I got in trouble for saying “bite me” in a meeting, the best day to apply for jobs, and more

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

1. I got in trouble for saying “bite me” in a meeting

I recently attended an intense work group meeting with my boss and a coworker. The coworker responded to one of my questions with a joke, to which I responded jokingly back with “bite me.” Everyone laughed it off at the time, but in a recent routine meeting with the boss I was reprimanded. The boss said she looked up the term and it means “F off.” I am mortified because I do not think of that term in such a vulgar way. It was simply an quick response said in a joking manner, in private, in what I thought was a safe space. Am I wrong to feel a bit singled out?

I don’t think it means “F off” exactly, although it means something in the same neighborhood — and either way, it’s a fairly vulgar and aggressive term to use at work. There are some offices where it would be completely fine, and others where it would be jarringly out of place. Your boss has just let you know this one is the latter, at least in her view. That’s a reasonable call for her to make.

I doubt she’s going to hold a grudge over this, but if your sense is that it’s colored the way she sees you, you could always say, “I wanted to apologize again for my language the other day. I hear that term so often that I wasn’t thinking of it as vulgar, but I appreciate you flagging it for me and I won’t use it again.”

And keep in mind that work meetings aren’t a safe space — you very much will be judged on what you say in them, and even when you’re quite comfortable with a particular set of colleagues, you can still be expected to speak reasonably professionally.

2. How do I turn down working with friends and family?

Is there a way to turn down working with friends and family without it being awkward? I have an entrepreneurial group of friends/family that approach me and others with their projects or business ideas every once in a while. I know there are businesses built this way that go well, but the experiences I’ve had with it have lead to relationship rifts.

The times I’ve tried to turn down partnerships (while giving my reason why), I’ve been met with sayings such as, “We’ll just talk it out like adults,” or, “it won’t change our relationship.” Sometimes it’s assumed I’ll join in a business venture simply because I’m job searching and have complimented someone’s work before. In one case, a friend has gone ahead and done work towards a project, which puts pressure on me to reciprocate.

I’m guessing it simply will be awkward, but do you have any ideas for wording in these cases? Also, am I being too limited in my thinking by deciding beforehand that it won’t be a good idea to work with people I’m close to?

Stay strong! You’re absolutely right to be wary of doing business with friends and family. Sometimes it goes fine and other times it doesn’t, and what those times all have in common is that everyone thought at the outset “we’ll just talk it out like adults” and “it won’t change our relationship.”

And remember that you don’t have to find the perfect wording in order to be allowed to opt out — you get to turn down the offers regardless. But you can try saying, “I appreciate that, but I value my relationship with you too much to risk it.” And then when you get pushback, you can say, “Nope! I feel really strongly about this, but if you go forward with it, I’m excited to watch as your friend (sister/cousin/etc.).”

And if someone goes ahead and does work on the assumption that you’re in, you can say, “I’m sorry you thought that! I have a policy about not going into business with friends or family and I feel really strongly about it. But I hope you can either pursue it on your own or find someone else who wants to be part of it.”

3. What’s the best day and time to apply for jobs?

When would you say is the best day of the week and time of the day to apply for jobs?

I’ve always heard Friday and Saturday are the worst days but a lot of companies will post new position on Friday. Then they tell you to put your application/resume in early. I hear 9 am – 2 pm are the best time of the day because this is when employers do their posting.

Also, have you heard of managers paying attention to the time of day you send in your resume? I had a friend that wanted me to send my resume to her boss for a job her company was hiring for. At the time, I was working two jobs and sometimes I got off work from my second job after 1 am, and that’s the only time during the week I had to send it. So I forwarded my resume to my friend’s boss at about 2 am before heading to bed to be up at 6:30 am for my first job. My friend said she mentioned it to her and seemed a little weird about it before we had a phone interview. I just wonder do you think that is a concern for a lot of managers? What’s the deal?

There’s no way to game the system around the best day of the week or the best time of day to apply for jobs. Different employers post at different times, and they look at applications at different times too. Some employers post a job and don’t look at any applications that come in until several weeks later. Others look at them daily, or a few times a week, or whenever time happens to be available. There’s just no way to know, and there’s too much variation. (And whoever told you that employers post jobs between 9 am and 2 pm should not be listened to. Who knows, maybe there’s data showing that’s when the majority of postings are submitted — but that doesn’t have anything to do with when responses to those postings are reviewed.)

The best way to time job applications is to apply when it’s convenient for you, but as quickly as you can without causing yourself hardship (because otherwise you risk the posting being removed, or the employer already having moved forward with candidates they like).

As for your friend’s boss who didn’t like that you applied at 2 am … she’s being silly (people have different schedules) but there are indeed silly managers out there who will care. They’re in the minority, but they exist, so if you want to avoid all chance of running into one of them, you could take that into account in the future. (Personally, though, I’d be happy screening out managers who think that sort of thing is any way relevant.)

4. Can I expense a parking ticket?

Is it appropriate/allowable/realistic to be able to expense a parking ticket? Like after a client dinner that ran long.

It depends on the office. If you incurred the ticket through no fault of your own (made a reasonable parking choice and were delayed for work reasons outside your control), a reasonable office will let you expense that. But if you got ticketed because of your own choices — for example, parked in a 30-minute zone before a dinner expected to be much longer — generally it’s not going to look great to submit that. On the other hand, some offices may cover that kind of thing in certain circumstances, figuring that they want you to do what’s needed to get where you need to be for client meetings — and they’d rather have you arrive on time than walk in 20 minutes late after circling the block for ages. So you’ve got to know your office. (Also, I bet if you work in government, you can’t do this.)

5. What to say when an employer asks if they can have more time for a hiring decision

If I’ve made it to the final interview, and a company asks if they can have more time deciding on who to hire, should I take their question at face value? Are they trying to learn if I have other offers, or are they hoping for more information from me that would help them decide? Do I simply say, “Yes, of course”? I’m used to not getting any updates or even notice of a rejection, so I’m surprised to be asked this.

Typically they’re checking to see if you have timeline constraints on your side — like that you’re expecting another offer very soon, or in final talks with another employer. They want to make sure that if they take more time, they’re not going to lose the option of hiring you. Assuming you don’t have timeline constraints like that, you can just say, “Sure! I’ll let you know if I develop any timing constraints on my side.”

{ 419 comments… read them below }

  1. Very Australian*

    I have to admit, it’s entertaining to see Q1 given that so many questions usually on here are from the other side where the manager/team leader wants to know how to respond to a situation like this. Sounds like the manager did the right thing here, not making it a big deal publically and letting the employee know about their expectations.

    1. Anne (with an “e”)*

      I’m baffled about why anyone would think of work as a “safe space” where they would be free from criticism. After all, it is the manager’s job to provide feedback. At times that means the employee should expect constructive criticism. If certain language is inappropriate in this particular job, then it’s the manager’s job to let the employee know about their mistake / error in judgment. At least the feedback was brought up privately. I think this boss is being very thoughtful and helpful to the OP.

      1. TechWorker*

        I doubt the LW used ‘safe space’ to mean ‘free from criticism’ sounds more like they’re using it in the way you might say ‘among friends’. But colleagues arent friends, so you can’t assume they will take everything in good faith!

        1. Just Employed Here*

          Colleagues aren’t friends (at least not first and foremost), and bosses certainly aren’t friends (and shouldn’t be).

        2. Akcipitrokulo*

          Also from the other side – it could mean a safe place where people don’t say “bite me” to other people :)

          1. Elise*

            I’ve been on that side as well. I personally can swear with the best of them outside of work (though my 7 year old has eaten into the time I can really do that). However, I refrain from that at work, and we have a staff member who I like immensely who cursed so much at work that it raised my hackles. I really didn’t want to be associated with that, and though I’m not a prude, I hated when she would loudly curse in our conversations. I’m just a colleague so I talked to her about it and she blew it off. It took her manager (and other managers complaining) for her to see that no matter how friendly she is with people, this organization is on the side of more professional language at work. So I’d urge everyone to really think about how your image can be damaged by this kind of thing.

        3. Escapee from Corporate Management*

          I’ve posted this before, but it beats repeating: I twice had friends become my boss. While they were my boss, we got along well, but the boss relationship dominated. Afterwards, both times we went back to being friends.

          Could I have said “Bite me” during our friendship? Probably (it’s not a phrase I use). During the time they were my boss,? They would have certainly disciplined me for saying “Bite me” in a meeting. It wasn’t a safe space. It was a work meeting, work norms applied, and they were my boss, not a friend.

        4. Snark*

          If that’s the sense it’s being used in, then that phrase has lost all mooring from the concept it was invented to denote.

        5. a1*

          That’s how I took it, too. Like this had been an informal and long meeting with just the 3 of them, with joking/teasing, so she didn’t have to keep professional filter on. She was wrong, but it’s I can see thinking that.

          1. Blerpborp*

            I’m confused why the boss looked up the phrase at all- if they didn’t know what it meant, how did they know to be offended? Did another employee complain but even then, that employee would tell the boss what the phrase means. Additionally, as the OP states, it doesn’t exactly mean “f you” and it’s a little weird to me the boss took that precise meaning to heart, I would guess most people perceive it as much milder. While it’s good the OP knows now that they have to edit themselves (not even to just avoid cursing but to avoid phrases like this which to me is on par with butt and crap as not really curse words) I would find it a bit irritating to be admonished for something so mild and clearly not said with malice especially when you thought you knew the limit and had a level of comfort with the people involved.

            1. NDC*

              The amused response from the coworker probably piqued Boss’ curiosity. I would have looked it up in that context, too. And who knows where she found the definition – we all know how unreliable the internet can be!

            2. Geoffrey B*

              Possibly the boss thought it was offensive but wasn’t sure, and looked it up to confirm. Possibly the boss had no idea what it meant, got curious, looked it up to find out, and found a reference which said it was offensive.

              (I agree that “bite me” is generally pretty mild, but it’s one of those things that depends very much on tone, context, and pre-existing relationships. I wouldn’t use it with co-workers unless we were friendly enough to be very informal.)

            3. Previous Professor Now Manager*

              I once had a 18-year old male student use the term “balls to the wall” in a college, classroom presentation. It got some quiet, nervous laughs. I had never heard the phase before so I looked it up (has both a vulgar connotation and a less-so one). I did have a discussion with that student about professional language.

            4. Jasnah*

              This was the part I was confused about. If the boss didn’t know what it meant and nobody was offended, why did the boss bother looking it up? It specifically doesn’t mean “f you” because it doesn’t use the F word, that’s why it’s not as bad. If we’re not allowed to use any phrases with a similar rebuking meaning then that’s pretty absurd.

              If “bite me” is too rude for the office then that’s fine, say that (and I understand that line completely). But to look up the meaning and say well it is similar to “f you”, well, that’s just a weird way to handle it.

      2. Où est la bibliothèque?*

        And it’s important to remember: even if a colleague is being unprofessional, and even if they’re being unprofessional without any visible consequences, that doesn’t mean you should emulate their behavior.

        1. Someone Else*

          Yeah I think this is the crux of the issue. The letter reads to me like they were joking with her (possibly in not the most professional way) and she thought she was replying in an equivalent manner – or her intention was to reply in an equivalent manner – but she actually escalated to a different tier of not-professional language, not realizing it, not intending it to be harsh, but that doesn’t change that it was inappropriate. (Or even if it actually were on the same level as what she was responding to, doesn’t make it a good idea to say in a work context)

      3. some dude*

        I’m old and I’ve gotten into this kind of trouble – thinking that work was a place I could, as the kids say, bring my whole authentic self. You can’t. There is always a piece of yourself that you have to leave at home.

      4. MommyMD*

        A work meeting is the OPPOSITE of a safe place. And bite me is a very rude expression especially at work. Boss handled it well. Definitely a misstep.

    2. Phoenix Programmer*

      It’s also worth noting OP1 that you don’t know if the other person was also reprimanded for responding to a work question with a joke. Hopefully this helps you feel less singled out.

    1. OP#5*

      I thought it was especially nice, too, and makes me feel a bit better about the poor glassdoor reviews. Thanks for the well wishes!

    2. 653-CXK*

      OP#5: It seems they’re very interested, but are firming things up. Don’t take it as a negative – let them know it’s OK and that you’re still open.

  2. Observer*

    #1 – I’m glad that Alison called out the issue of considering work a “safe space”. In one sense, sure it SHOULD be, because in a functional workplace you should never fear that you will be attacked. But, in the sense that the term is commonly used, work is very much NOT a “safe space” – it’s not the place to share your experience of marginalization or conflict and it certainly is not a place that is going to be free of criticism. Yes, even a good, supportive and well run workplace is going to have criticism. And you will most definitely be expected to behave and speak within the norms of your profession and employer, even when in small meetings and working closely with people you are personally comfortable with.

    And even if your boss was over-reacting (which she is NOT), why would you feel singled out? What makes you think that any other person would not also be expected to keep vulgarity of this sort our of the office?

    1. Mystery Bookworm*

      I suspect OP feels ‘singled out’ because she didn’t have ‘bite me’ filed away into her head as a vulger thing to say; she probably felt like her colleague was joking and she responded in kind, so it felt odd to be the only one called out.

      That said, we don’t know that the colleague was or wasn’t told to be more serious in future meetings…and I think it’s very clear from the response that many people think of ‘bite me’ as more intense than the OP does. (I would count myself as one of those. I don’t think of it as vulger, exactly, but more aggressive? I can’t imagine using it at work.)

      I didn’t read OP’s letter as particularly entitled or suggesting that she should never be criticized at work; she just is feeling a little raw after a reprimand that caught her by surprise and is checking in with other people to see if her response is reasonable. It’s clearly not, so I imagine she’ll recalibrate accordingly.

      1. Akcipitrokulo*

        “we don’t know that the colleague was or wasn’t told to be more serious in future meetings” – exactly. Given that the boss dealt with OP in a routine, private meeting “don’t do that again” – and colleague wasn’t told about that conversation – seems likely OP would not be informed either if it happened.

      2. MusicWithRocksInIt*

        This made me think of how perceived vulgarity of certain saying can really vary across regions or even personal understanding. I used to have a teacher who thought that saying bloody was akin to the F word (she said in England it was a vulgar term, no idea if that is true or not). I also remember watching Easy A and the main character used a four letter word in class and everyone was super shocked and outraged (starts with a T) and I was super surprised because I had always thought it was a very minor insult and not vaguely vulgar. At work when you are around people all day long you can forget that social backgrounds can vary so deeply – but you need to keep in mind their perceptions of these things can be very different.

        1. Mystery Bookworm*

          Yes. I’m an American transplant in the UK and I have to do some mental readjusting sometimes, because typically British swear words tend to register in my head as charming and quaint, whether or not that reflects the reality.

          Luckily I’m not in the habit of using any of these words, so it’s more just that sometimes people sound a lot less vulger to me than they do to other natives.

          1. londonedit*

            Similarly, friends of mine who are fluent in English but who grew up in European countries that are not the UK throw ‘f***’ and ‘s***’ around far more often than we Brits do (and we do tend to swear quite a lot) because when they were in their teens it was cool to swear in English and it didn’t have the same impact as swearing in their native language. My Scandinavian brother-in-law drops F-bombs and my mum puts up with it – she wouldn’t be best pleased if I said it!

            Bloody is pretty mild in the UK, as far as swearing goes. I’ve heard it used on the BBC’s slightly more alternative radio station, 6 Music, but not on the more mainstream Radio 2. It’s another one that we use as a filler word – ‘Where’s my bloody phone gone?’ but it’s way more acceptable in polite(ish) company than, say, ‘Where’s my f***ing phone?’ (which I might say among friends).

        2. FiveWheels*

          UK here – “bloody” isn’t vulgar, but it is somewhat rude and a strong intensifier. I think Ron said “bloody hell” in one of the Harry Potter movies and I heard a judge call someone “that bloody man” in court. There will of course be regional variations.

          1. wittyrepartee*

            I’ve heard it compared to “damn” in the US? It might make one’s grandmother a little perturbed?

        3. Dragoning*

          I t took me a minute to figure out what word you were referring to–but if I’m right, the word you’re thinking of is a recognize slur against people with intellectual disabilities.

          More and more people are recognizing this word for what it is and it’s falling out the language.

            1. Dragoning*

              Ah, okay. I haven’t seen the movie (obviously!).

              Yeah, that one has pretty strong regional differences from meaning “dumbass” to, I think, a reference to genitalia?

            2. MusicWithRocksInIt*

              Yes! That is it. I wasn’t sure if I could say it here as I was apparently totally unaware of how vulgar it is? I always thought it meant idiot, but the reaction it got spoke more of genitalia. Although maybe there are regional differences.

              1. Jadelyn*

                You might be confusing twat with twit (type that ten times fast!) – twit is a mild term for stupid or unthinking, on par with “idjit” or “nitwit”, lower on the scale than “dumbass”. But twat, yes, is generally a reference to female genitalia.

                …and now I have the phrase “twit for twat” in my head, vs “tit for tat”. Dammit.

                1. FiveWheels*

                  And “twat” can also mean physically hit – see Red Dwarf: “I say let’s get out there and twat it.”

        4. KR*

          Oh this. I got into the habit of saying “Jesud Christ!” to things in the fourth grade and my parents didn’t care because we weren’t religious/practicing. I just thought it was fun to say like Darn and Dagnabbit and what the heck, because when you’re a kid almost swearing is exciting. I was really surprised when I class told me in a hushed voice, “you know that’s a swear right?” Because probably in their house taking god’s name in vain was a huge deal

          1. TootsNYC*

            I actually once called out a colleague for using it. I’m a Christian; I personally find it very offensive. I’d rather hear the F-word.

            1. Tired of Winter*

              I’m a Christian and I say it. Not offensive at all, unless maybe someone says Jesus f!@#$ng Christ.

        5. Aveline*

          I’ve always found that my British friends use terms that are based in genitals – particularly female gentials – a lot more casually than Americans would. However, we use terms referring to sex acts a lot more casually than they do.

          I’ve heard my Brit friends say the T-word and C-word but never the F-word or “suck my…” or anything of the sort. It’s the inverse for my American friends.

          Nevertheless, none of these folks would use any of those terms at work.

          Perhaps we can have a swear-word regional variation discussion on OT this weekend!

          1. TootsNYC*

            at my publication, we’ll use the F-word, but NEVER the C-word. And the T-word is not really used by most of the Americans I know.

            1. FiveWheels*

              Among my friends “c—” can be a term of endearment for and from men and women. It’s very much a know your audience thing.

              1. RUKidding*

                See soneone saying that at my business would be fired. Even jokingly/as a tearm of endearment. It’s orders of magnitude worse than “bite me.”

        6. Akcipitrokulo*

          Nah. Bloody is pretty mild over here. It can be considered offensive/vulgar because it’s a contraction of “by our lady” but my Granda, who once was almost in contempt of court as a witness in a courts martial because he refused to say the full versions of f*** and b****** so I think it’s OK :)

      3. Falling Diphthong*

        I’m a pretty pure-minded person–look, everything can be a sexual metaphor if you’re in the right mind-frame, and I’m usually not–and I think of “bite me” as “You are performing a certain sexual act on me.” “Sucks” has slid into more popular use in parallel with meaning more “is bad” than “is the sex act to which this originally referred;” I don’t think “bite me” has quite followed it.

        Almost all vulgarity comes down to “it’s a sex thing” or “it’s an elimination of bodily wastes thing.” “Gadzooks” is a reference to stigmata and so super filthy and profane if you are in the right frame of mind to think of it that way, rather than as mild swear word okay to put in comic books.

        1. Less Bread More Taxes*

          This is so interesting! I never thought about sex things being the source of vulgarity. In my house growing up, “s***” and “d***” were totally allowed while “sucks” was cause for grounding. I never really understood it.

          1. SheLooksFamiliar*

            I grew up in an abusive fundamentalist Christian home. My parents could beat us kids – and do far worse – but never, ever swore. Even drinking something that *looked* like a cocktail. Iced tea with a lemon wedge just was Not Done.

            No surprise that I got severely punished for saying ‘golly’ and ‘darn it’ because those were softer versions of vulgar or swear words. I’m pretty sure saying something sucks or blows would have gotten me the same punishment.

            1. Anon for this*

              I grew up in the same context, thankfully without physical abuse. The one and only time my mother became so enraged she shouted that something was crappy I was in such shock I thought the earth would open and swallow us all whole. We could not even say “oh my gosh” or “oh fudge” without being grounded. As teenagers. So much is messed up within that world.

              1. SheLooksFamiliar*

                I hear you. My mother once got so angry about something she said, ‘Oh, s***!’ under her breath. My sister and I wondered when the earth was going to open up on us, too!

              2. TootsNYC*

                ooh, there’s a shocking moment in Barbara Kingsolver’s “The Poisonwood Bible” where the mother of a missionary family discovers that the cake mixes she lovingly packed in order to make birthday cakes for her children have fused into blocks. She beats the cake mix box against the table shouting “damn!” over and over.

                And the parrot now knows the word and repeats it frequently.


        2. Czhorat*

          I think it’s as much the implied aggression and tone as the actual etymology. “Bite me” comes across as more borderline hostile, and certain straddles the line between “good natured joking” and “meanspirited sniping”. Even if the employees in question are friends, it is a sort of banter which is probably not appropriate for a work setting, and certainly for a formal meeting.

          As far as the OP is concerned, if this was a one-off and the manager simply had an informal, quiet discussion with them about it then I’d think they can safely let the issue rest. Chalk it up to a correction on the expected norms of this particular workplace and move on.

          1. Mystery Bookworm*

            That’s actually my take on the phrase. Not it’s vulgar meaning (I don’t really take it as vulgar) but that it reads to me as kind of aggressive or combative.

            Also kind of 90s? But that might just be my life experience.

          2. BatmansRobyn*

            The fact that LW said this all during an “intense work meeting” I think is getting lost in the vulgarity discussion. I work in an office where cursing is not uncommon, and I’m not much of a Pollyanna, but if someone ever said “bite me” to me in a meeting, I feel like I’d take it as an “f you.”

            Maybe it’s not vulgar in the same sense that, say, “suck my d***” is, but it’s definitely pretty hostile, even if the tone is joking. Given that this meeting is described as intense, it’s probable that LW might not have sounded as jovial as they think they did–everyone laughing in the moment doesn’t mean that they weren’t privately taken aback by the hostility, or that the reaction was appropriate.

            1. another Hero*

              I could definitely say “fuck you” or “fuck off” in a good-natured and joking way, but…not in a work meeting with my boss??

              1. Czhorat*

                Pretty much.

                Every office draws the line different places, but this doesn’t seem like a particularly conservative place to draw the line. I’d think “we don’t say ‘bite me’ in meetings” is fairly normal.

            2. LJay*

              Yeah, I was just thinking that I interpret “bite me” and “suck my d***” to be pretty equivalent terms. S my d may be more overtly vulger, but I would use them in the same situations and they carry the amount of hostility. (And yes, that amount of hostility can be zero if you’re joking around, but that’s not really a call you can expect someone outside your dynamic to make. I flip my friends off when I’m joking around as well (and find the gesture to be on par with bite me and suck my dick) but I wouldn’t do it in view of anyone who might misinterpret it as being serious, and I wouldn’t do it at work.

          3. teclatrans*

            This, exactly. The boss taking tine to look it up suggests to me that it was jarring, and s/he went looking for evidentiary support to back up a request to not use it again. When I was reading OP’s letter and read “bite me” followed by being called into boss’s office, I nodded my head. Yup, that was a hostile phrase that took me aback, no surprise manager would feel the same.

            I was startled by the vulgarity claim (but then remembered distantly — like, 30 years past — that maybe I had seen people gesturing toward their genitals when saying it. If you Google “What is the origin of the urban slang ‘Bite me’?” and look at answers-dot-com, you will see that this phrase was originally an end-run around “suck my xx.” I do think it’s ridiculous for the manager to look at a term which originated more than 60 years ago and say that it must hold the same meaning now. It probably does hew closer to what other folk are saying (“bite my ass”), so I don’t know if it might be worth clarifying/reiterating that you hadn’t intended to use a vulgar term and had no idea some people might hear it that way.

            1. BatmansRobyn*

              I also think that boss might have meant “vulgar” in the sense that the phrase was crass and rude, not necessarily sexual. A good comparison might be another perennial middle school favorite, “buttface.”

            2. Observer*

              Well “bite my a**” is also pretty crude. More important, though, is the hostility. While the term the boss was using to “translate” is crude, it’s also explicitly hostile.

              1. Falling Diphthong*

                With or without specifying where on the body the biting should occur, it’s not like the term suggests “In a fully clothed, nonsexual manner–like I’m being chased by you, who are pretending to be a dog, and I encourage you to chomp down on my ankle over a nice heavy boot so you won’t penetrate the skin–Bite me! That’s all I meant.”

                And I’d look a lot more askance at someone trying to argue that their vulgar term wasn’t vulgar because they weren’t even thinking about the origin at the time (sexual term wasn’t sexual, God’s name in vain term wasn’t profane, etc) than at someone who let slip with a bit of profanity that wasn’t appropriate for the work meeting in which it occurred.

            3. MissDisplaced*

              “Bite Me” is used in the film Grease as sexual.
              “Bit me (or it) Rizzo” to which she replies “With relish!”

              Futurama’s Bender’s catchphrase: “Bite my shiny metal ass!”

              So funny, but yeah, so much a no-no for work, and especially in a meeting.

          4. n*

            So interesting that people are read this as hostile/vulgar. I had to look up the etymology to understand the vulgarity part. Still not understanding the hostile part.

            I think for most older millennials/younger gen X-ers, “bite me” will always be associated with Bart Simpson. So it’s clearly a nostalgic joke phrase, because a childhood cartoon character said it.

            Definitely will keep in mind that not everyone has this light-hearted association.

            1. n*

              Now that I think about it, I don’t know why I associate this phrase with the Simpsons so strongly. The Simpsons used the phrase a lot, but so did a lot of other media from the 90s. Either way… this is the association one old millennial makes with the phrase, FWIW.

            2. seller of teapots*

              Interesting–I’m also an old millennial and while the phrase is very 90s nostalgic to me, I definitely think it’s hostile. Not to the same extent as “eff off” or some other more intense phrases, but it’s not a neutral phrase either.

              It’s more of a challenge than anything else; you’re essentially saying “Come at me, bro!” so there’s an inherent edge to the phrase.

              1. Autumn Anon*

                I’m a pretty young millennial and I think of it in the same way. Where I’ve seen it, it’s much more of a challenge or a dare than it is anything sexual (I’ve actually never seen anything that implies it has sexual roots or connotations before this thread).

            3. a1*

              I don’t associate it with the Simpsons (never watched it that much) but it has always been said in more of a jokey-teasing-snarky way when I’ve heard it or used it. Granted, I haven’t used it since the 90s, but still it was never said aggressively or with hostility. And granted (again) this is just one person’s anecdotal data, but I would never associate with hostility the way I would “Eff-off!” (even using “eff” instead of the word).

        3. DCR*

          I’ve never thought of it as having anything to do with sex. I think of it as more aggressive, like an aggressive dog biting someone it doesn’t like

        4. wittyrepartee*

          I read a bit on this- apparently vulgarity is either a sex thing, a bodily function thing, or a commentary on origins thing. We’ve started moving from being offended from the sex things and body things to being more offended by maligning someone’s origins. So, using a word that refers to sex or calling someone an “illegitimate child” used to be way more offensive, and now it’s more offensive to use ethnic slurs. Seems like a move in the right direction to me?

        5. Retiring Academic*

          Actually, ‘zounds’ (God’s wounds) is the reference to stigmata. ‘Gadzooks’ (God’s hooks) refers to the nails by which Jesus was nailed to the cross. So both profane and a bit gross but not at all sexual or scatological. Pedantic? Moi?

        6. Sarah*

          I never really would have thought about “bite me” being sexual, but a friend of mine (whose native language is not English) and I were joking around and he was teasing me. In response, I said, “Bite me,” and his *instant* response was, “Okay. Where? And why am I biting you?”

          Took that one right out of my “harmless things to say” vocabulary and it is now filed under “Use at your own peril”.

        7. Essess*

          Huh… I always thought “bite me” referred to the hindquarters, rear end, gluteus maximus….. Similar to “kiss my a**” but biting instead. Fortunately, I don’t use that term anyway.

        8. seewhatimean*

          it depends on the culture. In some, religious terms used “in vain” are the really rude swears, and in others, it’s body parts, or “your mother” comments. Best to know, if you’re dealing cross-culturally, what the really horrible things to say or do are in the other culture!

      4. Lizzzo*

        I am surprised to learn that “bite me” is considered vulgar. To me it actually sounds harmlessly childish, like something you might hear during 3rd grade recess before kids actually learn how to swear.

        I hope the OP will internalize the boss’s message but also not dwell on it. Language is subjective and we’ve all used words inappropriately before. It could have been a lot worse. I remember a letter here where the LW had called her bosses’ daughter a “slut” because, based on her upbringing, she had internalized that as, I guess, a reasonable thing to think/say about a young girl. Yikes!

        1. Lily Rowan*

          Even if it’s not vulgar, it’s definitely rude, so you should be careful in work meetings anyway.

          1. cerama*

            That makes sense but I think this comment weighs in so as to describe a difference between what the op said and what some commenters are referring to like the c word. If the c word has made its way into your friend group in a friendly way, those friends don’t know what it really means.

        2. General Ginger*

          Same to your first paragraph — I don’t consider it vulgar, and I don’t associate it with any sex acts. However, it’s still not language I wouldn’t use in a work meeting, it just doesn’t fit there.

        3. Aveline*

          Three problems: (1) vulgar to a lot of people (2) aggressive and (3) juvenile/unprofessional.

          I don’t know quite how to put (3). I’m sure OP isn’t juvenile. But the word is not the sort of swear word I’d picture, say, the Queen using.

          Can’t quite put my finger on why. And I know that just may be my own personal idiosyncrasies

        4. Observer*

          To me it actually sounds harmlessly childish, like something you might hear during 3rd grade recess before kids actually learn how to swear.

          In some circles that’s even worse that crudeness ;) In any case, still not a good way to express yourself at work. I think that the boss was right to call it out, and did it in the right way. It was in private and as part of a routine meeting not a THING THAT MUST BE ADDRESSED.

        5. Mr Shark*

          I mean, technically it came from a vulgar place, but it’s become such a vanilla response that I don’t see it as that anymore. Additionally, I think that depending on how you phrase it, it’s basically a harmless response in a joking manner, and not aggressive at all.
          I don’t know who would use it in an aggressive manner. It’s much too childish to be taken seriously, in my opinion.
          Regardless, I can see how it shouldn’t really be used in standard work conversation, even in a small group setting, and especially with a boss present.

      5. Cassandra Mortmain*

        Yeah, the aggression seems like the problem, rather than the vulgarity, to me too — it can be hard to find the line on that kind of quip at work. I empathize; it can be tough, especially when you’re all friends or if your office is casual, to find the line on what’s appropriate. I’d absolutely jokingly tell my work friend “go f*** yourself” at happy hour, but I’d never say it at the work meeting the next morning, even if the tone was light, you know?

  3. AcademiaNut*

    My understanding of “bite me” is that it’s short for “bite my @ass” – so not really something you want to be using in a meeting. If you need to apologize again, you could explain that you really didn’t know what it stood for. But I do think your boss handled it well – you did something inappropriate, they didn’t reprimand you in front of everyone at the meeting, but let you know not to do it again.

    For the parking ticket – if you can claim them, I think that a reasonable dividing line is whether you knew you were doing something ticket-worthy or not. If you make a mistake with byzantine street parking laws while on work travel, or are held up well past the stated end time at an off site meeting it’s reasonable to argue that this is a work expense, but getting your job to pay a ticket after you knowingly double parked will be a harder sell.

    1. ThisColumnMakesMeGratefulForMyBoss*

      Regarding #1, I agree. I am a very sarcastic person, and I use “bite me” often in conversation. But the ONLY time I would ever use it at work, was in a one on one conversation with a friend who knew my personality and would not take it personally.

      If you’re in a casual meeting with co-workers, joking around can be okay, but that type of response is definitely NOT okay, and your boss is not singling you out by calling you out on it.

    2. CleverName*

      I always thought “bite me” was some evolution of a much older insult, it always makes me think of Romeo & Juliet, and Tybalt (I think… or maybe the start of the fight where Tybalt dies?) has a back and forth with a rival somewhere along the lines of “Do you bite your thumb at me?” “I do bite my thumb, sir” “But do you bite your thumb at me?” “I don’t bite my thumb at you, but I do bite my thumb sir”

      I’m sure Shakespeare said it better.

      But google says that it is a variant of the same origin for using “suck” as a negative adjective.

  4. JoMarch*

    Is anyone else getting these awful Gumgum popup video ads reading AAM on iPhones? Started today and it’s constant!

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      I’ve started getting reports of ad problems in the last 48 hours after months of relative ad peace. If you see it again, please email me a screenshot; that’s the fastest way for my ad network to track them down and ban them. (There’s also an ad report form linked right above the comment box; please use that since it collects all the info I need to get them blocked.)

    2. Harper the Other One*

      Yes, I sent in a report the other day about them. I didn’t realize a screenshot would be so helpful so I’m going to report again with one next time I see it.

  5. Geoffrey B*

    #2: One way to explain this without making it sound like a negative judgement on them is to frame it as risk management.

    Friends, family, and work – all of these can be sources of support, and all of them can be sources of stress. I’ve been in situations where family life was difficult, and my friends and work supported me; I’ve been in situations where work was difficult (first toxic, then non-existent), and my friends and family supported me; I’ve been in situations where I lost dear friends, and then family and work supported me. As long as it’s only one thing at a time, I can deal, and usually it is. Two good things against one bad one.

    But when your friend/family member is also your boss, then you’re setting yourself up to be hit from two fronts at once. That’s much harder to handle. Effectively you’re putting all of your eggs in one basket.

    1. MK*

      That’s a great philosophy, but I think the OP would be better off not explaining too much, it encourages people to argue with you. Just say it’s a personal rule and don’t get into a debate about it.

      1. Mookie*

        I agree that there’d be pushback in most instances, but I do think reasonable people who genuinely value their relationship with the LW could find this persuasive. They are attempting to capitalize on that relationship or use it as emotional leverage for negotiating a deal, so Geoffrey B’s method allows the LW to lob that emotional argument back at them: “this is as an issue that matters to me, so as a friend/relative I need you to support me in it or at least unequivocally respect that boundary.”

        Most professional dialogue involves, ideally anyway, parties attempting to maintain an even emotional tenor and neutral, but firm delivery to avoid burning bridges or treating what is a professional conflict into something personal. This is a situation that I think benefits from intentionally doing the opposite, rather than being low-key or diplomatic. But I could be overthinking this. I’ve witnessed exactly what Geoffrey’s described and so I’d always recommend staving that off by any means.

        1. MM*

          My thing is, the fact that they’re not just taking no for an answer means probably MK’s right. It is also a strong sign that they and OP *would* develop relationship/communication problems down the line if they were in business together, because they’re showing they’re not thinking realistically about how to manage that dual relationship, they’re focused on what they want more than on listening well, and they think boundaries are pretty negotiable. Ironically, the friend you might actually feel okay about going into business with is the one who will just say “I understand” and not bring it up again at least until significant time has passed. (Like, my dad has occasionally mused about the concept of having me do some work for him, but I always tell him it’s a terrible idea and that’s always that for a solid few years. By the time he brings it up again, my life circumstances have usually changed and he’s on a completely different project, so it’s not even really asking quite the same question anymore.)

          1. pancakes*

            Well put, and yes, especially as to not thinking realistically — that should be just as much of a red flag regarding a friend or family member as it would be in any other prospective business relationship.

        2. EPLawyer*

          If the person were going to understand the need for support if work or personal life were going badly, they wouldn’t need the explanation. The LW’s simple No I don’t work with family and friends would be enough.

          BECAUSE they are family and friends they think a certain boundary pushing is okay. You need to be firm and simply state “It’s my personal rule.” Family, well, you are stuck with them. Real friends will respect that.

          1. Psyche*

            Exactly! If the OP gets pushback after saying no, they can cite the pushback as an example of why it won’t work. Would they be pushing a business associate to join the same way they are the OP? Probably not. If they are ok trampling boundaries at the beginning, odds are they will keep doing so.

          2. TootsNYC*

            “It’s my personal rule.”

            I just want to float this out in the open so people see it.

            Having a personal rule about things is VERY valuable.
            In all sorts of arenas (from where you put your keys to whether you have sex on a first date)

            1. JustaTech*

              I have two “personal rules” regarding work. 1) I won’t connect with any current coworkers on social media (except LinkedIn) and 2) I won’t go into business with family or friends.

              It usually isn’t an issue for me, because the kind of work I do doesn’t lead itself to entrepreneurship, and because I don’t have the personality type or desire to own a business. It is a lot easier to say no when you know you don’t want to do that kind of work with *anyone*, not just not with family or friends.

    2. LW2*

      Thanks Geoffrey, that puts into words one of my reservations! I think I’ll take MK’s advice about keeping it brief, though. I don’t trust myself to explain things well but can at least remember Alison’s couple of sentences!

        1. Val Zephyr*

          JADE is for dealing with abusers. I don’t get the impression that these friends and family members are being abusive towards the letter writer. Refusing to explain your decision to reasonable people who are just asking for something you don’t want to do can come off as pretty hostile.

          1. M from NY*

            JADE is for dealing with anyone who believes they are owed an explanation. No is a full sentence.

            The moment you give the more polite version (thank you for the offer but abc) then the pushback begins. No abc no pushback. Especially if OP is being polite and these offers are from people caught up in multi level marketing “opportunities”.

            1. Anononon*

              This isn’t always the case though. Depending on the relationship the OP otherwise has with these people, just a “no” could seriously hurt it. I think in this comment section that people love saying “no” is a full sentence, but in most decent relationships, it would be extremely accelerate the aggressiveness of any conversation.

              1. Lizzzo*

                Not only in this comment section. I see this all over the place. “No is a complete sentence” has arisen as an empowering mantra when dealing with abusers, rapists, and other violent/harmful people, which is fantastic! Unfortunately it seems like it’s *also* being applied heavily in situations where no harm is present and people just don’t feel like having awkward or tough conversations.

                If I ask a friend for something, it’s your right to respond with a curt no and nothing else. But it’s also fair to feel confused and put-off by it.

                1. Ask a Manager* Post author

                  Yes. Please, please don’t offer “no is a complete sentence” for relatively innocuous situations here. It’s bad advice! That and the JADE stuff is for dealing with known difficult people who have a history of trampling your boundaries. With others, it will come across as rude or even hostile. With reasonable people, a brief explanation generally helps preserve the relationship.

                  I really like this commentary on it from a commenter a couple of years ago:

              2. TootsNYC*

                but saying “don’t justify argue, defend, or explain,” is NOT the same thing as “don’t give a reason.”

                “Don’t JADE” is not a synonym for “No is a complete sentence.”

                (the “explain” should be “explain repeatedly” or “overexplain”)

            2. Falling Diphthong*

              But often at work, and in friend and family relationships–and this letter incorporates all three–“no is a full sentence” doesn’t acknowledge that you have a relationship with these people which you want to continue on good terms, and so saying “no” and then refusing to expand switches the question from “was their request one you had to agree to?” to “are you being a snot?”

              “No is a full sentence” applies more to people with whom you have no relationship, or people with whom you would be delighted to have no relationship.

              1. Ace in the Hole*

                Your last paragraph is spot on. No is a complete sentence for a random guy at the bus stop or my overbearing aunt, because the goal is to shut them down.

                If your goal is to maintain a warm relationship, it’s good to soften the no with reassurance or explanation. If they keep pushing, you can always get increasingly firm/short with them.

            3. Colette*

              Sometimes people are owed an explanation, though. There’s a difference between being curt and cold with someone you don’t have (or want) to maintain a relationship with, and being curt and cold with someone you care about and value in your life.

              That doesn’t mean you need to get into a debate, but sometimes you do need to explain or justify why. (If someone who drives you to the airport every couple of weeks needs a ride to the airport and you say “no” with no explanation, I hope you enjoy finding your own way next time.)

            4. LQ*

              But if you go into every conversation and every relationship and only ever say NO! and then walk away you’re going to be seen as confrontational and unwilling to compromise.

              One way to end up in Abilene (Paradox) is by never explaining yourself.

              That’s not to say that you should ever join an MLM (yes they are pyramid scams), or that you need to stop and explain how horrible they are and how no one actually makes money with them. But the image of just No. and then just sitting their cross armed and huffy doesn’t really help anyone maintain a relationship. (And I say this as someone who is horrible at relationships, so bite me!)

              “No is a complete sentence.” Is pithy but doesn’t help anyone maintain a relationship they would like to maintain.

              “No, I’m not interested. Can you show me the baby pictures?” Is way more helpful because you’ve given someone a script on how to redirect in a way that helps to maintain that relationship.

              (And if you want to burn the sucker down anyway there are way better ways than “No.”)

            5. neverjaunty*

              “No is a full sentence” means that you do not have to justify or explain your refusal for it to be valid.

              That is very different from suggesting that one should never explain the reason behind a “no”.

            6. Snark*

              No. The “No is a full sentence” JADE concept is for dealing with harmful, abusive, and/or toxic relationships, period, full stop. Abuse counseling is the context it comes from, and it’s a nuclear option for self-protection against the stridently unreasonable. If you apply it to garden-variety conflict with a pushy but well-meaning relative with whom you have a good relationship you wish to maintain, it is going to be alienating, confusing, overly abrupt, and borderline insulting. That’s a price worth paying for a toxic relationship. It’s not a price worth paying for “hey, wanna start a llama grooming service with me?”

              And they ARE owed an explanation.

              1. Rusty Shackelford*

                No. The “No is a full sentence” JADE concept is for dealing with harmful, abusive, and/or toxic relationships, period, full stop.

                JADE and “no is a full sentence” aren’t the same thing. They can be part of the same thing, but refusing to JADE doesn’t necessarily mean only saying “no.” It just means you don’t allow people to drag you into arguments about your reason for saying “no.”

          2. Rusty Shackelford*

            JADE is useful any time you’re dealing with someone who won’t take no for an answer. It doesn’t have to be rude, or cold, or hostile. It just means you don’t provide a reason, because a reason is an argument to some people. It means you say “I’m sorry, that’s not going to work for me, but good luck” and you refuse to get into a discussion about why it’s not going to work for you.

          3. TootsNYC*

            Yeah, JADE is not just for abusers–in fact, it’s NOT for abusers. (Survival any way you can is for dealing with abusers)
            Where did you get that?

            “Don’t JADE” is for people who don’t respect boundaries.

            Sure, you can give a reason (which isn’t justifying, or arguing, or defending, or explaining more in depth) the first time you say no. But the moment someone indicates that they aren’t respecting your no, that’s an indicator that you shouldn’t engage further.

      1. anon*

        Hi LW2,
        I work in healthcare in a role that is BEGGING for friends and family to ask for advice or quickly pop in to see me in my clinic. I’ve seen 2 colleagues have fallout from treating friends – one left a substantial scar on a friend’s hand and the other left his friend requiring a higher level of plastic surgery when something went wrong.
        So I have a strict ‘no friends, no family’ policy and shut the conversation down before it even gets to the point where they try and persuade me. I’m polite, but I say “you need to have the right to sue me if something went wrong, without it destroying our relationship.’ Then I direct them to a trusted colleague instead.
        I know it’s not quite the same as your situation, but having had to fend of ‘but it’s just meeeeee and it’ll take 5 minutes!’ for 15 years I can tell you it’s better just to say NO at the outset.

        1. Dragoning*

          Isn’t it illegal for doctors to treat family members? Or at least highly, highly unethical, with some sort of ramifications?

      2. No Longer Working*

        I would simply state “I have a policy, sorry, nothing personal!” If pressed further, you’d rather not discuss. It comes in handy for me for a lot of things! I started this after loaning out a favorite book and never getting it back. Since then I have a policy of not lending out books I want to keep.

  6. Beth*

    OP1: Work should be a ‘safe space’ in that you should ideally be safe from discrimination or harassment based on your gender, sexuality, race, age, disability, etc. while there. But it is not a private social space. Even in casual workplaces where you know your peers well, it’s a good idea to err on the side of caution when it comes to things like swearing, using potentially vulgar language, wearing revealing clothing, sharing deeply private details about your life, etc.

    “Bite me” is on the line between casual and vulgar, I think. It’s a shortened version of “Bite my ass,” which is sexual/body oriented enough that it’s too vulgar for most workplaces, but it’s also in common enough use in the shortened version that it’s understandable that you might not know that! I think this is a case where you’re fine saying “I’m sorry–I didn’t realize this was considered a vulgar expression! I won’t use it again.” and then chalking it up to a lesson learned. No good boss is going to hold that against you, especially if you take the feedback gracefully.

    1. AnonAnon*

      Agreed. The only thing the boss really cares about is that it doesn’t happen again. Or escalate.

      The hazard that comes with permitting foul language is that it will escalate. This is something that has been repeatedly demonstrated with all forms of indiscipline or misconduct. If it becomes commonplace for employees to jokingly say, “Bite me,” to each other, they might (A) say it to the wrong person, such as a client, or (B) escalate to saying something even more vulgar. After all, if we can say ‘bite me’ and nobody has a problem with it, it must be okay to say other swear words, right?

    2. Traffic_Spiral*

      “Bite me” doesn’t mean “F off” – “F off” means “F off.” “Bite me” is the PG version that edgy middle school kids use in Disney Channel movies. I mean… that’s like saying “oh, cheese and crackers” is the same as saying “oh Jesus Christ” or “well, poop” is the same as saying “well, shit.”

      That being said, if your boss wants to be stupid about this (and she is being stupid by needing to look up a basic term *and* not understanding that there are levels of severity in swearing) I’d let her. It’s not a hill to die on. Personally, I’d consider coming up with more and more outlandish swearing since she apparently doesn’t like the basics – you know, if case you wanted an office hobby.

      1. RUKiddingMe*

        Thank you. I find the pearl clutching over what is such a common, innocuous slang term to be eye rolly.

        1. Val Zephyr*

          What pearl clutching? People are just pointing out that the phrase is not appropriate to say in a meeting.

            1. Val Zephyr*

              No, there’s no indication that the boss was clutching her pearls. It sounds like she doesn’t think its appropriate to use it at work.

            2. Ask a Manager* Post author

              I don’t think I’m particularly pearly-clutchy or stodgy and I’ve worked in plenty of environments where “bite me” would be really inappropriate, and where I would do an employee who used it the favor of letting them know that.

        2. WakeUp!*

          I don’t see how it’s pearl clutching to let OP know that more people might share her boss’s view. But we get it, you’re really edgy and everyone else is just stodgy.

        3. Aveline*

          You find it not that big of a deal.

          A lot of posters on here are telling OP they find it vulgar, aggressive, or otherwise problematic.

          Why should your personal standard on this override what others are saying? This isn’t about whether or not it’s right or wrong to judge “bite me” as a bad expression. It’s about how OP would be perceived in the workplace. Enough people are saying this is an issue for them that it would be an issue for OP.

          The fact that it wouldn’t be an issue for you or your peer group is irrelevant.

        4. Fuddy Dudd*

          It’s not pearl-clutching to acknowledge that the phrase wouldn’t be appropriate to toss out at a work meeting. The manager handled this appropriately by asking OP to refrain from using that phrase.

          Personally, it’s not something I’d be OFFENDED by, but I do think it’s juvenile and unprofessional to be using in the majority of work spaces.

      2. Miss Pantalones en Fuego*

        I think it has been detached from its original phrase for a long time. Wasn’t it a common Bart Simpson refrain? I certainly wouldn’t consider it hugely vulgar, perhaps a bit childish, but it’s definitely not worth challenging the boss. Just take it as a message that you need to tone down your jokes and forget about it.

          1. Queen Anon*

            Actually, I think The Simpsons is probably the first place I heard it. I was very surprised to read that anyone considers it vulgar and thought the boss was being precious. Learn something new every day!

            1. Queen Anon*

              Forgot to add that I was actually surprised at Allison’s response; I figured she’d tell the OP to do what her boss says because she’s the boss but agree that it’s actually no big deal and that her boss was being precious or super-sensitive – that’s how non-vulgar I’ve always considered that term. It’s a 10-year-old’s response (that people older than 10 happen to use sometimes).

              1. Val Zephyr*

                There’s nothing precious or super-sensitive about the boss pointing out that “bite me” is inappropriate to use in a professional setting.

        1. RandomusernamebecauseIwasboredwiththelastone*

          Does it matter… I’m not sure Bart Simpson is who most adults want to emulate in the workplace.

          Agree with the rest of your comment, regardless of what the meaning is and what all the rest of the world thinks, the OP’s boss told them to not say it again. It’s also a good yardstick for the acceptability of other phrases.

          One thing that is also worth noting is that even within the workplace the ‘time and place’ concept can be in force. So jokingly telling a coworker to ‘Bite Me’ while hanging out at the coffee maker/water cooler can be acceptable, but verboten in a meeting.

        2. Aveline*

          Actually, I remember when Bart first said it on TV. It was a HUUUGE deal. It isn’t considered vulgar now. It was then.

          By today’s standards, the Simpsons are tame. Even quaint. Back in the late 80s/early 90s when they came onto the cultural scene, they were revolutionary.

          And a lot of people who solidified their cultural frame before the Simpsons are still in the workplace.

          (Just checked – first used in 1991).

          I would equate it with “gag me with a spoon” in terms of when and how I’d use it. But that’s not universal.

        3. pancakes*

          The catchphrase I most associate with the Simpsons — and recall seeing on t-shirts & all sorts of merchandise — was “eat my shorts.” To me that registers as more childish & less vulgar than “bite me,” and more clearly associated with a character.

      3. The Man, Becky Lynch*

        I also had a “lol you had to look it up” reaction. It’s just juvenile AF when you boil it down. It reminds me of elementary school recess where you got benched for saying something like that. Yes, I was the mouthy kid who sat on the bench a lot for my creativity with words.

          1. Falling Diphthong*

            I think the boss felt uncomfortable when it was used, wondered about her reaction, went to look it up, and decided that her initial feeling–it wasn’t something she wanted her subordinates to toss out in meetings–was right. So she gave the employee feedback in private. Boss is fine here.

            “Fuck” is simultaneously considered quite vulgar and utterly divorced from its literal meaning. (Or people could get the same satisfaction* from going around saying “Sexual intercourse!” in its stead.) In some offices it litters every sentence, and in other offices it would be an EF Hutton moment as everyone turned and stared to see who had no self control or sense of place, and your boss would be right to tell you to cut it out. Even though everyone who heard you had heard the term used before.

            *Apparently all languages have bad words that you shouldn’t say in certain contexts. It seems to be a hard-wired thing.

            1. teclatrans*

              Yes, this is what I think happened. And then when you look online, you see that in the 1940s it was used as a “don’t get caught” way of implying “suck my xxxx.” What you don’t see is the cultural evolution into a phrase that is more like “f- off” sans f-word.

              I think the fact that the boss was disturbed enough by the phrase to look it up is key — it came across as inappropriate in the moment.

            2. Ask a Manager* Post author

              Right. It’s not that weird that the boss looked it up; she wanted to check her own reaction before saying something, which is a good impulse, not a bad one.

            1. Mallory Janis Ian*

              Right?! I said something the other day that made my 18-year-old son crack up laughing and say that I was, “like, some kind of ’90’s hipster”. The traffic into the Starbucks was backed up so much that I couldn’t even turn into the parking lot from the street, so I said, “F–kin’ A, man!” and the kid thought that was sooo hilarious and old of me.

          2. ISuckAtUserNames*

            Yeah, definitely had a “GOML, boss who doesn’t know what ‘bite me’ means” moments when reading that letter.

          3. Dragoning*

            Boss might not be a native English speaker, or otherwise from a foreign country that doesn’t use the phrase much.

            1. Aveline*

              Or younger than the poster or a baby booomer.

              I know millennials and baby boomers who wouldn’t really know the origin of the term.


              1. Dragoning*

                I’m on the young edge of the Millennials, and everyone I know in my peer group knows what the word means. Maybe Gen Z doesn’t?

      4. Not a native English speaker*

        I think the only time I’ve ever heard the expression was in “Ella Enchanted” where she did indeed bite the one who said it. I never would have guessed it was vulgar, more like an expression of “fight me!” Which probably should not be said in a work place, either…

        1. LQ*

          I said “fight me!” at work recently.
          I was trying to describe creating a process to make doing a Bad Thing so onerous that people would do the Good Thing, so I said that if they wanted to do the bad thing it was like “fight me!” To which a coworker suggested we call it the “Come At Me Bro” policy.
          There was much merriment and joy.

          1. your favorite person*

            This reminds we of the one and only time I got in trouble at school. We were having a discussion in class and I said something kind of dumb (I don’t remember exactly, but something I didn’t think through) and one of my guy friends made a small quip that I heard from across the room. I shouted, “You wanna GO!?” and my teacher was shocked because I’m usually mild mannered and told me to apologize.

      5. WakeUp!*

        It’s stupid to have to look up a piece of really outdated, cheesy slang to confirm it means what you think it means BEOFRE talking to your employee about it? Honestly nobody has said bite me since the 90s (and when they did it meant roughly the same as kiss my ass) so I don’t blame boss for googling to make sure it wasn’t some new popular phrase among the kids.

        1. RandomusernamebecauseIwasboredwiththelastone*

          Looks around…

          umm I say it. Usually to my husband though if he’s being a pain in the ass about something…

          In case you’re wondering the correct response according to him is “Pick a spot”

      6. Foxy Hedgehog*

        Well, I guess it depends on who is saying it and when.

        Sometimes for me, “thank you for the advice” means “F* off.”

      7. LizB*

        “Bite me” is the PG version that edgy middle school kids use in Disney Channel movies. This is exactly my understanding/perception of the phrase. Obviously the OP’s manager has a different understanding, but I share OP1’s point of view on it not being vulgar or even particularly harsh, and always used as a joke.

        1. Aveline*


          Again, that may be how you use it and how OP meant it.

          That doesn’t mean that is how it would be perceived by others.

          There’s enough people on here saying they would find it problematic that it should not be used.

      8. General Ginger*

        All of this. Though I wouldn’t have used “bite me” in a meeting, it doesn’t fit into “work language” to me — I think the boss is overreacting.

    3. TootsNYC*

      I like the point Akcipitrokulo made further up about it also being a space to be safe FROM verbal hostility and vulgarity.

      A “safe space” is not a space to be free to be yourself with all your warts.

  7. WorkPersonaTalkingHere*

    #4 – I would say it depends on whether you are talking about a parking infringement or a parking ticket you pre-purchased (I.e you parked in an area where you automatically pay for parking there) .

    If it’s the second, I’ve certainly expensed those to my employer before (although I did warn them about it before hand). If it’s the first and it’s an infringement for parking for too long I’d say not – and if it was for parking where it’s illegal to park, then that would be a definite no.

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      In the U.S., parking ticket usually refers to a citation you pay for a parking violation. (If it’s just paying for a parking garage or something, you’d definitely expense that.)

    2. RUKiddingMe*

      You can get a ticket allowing you to park out of one of those automated things, but generally speaking when someone “gets a parking ticket,” it means “infringement.”

    3. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      Paid parking that shoots you out a printed receipt is usually referred to as a “fee”, which is a charge for services.

      “Tickets” in the US are “fines” due to unlawful acts.

      And you’re right though, many offices won’t reimburse your fines. There’s precious few reasons that you can “justify” breaking the law and it needs to be an emergency.

      1. wittyrepartee*

        I bet there’s a number of finance places that would allow you to expense this. Just saying. But Allison is correct that the government would laugh you out of the room if you asked.

        1. an infinite number of monkeys*

          My state government agency won’t even reimburse for paid parking at an offsite work function unless there’s overnight travel associated with it.

          A parking *violation*? LOL nah.

        2. Helena*

          Exceptions to every rule – with the government, you can sometimes get reimbursed for “administrative fees” in parts of the world where the laws are… different. If it’s a country where police just ticket cars randomly, then hold their hand out for a bribe to make the ticket go away, that cost very well might be reimbursable. If the OP’s story were that exciting, she probably would have shared it, though.

      2. Nessun*

        My firm’s expense policy specifically states that parking tickets are non-reimbursable. Doesn’t matter why you got the ticket, you are S.O.L. Same for speeding tickets. I’d check the policy first, before even asking – if it’s a blanket statement like mine, no point in pursuing anything. And if it’s not stated, I’d still be leery it’s going to be admitted.

    4. Antilles*

      If it’s the first and it’s an infringement for parking for too long I’d say not
      Parking too long is *really* situation dependent.
      Did you make a bad assumption on how long it would take? Then it’s probably on you – some companies I’ve worked at would grudgingly pay it, but it would come with a very strong admonishment about “…and in the future, you should really just pay the $3 to max the meter; you can never tell with these sorts of things and it’s way cheaper/easier to just pay the extra couple bucks upfront rather than deal with a ticket.”
      But if you paid for a conservative length of time, but then something ran super long, every company I’ve ever worked at would pay it without hesitation under the theory that they’d rather pay the fine rather than have employees sprint out of meetings to refill the meter.
      And your history also plays into this too – the first ‘expired meter’ ticket is probably going to get paid and written off as ‘lesson learned’; if you’re on your third or fourth ticket, it’s going to get into “seriously???” territory where the company would be a lot more reluctant to pay it and expect you to find a better lot to park in.

      1. WorkPersonaTalkingHere*

        Interestingly in Australia, at least where I am, its illegal to refill the parking meter once its expired. You need to drive out of the area you parked in and repark in order to reset the time.

        Same goes for timed parking areas with no fee, which means workplaces without enough on-site parking have staff ‘shuffling’ their cars throughout the day, rather than parking a little bit further away in some instances to avoid the hassle – although if there is no alternative longer-term parking, or personal safety is an issue I feel its very different.

        1. Antilles*

          In the US, my experience is typically that there’s both a limit and a maximum. So for example, the limit of 2 hours is the biggest number that will ever actually be displayed on the meter. However, there’s also a longer “maximum time in spot” of 4 hours – you can refill the meter as needed to get up to 4 hours, but after that, even if you keep feeding the meter, you’re in violation of the maximum even if the meter isn’t technically expired.

    5. mousie housie*

      Parking is a tough one. My office designed a new building that had zero loading zone (infill development, school zone, street rebuilt to “calm traffic”) yet routinely expected us non-manul labour staff to load/unload tons of heavy equipment regularly in all weather under time constraints. Although I haven’t had a ticket for that in years, if another one appeared, I’d argue it’s on them.

    6. Bulbasaur*

      I think it probably depends on the situation to a large degree. If the decision that led to you getting ticket was justifiable in an employment sense, and especially if the employer would want you to do the same thing again in a similar situation, then you have a strong case for expecting them to pay it (not least because you can threaten to obey the letter of the law next time).

      An example might be a restaurant in a region of the city with no/minimal parking nearby, where vehicles routinely park illegally for deliveries because it’s super early in the morning and nobody is around, and because they’ll only be there for 5 minutes or so. Or in your client dinner example, if they were in the middle of telling you about a new line of business and asking if there were ways in which your company could help, and you decided that it was worth the risk in order to keep the conversation going.

      If it was just a mistake or carelessness on your part, probably not so much, although even then the law might be on your side as you were acting in your capacity as an agent of the company. I’d probably be too embarrassed to try it in that situation though, unless I really needed the money.

  8. Jimming*

    #3 is an interesting question. I work from home and I work with people in multiple time zones, sometimes international, so I’m used to seeing email time stamped at all sorts of times! I wouldn’t think it should matter to an employer what time of day you submit an application since they would be reviewing on their own schedule anyway.

    1. Phoenix Programmer*

      Yes my thought is that any manager who automatically rejects an applicant based on application time will afford similar snap judgement and lack of consideration to other areas.

      Not at your desk? Must be slacking and it won’t matter that you were pulled into an urgent meeting about the TPS reports with their boss because “Perception is important”.

      1. MoopySwarpet*

        I wouldn’t automatically reject a candidate for an odd hour email, but it might give me the impression that the person is not accustomed to a 9-5 type job. If there were other concerning factors, it might add up. However, the fact that they applied at an odd hour would probably be the bottom of a list of things that make them not a fit.

        1. Observer*

          Why? Especially if the person is currently employed, it’s reasonable to expect that they are going to be submitting time sheets at odd hours.

    2. kittymommy*

      I can honestly say I have never paid attention to a time someone emails me unless the time actually needs to be referenced for some reason. I don’t think it occurred to me that people actually pay attention to this.

      1. Antilles*

        The only time I pay attention to the time of an email is if a subordinate sends it at a really odd hour…and even then, it’s only so that I can be a good manager and make sure they aren’t overloaded or pressured into it.

      2. pancakes*

        I think it very much depends on the industry. Working with other lawyers on litigation, particularly with urgent deadlines approaching, there’s sometimes occasion to look at time stamps — have we all moved on from so-and-so’s late night idea, does outside counsel in another time zone know about it yet, did something change early this morning with our exhibits, etc. Reviewing resumes, I don’t think there many occassions it would matter.

  9. Bite your tongue*

    Hey OP#1, I’m also someone who would totally casually toss off “bite me” in response to a coworker’s snark and think nothing of it. I come from a professional culture where that’s so mild it would be bizarre to be the person clutching their pearls over it, not the person using the phrase in the first place. Your workplace is clearly more conservative, but just chiming in so you know you’re *not* alone in considering that to be a super mild (or at least long-defanged, in the manner of “that sucks”) expression.

    1. Urban Dictionary*

      I am with you. Just so the OP knows there are def others who don’t find this vulgar at all. In fact I am pastor and our staff tosses things like that out all the time with one another and no one would think twice about it or clutch their pearls over it. However, it is clear that the OP’s work place is different and therefore they will have to be extra careful in the future. I am a little perplexed as to why she looked it up but consider it good to know that your boss is more conservative and uptight than you thought so that you can adjust accordingly. I don’t think you were singled out, given that she would probably would talk to anyone about it after she looked it up though and decided that it was too extreme for her taste.

      1. Ask a Manager* Post author

        I was thinking about why she looked it up too. I think one likely possibility is that her thought process was “Hmmm, that seems inappropriate … am I wrong? … I’m going to look it up and see if this is indeed offensive because it’s not sitting well with me.”

        1. Turnip-face*

          I’m not trying to start a derail or begin speculating needlessly, but if the boss isn’t from the US she may well have been unsure exactly how/if the phrase is offensive. I’m from the UK and it isn’t an idiom we use at all here.

          1. Flash Bristow*

            UK here too, and we do use it, but it’s very much slang. (Apparently it’s in The Tempest!)

            I’m in my 40s but my two best friends are 20 and 50 – both know it, but the older one would know not to use it, the younger one would (I think) very much use it in banter with their friends. I notice a huge difference in communication between the two.

            (And interesting side note – they’re from the same family, so background isn’t the difference.)

            1. RUKiddingMe*

              It’s slang here (US) too but I seriously don’t know anyone that would be offended by it. It is something that is heard from time to time in my office (keeping in mind that when I say “my” I mean that literally). There are other words however that would get you fired on the spot. So ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

              1. RUKiddingMe*

                Dammit! Ugh…there are words used casually(ish) i the UK that if used in my office would get you fired on the spot.

                ::double checks to make sure she’s done this time::

                1. FiveWheels*

                  And on the other end of the scale, I remember Bart Simpson saying “wanker” which in the UK is absolutely not appropriate for a tea time cartoon lol

                2. Phoenix Programmer*

                  Yes I learned that the hard way when I lived in Australia.

                  I never realized that a term Harry amd Ron threw at each other was anything more than a silly friendly tease phrase.

              2. NerdyKris*

                Well it is still an insult, no matter how minor. The context it’s being said in is going to matter. I can’t imagine you don’t know anyone who would be offended if it was something like an employee saying “Bite me” while seriously refusing a direction from their boss.

                1. RUKidding*

                  I never said it about an employee saying it to a boss. I am sure there’re those who would be offended. Just look at the comments!

                  I said I dont know anyone that I know who would be offended.

                  However, jokingly saying it to a coworker is just a bit different than saying it to one’s boss and refusing boss’ directions.

          2. VB*

            I’m in the UK and while it’s definitely an Americanism, it’s one I’m very familiar with and have heard used plenty here. Maybe this is an age/generation thing?

            1. Just Employed Here*

              I’m from Europe and in my 40’s, and immediately thought of “Bite me!” as being something Bart Simpson might say.

              So not completely out of order, but not quite professional either…

          3. Indie*

            In the UK too and use it frequently. It’s considered very mild joking/banter among friends and would be odd to take offense to. Not really formal business language though. I went from being shocked at the headline (in a meeting!) to thinking it sounded fine (oh it was just part of a joking exchange). I think the strangest part of it was the OPs manager needing to look up such a common phrase…but responses here show that interpretations vary wildly, so maybe not.

        2. RUKidding*

          I think she may just not have known what it meant and went to urban dictionary or something and was *shocked(!).*

          1. TootsNYC*

            what’s interesting (having just gone to Urban Dictionary) is that roughly half (or fewer) of the entries I got on the first page used the F-word as a synonym.

            So if the OP wanted to pursue it (I personally wouldn’t), she could print that out and say, “This is the connotation I have always heard. These other ones are new to me, and now that I know some people will have that frame of reference, I won’t regard that as a casual term anymore. Thanks for bringing this to my attention!”

        3. Mookie*

          It may be that she wanted to cite some species of authority as ‘proof’ of her own pre-existing feelings about the phrase, possibly to head off disagreement when she broached the topic.

          Now, if it’s not a phrase she’s overly familiar with, it may be that she’s just credulous, and believes whatever likely googable source she’s consulted tells her.

        4. Ginger*

          I would bet she looked it up because even though the OP said people laughed, the tone might have been a bit off. Like awkward laughter, maybe a few eye contacts made, etc. Something flagged to the manager that the language was not appropriate and she looked it up to confirm.

      2. Cat Wrangler*

        I’m in the UK and have heard of ‘bite me’ but I just wouldn’t use it. It’s not a phrase that would come naturally to me. I don’t think any harm has come to the OP over this but now they have the heads up that their manager doesn’t like this sort of phrase.

          1. londonedit*

            I was thinking in this case it might be closer to something like ‘piss off’? The sort of phrase that wouldn’t really be seen as swearing in the UK, and would totally be interpreted as harmless joshing in most offices, but that a few people might have a problem with. I can imagine a joking ‘Oh, piss off’ might get varying reactions here depending on the office culture and how the tone of voice is interpreted.

            Having said that, to me, ‘bite me’ just sounds childish – and it isn’t something I hear much. It definitely sounds like Bart Simpson and I’m not sure anyone in the UK would find it offensive.

            1. MM*

              I (American) think “piss off” is exactly right. I was thinking right before I saw your comment that technically one COULD say that “bite me” = “f— off,” if and only if you’re generally very casual with F-bombs and use them affectionately as much as aggressively (in some contexts, I am just such a person). That is, if you’re desensitized enough to “f— off,” then yeah it has the same meaning–the only real difference is severity. Since as I understand it “piss off” is basically a milder “f— off,” you nailed it.

              1. wittyrepartee*

                Piss off does sound correct. The big difference between “f-off” and “bite me”, imho, is that I’d be careful about using the f-bomb in that way just because it might be misinterpreted and hurt a friend’s feelings. I’d expect “bite me” to sound totally ridiculous and be laughed off.

                I’m quite casual with the f-bombs too.

            2. TootsNYC*

              I agree, “piss off” is a pretty good approximation.

              But then, I wouldn’t want people saying “piss off” in a meeting at work.

            3. Akcipitrokulo*

              You’re right – piss off is much closer!

              (But I wouldn’t necessarily advocate saying that in work either!)

        1. Indie*

          For OP1, a big detail (that they’ve probably left out for anonymity) is what the colleague jokingly said to elicit a response of ‘bite me’. If it was something formal with a joke tagged on like ‘Hey I don’t think that’s the best idea. That’ll sink like the Titanic.’ then of course ‘bite me’ is way out of bounds, is abrupt and aggressive. However if it was more like ‘Ha, we all know you suck at that dude’ then it would be really appropriate usage; a way of saying ‘yes I know that’s a joke because we trash talk all the time’.
          I’m tempted to think Boss is either unaware of the close working relationship she was witnessing (that OP feels was a ‘safe’ enough situation for the language) or she worries about how it looks to other people in the meeting.
          Is this what OP means by ‘singled out’ as in they were not the only person trash talking or joking? Possibly but Boss is telling OP how it looks to observers; all they are going to remember is that one phrase.

    2. in a fog*

      I agree. OP said it came up during an “intense work group meeting” when one of their questions was met with a joke. I can see a meeting like that wearing on you and chipping away at being on your “best” behavior — or, at least, that’s been my experience. What I am curious about is whether the colleague to whom it was addressed complained or if the boss looked up the saying on their own.

      It feels like an office culture thing, in a way. If everyone in the meeting laughed in the moment and that’s pretty typical there, then I can see how OP’s response might have been shaped by that work environment and why they thought it was a “safe space.” Work is work, of course, and if the boss disapproved of the phrasing, then the reprimand probably couldn’t have happened in a more appropriate way. But I totally get OP’s confusion.

      1. Mystery Bookworm*

        Yes. I feel like OP’s confusion likely stems from the fact that she doesn’t think of the phrase ‘bite me’ as any worse than the joke her coworker made. That’s probably where the singled out feeling comes from.

        This is just one of those things though. Bite me is not sufficently common or used for everybody to be on the same page about the level of appropriate.

        1. Adhara*

          Thank you, you articulated what my brain couldn’t!

          I will add that while I totally agree if OP 1 felt the joke was on the same level, sometimes you just can’t respond the same way, whether it’s ‘fair’ or not. I’ve even had situations where my response was more professional/polite/mature, and yet been pulled up on it because they set much higher standards on me than all of my coworkers.

          You just gotta stew on it, then mentally come back more professional and polite so they can’t bite :)

    3. TooTiredToThink*

      Yeah…. I’m kinda agreeing. Its not a phrase that I would necessarily use because it does sound crass to my ears; but, depending on the environment, I would be surprised about someone getting in trouble for using it.

      But I can also completely see how the phrase has lost many ties with its origins; so as to dilute its original meaning or that people a generation or two removed from its origin might have attributed a different meaning to it (meaning, thinking about the LOL jokes – like the mom who thought it meant Lots of Love and used it inappropriately. )

    4. T3k*

      Yeah, same. “Bite me” isn’t very vulgar to me and I’ve used some variations with coworkers without thinking anything about it (and they back at me). But I do work in very casual settings/companies where even using the F bomb is fine in small quantities and it’s never directed at someone (think like “that’s ****ing awesome”).

      1. wittyrepartee*

        Amusingly, I work in city government public health, and we are pretty casual with the language. Who would have thunk?

    5. Erika22*

      Yup. I work with a group of contractors and we’re much more casual and sarcastic when meeting but the work still gets done effectively, and if there are ever other stakeholders in our meetings it’s definitely toned down accordingly. If we had a director in our meeting we wouldn’t toss out a “bite me” but among our immediate group no one would bat an eye.

    6. RUKidding*

      Yeah I don’t know anyone that would give it a second thought. Around these parts it’s pretty common and I’ve never encountered anyone that thought it meant anything vulgar. Live and learn I guess…

    7. Wakeens Teapots LTD*

      I, um, use this at work , – but I’m from Philly and live in Jersey so, dot dot dot.

      It’s a laugh line and “know your audience”. I used it just the other day in a tense conversation with a few folks about a vendor who wasn’t supplying data in a form we needed it, and causing problems. Finally I announced, “you know what, they can just bite me. Pull the products.” And everybody laughed.

      Even though I love “bite me”, I think it is a bit edgy so use with care.

      1. RUKiddingMe*

        I’ve spent (way too much for me) time in both Philly and NJ, so I’m pretty if not actually comfortable at least used to what I wold describe as a whole lot more brusk attitude/behavior than I grew up with being a California surfer chick or live with in Seattle. That said, to call it “edgy” just blows my mind.

        The fact that someone from Jersey/Philly would see it as edgy…even more so particularly since no one I have encountered on the westside seems to think it is. To be sure there are people, I don’t know everyone, but I’ve never met anyone that I know of that would see it as anything worth note.

        1. Wakeens Teapots LTD*


          Personally, I don’t think F bombs are edgy :D

          I’ve had people react to “bite me”, though, so I’ve put it in my “use with care” bucket.

          1. MM*

            I am from Boston and consider the F bomb a filler word like “um” (I put a lid on it when necessary, of course).

          2. fposte*

            But there’s a difference between a punctuational F bomb and a straight up GFY, even as a joke. That doesn’t mean there aren’t workplaces where you could jokingly tell your colleague to eff herself in a meeting, but it’s a lot more directly aggressive. “Bite me” isn’t GFY, but it’d definitely a direct aggression to somebody. I suspect similarly in a lot of workplaces “What the hell?” and “Go to hell” would also get treated differently, and the latter would raise questions in more places because of the direct aggression

            I also think this is getting weirdly divided in places throughout the comments (this isn’t about you, WT, just a riff on the conversation). Nobody’s shocked to the core about “bite me,” and it’s not pearl-clutching to suggest that some things, whether they be clothing or turns of phrase aren’t appropriate in some workplaces and some workplace situations. That it’s cool in one workplace to wear your t-shirt and jeans doesn’t mean that it’s pearl-clutching to suggest that that’s going to be unwelcome in some workplaces.

            1. Ask a Manager* Post author

              Yes! I was looking for a place to say this — can we please stop with the comments about pearl-clutching? One can swear like a drunk sailor at home and still let an employee know that some language is inappropriate in a work meeting. It’s not about being shocked, or clutching pearls, or any of the other pejorative descriptions people are putting on this.

      2. Anononon*

        I think the know your audience is the key. One of my best coworker relationships in my (Philly) office is with this guy who was raised and still lives in south Philly. We use way worse words and phrases than bite me at each other.

        1. EPLawyer*

          Know your audience. Hanging out with co-workers at lunch talking about how the Cowboys destroyed the Eagles, you can be more informal. In a work meeting with the boss, you keep it professional. If in doubt, go more formal rather than less.

          1. Anononon*

            I’m not sure if you’re agreeing with me or implying because I didn’t specifically address all scenarios in my comment, I disagree with you?

      3. College Career Counselor*

        When I lived in Philly, I had a friend we would say “bite me” to on a regular basis. His favorite retort: “Yeah? SMELL me.”

        We did not work together, however. I’m with most of the commentariat that this is a minor infraction and a “know your audience” thing. Now that the LW knows the audience (ie, her boss), not a big deal to comply.

        That said, there are crazy offices out there. My spouse was reprimanded for rhetorically wondering aloud “why the hell won’t this program work?” I believe spouse was also reprimanded in the same workplace for saying “sugar” because it was pretty clear the intended word was “shit.” That place was really precious.

      4. JLH*

        Honestly I think the “know your audience” was probably the reference for the OP using “safe space”, which I find a lot of people jumping on in particular. She didn’t say work itself was a “safe space” just that she thought she was in one at the time, which I took to mean “I felt like this wouldn’t ping the radar of inappropriate given the company I was in at the time”- kind of like how I have to be very careful to watch my mouth around my father, but swearing is basically punctuation in conversations I have with my boss. I often joke that the reason I knew I’d love my boss is because within the first week of meeting him he turned to me and said, “Oh, I swear a lot, I hope it doesn’t bother you” and I felt at home.

        I know there’s a good cringe involved with being reprimanded over something you didn’t even give a second thought to, but it’s something you just need to remember for next time with your boss, and in general, read the room and readjust if you read it wrong.

        1. Liz*

          In the context of the room, OP1 says it was “intense,” someone else made a joke, too, and then everyone laughed after OP said “bite me.” If that’s the context, I wouldn’t think it was inappropriate, either, and it would surprise me to hear from my boss later if I were in OP’s shoes. To me, it sounds like OP *did* read the room — the room didn’t think it was a big deal, the boss did.

          The boss is still well within their rights to say, “hey, don’t use that language at work,” but I think the “read the room” advice here is a little off the mark, because it seems like OP did that in the moment. The boss just wants the room to read differently.

          1. JLH*

            Liz, I actually agree with you based on the way the story is laid out by the OP, but it doesn’t change my advice.

            Most of my professional life has been (thankfully, to me) pretty devoid of stringent office norms and because of that the comment section here always feels like a fascinating case study. My first job out of college was in the construction injury (aka the wild west), I worked at a hospital for three years (neutral territory), and just crossed the year threshold as a paralegal (mixed bag). I wouldn’t bat an eye at hearing “bite me” in the former and latter, and even at the hospital it would be dependent on *who* said it, not it being said at all.

            I don’t think it’s inherently unprofessional to joke like that, but rather just think people fare better erring towards a more neutral interaction at work until they feel like they have a good read on the culture, and it’s a fact of life that sometimes your read can be off because you don’t have full access to people’s thoughts and feelings. The main takeaway is that once someone makes it known they don’t like it, boss or not, really the best thing you can do is, within reason, adjust your interaction in the future.

      5. LQ*

        I think like a lot of swear words (and other words) tone, pitch, volume, facial expression, body language matters much more than the actual words themselves.

        I’m pretty sure I could make “bite me” incredibly vulgar, hilarious, very serious, or dismissive with just changing the physical context of how I’m saying it. I feel like the words themselves become nearly meaningless with some swear words. I don’t think it is inherent in the word. (Though I suspect some people would disagree.) But it’s worth considering for the OP were you expressing more frustration than you think at the person who responded to the question with snark? I don’t know that everyone laughing is always a good metric (mostly because I think I’m funny and somehow people don’t always laugh at my jokes, the weirdos). I think part of it is the person on the other side. Slicing through a tense conversation with a decision that everyone else didn’t want to make? Great! Realizing you didn’t do the thing you needed to and it’s self-effacing? Great! Something that might sound like a strong retort to someone else in the room? Possibly great, possibly on the line.

      6. Lily Rowan*

        “Know your audience” is 100% right — and now this OP has more information about their boss!

    8. Jane Gloriana Villanueva*

      Knowing your audience is key, even if it is someone who would use the phrase in other contexts. I swear like a the proverbial sailor but rein it in 98% at the office. One of my direct reports began swearing verbally and over our instant messaging system and I tried to put the kibosh on that.
      1) I originally took him aside quietly to explain that even though we are casual in the office, the greater environment is not. I don’t want our office to be known for this kind of casual attitude.
      2) I acknowledged I also have issues using the language and have held myself to the same standards.

      I say “tried” because I thought I had succeeded until he came at me with an *emailed* argument a few weeks later that he doesn’t use vulgar language and why don’t I have the same issue with people who stop in our office and use these terms, etc. etc. I couldn’t believe he wanted to die on this hill. I’m his manager. I don’t want it in our office. I don’t manage the other 1000 people in the building. Tough s*** ;)

      1. Marthooh*

        “But Mooooooom, it’s no fair! All the other kids say ‘Bite me’ alla time, how come I’m not allowed?”

  10. Ophelia Bumblesmoop*

    OP#3: At my previous job (higher ed), jobs were posted whenever the tech got around to it. Happened at all hours of the work day and any day of the week. At my current job (K-12 education), jobs are posted at exactly 5pm every day, but only in-house openings are shown daily. Positions for new employees post only on Fridays.

    Plus, the timing of the different job boards affects it. As an educational employee, EdJoin is the most common board to use for jobs. My current employer uses it almost exclusively. My former employer used it as a supplement to their own job board. It took longer to post to EdJoin than to the direct board.

  11. Flash Bristow*

    OP1 – Ouch! I think there are two issues. Firstly that “bite me” can mean anything from “heh, deal with it!” thru to “suck my dick”, so there are a LOT of ways it could be taken. Stackexhange has a very interesting page on this. Whereas urban dictionary does indeed go straight to “f off” so if that’s your boss’s default reference, I can see the problem.

    But secondly, it’s slang. Which as you can now see can be taken many ways, and also is unprofessional, so I just wouldn’t use slang in the workplace, anywhere at all really. English is such a varied language that there are always alternatives. I get that it was an aside in the moment, but I do agree with Alison that language should be professional in the office, albeit lighthearted when appropriate.

    Hopefully Alison’s advice will get you thru and it’ll be forgotten soon.

    1. Flash Bristow*

      …to clarify, I mean I wouldn’t use slang anywhere at all in the workplace, not anywhere at all ever! Possibly the breakroom would be ok, but anyone could overhear and possibly think less of you for it. Why risk it? If I needed to let off steam or banter, I’d see which of my friend-colleagues wanted to join me in a coffee shop, or something.

  12. Jennifer Juniper*

    Holy cats, OP1! What you said was rude and unprofessional and vulgar, joke or no joke. You may wish to apologize to your coworker as well as your manager.

    1. Zona the Great*

      I think yours is the extreme end of the reaction spectrum. Which I’m not criticizing; it’s why I read this site. It truly is all about the culture of your workplace. I once handed a bag of peanuts to a coworker in a meeting and said, “Joey, hold my nut sack” which I’m told boss still laughs about to this day.

      1. Sparrow*

        I agree that this is on the extreme end. I remember a former colleague saying “bite me” more than once, in much the same way as the OP describes (I’m not sure he every said it *to* me, but still). It didn’t register as a particularly offensive thing in the moment, and I would’ve found it very odd if he had come and apologized to me afterwards.

        That said, this is a good reminder that people perceive things differently. I’d say that, in addition to knowing what’s ok in your specific office culture, it’s smart not to let your speech become more casual unless you also know the individual people you’re speaking to well enough to know how they’d react.

      2. WakeUp!*

        An office where telling a coworker (even jokingly) to “hold my nutsack” is defintely ALSO on the extreme end of the spectrum.

        1. Karyn*

          I was reading it as Zona’s remark as being unintentional until it was actually out loud. Could be wrong.

  13. Jennifer Juniper*

    I then looked at the comments upthread. *mind blown at pastor and staff tossing off such remarks*

    Ugh, I’m being way too stuffy for my own good.

    1. WellRed*

      I’m a person who uses salty language and likes joking but would still not direct it at a colleague.

      1. LQ*

        Yeah, when I moved out a working with construction folks all the time and into my job now it was a bracing linguistic change. If I didn’t throw out the occasional bite me or something much much stronger I wouldn’t have been taken seriously as a professional in that world.

        Though I do continue to be surprised at the …uptight vocabulary of the developers I’m working with now. I suppose call center folks hear it all occasionally on the other side of the line so they are a little less constrained but it still surprises me sometimes.

    2. londonedit*

      Sorry, but as a Brit I’m now sniggering at your use of ‘tossing off’*

      *one of the many terms we have for…um…self-pleasure :D

    3. Genny*

      If it makes you feel better, I also read “bite me” as really vulgar and aggressive and wouldn’t appreciate a colleague using that (or any of its other substitutes like F off or piss off) at me.

  14. Flash Bristow*

    For OP4, it sounds like it’s too late now, but in future why not set an alarm on your phone for 15 mins before the parking time runs out, then when it goes off say “I just have to pop out briefly to move the car, back in a mo!” To which everyone can decide to wrap up, or say “sure, see you in a minute!”

    It’s possible the client will offer to pay any fines but you can always say “I couldn’t possibly! I’ll only be a minute, back in a sec!” (Whereas if your boss is there and says similar, and you clarify with a quick “are you sure?” then roll with it, I guess.)

    Better than sitting there worrying about the car – or forgetting it altogether in the moment.

    1. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      Agreed completely. Most clients in an area with paid parking understand the drill! Also tickets attach to your vehicle and driving record, it’s wildly unacceptable to just try to absorb a fine as a regular cost of doing business.

      I also found out a few times about clients or vendors who have parking validation available after noting I need to go top off a parking meter.

    2. Autumnheart*

      There might also be a parking app available. The city proper in my metro area has one, and it’s pretty sweet.

  15. AnonAnon*

    OP1: I get that colloquially, ‘Bite me’ can carry the connotation of ‘Get lost’ or ‘Shut up.’ Taken literally, it refers to oral sex and your boss is right to find it vulgar and unacceptable. It is one of those euphemisms that comes in just a step below actually telling someone to “F— off.” If this is something you commonly say when joking among friends that is understandable, but you have to recognize that at work you are NOT among friends (or at least, not everyone in the audience is necessarily your friend) and the boss is entirely right to demand professionalism and restraint.
    I have also been in the position where I had to reprimand employees because of their language. While it is possible that you might offend a co-worker, the much bigger problem is that when this kind of language becomes commonplace someone might accidentally say it to a customer or a higher-up who does not share your sensibilities.

    1. valentine*

      I agree with AnonAnon.

      Now I know “scumbag” isn’t cousin to “pond scum/of the Earth”, I wonder if I’ve said it to someone to whom it means “used condom”.

      1. FiveWheels*

        Is there any source for that? Growing up in the 80s “scum” roughly meant “deeply unpleasant person, person who is worth nothing” which makes perfect sense when related to pond scum.

        Within the last few years I’ve noticed people being very offended if “scum” is used as a pejorative… For example if someone says “the people who were abusive to away fans at the sports game are scum” some people feel that calling them scum is much worse than the abuse.

          1. Rusty Shackelford*

            In the 30s, it probably meant that. I seriously doubt most people who use it today are thinking of that meaning.

              1. Rusty Shackelford*

                Yeah, we *could* think a lot of things. But I’ve never heard of this definition of “scumbag” before today.

                1. FiveWheels*

                  And it sounds like the “scumbag” for “condom” meaning is derived from “scum” meaning “unworthy person”, not the other way round.

        1. TootsNYC*

          also–“scum” as an insult may not come from the same place as “scumbag”

          “scum of the earth” definitely comes from the same place as “pond scum.”

          As does “scum” to mean leftover fluids–siblings, if you will.

          And so “he’s a scumbag” is a cousin to “he’s scum,” but one is not a short version of the other.

        1. Kelly L.*

          I think they’re technically right, though! Remember Grease? “Bite the wiener, Riz!” “With relish!”

          But just like with “That sucks,” it became so commonplace that everybody just kind of forgot.

        2. Linguistics: Not Always Obvious*

          No “wtf” necessary– that definitely IS where it comes from, and that’s why some people are considering the phrase as much more vulgar than you do. The connotation is “if you don’t like it/if you’re going to be like that, just bite my dick while you’re down there.” So maybe lay off accusing people of pearl-clutching?

      1. The Man, Becky Lynch*

        I think the commenter is confusing “bite me” with “suck my d***”. Because yeah, I hard blinked at the idea of it referring to oral sex.

        But I get a feeling those with a hard stance of “that’s vulgar and I’m horrified!” aren’t the adventurous types, so the confusion just ups the assumptions of how naughty it is in their minds.

        1. WellRed*

          And yet, I believe we had a letter in the not so distant where someone said suck my …. to her boss!

        2. Kalros, the mother of all thresher maws*

          I don’t think the commenter is confused, I think it’s a pretty common understanding of the phrase.

        3. Ask a Manager* Post author

          Hey, please stop it with the pejorative comments about people who have a different take than you do. You are really misreading people’s thoughts and missing the nuance if you think most people saying “yeah, this won’t always be office-appropriate” are saying it because they’re prudes.

      2. Kalros, the mother of all thresher maws*

        Maybe this is a regional thing because it’s honestly never occurred to me that “bite me” could refer to anything else. I always take “bite me” to euphemistically mean “eat me” and as a milder variant in the genre of “kiss my ass” or “suck my dick.” I’d be a little surprised to hear a coworker say it in a meeting, since whether or not it’s construed as vulgar, it’s definitely disrespectful. Nothing wrong with a little irreverence between friends, except in the workplace, it can easily be considered unprofessional and it sounds like that’s what happened here.

        1. General Ginger*

          I was today years old when I learned that it could refer to oral sex. It’s always meant something like “bite my ass”/”kiss my ass” to me.

    2. Où est la bibliothèque?*

      I’ve always thought that “bite me” meant “bite my ass.” But in the same vein as “kiss my ass,” it’s not suggesting something sexual, just degrading?

      As in Bender from Futurama: “bite my shiny metal ass.”

      1. teclatrans*

        It’s a phrase that has evolved (ain’t language grand?). It really did start out as a twist on “suck my dxxx.” The internet says it was a way of misdirectimg authority figures in the 1940s, of getting away with the reference. And the more I think back to my 1970s and 1980s childhood, I feel like there was an edginess to it, a challenge– and I am almost certain I heard “bite my dxxx” more than once. Somewhere that apparently morphed into “bite my @ss” (according to posters up above). And then BART Simpson and other 80s culture boosted it, and these days many people probably think of it as its own phrase. But, like any evolution that spreads across a wide area, there are going to be pockets where the old meanings are still prevalent.

  16. HR Jedi*

    #4, if your employer has a Travel Policy and/or Expense Policy, they most likely prohibit expensing citations (which would include parking tickets). There is a good reason for this, they don’t want employees feeling like they can drive with impunity since it’s for business (i.e., I can run that red light, ignore that No Parking Sign, speed, etc.).

    With the example provided, which appears to be that the meter ran out, I would suggest telling whoever reviews your expense requests in advance what happened to see if they will make an exception. If your employer is reasonable, they will at least make a one-time exception.

    For yourself, you will want to make sure that the takeaway is that you should overfeed the meter and expense the $5 to park for 2 hours rather than $150 for a parking ticket. Also, if they don’t reimburse either (in which case, they are jerks), keep that in mind for your personal economy as well.

    1. legalchef*

      In many places you can’t overfeed a meter – there is a limit to how long you can put on the meter (even if it isn’t in a “X hour parking only” area).

      1. The Cosmic Avenger*

        I think they meant overfeed as in pay for more time than you think you’ll need. So even if you’re supposedly having a quick lunch meeting, put in at least 2 or even 3 hours, not just 1 or 1.5, because you can expense it. A “better safe than sorry’ approach.

        1. Admin of Sys*

          A lot of USmeters have time limits. The ones in my downtown are limited to 2 hours and they’ll chalk your tires (or whatever the modern technological process is ) so that if you come back at 1h45m and give it more money, you’ll still get a ticket. When they say 2 hrs limit they mean ‘your car may not be in this spot after two hours have passed.’

          1. Parking Ticketeer*

            Yup, this is what happened (OP here). Two hour limit, paid two hours, then looooong dinner.

  17. Doctor Schmoctor*

    #1 What? Really?
    Never in a million years would I have thought “bite me” was even mildly offensive. To me, it falls in the same category as “shut up”, and “like, whatever.” Not something you say in a professional setting, but vulgar?

    Maybe it’s a cultural/regional thing.

      1. Airy*

        I always thought of it as a sarcastic invitation to do something obviously excessive and abnormal (biting someone in anger) with the implication “that’s how unreasonable/jerky you’re being,” or as a shorter form of something like “Well if you’re that mad about it, why don’t you just bite me?” People upthread are saying it refers to oral sex to which I can only say that sounds like someone had a deeply disappointing intimate experience.

    1. RUKiddingMe*

      I don’t even want to know what reactions to “suck it up” would be. I mean I never seriously thought about how that particular phrase could sound (until tonight) but I say it a lot…and just like “bite me” I’ve never known anyone to give it a second thought. Might be a regional thing…IDK.

      1. Emi.*

        My understanding is that “suck it up” refers to sucking your own vomit out of your flight mask so you don’t suffocate, from the days before pressurized cockpits.

    2. Val Zephyr*

      “Shut up” and “like, whatever” are also inappropriate to say to a coworker in a meeting in most work places, even if you’re saying them jokingly. It’s not about vulgarity so much as professionalism. That kind of stuff is just a little bit too familiar and casual to say in a situation that is meant to be work-focused.

      1. Kalros, the mother of all thresher maws*

        Yep. Nobody would think “shove off” is vulgar, but the boss wouldn’t be out of line to call it disrespectful in a work setting. Same deal.

      2. fposte*

        Yes, and they’re really dismissive, and even in play that’s a tricky look for a professional meeting.

    3. Asenath*

      It must vary by culture/region. I wouldn’t be clutching my pearls if I heard someone say “bite me” – unless it was in a work setting, in which I would find it too crass and aggressive. I don’t think Bart Simpson (as referenced above) is a good work model! And I don’t think I, or my close personal friends and relatives use “bite me” even informally. Younger people, and definitely people in different (younger, more “edgy”, I suppose, or more informal) social groups probably use it routinely.

    4. LCL*

      Shut up and like whatever wouldn’t go over well in a meeting, here.
      It is a struggle sometimes to not fall into modern day snark speech because it is everywhere. I try really hard to watch what I say, but honestly a time or two I resorted to snark and had to apologize.
      I would have to be really angry before I told someone to bite me in a meeting. It would never happen because I would leave if I got that mad.

  18. Akcipitrokulo*

    OP1 – I got when boss said it’s like F*** off, they may not have been talking primarily about the vulgarity (which it’s approaching but not on same level) … but the underlying meaning, which is pretty much identical. I think in their position I’d be a bit concerned about the language itself (depending on culture) but more the meaning.

    In any event, they handled it well; didn’t embarrass you in front of colleagues and let you know in private that, for their team/employees, that is not what they expect.

    It will also blow over! It’s a minor thing – you said something boss doesn’t like – boss tells you – you say “sorry about that – won’t happen again” and it’s all done.

  19. Akcipitrokulo*

    For the parking I’m surprised it’s even a question except under exceptional circumstances (eg “I really need to go or I’ll get a ticket” “No, I need you here at the meeting for another hour.”)

    Otherwise – it’s a fine. For breaking the law. Person who broke the law pays the fine.

    1. Sloan Kittering*

      Sometimes employers really get you in a double bind here. I just have to absorb the expense of things like this (my work would not have compensated me either) but it does irk me sometimes. As OP says here, the meeting ran later than scheduled. I’m sure the company wouldn’t want OP to have ducked out in the middle of closing an important deal, leaving the client waiting at the table while OP circled for however long (in my town could be 20 minutes) to find a new spot. Someone could say OP should have come earlier and parked in a garage, but … employees just aren’t perfect, maybe she was coming from another important meeting and would have been late. I agree the expectation is usually that the employer doesn’t pay these, which is why jobs that involve a lot of travel and offsite meetings need to pay me more, (I like the per diem mode but rarely got it) but it does suck that I end up paying for things that benefited my employer.

  20. nodramalama*

    I’m so confused by the idea that workplaces would reimburse someone getting a parking fine. Do I also get to reimburse a fine from not paying for public transport because I was running late to work and didn’t have time to money on my card?

    1. Bagpuss*

      I think it is a litle dependent on circumstaces. For instnace, if you are going to a meting or work related event wheich has a fiarly predictable time scale, and you pay for parking for an appropriate time (allowing time for reasonable run-overs) and through reasons outside ytrol the meting or event runs much later and it wasn’t possible / practical to get out to top it up, it would not be unreasonable for your employer to pay.

      On the other hand, if your could have avoided the ticket, e.g. if it was becuase you parked illegally, or could have slipped out to top up your ticekt but didn’t, or simply misjudged how long it would take, then I wouldn’t expect an employer to pay.

      Where I live, the situations where it would be reasonable to pay are reducing and most car parks now offer a pay by phone option so it’s usually possibe to top up even ifyou can’t get back to the car.

    2. Où est la bibliothèque?*

      Fun fact! Some delivery companies actually budget for tickets and fines on the assumption that they’ll happen, because they’ve calculated how much money they would lose with drivers circling the block or parking farther and wasting time walking vs. the occasional ticket for parking or idling somewhere illegal, and the latter came out cheaper.

      1. Classic Rando*

        In nyc some of the delivery drivers don’t even remove the tickets from their windshields, they just drive around all day with an ever-growing wreath of neon orange tickets framing their windshield. It’s quite a sight!

      2. Parking Ticketeer*

        I can’t remember which but one of FedEx/UPS does this and has shared the scale of budget with some cities in an effort to find solutions.

    3. JSPA*

      If they’re basing it on cost- benefit, makes total sense. Let’s say parking two hours at the meter is $5 (but you can’t top up). Tickets for overstaying are $35. Parking in the lot is $6 an hour (unlimited). You have client meetings that normally run a bit over an hour. One time in 20, meetings run far longer; generally cases where you’re sweating to seal a deal or make a super professional impression, so moving the car just isn’t an option. Enforcement will catch and ticket the overstay 1 time in 2.

      39($5)+$35 for always using the meters including the predictable occasional ticket is cheaper than using the lot at 38($12) +2($18). Work can encourage you to save money by covering the occasional ticket. An “overtime at meter” ticket is a fine, not fraud or a moral failing.

      1. Lily Rowan*

        Right — for a while I lived somewhere where parking garages were expensive AND parking tickets were fairly cheap, so it was definitely worth it for friends to chance the $25 ticket rather than definitely paying $25 for the garage.

    4. MM*

      If the employee is a contractor, I can see it being a question. Because when I was a contractor, I absolutely would count paying for a rideshare vs. public transport to get to the office on time as a work expense. I deducted every one of those receipts on my taxes last year. I also deducted the cost of the brand new Chromebook I bought so I could continue to work from home while my laptop was in the shop for damage that was 100% my fault. Depending on the nature of the contract and how the ticket was incurred, I can see it being a question. My default instinct would be no, because why have my employer associate me with any kind of legal infraction, but I don’t think it’s crazy.

      (*For example, my last contract was negotiated at a given salary for a year’s work, which we divided by 24 and I invoiced that 1/24th every two weeks. I took things like buying my own health insurance into account when we negotiated that. But one time I had to print out tent cards at a copy shop instead of at the office for reasons legitimately out of my control, which came to hundreds of dollars; I just added the cost of that to my regular bimonthly invoice because it was something none of us had expected when we negotiated the contract. I did get my boss’s agreement in advance, though.)

      1. Natalie*

        Yeah, that’s not how business expenses work – your commuting costs are still non-deductible personal expenses, even if you’re self employed. It’s absolutely not a question unless the question is “how comfortable am I cheating on my taxes?”

        1. JSPA*

          What’s deductible on your taxes and what’s covered by your employer are pretty unrelated (or even, often, inversely related), though.

  21. Bookworm*

    #3: Apply ASAP/whenever you’ve got the time. I’ve applied for jobs and gotten contacted the same day for an interview. I’ve applied on Friday nights/during the weekend and have been contacted during he weekend (!) or Monday (sometimes Monday mornings!).

    I take it s a sign they really want to/need to hire someone. For your experience, I would guess it might be a concern (if you’re working a graveyard shift can you handle another job or is your situation as such you need to work that job for some reason, etc.) but if a hiring manager judges you for when your application is submitted…that’s on them. Maybe you happened to be out of the country or was up very late/early anyway so you applied. Any number of reasons could apply.

    Good luck!

  22. Lynca*

    OP #1- It’s definitely a pointed and confrontational thing to say in a work setting. I haven’t ever seen it said where you weren’t egging the other party on or expressing some serious displeasure with something said. I don’t know what the joke was but you’re not going to have a productive career if you respond back in kind. I’ve had this happen but I just brush it off instead of trading anything back. Ex. “Joking aside, what is the progress on the teapot reports?”

    Saying “bite me” might be fine in friend groups where you have the internal structure to know that it’s not personal and you know they’re okay with it. It’s just not okay at work where people don’t have that structure and might have very different feelings than your friends. I wouldn’t say that to my co-workers, not because of vulgarity (see below) but because it’s a confrontational response.

    I think it’s subject to interpretation as to whether its really that vulgar. I can see where the boss is coming from and in the context it could be interpreted as a PG version of “F off.” Both are confrontational and inappropriate, but I wouldn’t see ‘bite me’ as vulgar. If your boss does though it’s not that big a deal and I wouldn’t focus on that.

  23. Karen from Finance*

    Op#2: I think that you’re getting pushback is confirmation that you’ve definitely made the right call in not wanting to work with them, making their attitude a little ironic.

    And it’s definitely the right call. I’m from the first generation in my family who decided to not work on the fanily business, because it’s so needlessly burdensome and it nearly broke the family relations in the generation above us. Alison is spot on, no one thinks it’s going to be this way before they start.

  24. Alfonzo Mango*

    How do you guys feel about applying for office jobs during 9-5 hours? I assume online application submission portals can track down to the second a person applies. Do you think it ‘looks bad’ to apply for a job during business hours when you should be working at the role you’re currently in?

    1. Karen from Finance*

      I don’t think it would look bad to apply during business hours, because people are not expected to be working at 100% of their abilities all the time at every moment of their 8 hour workday every day. You could be in a break, you could be on PTO, you could be applying from your phone while your computer is running a program, or any other reason.

      I don’t think someone who assumed you are a bad working for applying from 9-5 would be a reasonable person or good employer.

    2. WellRed*

      It certainly looks bad to your current office if they find out. I doubt the company you’re applying to pays that much thought to it, though
      But, unless your current company knows and has encouraged you to job search on company time DON’T DO IT.

    3. Lily Rowan*

      I don’t know that I’ve ever paid any attention to when an application came in. Like Alison said, I was reviewing applications whenever it made sense for my schedule.

    4. iglwif*

      I used to be a hiring manager, and I can promise you I never paid any attention to what time people sent their applications in.

    5. Someone Else*

      If I were hiring, I would not judge based on this. I don’t know if the applicant actually works 9-5, so whatever time they were applying in that window could’ve been either outside their current hours, or where their lunch break lands for some alternate schedule, or maybe they work four 10s and weren’t working that day, or just weren’t working that day for other random reasons. Or maybe I assume that one applicant doesn’t have a job right now. I’m not going to cross-reference the submission time with their resume. There are too many reasonable explanations for me to hold that sort of thing against an applicant. It just doesn’t make sense.

  25. WellRed*

    It certainly looks bad to your current office if they find out. I doubt the company you’re applying to pays that much thought to it, though
    But, unless your current company knows and has encouraged you to job search on company time DON’T DO IT.

    1. CJ*

      Adding, I still wouldn’t say it in a work meeting, but not because I think it’s vulgar. More akin to swearing, IMO, which I don’t consider to be the same thing.

    2. MCMonkeyBean*

      There are lots of people in this very thread who do! I would actually rank it up there with “F off” but only if you are literally saying “eff off” instead of what the f stands for.

    3. Baby Oil*

      Yes but anyone who thinks swearing is vulgar would consider it vulgar, just because you dont think you know those people doesn’t mean they are not out there. I have found they are more abundant the higher up the food chain you are. My mother considers it vulgar, (along with most things she has heard from the Simpsons and like shows from when we were young, and swear words)and I would guess many other people in her age range do as well. They are also the people in higher levels in business, so offending them is a greater risk.

      My husband uses swear words more than he should and now our 5 year old daughter parrots my mother and closes her eyes and squeezes the bridge of her nose holds up her hand and says “Language”. You never know who you are offending.

  26. HarveyW*

    I once told a manager to go F himself… unbeknownst to me, there was a customer nearby! When I realized it, I apologized profusely to the customer. Her response? “I’ve always wanted to do that to my boss.” LOL (I did not get fired or even reprimanded…. )

    1. this way, that way*

      My husband works from home and his conference calls are so vulgar (filled with swear words I didn’t know existed) that he moved his office to the basement when our 2 year old overheard some of words and started calling my husband a f-tard along with some other great phrases the church daycare let us know she was using.

      But yea, My ultimate desire on bad days is to quit and tell my idiot misogynist boss to F himself in my rant on my way out. It will never happen but I have a speech I recite on my way home in the car alone.

  27. Ella*

    Q1 In my opinion your boss overreacted a little. Regardless of all the different ways ‘bite me’ can be perceived, the fact is: you were all joking with each other, everyone laughed at the time (so clearly it WASN’T perceived in the worst possible way), and even your boss herself had to look it up in order to take offense.
    Having said that, of course you should mind her opinion and be careful about your language in future. This is a useful thing to learn about her. Alison’s suggestion on what to say sounds perfect for smoothing things over. But just so you know: you’re not the only one to whom her reaction seems a little over the top.

      1. KarenK*

        I think she was already offended, but wanted a concrete reason to give the OP beyond, “I just don’t like it!”

        1. Jennifer*

          She was rude in a joking way to the OP, the OP fired back also in a joking way and she got her feelings hurt. That’s what I think happened. Now the OP knows how to deal with her going forward.

          1. fposte*

            It sounds like the boss wasn’t the one the OP was responding to, though–that was another co-worker. The boss was merely present.

    1. fposte*

      I think she looked it up to make sure she was on reasonable ground. I rather liked that, actually; she didn’t want to advise OP on a vulgarity to find that it wasn’t one.

      And this isn’t a big thing; the OP isn’t being disciplined. The boss gets to tell people what level of discourse is acceptable in meetings there, and now the OP’s been told. It’s okay that the OP didn’t realize, but it’s also okay for her boss to say that’s not how people at this workplace talk to one another.

      1. this way, that way*

        I thought that was a sign of a pretty good boss too, that they are going to check something out and not just go on their first response.

      2. Jennifer*

        I agree with you. I just think it’s odd that she was joking around with the OP but also seems to want a formal workplace. If she wants that level of decorum she should set the standard. I don’t understand people that treat people one way but expect different treatment in return.

        But I have worked for many odd people in my day and learned to deal with it. It’s not a big deal.

        1. fposte*

          Well, it wasn’t the boss doing the initial joking. But also, I joke a lot with my staff, and I love F bombs, and I would still never say FU to a staffer and would be really taken aback if they said it to me, even in jest. Joking isn’t the same as saying “anything goes.”

        2. TootsNYC*

          Oh, I don’t know–I think it’s ok to have a “joking around” kind of office, adn to STILL want that joking around to be polite.

        3. Czhorat*

          There are different levels of formality, and there is a ton of space between “buttoned-up, strictly formal” and “anything goes”. In my opinion “bite me” leans pretty heavily towards the latter, and would usually be considered an escalation too far.

          That doesn’t mean the OP meant anything ill by it; it was simply mis-judging norms. So long as the discussion from the boss was just a discussion (not a formal written warning), then it’s really not a big deal.

          That said, the OP might take this as a sign to move themselves a bit more towards the formal end if they’re unsure; once is no big deal, but you really don’t want to be known as that person who always needs their language corrected.

  28. JSPA*

    #2, people assuming you might be interested is fine (you might be, you’re not, you tell them, fine). “In one case, a friend has gone ahead and done work towards a project” is a bit stranger. If that high level of assumption happens again, try using the occasion to ask what, if anything, you’ve said that gave them the impression you were “in.” If they leapt to an assumption, fine. But
    (with reference to OP #1’s dilemma) we sometimes use words that have meanings beyond what we’re using them to mean. Could be you’re using something that’s saying to people, “I’d love to work with you” when you’re intending to say “you’re a great person / that’s a great idea / I bet you’ll find good partners (who are not me) to make it happen.” Could be a phrase, could be a gesture-wink-timing-tone thing.

    You may intend only to express the separate thoughts that you’re REALLY eager to find a job, that their venture sounds exciting, that they’re great to be around, and that people in your field would find such a venture exciting (etc). But each taken in the context of the others can add up to a hint that you want in. Or it could be a phrase or movie reference that has a gained or lost a meaning, or picked up / dropped implications. Would be helpful to ID it, if so.

    If your family and friends are just pushy and given to presumptions, the question will also gently serve to put them that they need to hear words of interest and intent from you (and that you’ve said no such thing).

    As for OP#1; the Simpsons writers coined “eat my shorts” because “bite me” was too crass for television. I’ve used it in the flow of laughing conversation. It landed like a lead balloon. The only response is, “Oh gee, that came out wrong. So sorry.”

  29. Aisha*

    #3: Thanks for the reply! Yes, I pretty much thought the same thing to all your responses. Generally, speaking I do think that it varies when employers post jobs but I will say that I think I’ve had the best luck of callbacks when I’ve applied during the work week between 9 AM – 11AM the employer’s time (if you know what timezone). Someone commented that they’ve applied Friday and gotten a callback or email on Saturday. I have had the experience happen (even on a Sunday). I usually wait until Monday morning to respond because I don’t want my email getting buried. And yeah, I have learned to weed out any managers that are paying that close attention to the timestamp when they receive resumes. I was just curious if a lot of managers felt that way. Thanks again!

  30. parsley*

    It really does depend on the situation you get the ticket in and how kind your boss is feeling. In my first office job, one of our BD guys came back with a parking ticket from a place where he hadn’t realised the rear end of his car was basically perched on top of the kerb part of a crossing. That was dumb rather than deliberate carelessness so the office manager took pity on him.

    Conversely, I also once had an IT guy at the same company ask me if he could expense a speeding ticket he got driving down to a hotel the night before a client meeting. He drove a BMW over the speed limit literally everywhere, so the only surprising thing is that it’s the only speeding ticket I heard him talk about the whole nearly two years I was there. His excuse was that everyone was speeding on that toll road, so for some reason that meant it was okay for him to speed too? I’m not proud to say I laughed at him, but considering he was also kind of racist and sexist I struggle to feel too bad about it.

  31. Silence Will Fall*

    #3 – I know if someone applied for a position directly to my boss at 2 a.m., she would be annoyed. She’s basically on-call 24/7, so the ping of the email would wake her up. I doubt that it would annoy her enough to disqualify a strong candidate, but do think it may negatively color her impression of someone less strong.

    That said, I totally understand the struggle of trying to squeeze applications in around a current job, family obligations, etc. Any time I was applying directly to an email address, rather than an application system, I used Boomerang for Gmail to delay the email until business hours.

    1. TootsNYC*

      someone who’s on-call like that should set up a “receiving applications” system that DOESN’T involve emailing her directly. That’s on her.

      But hey–that’s a nice tip about Boomerang for Gmail!

  32. SemiRetired*

    I had a group of friends back in college days who often said “bite me” or “eat me” or “suck it” in a joking tone. We had a masculine jockish vibe going on although we were not jocks or even mostly male. We called each other by last names (in this context) and sometimes engaged in rough and tumble play. It was all in good fun but was not in the least appropriate for a professional setting. I could see getting into a vibe like that with coworkers in a good team, but also that it would not extend into communications with management or clients. It would depend so much on the workplace culture. In this case, boss says don’t do it, so don’t do it.
    (Back in the day, some of us who said that kind of thing to each other were actually flirting, in a way. Lots of hooking up going on in that friend group. So that colors my perception, but if you are inviting your coworker to bite you, and you mean it… that drifts into another gray area, also inappropriate for work.)

  33. The Doctor*


    I can’t imagine any employer saying, “We can’t consider you because you applied at 2:00AM on a Thursday. As long as you send it before the deadline and follow all specific instructions (e.g. document format, job code in subject line), you should be fine.

    1. seewhatimean*

      especially since there’s no reason to assume the applicant is applying from the same time zone as the recipient.

  34. TheFacelessOldWomanWhoSecretlyLivesinYour House*

    I understand why OP#1 is stunned. For me, it’s a mild MST3K joke, CrowTRobot style. I would be morified to b dressed down for it, especially as the colleague was joking as well. Just roll with it and realize the office is formal.

  35. Jennifer*

    #1 Alison is right, but I do feel badly for the OP. Someone joked with her and she joked back. It seems the joke was kind of an insult, delivered in a humorous way, which is why she responded as she did. It’s odd to joke around with people if you don’t want them to respond in kind. Also odd that she looked it up and assumed she was assigning the most extreme meaning to her.

    At least now she knows they have very different senses of humor and will proceed with caution. Hopefully the boss will too.

  36. This Daydreamer*

    Op2, maybe try something like “Oh, no, I like you too much to work with you! Haha! Oh, hey, did you ever try that restaurant Beth was talking about?”about

    And if you ever feel tempted to give in, snap a rubber band on your wrist and read clientsfromhell.net. That should take care of it for a while.

    1. This Daydreamer*

      Why is there an extra about up there? I swear someday I’ll write a comment here with no autocorrect swiftness.

      1. Ask a Manager* Post author

        As a general rule, I’d be grateful if we could just assume that typos happen when commenting and forego the additional comments to explain them! (This isn’t targeted at you, Daydreamer, but at everyone. Comment threads are lengthy enough as it is.)

  37. K*

    I think some of the debate over exactly what “bite me” implies or whether people think it’s vulger or not is missing the forest for the trees a bit. The main important takeaway for the OP is that now you have information that your workplace isn’t an environment where that kind of joking rudeness is appreciated. Try to keep that in mind going forward (though it doesn’t sounds like the incident in the letter was a regular thing), and I’m sure this won’t matter at all in the long run.

    1. This Daydreamer*


      Just think of it as a rule that no one thought to mention to you before. When you broke the rule, your boss realized that no one had told you so she fixed that and now expects you to follow that rule.

      It took me forever to learn that most of the time a boss corrects you, they’re not mad at you. They just want you to change something. Change that something and the boss is happy.

    2. TootsNYC*

      also take it as a reminder that language can have very different connotations and shading for different people.

      Now you’ve learned something about this phrase, too.

    3. Kris*

      I agree! You now know that right or wrong, reasonable or unreasonable, your boss views the phrase as vulgar. This is great information to know, because it’s really easy not to use that type of phrase around your boss. Far better for your boss to alert you to this, rather than having your boss sit in silent disapproval and then getting a bad surprise at a performance review.

  38. lindsay*

    LW1’s boss is totally correct and you def can’t use that language at work but something about the boss googling “What does bite me mean” has me really giggling.

  39. Database Developer Dude*

    As much as I’m very forthright at work, even if upset, I would NEVER say ‘bite me’ unless the situation deteriorated and I was being verbally abused. I’m not sure the OP has a cause of action here…he should just watch his mouth from now on.

  40. Not A Manager*

    LW2 – I wouldn’t lean too heavily into “giving your reasons why.” Some people hear them as concerns that can be address (or dismissed), rather than as explanations for a firm decision. If you go all the way back to Miss Manners, it’s perfectly okay to decline politely without giving any reason at all. “Thank you so much for thinking of me, but I can’t commit to that.” “I’m so glad to be asked, but that isn’t going to work on my side.” Etc.

    If you do want to give a reason, or feel that you should, then give it once but don’t get into a big debate. The more high-level and general, the less likely an individual is to take it personally or as an invitation to negotiate. “I never work with friends or family” is better than “I’m really concerned about how we’d reach a consensus, Aunt Gertrude.” But whatever you say, only say it once. “We’d work it out like adults” or whatever counter-argument should be met with, “I’m so sorry, I just can’t commit to this project.”

  41. Parking Ticketeer*

    Hi, letter writer here on the parking ticket. Thought two hours would be plenty for the dinner, then a colleague was late so we didn’t get started right away. The ticket was issued three minutes before I got back to the car. :(

    1. RandomusernamebecauseIwasboredwiththelastone*

      Parking tickets suck…. It never hurts to ask for reimbursement (or to check with your T&E policy to see if it is already addressed) but don’t be surprised if your company says no. Like others have said, it’s pretty normal for companies to not pay fines.

      1. fposte*

        Yes, I’d agree with this. I could see it going either way, but you certainly made a reasonable estimate.

    2. Snark*

      If it was your late colleague’s fault, I think you’re actually in good standing to ask for reimbursement.

      1. RandomusernamebecauseIwasboredwiththelastone*

        Eh… I think that’s kind of flimsy. The OP could have excused themselves for a quick run to the meter to top it up once it was starting to get close or even in the beginning after it was clear that the colleague was late.

        But like I said, unless it’s already stated in a policy, see what they say.

  42. GreenGirl*

    Every two weeks we have a large team meeting that incorporates everyone who does a certain job in our department, across teams (for example, if we were a llama training company, everyone in the meeting is a llama dance trainer). Some meet in person and some dial in. This is a “safe space” in that folks can share struggles about anything related to their job that other people in the company with different roles don’t understand. But still, my manager is on the call and does a good job of letting people vent to a point (problem solving!) and maintaining order so it doesn’t turn into a bash session. Each person has a chance to speak to explain what they are currently working on. During her turn, one particularly stressed out woman started with “I am ready to kill myself.” She was joking, but you could just feel the atmosphere change. It was horrible. I know she was spoken to, but I don’t know the outcome. She is still on the team. I think it really is about knowing your audience and knowing what is appropriate.

    I don’t think your comment was as egregious as that OP, so I hope you are able to move on without feeling bad about it. Be gentle with yourself. We all make mistakes.

  43. Amber Rose*

    Language is interesting, isn’t it. I work in a place where F-word laced rants are normal and so are vulgar threats against random annoyances, but I probably still wouldn’t use or hear “bite me.”

    I think because there’s a difference between being aggressive at the void, and being aggressive at a specific person. I can say “eff that” at something, but not “eff you” to someone. And that makes sense. Even though I’m pretty comfortable with profanity and vulgar things, that kind of thing is pretty universally negative in tone. As we’ve seen from tons of letters, just being around negativity is pretty draining. Having it aimed straight at you in the rudest way day after day would be hard for even the most trucker-mouthed of us.

  44. Argh!*

    #1 – if boss had to look up what “bite me” means, that’s a bad sign. Unless the boss is from a non-English-speaking country, this boss is really out of touch & formal. I’d love to know if the coworker was also reprimanded. “Bite me” is the kind of response I’d make to an unkind comment.

    1. RandomusernamebecauseIwasboredwiththelastone*

      Or maybe the boss wanted to be sure of the facts before coaching an employee. It’s called due diligence and most good managers would do similar.

      Why does it matter if the other coworker was reprimanded. All the OP said was that they had used ‘Bite Me’ in response to a joke. No indication of the joke’s content or if it was appropriate or not appropriate for the setting. Just because you would use the phrase in a particular situation doesn’t make it a universal truth.

      Personally while I don’t think the OP meant harm nor is guilty of anything more than using an off color but fairly innocuous phrase at the wrong time. They need to own it, learn from it, and move on.

  45. Pizza Manager*

    On question 4, I am so glad you asked OP. In my company we expense parking tickets all the time, no questions asked, but I really try to suggest to our manager that it shouldn’t be our policy. One of my coworkers gets one every time he travels because he refuses to feed the meter (with a company credit card, no less) and finds it easier for us to pay the ticket. It drives me nuts and it’s so costly given how much we travel.

  46. EBStarr*

    It cracks me up to picture the boss looking up “bite me” on urban dictionary. If I had been in a meeting where someone said “bite me” I definitely would think the joke *was* the fact that it’s so PG — Disney Channel, as Traffic_Spiral said above. That said, if I was the one who said it I’d definitely apologize. There’s every chance the coworker will say they weren’t offended at all, and then everyone will feel better.

    I’m in tech and I’m sure that joke would be fine in almost every team I’ve been on, but that doesn’t guarantee no one would’ve secretly been offended. What seems funny in a psychologically safe team (I don’t mean a “safe space” but a team where everyone feels welcome and included) can feel very un-funny to someone who doesn’t experience it as a psychologically safe space, especially if they happen to be from an underrepresented group. And you don’t always know who’s feeling un-safe on the team. (On the other hand, this kind of joke would probably make me personally feel *more* safe since you’re friendly enough to kid around with me? But everyone’s different.)

    This all reminds me of once when I yelled “up yours!” at my mom during a fight. (I had picked it up on the mean streets of my suburban school playground.) And she was SO MAD – she asked, very drily, “Do you even know what that means?” I had no idea what body part it referred to, and when she did explain it I was just confused by the entire concept (I was seven). Ahhh, innocence. I always laugh when I think of that now.

  47. 8DaysAWeek*

    #3 I work at a large company and have been involved in the hiring process for our department 3 times now. Our jobs are required to be posted for 2 weeks. My boss actually takes note if someone applies on the last day or on the last day really late at night. My boss feels like that is poor planning. However, what if you didn’t see the job posting until the last minute? We did review all qualified resumes no matter what time they came in, but if their resume wasn’t stellar, the timing that they applied was certainly counted against them.
    Moral of the story: You never know what makes a hiring manager tick. Apply as soon as you are able.

    1. Anja*

      I work for a large organization as well and have been a part of hiring four or five times. We can post jobs for a week or two (or any other length, probably, but those are the most standard) and I have no idea when in that time people apply. Our system doesn’t have me seeing resumes as they come in. I get all the resumes screened forward by HR at once sometime within 48 hours after my posting closes and then review them all in one go. The system might say date/time somewhere, but it’s not something I’ve looked for or noticed.

      Agreed with your moral: you don’t know what makes a hiring manager tick, or if they’ll even see the thing that you think might cause arrhythmic ticking.

  48. Rebekah*

    Definitely shocked to hear “bite me” is considered a vulgar phrase by so many! I had no idea of the original connotation, I’m young enough that the vampire craze was in full swing when I was in middle and high school, so it was thrown around a lot by my friends and I as kind of a “deal with it” equivalent. I’m thankful I’ve never said this one at work! But it does remind me of a coworker acting shocked when I said “oh no, that sucks” to commiserate over bad news, like I knew abstractly that it used to relate to a sex act, but it is not used that way by people my age (in contrast to something like “suck it”)

  49. Hiring Mgr*

    To me, “Bite me” seems fairly mild and something you would say jokingly, but if you’re not that familiar with the phrase I can see how it might seem vulgar. Either way, doesn’t sound like it became too big of an issue with the OP.

  50. TootsNYC*

    #2, pressured to work with family and friends

    Say “I don’t want to.” Or “it’s not something I’m interested in.”

    They can’t argue with that one!

    If the work is actually in your field, then say, “I don’t want to work with friends or family.” and when they ask why, say, “I just don’t.”

    Giving a reasonable reasons often just sends the message “I have to give you a reason, and you get to decide if it’s good enough.”

    On Friends, I have been told, Phoebe said, “I wish I could, but I don’t want to.”

  51. dumblewald*

    Q1: Am I the only one who didnt know they “bite me” was considered vulgar? Casual, yes, but if it was said in a joking manner, it would not occur to me to equate it to swearing!

    1. dumblewald*

      Also, it seems like the manager had to look up the phrase to know what it means. I think they’re overreacting

  52. Tara S.*

    OP2, as a complement to Alison’s advice, Captain Awkward had a letter just the other day about similar situations where she outlines how to establish boundaries while maintaining relationships.

  53. MissDisplaced*

    I’m not sure exactly why OP#1 feels a bit singled out? Either because they thought was was in response to another’s joking, or maybe things like that just fly around in with the workgroup and no one says anything and it’s typically accepted. Or maybe they feel both parties should’ve been called out then and there?

    Regardless, the manager did handle this appropriately and in private (a good example of managing people) and it does not seem to be in any kind of overly-reactive or overblown way. I think OP should just take this at face value and watch their language in the future and move on. I doubt the manager will harbor any grudge or ill-will over a one time thing.

  54. theletter*

    I would also vote for ‘bite me’ being very mild. To me, words matter. ‘f&^K off’ means exactly that, ‘bite me’ is more like “oh yeah?! Bring it on!”

    My boyfriend, the descendant of kindly Minnesota farmers, likes to joke that people should “go fly a kite with a hole in it,” which to me sounds like a very congenial and hilarious way of saying “I hear what you are saying but you can stop this line of conversation before it gets really upsetting.”

  55. FaintlyMacabre*

    OP2, I just gave notice at work, and my coworker/relative is not taking it well. I love relative very much, but working together has been a huge strain on the relationship. I only took the job because I was desperate, and I have rued the day I took the job ever since. Do not mistrust your instinct! If you worry it will turn out badly, you’re probably right.

  56. agmat*

    #1: I’ve never thought of “bite me” to be equivalent to “f off” or even “bite my ass”, so it doesn’t read as vulgar to me. But it feels more equivalent to something like “shut up” – it’s abrupt and rude in the workplace.

  57. thathat*

    1. I did something very similar. Only it wasn’t during a meeting, it was during lunch, which I used to take with the rest of my department and a few others, and we were gabbing about personal things. And yup, everyone laughed, and I didn’t think anything of it, because we were all being very casual.

    Instead of actually *saying* something, by then-supervisor started to freeze me out. I stopped getting invited to go to lunch or on breaks. I stopped being part-of-the-group when we sat at a table for meetings or birthday cakes. She just gradually got increasingly hostile until at some point, she said something sugar-snide when I was talking to another co-worker, and it clicked that THAT was what she was mad about.

    I apologized, but by then it had been literal months.

    …honestly, I’ve never recovered. She became an outright bully, to the point that our department head eventually removed her as my supervisor. Interactions are usually pretty fraught. (Also later our department head moved on, and now we have a new department head who’s…fine? But I’m still left out of any department activities beyond the very occasional meetings. The department–head included–go to lunch or on break together frequently, and I am very much Not Welcome.)

    Awkward as it is, it’s good your boss call you up on this *now* which gives you the chance to apologize in a timely fashion.

    Lesson I learned is you can be friendly with your coworkers, but while you’re actually at work, you are Not Friends, and you really shouldn’t get too comfortable.

  58. Matilda Jefferies*

    #3, mandatory disclaimer when you’re applying for government jobs: these positions will have a strict deadline, and you MUST apply before that deadline, no exceptions. If the deadline is today at noon, and you hit Submit on your application at 12:05 pm, you *might* be considered, but don’t count on it. And you will almost certainly not be considered if the deadline was noon and you hit Submit at 4:00 pm. (IME, government hiring is strict to the point of being unreasonable a lot of the time, but that’s a rant for another day!)

    But the good news in that scenario is that nobody is looking at the time stamps other than that – many job postings will contain language to the effect that all applications received before the deadline will be reviewed. So if the deadline is today at noon, nobody will know or care if you applied today at 11:30 am, or yesterday, or last Friday at 2:00 am. The first screening point is “did you meet the deadline y/n,” but other than that the exact timing doesn’t matter.

  59. tinyhipsterboy*

    #4: I hope your company will let you expense tickets (as long as it wasn’t because you didn’t go over a time limit yourself)! When I worked my food service job, they converted our parking lot into a paid one since it was publicly accessible, and at one point, they forgot to give me the updated parking pass for a few days. I ended up with them ticketing me, and the judge wouldn’t accept that my job didn’t give it to me in time… and my job wouldn’t pay for it despite it being their fault. :/ I’ll cross my fingers for you!

  60. cheluzal*

    1: I couldn’t work in a place where a joking “bite me” me with laughter was considered crass and vulgar.
    This–and much worse–is heard at my job–in a middle school….in a conservative town…in the south, lol.
    I’m talking the adults away from kids…

  61. The Very Worst Wolf*

    Q4 – I knew an sales person who once tried to charge a client for a parking ticket. Our boss was not amused. On the other hand, if she had gone to Boss and said “I got this ticket because I needed to get these teapots delivered on time to our very best client, the Mad Hatter,” I suspect the conversation would have been quite different.

Comments are closed.