunately, my HR rep made two phone calls, and got the kid reinstated and all the unpaid bills in the priority payment queue of in less than 24 hours. Do not mess with the benefits coordinator!

      Who the hell would voluntarily drop their kids’ insurance to cover their boss’s mistake? That is not a remotely reasonable ask, particularly given the power imbalance.

      This dude need to be reported to the board yesterday. He is a walking liability.

    1. Engineer Woman*

      This is a great idea! I’m not sure how to go about making that actual suggestion to Boss, but definitely that should be looked at to manage the budget. (just kidding…only kind of)

    2. RUKiddingMe*

      Right? If I were the coworker being asked to give up pat of my benefits because Boss forgot to budget I’m pretty sure my reply would be something along the lines of, “why don’t *you* give up some of *your* medical benefits, take your family off, and no.”

      1. OP#1*

        He, his wife, and baby are on his wife’s insurance. But it is absolutely ridiculous. There is plenty of money in the budget, he just doesn’t want the board to know that he f***ed up again.

        1. Camellia*

          Please please tell us that your coworker is not going to try to do this! Even though I agree with other commentors about it requiring a life-changing event, I hope that she has the strength to tell him NO anyway.

          1. OP#1*

            Oh she absolutely said no, this is nothing new for him. We also don’t have long-term disability and after she told him that she was pregnant he wanted to get it for her and asked her to “pretend” like she didn’t know she wasn’t/didn’t know that she was pregnant. She flat out told him no, that is insurance fraud.

            1. Interviewer*

              I handle benefits for my day job. OP#1, this guy is jeopardizing your group plan status. If the carriers find out that he’s encouraging insurance fraud, that he’s allowing people to add/drop coverage at will, and that he’s lying about plan details to new hires – and this is just what *you* know – the carriers could cancel the plans.

              I’m not kidding. There are so many laws about all of the stuff you mentioned, and consequences are dire.

              I hope to see an update that includes a story of you or your coworkers going to the Board with all of this monkey-nonsense.

              Good luck to you.

    3. Flash Bristow*

      I thought that, but maybe managers get paid from a different pot than workers a level lower?

      Sucks though and I think the only answer is “ha! Funny!” Followed by a stern but confused look, while saying “… Wait, you DID mean it? Oh dear, poor you” by which time the expression has mutated to pitying. And then busy yourself in something else.

      I mean, wow.

    4. irene adler*

      If the budget is so tight that adding one person’s health benefits screws it up, hafta wonder what will be done should they have to replace someone at a different compensation level or hire additional employees.
      Will everybody be asked to kick back a few hundred bucks a month to make room for this in the budget?

      Gee, hope there’s room in the budget for a raise for employees!!

      Just suck it up, boss. And do better in next year’s budget. Lesson learned.

      1. Psyche*

        I would be wondering at job security. Maybe they shouldn’t be hiring if they can’t afford the benefits they offer.

  8. Annette*

    Sorry LW4 works with a classic run of the mill mooch. Some people always take and never give. Say no and name the pattern. Grifters are like groundhogs: they hide from the light. “You know, you ask me to cover your shifts almost every week (or whatever).” Then see what she does.

    1. Amylou*

      Plus it looks like she’s already in trouble for slacking. By covering for her, you might be helping hide the fact she barely gets any work done by doing it for her. Like you’re enabling her to keep the job. I feel with this type of person she may even claim credit for work you have done, LW4. Just enjoy your day off, let your boss “enjoy” the fact that no work gets done, and make sure you mention these covering requests and why no work was finished to your boss (who seems to be reasonable and has your back).

      1. Myrin*

        Exactly. It sounds like OP is in the far better position compared to coworker in basically all the ways – she is more efficient, has been her supervisor before, and has boss on her side; coworker, though, is slow and a slacker and the boss is thinking about firing her!
        It doesn’t sound like there’s any downside at all to OP’s holding firm in the face of coworker’s brazenness (other than the fact that coworker will probably pout or throw a tantrum or whatever but really, OP, that’s something you’ll need to learn to live with; it’s not worth sacrificing your day off for someone like this).

        1. RUKiddingMe*

          Also, people, people, people…unless you have a literal life or death job (e.g. first responder et al.) stop giving up your off time for a company that will almost certainly not show you the same loyalty.

          You are entitled to the time. Even machines get shut down occasionally for maintenance! Days off, vacation, PTO, etc. is *your* maintenance. It’s your time, you are entitled to, and *need* to rest without working/thinking about work (including answering texts/email from work (again unless you are required to). The company will survive without you for a day or so.

      2. Sam.*

        I was surprised Alison didn’t tell her to stop covering for her coworker. Because seriously, stop covering. If OP (politely but firmly) refuses to do her work for her, the boss will get more ammunition to fire the coworker and she’ll be less likely to expect OP to work on her off days.

        1. MusicWithRocksInIt*

          I was surprised she wasn’t advised to go to her boss with this. Something like “Boss, most days I take off coworker will text me to pressure me to come into the office to take care of X (duty coworker should be doing)”. And then show her the texts. I feel like this kind of harassment is something the boss would absolutely want to know about, because the coworker is way, way out of line.

        2. Jessica*

          I agree, although I think it wasn’t mentioned as explicitly by the LW. But it sounds like the co-worker has been asking for coverage at other times (maybe when the LW is already working, or is supposed to leave but extends her shift to cover co-worker). LW, you should stop covering for your co-worker altogether — whether it’s on your time off or not. If you boss is thinking about firing your coworker for absenteeism anyway, you might as well make it as clear as possible exactly how many hours your co-worker is working, and that means not covering ANY of them for her

        3. valentine*

          Yes, no more covering. OP4: Your manager probably wants to know coworker is disrupting your days off and conscripting you into her skiving.

      3. JSPA*

        If the requests don’t stop after you tell her that they need to stop, I’d forward every one of the absentee’s “cover me” messages to boss with a note up top saying, “FYI, RE coverage. This is my day off.” And cc the absentee. And repeat as often as it happens. All likely results are good results: Absentee chooses to be present. Absentee remains absent, but stops bothering you. Boss finds coverage for Absentee, or expedites replacement search.

      4. SusanIvanova*

        Yeah, on tech teams it’s normal to pick up some small tasks from someone else’s list, but we all got so fed up with Coworker Coffeecup that nobody did that. Which turned out to be a good thing, because part of his PIP – the part he utterly failed at – was to do one task per day from a list of things that any one of us could polish off on a busy day by drinking an extra coffee.

    2. Engineer Girl*

      I used to think that if someone was angry at me then I had done something wrong. I’d do anything to stop it.
      When I got older I realized that some people got angry because they got caught. They were using their anger to manipulate others into doing what they wanted. Once I realized that I was happy to let them get angry.
      OP – let her get angry at you. It’s OK. These are the consequences of her choices not your actions.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        Right on. OP, no need to worry about a person being angry with you when their job is on the line anyway.
        Keep telling yourself that people can use anger to manipulate us.
        “Coworker, I have been filling in for you a lot. It made me realize how much I need my days off. I will no longer be able to fill in for you. Please stop asking.”

      2. CoveredInBees*

        Yes! I was raised with the explicit (not just tacit) instructions that it was up to me to manage the feelings of people around me. If people disliked something I did, I should you’re myself in knots to make them happy. This often was suggested as being quiet, submissive, and skinny.

        No, sometimes people are unreasonable or just plain jerks. Also, the sky will not cave in if some people don’t like you or even actively dislike you.

        1. TootsNYC*

          I still remember the lightness I felt when I finally realized, Sometimes it isn’t me–it’s them.

          I’d believed that in every clash, each person had contributed to it. I still think that’s largely true.

          But then I had that boss….

        2. emmelemm*

          My mom was raised this way. She had to be absolutely perfect at all times, and if someone was unhappy, it was clearly her problem, and she had to change.

          1. Starbuck*

            Gosh, I feel this… now I wonder, how many men/boys are raised with this attitude? I am certainly tired of managing others’ feelings.

      3. Fish Microwaver*

        Thank you for this thoughtful comments, Engineer Girl. My early conditioning encouraged this reaction and it has taken many years to be able to ignore the visceral response and deal professionally.

    3. Mary Ann*

      It’s great that you learned this on your first job. It’s also great that the deadbeat person is not a favorite. That is the worst.

    4. MLB*

      I wouldn’t bother, because someone like that just won’t get it. I answer her only once, say no and tell her that for future reference I can not cover when I’m scheduled out. Then mute her and ignore any future messages. Co-worker is clueless and dropping facts on her isn’t going to work or make her realize what she’s doing is wrong.

    5. LW#4*

      Thanks for the advice everyone! My upbringing made me feel like I should always try to be helpful and I am beginning to see how that could be taken advantage of by someone like that. Coworker does Teapot Glazing in addition to Teacup Making whereas I only do Teapot Glazing. It was her Teacup Making supervisor who spoke to me about her lackluster performance but our shared Teapot Glazing supervisor hasn’t said anything to me (but instead just gives me all the substantive assignments because he doesn’t trust that she will do the job right). The situation at hand unfortunately is not solely due to the Coworker’s slacking but instead to our Crazy Toxic Grandboss who insists on a non-hierarchical non-descript workplace where everyone does everything and cultivates a culture of expecting people to be responsive via their personal cellphones at all hours of the day (literally 6:30am to around 3:10am from past experience). Teacup Making supervisor told me that if it were up to the Grandboss, she’d be fired already and Grandboss would just have everyone else do her job ad infinitum. We as a staff were just transitioned to non-exempt by Grandboss so we are technically all hourly but he refuses to approve overtime. There’s literally not enough time in the day for me to do my job and her job. I’ll take this as a learning experience in exercising my ability to say no to unreasonable requests and will be muting her texts from now on.

      1. Hosta*

        Um. Speaking of unreasonable requests, your company is crazypants and making outrageous demands on your time. I realize half the advice from comments here seems to be, ‘get out’ but…..get out? It doesn’t sound like your coworker will be replaced after she died, so who’s going to do her job? Maybe the person who has already been doing it? They won’t arrive overtime but expect you to be available 21 hours a day by phone?

        The company itself is taking advantage of you in a way that your coworker could only dream of.

        1. Hosta*

          WOW this terrible phone. That should be “it doesn’t sound like your coworker will be replaced after she GOES’

          1. I Don’t Remember What Name I Used Before*

            AHahahaha, I thought I had missed an important fact there!
            Autocorrect drives me banana crackers, I get so many awful or inappropriate word switches!

      2. MusicWithRocksInIt*

        Wow – that sounds even more toxic. Absolutely you should refuse to do any more of coworker’s work if you are struggling to get your own work done on time. Stop responding to her texts at all – and also make sure you aren’t working any overtime you aren’t getting paid for. And I would really try to loop your shared supervisor into your coworker’s requests.

  9. Tyche*

    As this request is a regular occurrence I think you should also keep these messages and talk to your manager, using them as proof of your coworker behaviour.

    1. RainbowBrite*

      The first thing I did when a colleague texted me on a paid day off with a work question was screenshot it and sent it to our lead. Never responded to her and was absolutely livid that she was trying to get me to help her with work stuff when I was getting paid to not be there. I was in the middle of running an errand, too!

      Definitely make sure the manager is aware, but it sounds like your job has all kinds of issues.

    1. boop the first*

      Especially when it’s direct pleading from the coworker. It’s hard when the damage is already done and it’s your frustrated boss pleading for help. Before I had a cellphone, I had a workplace that relied so heavily on me, that they called me EVERY WEEKEND to fill empty shifts. Eventually I started leaving the house before 9am and not coming back until afternoon just to avoid the phone call. I don’t even remember where I wandered around that whole year.

        1. Michaela Westen*

          Then the message light starts blinking… oh God, now I have to listen to it…
          I had a boss who would call after hours and yell. I screened, but then had to clear the messages… Once while working with the little tape cassette I heard part of a two-year old message – fun! :p

  10. Annette*

    LW2 should make sure no promises is Crystal clear. Break up the two sentences suggested by AAM. Instead of “especially” say: I suggest, etc. Message: doing this will help you grow in our field. Whether you ultimately work here or don’t.

    (I know no one will see this because by morning we’ll have 100 jokes about chocolate at room. Just my two cents.)

    1. Frozen Ginger*

      Yeah. While Alison’s script isn’t promising anything, I could definitely see falling into the trap of “If I do x they’ll hire me!”
      We all agreed you were a really strong candidate, and we’d love to see you apply again next year. If you’re able to do some related volunteer work or coursework in the meantime, that will definitely bolster your chances with us and other organizations.

    2. Ama*

      I run a grants program for medical researchers who are early in their careers. We have actually developed specific language that I can stick into our not funded letters when the review committee requests we encourage a specific candidate to reapply the following cycle. — we looked at it carefully to make sure it gets across the encouragement to try again without promising any special treatment. It’s nice to have because it means we are consistent with our messaging when we find ourselves in that situation.

  11. Comms Girl*

    LW2: Alison’s advice is spot-on as always. If the first year is really interested, she’ll apply back next year. That’s what one of my current interns did, and she did get the position the second time around :)

    Also, my previous intern was still finishing her degree, never had a job/internship before and yet blew every other candidate out of the water with her professionalism, thoroughness (She was the only one who properly did her research on the company before the interview) and level-headed demeanour. She immediately came to mind when I was reading about your situation. Your instincts were most likely right, but sadly it seems it wasn’t your decision to make. If she does apply again in the future, you can definitely make a case for her to hiring committee :)

  12. rudster*

    Re. LW2 –
    Bad jokes about entitled millennials aside, I do feel bad for today’s young people. What’s the world come to when despite the being top candidate otherwise you get rejected for a (probably unpaid) *internship* because you don’t have enough experience. Used to be a time gaining relevant experience the entire purpose of an internship, not a prerequisite…
    If LW contacts the candidate, I would probably tone down the gushing enthusiasm for her – being told after the fact basically that you missed being chosen by “this (miniscule) much” can be extremely disheartening to hear. Just say she was a strong candidate but the others were a little stronger in some areas this year and encourage her to reapply.

    1. Zillah*

      Agreed. I find it to be really disheartening to be told I just barely missed out, because if the margins were that small, I’ll obsess about those little things I could have done better. If I’m just told I was a strong candidate, I don’t have the same reaction – it’s more encouraging.

    2. media monkey*

      totally agree – being a brilliant candidate turned down for an internship for not having experience? how awful.

    3. RUKiddingMe*

      I’m having a hard time coming to grips with the idea that interns now need X years relevant experience. What the hell anyway? A thousand years ago when I did an (unpaid because that was everyone back then) internship no one went into them with time on the job experience because everyone was still learning and people with actual time on the job experience were called “employees.”

      1. snowglobe*

        I don’t think it’s odd that they’d want to give the internship to a junior or senior, whose at least had some classroom experience in the professional discipline and maybe some work experience. And since they are graduating soon, that internship will be far more valuable for them than it would for the freshman.

        In fact, I’m really not sure I’d trust that a freshman with no work experience but who does great in an interview is really a better candidate. Does that just mean that she was very charming and personable in the interviews, and is that really a reason to choose her?

        1. Frozen Ginger*

          Well we don’t know how extensive the interviews were. It’s possible it went beyond charming and personable; maybe she came in having clearly having done her research on the company and the role, and it’s possible the interview had a technical component as well.

        2. Psyche*

          Yeah, it sounds to me like she applied unusually early for the position and is extremely motivated and personable. It sounds like this was a stretch and she will get a good internship next year if she doesn’t get another one this year. The fact that a junior or senior got the position over a freshman is an indication that companies want too much these days.

        3. boo bot*

          Yes, I think it was fair in this case – they’re all still in school, and her inexperience can be remedied by a couple of years more coursework, if I’m understanding correctly. It’s an expectation she can reasonably meet.

        4. DreamingInPurple*

          Another dimension to this is that the employer may lean towards offering internships to students who are close to graduation but haven’t previously had an internship, so that they will get some much needed experience before they graduate. This is especially true if the community/area is small so opportunities are limited, or if the company considers those schools to be a pipeline for potential future employees and thus wants to keep up a good relationship with the school. Freshman students will have other opportunities for internships; the same can’t necessarily be said for seniors. I don’t think it’s helpful to speculate on whether the OP’s assessment of this student as a great candidate is correct.

      2. Genny*

        LW includes relevant classes in her description of desired experiences, so I don’t think they’ve set the bar unreasonably high. Most freshman only take gen ed classes. Some might take one or two lower-level classes associated with their major. It’s not unreasonable to select a senior who has completed relevant coursework over a freshman who at best has only completed one or two relevant lower-level classes. It’s also not unreasonable to give preference to students closer to graduation, especially if you later hire interns.

        For the LW, based on my own experience, I don’t think you need to worry about crushing this applicant. She likely knew it was a long shot based on her age/education level and experience. Even if you gave her a form rejection, there’s a strong likelihood she’d apply again if this is a prestigious internship. In my case, I was applied to a highly competitive internship the very first time I was eligible (you had to be a rising junior). I was rejected, which was devastating at the time, but it didn’t stop me from applying again during my senior year (and getting accepted that time).

    4. Yvette*

      “What’s the world come to when despite the being top candidate otherwise you get rejected for a (probably unpaid) *internship* because you don’t have enough experience.”

      Exactly, I mean, isn’t Intern below entry level in terms of expectations and necessary experience?

      1. The Very Worst Wolf*

        Yeah, but if she works in a field where certain things aren’t taught until junior or senior year, it’s not so odd. My company always prefers juniors and seniors for this reason – there’s only so much educational experience someone could gain without some specific courses under their belt.

    5. Overeducated*

      Yeah, in my field paid interns now require the experience and education that I think used to be standard for an entry level job. We never have undergrad interns anymore, except the one who was a senior in a 5 year BA/MA program who had 2 other relevant part time jobs. The rest have finished MAs, sometimes working on PhDs, and do these internships to buy time and build resumes to actually get a long term job. SO depressing.

      1. Frozen Ginger*

        Or internships that could easily done by people working on/with a BS, but they require a finished Masters to apply.

      2. Danger: GUMPTION AHEAD*

        Ours are only available to Master’s or PhD students with some work experience. They are also paid at a higher rate that university graduate research positions. Intern =/= no experience

    6. Murphy*

      Yeah, I’ve heard that a few times (once for an internship with a company you’ve all heard of) and it suuuucks.

    7. MissGirl*

      This really isn’t anything new to this generation. I was turned down my senior year in college 15 years ago for an internship. They went with someone with more experience.

      I should’ve taken that as a sign I was in too competitive of an industry that was continually shrinking.

      Also I read the intern of being in her first year of college. I don’t think it’s particularly odd or egregious they had interns with a little more experience and hired them.

        1. MissGirl*

          Nope. Missed the cut off but this still isn’t new or horrible. Competitive internships are just that competitive.

          1. Generations*

            Nah, you’re still a millennial. If you were ~22 in 2004, you’re the same age as my brother, who is now 36. He’s a millennial. You’re both on the older end of it, but yeah, millennials (according to the data I work with regarding generational needs and preferences).

    8. LadyofLasers*

      I disagree that hearing “We really liked you and think with more experience you could be a good fit” would be necessarily disappointing. For one, it’s really flattering, as well as clear on feedback on what ultimately made her a weaker candidate. And as long as they’re genuine about wanting her with a bit more experience, it’s keeping the door open on this relationship.

      If I were to hear this while job searching, yes it would a bit disappointing, but I would also see it as a new opportunity to extend my networking connections. And especially when you’re young and starting out, connections are gold.

    9. Victoria Nonprofit (USA)*

      There always stronger and less strong candidates for any position. Of course the org is going to prefer someone who they are more confident can do the work well, and experience is obviously a big part of that.

        1. Victoria Nonprofit (USA)*

          Or actual experience — but that doesn’t make it nefarious. Maybe the experienced applicants had, I don’t know, been a research assistant for a professor working in this field, or done an internship with another organization that used similar skills.

      1. Irina*

        Just because things weren’t a lot better in the past doesn’t mean the system doesn’t need drastic fixing. Its odd how some people soothe themselves of the need to change things.

        1. Victoria Nonprofit (USA)*

          I’m asking with complete sincerity: What would you change about this situation?

          Should an organization hire someone they believe is going to be less effective because it will be good for that person’s career? What if it’s a government agency using our tax dollars? Or a nonprofit that is working to end hunger? Is it better to do that work less well so a less experienced person can get experience?

          1. Starbuck*

            If they’re a non-profit they’re almost certainly not paying, so that argument is moot.

            I work in the non-profit environmental field, and with the list-serves I’m subscribed to the number of emails for no-pay, no-housing, full-time-with-evenings-weekends-holidays, must-have-car, pay-your-way-to-our-remote-field-station-for-this-incredible-internship-opportunity is just staggering. It’s multiple such postings a day, and depending on the season dozens a week. Some of them even express a preference for a masters/phd. I would love it if these organizations did HIRE people to do this work they so desperately need, but they don’t and so they continue to keep the field as exclusive, privileged, and white as possible.

            Yeah, in the above letter maybe there’s nothing they could/should do differently. But unpaid internships ought to be training opportunities, which should by definition go to people who need training still.

            1. Victoria Nonprofit (USA)*

              Whether the internship pays is irrelevant (to my point).

              My question is: Do you think an organization should intentionally hire an intern they believe will be less effective because the opportunity will be valuable for that person’s career? (There’s a weird assumption in these comments that the internship isn’t important for the careers of the more experienced interns, but I’ll leave that aside.)

              A nonprofit is charged with stewarding the funds that are donated to it; we also work toward critically important missions. Even if an intern is unpaid — and therefore not directly using our donors’ funds in the form of salary — I want the best intern I can get to help advance our mission. If Experienced Intern can have a bigger impact, that’s who I want.

    10. mark132*

      Experience is an overwhelming qualifier for a job. This isn’t a new challenge millennials face that their parents didn’t. It was absolutely true when I was 20 something, I’m sure my parents faced the same thing as well, as did their parent etc. (Actually for my grandparents it was worse given they came of age during the great depression).

      This is a nothing to be outraged about here.

      1. Daisy*

        A college-educated person (or a person with a good level of secondary education) having to get experience to be able to do an ‘internship’, and then having to do an ‘internship’ before being able to get their first permanent job is certainly NOT what happened for my parents and grandparents, and I’m pretty sceptical that’s what your grandparents did during the depression. This Forbes article agrees with me, ‘internships’ for knowledge workers are a fairly recent development.

        1. mark132*

          Of course my grandparents didn’t do internships. But internship is a fancy word for a job and my grandparents did plenty of those. As well as a couple of apprenticeships another fancy word for a job. Really not that different.

        1. Ask a Manager* Post author

          Yes, and there are candidates for it just like with a job. Why wouldn’t an employer pick the person they think best suited to it? These are all students; it’s not like they’re going with someone with a decade of work history.

          1. Irina*

            Of course, but I think peoples issue with internships is a general thing. Low or no compensation, no benefits, many other things. Competing students with the highest grades, highest experience enables only those to get them. Who needs the internships? Probably not those who already have money, connections, and the highest honors in schools. To be fair, not everyone gets all A’s either. Some people literally probably couldn’t afford an internship, if offered. I think that might be what some people are getting at.

        2. Victoria Nonprofit (USA)*

          An honest question: What criteria do you think the employer should use when selecting interns?

    11. technwine*

      Not to get to far off topic, but if the intern that was turned down for the job was a freshman she wouldn’t be a Millenial, she’d be part of Gen Z.

  13. Phil*

    LW4 In one of my early jobs (retail during college) I had a lazy pain in the ass store manager who tried that kind of crap too. Including one time when she messaged me on my day off to ask to cover for her because it was raining and she was getting soaked at the bus stop. It was always so damn satisfying to decline those (and often much later after reading them, pretending I only just saw it). Most times I had class and literally couldn’t work (as stated in the availability I had given the store) but the rain one I was just enjoying a sleep-in on a day off, which just made it all the sweeter to say no to this horrible boss.

    You’ve been rostered off, your time is your time.

    1. Kit-Kat*

      Oh this is so satisfying!

      I don’t respond to work texts outside of work, outside of letting them know I’m off and who to contact. (There can be emergencies/time sensitive items at my job so that’s why I will send that response.)

      1. catwoman2965*

        I had a second PT retail job, and worked 2 nights and one weekend day. On top of my FT job. Whenever i’d see the store number come up on my caller ID, i’d let it go to VM. I found if i could listen to the message, i could formulate a better response. Generally if someone needed me to switch a night, another PT person, it was fine. Work an additional night? Sometimes, but it generally depended on who it was. Those who reciprocated and switched/worked for me when needed, sure. Those who were slackers, and didn’t do squat when there? “Oh I’m sorry, I have plans”

    2. No Tribble At All*

      Yup, OP#4… stop covering for her! You’re covering her shift and covering up her shortcomings. At the very least do you log when you cover her shift for her? You might need overtime. Turn off read receipts and say you didn’t see her text.

  14. Bagpuss*

    LW4 – The fact that she gets angry when you don’t cover for her is not your responsibility.
    It isn’t a reasonable response on her part.
    What I would suggest is that you let your supervisor know that she is doing this. If you are worried about boundaries and/or being seen as unwilling to help out, you can let your suervisor know that you are going to be turning down this coworkers requests, as she is constantly asking you to give up your time off to cover for her, but that you would have no problem with assisting, if you are available, in a genuine emergency.

    So far as coworker is concerned, you don’t have to reply to her straight away . If she is asking you to go in, via phone or text, then let the calls go to voicemail, don’t respond to the text . Leave it for a few hours and then if you want, reply and say something like “only just saw / heard your message. I’m not available to come in today”
    If she s asking you in person, the day before, then again, “Oh, I’m not available” or if you want to soften it slightly, “Sorry, I’m not available” . If she pushes, then *she* is being rude, and it is OK to let her see that. Allow yourself to sound a little frustrated or irritated “I already told you I’m not available. I can’t cover for you . I suggest that you ask Supervisor if you need emergency time off / extra support to complete your work”

    Also, let your supervisor know. It sounds as though they already know she isn’t a great employer, and if they are not already aware that she is using you to cover her deficiencies that is information they need to have. You may be helping your co-worker to cover up her poor performance, and also it may be affecting your own work, if you are not getting your down time to give you time to unwind and relax

    1. MusicWithRocksInIt*

      Yes – I feel like the supervisor would absolutely want to know that this is going on.

  15. Akcipitrokulo*

    It’s possible they have such tight budgets…. it’s also possible they would go “OK, we’ll increase your budget to take care of it” if he asked and wasn’t too busy trying to pretend he didn’t make a mistake!

    1. Akcipitrokulo*

      Sorry, nesting fail. That was in reply to comment about health insurance boss’s company having tight budgets.

    2. RoadsLady*

      I imagine budget issues have happened. It’s fair to ponder the possibility Boss will get a sigh, head shake, admonishment to watch the budget next time… and the needed budget.

  16. only acting normal*

    Tactics I have heard others use to get out of an unwanted sales call:

    Polite and swift – “Sorry, I am not interested in this call. Goodbye.” *hang up*

    Funny but time consuming – elaborate tall tales about an imaginary office with bizzare needs to waste as much of the caller’s time as possible, with the ultimate goal of making *them* hang up in frustration and hopefully never call back.

    Gross out, delivered in a creepy voice – “Sorry, I can’t talk now I need a poo.” *hang up* (with the aim of getting you blacklisted as weird so they don’t call back)

    I now employ the first, or sometimes I just hang up! Can’t bring myself to use the third, and I don’t have the blarney to do the tall tales (but it’s a scream to listen to others do it).

    1. Jerusha*

      My modification to “polite and swift” is to add “Please put me on your do-not-call list”.

    2. Checkert*

      “Please remove my name from this list”. Repeat every time in a firm but polite tone. You will eventually get someone reasonable who will do it, not everyone that works those jobs will take pleasure in your pain.

    3. Mechanical Engineer*

      This is when the Jolly Roger Telephone Company comes in handy. Telemarketer call? Unwanted sales call? Transfer them to a robot that will suck up all their time and let you do other, more productive stuff in the meantime. Plus, it’s recorded and sometimes the results are hilarious (my personal favorite is the time that some telemarketer called to “buy my house” — so I put him on the line with one of the robots, he moved the call forward to his supervisor, who then yelled at him for transferring a robot. Super satisfying!)

    4. Erin W*

      I once watched my sister take a telemarketer call and basically just completely throw him off his sales game by flirting with him. “Ooh, is that a fun place to work? That’s so cool. I bet you have the best record in the office, right? You totally do…” Finally he was like, “Are you interested at all in the product?” and she’s like, “No, not a bit.”

  17. Karen*

    OP3 – I stumbled across a great thing called ten minute mail. Basically it creates an email address that is valid for 10 minutes, so you can get things (such as the white paper) without having to give out your real contact details. Saves so much hassle and time clearing the junk mail from the inbox

    1. Femme d'Afrique*

      I’ve never heard of this, and it sounds like a great idea! Thanks. I’m going to check this out.

    2. Flash Bristow*

      Oooooh! I hadn’t heard of this so went a-googling, and checked out various of these services.

      I’ve settled on bouncr which lets you create as many custom addresses as you want, each to be invisibly forwarded to a real address of your choice, each can be deactivated whenever you want (so you could use it for a project then delete, I guess, so long as you don’t accidentally send from your real address at some point.

      Can’t believe I didn’t know these things existed, so thank you so much!

    3. epi*

      There are several services for this that will come up if you search for “burner email”. Some of them will stick around for a while if you keep checking them, so they are a really easy way to hedge if you think you *might* want the information or need to validate the address. Typically they don’t have passwords, you just need to know the URL of the mailbox. I highly recommend them! I use them to dismiss obnoxious notices to sign up, just to browse sites like Pinterest.

      Of course, the OP could set up a real email address for this that they just don’t check very often. That might be a good way to go if they want white papers and industry news. Just stop giving out the company name or information, say you are browsing for yourself, and you’ll still have those materials on the future if you ever do think your company should make a purchase.

      1. Ann O'Nemity*

        My “junk” email address is **** Real people will instantly know I’m not going to be checking it. And sales clerks who are required to ask for email addresses often find it humorous.

  18. Flash Bristow*

    OP3, Don’t worry about this company being rude; if they don’t remove you from their list after you’ve asked, then I wouldn’t feel bad notifying that future mails from them will go to spam – and do it.

    For future reference, I’d have a gmail address set up for the purpose. You can always add identifiers with a + sign too, so if your address is bob@gmail, you can submit bob+company1@gmail and receive it just the same. This will at least enable you to filter automated responses. A clued up sales bod will be wise to this but if they remove the +company1 bit to try and be sneaky, I’d say that if you don’t appreciate what they send, you can feel free to filter mail from them to spam too – after all, they’re not using the address you gave them!

    1. 2 Cents*

      I’ve run into the same issue as OP3. I do use my work email and just hit “spam” when the sales contact persists. FWIW, unless I am interested in the product, I don’t even respond to the first contact by saying “I’m not interested” because it usually leads to constant followups. Just spam/trash and move on with your day.

      1. Michaela Westen*

        I’ve been getting emails from 3 different companies which I never contacted or signed up for.
        Junk button, done.

    2. OP #3*

      I’m going to do this in the future. I actually use it a lot already to auto respond to, for instance, crash alerts (this trick works great with IfTTT!)

  19. Loot*


    The fact that the supervisor is already considering firing her is a good reason why you should decline to cover *any* more work for her, whether you are working that day or not. If she gets fired, it’s because she didn’t do her job, and NOT because you didn’t cover for her. It doesn’t matter what *she* thinks you “owe” her, what matters is what her employer thinks of her slacking off. (You’ve been given the answer already here: they do not like it whatsoever.) It really does sound like she’s already on borrowed time with the company if she doesn’t clean her act up – which is something you cannot do *for* her.

    I would be very tempted to start telling her when she gets entitled with you, that since it’s your time off, you will have to check with your (shared?) supervisor first that it won’t trigger any overtime. Knowing that you are going straight to the people who are already unhappy with her work ethic to start with might get her to back off.

    Though the very best thing you can do is likely to just ignore her texts completely. If you see that the text is from her, don’t even open it. It’s your day off, you were busy, whatever. If she gets very pissy with you, or accusative about *your* work ethic or working skills, then try the good ole “I’m sorry you feel that way.” Or even better, just ignore that too!

    Because, well, what is she gonna do if you don’t reply to her texts? Tattle to the supervisor that you refused to answer her about coming in on your day off to do her work for her? Tell the supervisor you are rude and mean? Between you and her, who are the supervisor gonna believe? Someone already on thin ice for being a slacker, or one who is not and whose statement is “I didn’t reply to her about coming in on my day off because I wasn’t looking at my phone as I was busy on my day off”?

  20. Mazzy*

    #1 – you had a bad experience with OTHER people then are inadvertently taking it out on a great candidate to avoid problems that have already happened. If you think the candidate is great but still have fears from last year, unrelated to this candidate (unless the problems have to do with years of experience in which case you shouldn’t have even interviewed them) then I think you should be hiring them. One year of school is within a reasonable range for an internship. You’re not hiring for a paying job

    1. Marthooh*

      Hiring is not up to OP #1, though. We don’t know if the internship is paid or not, only that it’s popular and competitive.

    2. XP*

      True, possibly, but irrelevant to the question actually asked. The OP doesn’t make those decisions.

    3. Doodle*

      It’s a reasonable range for SOME internships. For this one, they like to see more coursework, which a first year student is unlikely to have.

    4. Victoria Nonprofit (USA)*

      I don’t read this as “taking out” anything on the talented-but-inexperienced-candidate, but rather learning from their past experience. Last year they learned that they’re not in a position to gamble on a candidate with a higher upside (but also a higher downside). That’s reasonable. Some organizations would rather take the risk in the hopes of getting an A+ employee, but others would rather take the person they know will be a solid B+ employee.

    5. Anoncorporate*

      I thought the conundrum of “you need experience to get experience” was bad enough for entry level jobs, but now for internships???? It’s a tough world out there.

  21. Bookworm*

    #4: Had a way less worse example than yours, but I would agree that you’re definitely in a position to just say “Nope, sorry, I’m not working today” or ignoring any work-related texts outside of work hours.

    Had a job not long ago where someone would text me on Fridays (I worked Sun-Thur). I’d ignore the texts and answer Sundays and she eventually got annoyed with me. I simply said I don’t work on Fridays and left it at that, no further explanation. My guess is she took it to our higher up who had backed me up because I stopped getting texts on Fridays.

    Work/life balance is important! Her slack is not for yours to pick up and handle. Good luck and sorry you’re going through that.

    1. Clisby Williams*

      I agree, but one thing that strikes me as extra odd is that *she’s* contacting the OP to cover for her. At least in places I’ve worked, that’s a manager’s/supervisor’s decision.

      If I called out from work (legitimately or not), I’d expect my manager/supervisor to have to find coverage if needed.

      Maybe a better answer than “Sorry, I’m not working today” is “You need to call .”

  22. T*

    #4 tell your manager! It sounds like your boss is already aware your coworker sucks, he/she should know your coworker is trying to bully you into covering for her on your day off. I had something similar happen when an older admin assistant decided she was managing all of us even though she was on a much lower rung than us. She actually called me on my vacation day with a panicked voicemail asking where I was. I called my boss and said I cleared this with in email and it’s on the calendar, why is she calling me? My boss acted clueless which was just lame, I fortunately left for a new job soon after.

  23. Utoh!*

    LW #4 Your situation is a perfect example of how to get a backbone when dealing with sh*tty coworkers. No only are you in the right for *not* working on the days you have off, your supervisor is not happy and thinking of firing her, so you are golden. Just keep on doing what you are doing, though you should probably also stop taking up her slack as well, let the bricks fall squarely where they should, on her shoulders.

  24. Perpal*

    OP4: “no” is a complete sentence here! This coworker sounds like they are beyond giving reasons/justificiations for why you won’t cover for them. I would only give reasons /apologies for not doing a favor if it’s a) someone who does me favors in return (doesn’t sound like your coworker covers nearly as much for you) or b) someone who has a lot of power over me in some other way (ie, boss’s boss, etc). Also has to be c) someone who isn’t a boundary stomping mooch.
    Tell your coworker no, don’t say sorry, don’t give reasons; block them from your cell if need be.

      1. Database Developer Dude*

        Maybe, but *expecting* someone else to come in on their days off to cover for you, when you’re a crappy employee anyway is equally hostile, and carries with it an inflated senses of entitlement. (Generic you of course)

        1. Ask a Manager* Post author

          It’s still not good advice to tell someone to use a hammer when they don’t need one. If the OP needs to learn to comfortably set boundaries, it’s far better that she learn to do it professionally and appropriately than with unnecessarily hostility.

      2. Starbuck*

        Saying no is hostile? Or maybe you just mean the blocking their number part? I think this coworker has earned a flat “nope, can’t” at this point. And I would consider blocking them… but probably I would just stop answering their calls.

      3. Perpal*

        I guess I just don’t see it as overly hostile when the coworker is already so far over the line as the one described in the letter. Feels like any excuse given will just lead to “but you COULD if you [argue way around reason]” etc.

    1. Archaeopteryx*

      “Sorry, no” works too, and is breezily confident while still being polite- you don’t have to be sorry for not complying, you can apply the sorry to feeling sorry for her as a person!

  25. SigneL*

    OP2 – I’m wondering why the other two decision makers don’t contact the first year student themselves?

  26. Miss Pantalones en Fuego*

    Wait, what? OP #4, your colleague expects you to come in and work on your days off because she can’t be bothered to come in?

    This is nonsense. If you have been doing this it’s time to stop. Just don’t answer the phone. It’s really presumptuous to ask you to do this and you shouldn’t feel the least bit bad about not doing it any more. And tell your boss about it!

  27. LQ*

    It happens. First thing, turn down the company hard. Direct and clear and nothing funny (I know people are suggesting hilarious stuff, and they deserve it, but it’s unlikely to have the result you want which is to be left alone). “We are not interested in this product, please remove my address from your system (I’ll wait while you do it), and do not contact me, or anyone else at my company.” (You could add if you like that this is because of the harrassing nature of the way they’ve behaved, but you still need to be very direct and clear and no nonsense about it.)

    Trash email. I have one that I use for stuff like this. It’s a work place specific email that I set up at google that I name so it’s hard/impossible to tell who I am/what company I work for. Then if some company is demanding email for a white paper (which is fairly common) you toss that one in there and call it good.

    I’d definitely say something commiseratory to your in house folks if they are people you work with regularly. Most people have had something like this happen so it’s not a big deal but sharing an eye roll/head shake/grimmace about aggressive sales folks brings everyone together.

  28. The Other Dawn*

    RE: #3

    This is always my hesitation when downloading white papers. I enjoy reading them, because they’re usually full of really useful information; however, it’s a total gamble as to whether you’re signing up to be hounded by salespeople for ever more. I try to stick to downloading only the ones offered by companies we already do business with, or ones that are well-known to me.

    OP, just let your coworkers know what happened and apologize, and then tell the salesperson to remove you, your coworkers and the company from their list. It may take you more than a few tries since your name may have been sent around to different parts of their company, but eventually it should stop.

  29. stitchinthyme*

    OP1 reminds me of my boss in the job I had before this one. He spent a couple of weeks trying his best to talk one of my coworkers out of gall bladder surgery because of the extra cost to the company insurance — kept sending him links to articles about how he could control his issues through diet. Coworker ignored him and had the surgery anyway.

      1. stitchinthyme*

        He really was. That was only one of many stories about him. I mean, he wasn’t “requiring all employees to undergo testing to donate part of their liver” or “making an employee leave a note on a grave” bad, but he was probably the worst boss I’ve ever had. And he owned the company, so there was no recourse if we didn’t like something he did.

  30. ENFP in Texas*

    #4 – “I can’t – I’m off today.”

    That’s all you need to reply when she texts.

    Lack of preparation on her part does not constitute an emergency on your part, and you are not obligated to cover for her when her issues are of her own creation.

    (And I’ll bet she’d have no problem telling YOU “no” if you needed her to come in on HER day off…)

    You earned your days off – enjoy them!

    1. Pharmgirl*

      Yeah, I always went with “I’m not available today” – maybe throw in a “sorry” or “unfortunately” in front if I felt like it.

  31. LGC*

    LW1, I want to congratulate you on your new position in Evil Beehive Inc.

    (I’m not going to lie, at first I read it as the boss begging your coworker to take HIS spouse and child off the insurance plan because really, no one would be THAT callous, right?)

    So, yeah, you’re not off base in thinking that this is Not Okay At All. Your coworker should go to the board about this because your boss is pressuring her into a pay cut due to his own mistake. But also…judging from some of your coworkers’ reactions, these kinds of stunts are routine for him.

    I know you just started, but I would seriously consider continuing your job search, especially if there are other signs he throws his team under the bus. (This alone is a huge red flag of the sort you see at football games.)

  32. Roja*

    #1… it’s funny that that got posted today, since only yesterday I was thinking about when my husband’s company did something similar to us. Budgets were tight, so they asked him and another coworker if their spouses had another form of insurance (we were all young, so they suggested our parents). I was appalled, my mom was appalled, and we 100% did nothing of the sort. I think the coworker did though, and his wife and, yes, baby went back on her parents’ insurance. I shudder to think what that must have cost them.

    Every so often I look back on the incident with a ?!?! reaction. Since they’ve otherwise been a pretty great place to work for my husband, it was quite baffling. But noooo, heck no, I am not going back on my mom’s insurance (which would have been ridiculously expensive, and which none of us could have afforded at the time) when we have our own rightfully available to us!

    1. Psyche*

      Yep. If the company cannot afford to keep insuring families, they should the plan. If they need to do that they should give everyone as much notice as possible so that they can plan. But they should not say “Look at our great benefits! Just please don’t use them because that would be too expensive.”

      1. Roja*

        That was my thought too. Like, you offer this as a benefit, so it’s our right to actually use it. If you can’t afford it, don’t offer it. Either way, don’t make it our parents’ (???) problem.

      2. Ann O'Nemity*

        Right, I agree with giving everyone notice.

        My big boss told the company during this year’s open enrollment that while the company’s contribution levels would stay the same for 2019, they would decrease in 2020 due to the company’s inability to keep up with rising healthcare costs.

        This may cause some retention issues with staff, but I appreciate the notice.

  33. DaffyDuck*

    OP4: Please do not cover for your coworker (see everyone above). Also, if you are an hourly employee working “off the clock” is a big no!
    Example: After years as a stay-at-home mom I FINALLY found a job (with a great company). The extremely overworked employee who was training me was salaried, but I was hourly. As not-a-manager she was very approving if I clocked out and continued working over lunch hour while I was learning (I was embarrassed I was so slow and there was so much time-sensitive work to be done). HR found out and hit the ceiling – if hourly employees are working the need to be on the clock and companies can have huge fines if they allow off-the-clock work. Make sure you get pre-approved for any overtime. That overworked section now has 6 employees (still with plenty of work) instead of 3.

  34. Phony Genius*

    I think there are some states where the boss’s request in #1 would violate state law. It treads into the realm of discrimination based on family situation.

  35. SigneL*

    Am I the only one who thinks the boss in #1 should go on the short list of Worst Boss 2019? We aren’t even halfway through Feb and already have had an abundance of bad bosses!

    1. irene adler*

      While I do agree that we’ve seen an abundance of bad bosses this year, I don’t think this one is much of a contender for the list. At least, not at this time. Not enough bad deeds.
      I will also agree that this boss is a jerk.

          1. OP#1*

            He is just absolutely neurotic, he reminds me of Beaker from the Muppets. He also lied to me about our 401K plan, saying that I get fully vested after 1 year rather than after 5 years. He never listens to me. Takes everything personally. Is convinced that other staff are trying to take his job. He likes to micro-manage every little thing. Changes deadlines without telling you. Changes entire projects actually and deadlines.

            Also sorry if I am super rant-y, just got out of a 2 hour meeting that could have been done in an email.

    2. MattKnifeNinja*

      Nah…he needs to up his game.

      He needs to drop all medical coverage next yearvand toss everyone to the exchange because one high risk pregnancy, and a premature birth cause a big increase.

      Which happened to my friend. The bulk of the shop is single young guys. I don’t think they cared.

      It was hard to find semi decent coverage that include her special needs infant.

  36. boop the first*

    4. Well, if you have a nice boss maybe! I hope it’s different in office jobs, because my bosses LOVED calling me in on my days off because then they don’t have to witness Flaky Coworker flounder around and waste time. This way, they can mess around with their reliable employee’s schedule and play it off as being the victim. “We wouldn’t have scheduled you this much, but (coworker) really screwed everyone over thus we consider us blameless, thanks so much!”

    2. That’s unfortunate that the decision came down to experience in particular. That makes sense in most work placements, but I thought internships were specifically designed to give inexperienced workers a way into the industry? Is this another “entry level” catch 22?

  37. Kevin*

    OP3, this is common. I’m in Compliance and I downloaded a whitepaper on a new industrial compliance standard two years ago and I get hounded weekly via either calls or emails. I have told them we’re not interested (by their own admission we’re smaller than their typical client and the price of what they’re pitching is ridiculous) and asked to be removed from their list and the sales rep seems very polite and says they’ll take me off but alas I still get the calls. An Outlook rule now handles the emails for me.

    1. Cuddles the Shark*

      Sorry to hijack your comment, but I’ve never heard the term “white paper” before. Can anyone Explain It Like I’m 5?

      1. Cuddles the Shark*

        Eek, I’m so sorry Alison, just saw your note about not derailing conversations for Google-able things. Please feel free to delete my comment. I’d do it myself if I could see how. Mea culpa!

  38. Yikes Dude*

    I don’t mean to sound hyperbolic, but automated generated CRM tasks are becoming a huge huge problem. Inbound marketing philosophically is supposed to make sales easier on the rep and the customer because the idea is that all contact was solicited by the customer. This is good. This makes sense. However, CRMs with tracking and automated tasks have made it very easy to stalk the crap out of people and then interpret all actions as a request to make a purchase. Maybe I wanted to read an article on your site, maybe I was just looking up the spelling of a technical term, maybe I literally just clicked on the wrong link for a second, maybe I really do want to make a purchase someday, from someone, of something but I don’t know what or when yet. It doesn’t matter. If I clicked on anything or filled out info to get to the otherside of the paywall, tasks to “follow up” will be created. These tasks will continue to be created and assigned over and over until the “lead” (that was never a lead in the first place) becomes a “customer.” It is possible for the rep to mark the lead “close/lost” but then they will be penalized with a ding on their performance metrics. If they do not continue to call you they are failing to complete their work tasks. This is really bad for both the customer and the rep. Particularly in B2B sales. Calling someone over and over again, pressuring them, sending threatening emails that detail your web behavior and calling it “brand engagement” only works the vulnerable. This tactic is great for targeting the elderly, mentally disabled, the very lonely, but not for making business sales. At one of my professional groups we like to play a game called “Sales or Stalker” where we read emails we have recieved from sales people and letters from stalkers/famous murderers and try to guess which is which. It’s harder than you think. Oh, yes, while I’m popping off here – What do you call it if someone is ignoring your calls and emails, has asked you repeatedly to stop contacting you and you show up at their office unannounced…with a gift? Staples Advantage’s B2B strategy that is straight out of The Gift of Fear. It is inconcievable to me that this tactic works for anyone.

    1. OP #3*

      Yeah, I’m thinking part of the reason they’re coming on so strong is I somehow got “assigned” two reps, so double the fun!

      Like I said above, I totally *would* have mentioned their product next chance I had, except they blew it.

      1. Doodle*

        Can you find who is higher up the food chain at their company and then directly email that person with “I cannot recommend your product because of the misdirected and borderline harassing sales calls”? Dunno if it would help.

        1. Yikes Dude*

          It only results in more calls and because there is an engagement “update” in the CRM. Contacting them in any way, even to beg them to leave you alone, counts as an “engagement” and every engagement (again, even if you were reporting them for harassment or firmly refusing service) increases your “qualification” as a prospect. It can even result in your details ending up on those sketchy “customer lists” that companies buy despite mostly being scraped junk from other CRM systems.

    2. Michaela Westen*

      Wow, this whole thing is corporate cluelessness to the nth power.

      As I tried to mention above, (it got eaten in moderation), who responds well to this? Few if any, so it doesn’t actually generate sales. It’s paying people to do things that disturb potential customers, and generates little if any revenue.
      The only good thing is, these sales companies probably don’t stay in business long.

  39. pleaset*

    #3 “I’m not sure what to do. ”

    Tell them to stop contacting you.

    Say what you want. This is basic.

    AAM should perhaps create an FAQ for life, and one of the answers should be “Say what you want.”

    1. Database Developer Dude*

      It’s not always that easy. Some companies won’t stop, even if asked. You may need to resort to other means to get them to stop.

    2. Qosanchia*

      This is the right response, but it’s important to note 2 things:
      1: Op3 needs to tell their coworkers, “Hey, I’ve got these awful sales reps after me, if you get calls from XYZ it whatever, can you just forward them to voicemail or whatever vendor oubliette we use here?”
      2: This ties in to 1, because just saying “no” doesn’t actually work. You say it once or maybe twice, then you break out the voicemail oubliette, then you call the cops after the second time they show up unannounced at your office, claiming they have a meeting. The last part is pretty rare, but it actually does happen.

      1. pleaset*

        “This ties in to 1, because just saying “no” doesn’t actually work.”

        It works sometimes.

  40. Old Cynic*

    #1. My brother-in-law was a stay-at-home dad and the entire family was on his wife’s health insurance.

    Her company self-funded claims up to a certain amount before their insurance company coverage kicked in. (The insurance company administered the claims process.)

    BIL became ill for some (still) unknown and unexplained reason, was hospitalized for several weeks and eventually died. The costs were astronomical.

    At the next quarterly staff meeting of several hundred employees, the CEO announced that there would be no bonuses that year due to the high medical costs my BIL cost the company under their self-funded plan.

    Can you guess who started searching and shortly found a new job? That’s what LW#1 needs to do.

    1. Justme, The OG*

      If I were the wife of your BIL it would take every ounce of my self control not to walk out of that meeting swearing at the CEO.

    2. Old Cynic*

      I’m still not understanding how this was not a HIPAA violation, but apparently since they didn’t share medical details….

      1. Artemesia*

        I have read many examples of this, one that is indelible was blaming the profit margin on the premature baby that cost so much on their insurance.

    3. Oranges*

      I would love to shout at the CEO “Insurance pool size matters you idiot! You should get a pay cut because you GAMBLED that no one at our company would get seriously ill”

    4. LilySparrow*

      “No, that is a lie. There will be no bonuses this year because *you* chose to offer employee benefits on paper that you couldn’t afford to cover in real life.”

  41. Kevin*

    Letter 1, I’m diabetic and on a diabetic message board somebody relayed a story where they worked at a small employer who was self-insured and their boss came to them and said “Your insulin is tripling my health insurance costs and it’s sinking the whole company. You have to get off the insurance or I’ll have to let you go.” All the posters urged her to see a lawyer (this was post-ACA). She never followed up but everybody was appalled.

    1. Oranges*

      One of the reasons I don’t work at small companies. The system is rigged against them in health care and I’m spendy.

    2. Curious Anon*

      So what would be the right thing to do in this case, assuming that the boss was telling the truth?

  42. TeapotNinja*

    OP3: Always, ALWAYS, assume you’re going to get spammed by sales calls when you access resources like whitepapers behind a spam-me-wall. Conferences are the worst.
    I use a phone number xxx-555-5555 and an email address of to minimize the disruption whenever I can.
    You’re not obligated to reply to these folk. Ignore them. Don’t answer the phone if they call, delete the email if they use email.

    1. OP #3*

      They were too clever for that – their system was to get your email, then email you the white paper. Bad email? No free content.

      I might have skipped it, but it did turn out to be really helpful with a project I was working on.

      1. RabidChild*

        One tactic I use in these cases is to list my title as “Student.” No one thinks a student will buy anything, ever. Good luck!

  43. CBH*

    OP1 I am flabbergasted by your boss’ reasoning! A mistake was made, he needs to fix it, not ask someone else to cover for him. You (and your coworkers) have every right to think this is out of line, waaaay out of line. Can you go to HR or higher ups to notify them of the situation? If health BENEFITS are offered, you have every right to them; you’ve earned them.

    On a side note, is everyone being asked to do this to cut costs? Is a MAJOR incentive being offered? I can’t see one person cancelling benefits solving the issue. What are others in the office saying?

    Please keep us updated!

    1. OP#1*

      We don’t have a HR department, there are only 6 people in the office. The only thing we really can do is talk to the Board of Directors, which one of my coworkers will be discussing this and the myriad of other issues with a board member today (just as a sort of ear worm) because as it stands right now 3 people in the office are willing to quit if he isn’t fired.

  44. Rainbow Roses*

    #4, Don’t answer her texts on your day off. Answering just allows her the opportunity to argue and weedle to wear you down.
    I understand you may feel insecure because you’re new to working, but you don’t have to do everything someone else ask of you. You won’t get in trouble for this. The only person you answer to is your boss and this person ain’t it.

  45. Database Developer Dude*

    For #3, if they call when you’re *at* work, use your personal smartphone, call up, and look for ones where the people in them are being particularly vocal, and play that into the phone. I guarantee they’ll never call back.

    Seriously, I’m joking. Don’t ever do this at work. At home, it works well to discourage pushy telemarketers, but don’t ever do it at work.

  46. Jennifer*

    #2 Alison made a great point about there possibly not being a need to “cushion the blow.” It’s doubtful this is the only place this person applied and she may have even gotten accepted elsewhere. Letting her know that she was a great candidate and you’d love it if she applied next year is sufficient.

  47. MissDisplaced*

    3. Company is hounding me after I downloaded their white paper
    I do a lot of market research and go to trade shows, which also entails downloading articles, white papers and reports and getting my badge scanned. The same thing happens to me all the time! A couple of things I do to minimize this are: a) give real info, but a fake phone number (I don’t mind email nearly as much as calls), b) choose a category on the dropdown that indicates I’m not a decision-maker (student, marketing, etc.), or if at a show, tell them upfront I AM NOT A PURCHASER. If I get contacted, I will reply politely ONCE that I am not a purchaser, and simply had a personal interest in their product, and they should retire my “lead.” I’m not nasty at this point, because they’re only doing their job to follow-up on the leads and qualify them. If they continue to be repeat with their sales tactics, I move on to the spam-can and blocking.

    It rarely goes beyond that, but once I had to actually yell at a pushy, sexist sales person who kept calling me the “secretary” and asking to speak to my manager, the CEO! Classic, annoying ‘get past the gatekeeper’ tactic, but I AM the manager dammit! And there was no way in hell I was passing this asshat on to the CEO.

  48. Jennifer*

    #1 At my job you aren’t allowed to cover your spouse unless they don’t have insurance or are ineligible for insurance through their own employer. You have to sign an affidavit if you do put your spouse on your insurance. Your company might try to do something like this next year if they seriously need to cut costs. Just be prepared.

    1. Artemesia*

      When we had two family plans one from each employer, the kids were covered according to some formula that I thought was industry wide related to the parents’ birthdates or maybe the kids birthdates. From x to y it went on Mom’s from m to Z it went on Dad’s.

    2. Half-Caf Latte*

      OldJob was the same. Spouses could only be covered if they did not have access to their own plan, and it was a higher tier payroll deduction than employee and one child dependent would have cost.

  49. Didi*

    OP3: I use whitepapers at work often. I created a special Gmail account with a phony name for whenever I have to put down a name and address. I also created a fake LinkedIn profile for this “person”. I never check that email or LinkedIn account. Works for me!

    1. Old Cynic*

      The LinkedIn profile is a great idea! I like the idea of building a persona to make things a little more credible. I have a yahoo email address that I use for things like this and rarely check.

  50. HairApparent*

    OP#1, as someone who worked at a local chamber of commerce (small staff, but we had a Board of Directors) with a manager whose antics redefined the word unethical for me, I would reach out to a Board member at the first opportunity. The entire BOD should know about this, but your coworker could sort of test the waters by speaking to Board member that she’s comfortable with by taking the tone of “I’m not sure if this is a situation that the Board should be aware of, so can I run something by you?” Hopefully, this will trigger a conversation at the next Board meeting, and they will intervene. If they don’t take action at all, at least the staff will know how much they are truly valued and if it’s time to update their resumes. Hoping for the best for you and your coworkers!

    1. OP#1*


      Thanks for your comment! We have a coworker that is meeting with one of the board members today about some of his actions (like threatening a potential member of an organization). Hopefully he isn’t around for too much longer.

  51. Rick*

    Oof, just wanna commiserate on #3. A super early stage startup tried to recruit me a couple years back. I gave them the standard “an early stage startup isn’t for me, but good luck!” email, and got the whole Silicon Valley TV show “dude we’re changing the world!!!” schtick back.

    Fast forward to this year, I’m a senior-ish guy at a sort of buzzy company. Same guy is flooding me with emails begging me to put him in touch with sales here, because “we go way back”. If it wasn’t in my work email I would tell him I’m going to actively discourage our company from using their product.

  52. Powercycle*

    #3 – Ugh. I’ve had that happen to me a few times after downloading a white paper or a demo/trial version of some software.

    When I was a sysadmin it was such a pleasure to block the domains of the the worst offenders on our anti-spam appliance. Or block the less-than-honest training providers who’d spam all our organization’s users trying to drum up business.

  53. Observer*

    #1 – If this is a “normal Tuesday” at your organization, you might want to start searching for another job. And CERTAINLY keep in mind that this is NOT “normal” at any reasonably functioning organization. Please do not let this warp your sense of normal.

  54. Observer*

    #4 – Something to keep in mind. Allison is, of course, completely correct that just telling her that you can’t come in to cover for her is just fine. In your case, I’d go further than that. Your boss already knows that she’s a problem and is slacking off. They also clearly are not interesting in working around her. Which means that they will have your back if she tries to turn this around and make it your fault.

  55. Budgie Lover*

    For OP 1’s coworker, losing health insurance for her loved ones was a horrifying experience, to OP 1’s boss, it was Tuesday.

    That movie quote just jumped into my mind and won’t go away.

  56. Chelsea*

    Could someone explain what happened with the budget in the first one? And why he can’t just revise it and add her back on? I’m confused and I’ve never heard of this before.

    1. Oranges*

      From OP#1’s comments this is what happend:
      1) Boss basically forgot to budget for OP#1’s health care because he’s…. a special type of WTF.
      2) He wants to hide his mistake instead of going to the board and saying “I screwed up, I need more budget.”
      3) He asks an employee to take off baby and husband so he doesn’t have to do #2.
      4) All his employees are now probably mad at him

      What should happen now if the universe was fair:
      5) He’s gonna have to admit it anyways unless he does some sort of bookkeeping fraud.
      6) His employees are (hopefully) gonna report him to the board.
      7) (Hopefully) He gets fired.
      8) Much Rejoicing

      1. Chelsea*

        Oh thank you! Why will the board be angry at him for needing to revise the budget? Why can’t they just increase the budget now?

        1. OP#1*

          Thanks for the summary! Pretty much nailed it on the head. He did end up going to the board for a revision to the budget when she refused to take off her husband and baby (which they didn’t really care about). We have a staff member that is talking to a board member today about this and a myriad of other things that he does.

          1. Oranges*

            So number 5 gets revised:
            5) He fessed up to the board and they were all “whatever” and adjusted the budget.

            Why he feels like it’s a BIG DEAL when it wasn’t? My guess is that he’s incompetent to the nth degree and thinks he’ll get fired. Both of those observations are correct. He’s panicking and trying whatever he can to keep his job. This will not end well especially since he has a lot of energy sunk into thinking he’s good at his job.

            OP#1 good luck. CYA as much as you can. Don’t let them guilt you into things. The open thread is a good place to get a reality check since this sort of thing can make your world view skew to dysfunctional.

    2. Ann O'Nemity*

      Why is the budget so tight that adding family coverage for one person triggers a conversation with the board? What happens if an employee who doesn’t take health insurance quits, and the new hire needs family coverage? What happens if another employee has a qualifying life event and adds coverage for their hypothetical new husband and stepchildren?

  57. J.E.*

    OP 1, I’d question what else is messed up about this workplace. If some of the other coworkers didn’t seem all that fazed I’d wonder what else they have seen and heard over the years at this place. Other than this incident how do you feel so far about your job?

    1. OP#1*

      I like the general concept of my job. It is exactly where I want to be. The problems lies with my boss. He is pulling me in a thousand directions (he promised every staff member that I would be helping on one of their projects despite never telling me and the projects aren’t related to my job). I really love my coworkers, they are all incredibly kind and helpful during this. Honestly as it stands right now, I will be here for one year, enough time that it isn’t too suspicious to a potential employer (lots of turn over in this field so 1 year is average) and get the he11 out of dodge.

  58. Mr. Bob Dobalina*

    OP#4: I am assuming that you are not responsible for providing coverage or finding coverage for your co-worker’s absence. Seems to me your co-worker should be texting her manager instead. If you want to respond (I wouldn’t), the next time this happens, reply, “Please contact your manager directly to arrange coverage for this and all future absences.” And then never reply again.

  59. OP Here*

    OP here! I am LOLing at all he comments!! The sucking the chocolate off the peanuts of a Mr goodbar thing will make me lol st inappropriate times for the rest of my life! I actually wound up working from home the next day due to weather and the day after boss was on travel and I haven’t seen him!

    For anyone wondering, they were Reese’s eggs :)

    1. overcaffeinatedandqueer*

      I was reading your letter while eating breakfast in New Orleans! I was holding my phone in one hand, beignet in the other…unthinkingly stuffed the whole thing in my mouth. Didn’t realize how hot the dough was, or how dense.

      Made that awful open mouthed panting noise thing one does when food is too hot, then tried to drink some water to cool it.

      No dice. Wrong pipe. So I choked, inhaling a lot of powdered sugar in the process and spluttering out wet crumbs.

      Then I sneezed from the sugar in my nose and sent the powdered sugar on plates and table EVERYWHERE. I looked like I had clown makeup on!

  60. Noah*

    Re #4 — if you were her “supervisor” and not her supervisor, then you and your company were probably violating your industry’s ethics rules. Something to consider when deciding about your professional future.

  61. Me*

    Not the same situation as the op but there are places who do dictate that if your spouse has insurance through their employer, they must use their employer’s coverage.

    A former coworker’s of mine’s husband worked for such a place. Husband wanted to retire. HE had worked for the company since 18 and had recently suffered a serious heart attack and it was a very stressful job. She did not want to retire.

    However, his insurance in retirement was better than hers. She had to retire, when she otherwise would have continued working, so she would be eligible to be added to his insurance, so he could retire.

    It is a cost savings measure and it’s incredibly short sited, but, you know, capitalism. Let’s hope the op’s boss doesn’t try to make it an overall policy.

    1. Clisby Williams*

      I don’t understand this. Why didn’t she just use her own insurance benefits, and he use his retirement insurance benefits?

      1. Clementine*

        It sounds like the retirement health benefits were good enough that she was better off being retired and on her husband’s insurance rather than continuing to work at her current job with its own insurance.

  62. Anon Anon Anon*

    #1 – Is the boss an adult?

    #2 – All it would take is saying something to make it clear that it’s a personalized letter, not a form rejection one. “We were all really impressed by your story about puppies and teapots, as well as the rest of your accomplishments, and your upbeat, friendly attitude. We wish you well in your career and would welcome another application should you be interested in another role at another time,” or something like that.

    1. NotAnotherManager!*

      I love your phrasing! We have always encouraged people who were great candidates but were edged out by someone slightly more qualified to apply again (or asked if we could contact them for a future opportunity) – I’ve hired at least three people that I can think of that way and they were fantastic.

      My HR department also does me a solid by treating candidates well, valuing their time, and staying in regular communication, particularly if our timeline shifts.

      1. Anon Anon Anon*

        And that’s so important! The candidates are part of your network. They’re not just potential future candidates. They’re also professionals in your field and region who will talk about their experience there. That has an impact on your company’s reputation, who applies there, and who wants to do business with you.

  63. LilySparrow*

    #4, If she’s giving attitude, I’d probably start saying, “This is my scheduled day off. You should co-ordinate coverage through [Supervisor].”

    And if she did it again, I’d just forward her messages to her supervisor with a cover note: “Looks like Co-Worker needs some help co-ordinating coverage.”

    It won’t improve her feelings of entitlement, but it will get her to stop bugging you. Or hasten her firing, either way.

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