open thread – February 22-23, 2019

It’s the Friday open thread! The comment section on this post is open for discussion with other readers on anything work-related that you want to talk about. If you want an answer from me, emailing me is still your best bet*, but this is a chance to talk to other readers.

* If you submitted a question to me recently, please don’t repost it here, as it may be in the to-be-answered queue.

{ 2,008 comments… read them below }

  1. More Anonymous Than Usual*

    This is not a major problem by any means, but I’m just curious how others would handle this.

    For years, I’d been working with a co-worker I’m not a big fan of. Sometimes this co-worker did good work but other times did some very questionable-quality (but not illegal or immoral) stuff. The manager seemed happy with co-worker. And it’s not like the co-worker created a toxic environment. I just wasn’t a fan of co-worker. Then co-worker got a different job and left. The other job is much better for co-worker (higher pay, for one), and I’m happier now that co-worker is gone.

    But then people keep asking me “Isn’t it lonely without co-worker?” or “Do you miss having co-worker around?” and I’m not really sure how to respond without sounding horrible. I obviously don’t miss having co-worker around, but I don’t wish co-worker any ill will.

    How would you respond?

      1. TooTiredToThink*

        “It’s a change, but I’m really happy for them!” and maybe something like “And I’m excited about my growth opportunity by showcasing my skills.” (or something along those lines).

    1. Not Me*

      You could respond that you’re happy for them and leave it at that. Something along the lines of “I’m so happy for Co-Worker! Sounded like the new position was a great opportunity!” and then immediately redirect the conversation.

    2. Shark Whisperer*

      I think it’s totally fine to say something non-committal like “It’s certainly an adjustment, but their new job sounds great for them” and then change the subject

    3. Tangerina Warbleworth*

      Smile, acknowledge vaguely (“yes, it’s certainly different”), change the subject (“how is your spouse?”). The questions will die out quickly.

    4. Deryn*

      I had a similar situation come up, but it was when my office moved from one building to another, which was generally much nicer but had some particular quirks that I found really disheartening (these were really specific to my role and preferences, not necessarily “bad things”). I get a lot of comments about, “Wow, so fancy! Do you just LOVE working out of [new building]? So much better than [old building], right?” After the first time or two, I figured out my go-to phrasing and have just kept that in my back pocket. Since I can’t really bring myself to agree, I’ve been responding with “It’s such a beautiful office, and we’re right on the same floor as our collaborators which is really convenient,” all said in a complimentary tone but without actually agreeing. It’s become such a stock phrase with me that my direct coworker (who knows I hate it there and has heard me say the same thing dozens and dozens of times) has jokingly said I remind her of Sansa rotely speaking of Joffrey in GoT.

    5. Kathleen_A*

      I’ve had exactly the same situation come up, except that (1) the coworker’s work was ranged from so-so to substandard, IMO, and (2) I quite disliked her. I didn’t hate her or anything, but her negative qualities far outweighed her positive ones. She was really great at putting on an act for a few people, though, and none of them had any idea how disliked she was generally. Which is why when she left, most of the other members of the staff were not at all unhappy. “Good riddance” would summarize our attitude pretty well, actually.

      But it made it quite awkward when those people she’d successfully bamboozled came up and commiserated with us on our loss. “Have you heard from her?” they’d say, looking concerned for our well-being. “She’s going to be so hard to replace!” they’d say. “Not really,” we’d all think.

      But anyway, what we all said was some variation on the “The new job sounds like a great opportunity for her” theme.

    6. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      I like “It’s been a change for sure but I’m happy she’s advanced in her career!”

      I’m thrilled an old co-worker is gone and when she’s mentioned I just smile and remind them she’s where she wants to be.

    7. Indie*

      Are they fishing for how you felt about her? Some people love to sling mud at departing backs. However it’s most likely an inane conversation starter. I’d go with subject changes:
      “It’s certainly quieter! I wanted to tell someone about (whatever’s new with you)”
      “Well it’s always nice to see you! Tell me your news about x”
      “I’m Fine! You?”
      “Oh my God, I am so much more productive being ‘lonely’! I am getting so much done! (This one is a broad hint for people you need to go away).

      I would basically treat it as though they are simply saying ‘are you ok?’

    8. Zennish*

      Don’t do like I probably would and say something like “Yep, they were definitely a coworker…they certainly aren’t here now.” People see right through that, somehow.

    9. Soveryanon*

      I’m going through something similar right now. My coworker, who has been here for over 40 years (!!!) is retiring next week. For some reason, people think she’s great. I don’t – I find her very judgey, very antiquated in her thinking, and quick to throw others under the bus. I feel as though she scrutinizes everything I do, hoping that I’ll slip up or otherwise do something she can go running to our manager about. In short, I just don’t like her, but I’m always polite even when she isn’t. When people say to me “We sure will miss [co-worker],” I just nod politely and say something non-committal like “I know she’s really looking forward to retirement!”

    10. V*

      One thing I said to this a lot when pressed by people looking for an emotional reaction was that – you know – it’s expected in a work environment that people leave. It can be sad but I had considered that it would happen at some point. I think it’s interesting when people are taken completely by surprise by such things.

    11. Anonforthis*

      I’m going through something similar lately – one of my managers left recently, and she was a horrible manager. Literally none of my coworkers or myself liked her. After she left, grandboss scheduled one-on-one meetings with us to see how we were doing and if we wanted to talk through our “grief” of losing her. I didn’t know what to say except, “I’m doing fine!”

      I recommend just turning the conversation back on the people bringing up your coworker. So when people say, “Isnt is lonely without so and so?”, just say “Do you miss her? How did you know her?” to deflect from you.

    12. Lucille2*

      I had a coworker who retired recently, and as much as I liked him as a person, I really felt like his role needed a new set of eyes. His practices were kind of outdated, and he was not open to new ideas. Things kind of had to be done a certain way. In his particular role, doing things the same way they’ve always been done could actually be detrimental to the business in the long run.

      The person who replaced him was a welcome change. When Retired Coworker left everyone acted like it was the end of high school…so sad! I know I wasn’t alone in my feelings, but I simply told people it was the end of an era, but a happy one – especially for Retired Coworker. It will blow over soon enough.

    13. MissDisplaced*

      Definitely non-committal
      “It’s certainly different, but I wish co-worker the best of luck.”

    14. KatieHR*

      You have basically described my co-worker! My co-worker and I share a roll. She does the roll Sat, Sun, Monday and I cover Tues, Wed, Thurs. What ends up happening is that I do most of the work and it drives me nuts. My manager is aware and yet nothing changes. Rumor is that she is applying for another job within the company and I seriously hope she gets it. I will be much happier with her gone.

  2. Struggling to accept peer direction?*

    My new job is much more collaborative than my past job, and I find that I’m itchy as my coworkers assign me tasks or check up on me. I used to have a lot more autonomy to finish tasks as I saw fit, on my own schedule. But now I do basically everything with three peers tagging along, and we tackle virtually every task as a unit, so they want to know the plan when they’re ready to think about it. I seem to be interpreting this as breathing down my neck, which I recognize is my issue. We use a shared task management system and I feel resentful when I see that people on my level, or even below me, have assigned me tasks like “review X report” with a deadline and a box for me to check indicating that I have done this “on time.” Is this a work style thing? Will I adjust to this new style? I really miss being able to choose to wing it sometimes, especially unimportant things. I also dislike the checkbox system … it makes me feel like a cog in a wheel. Am I maybe a jerk?

    1. anonymoushiker*

      I don’t know that you’re a jerk, but if you’re used to being autonomous and having a more hierarchical structure, it sounds like the culture is a huge shift and it’s ok to have these feelings as you adjust. You might figure out as time goes if it’s a good long term fit for you? And it gives you more information about what company cultures to look for with future roles.

    2. Psyche*

      Think of it more as them letting you know when they need it by rather than assigning you a deadline. Are the timelines unreasonable? If you prefer to have more time, why not tell them “For this type of task I prefer to have at least X days notice so that I can prioritize my work appropriately unless there is a pressing need to have it sooner.”

      1. Yikes Dude*

        It sounds like a quirk of the project management software not anything personal or remotely having to do with “assigning work” in the sense that a supervisor would. It’s more like “The SCRUM/GANN/Whatever chart has this piece of the project scheduled to be completed on X date.” When you click the box, you are not alerting your supervisor that you have “done work” so much as escalating the task to the next phase. The language of these tools can be a little “one-size fits none” and I don’t think OP should read into it at all.

        1. OP*

          Yeah I think you two are on the right page for the mental place I need to get to :) Part of it is that you *have* to assign a “deadline” for the task, which to me just feels like a “gotcha!” – like, people at my same level are setting my deadlines now?? They can reassign their tasks to me, due today, and make me look bad for missing the deadline?? But I think I’m missing the point and I need to not take these deadlines/assignments literally. They’re just intended to help us process stuff I think.

          1. Putting the "pro" in "procrastinate"*

            This is probably the right way to think about it. And if the suggested deadline doesn’t fit your immediate plan, you should reach out to the person and ask if they really need the thing by that day. All you have to do is say, “Hey, Jane, the system says you want X done by Wednesday, but I’m actually tied up with Y all day Monday and Tuesday. Is it okay if I get that to you by Friday instead?”

            I don’t think you need to interpret it as someone else bossing you around by setting deadlines – rather see it as opening a conversation for the purpose of setting expectations. Remember that the other people involved are also trying to plan their lives, so being clear on when they can expect you to hand the project back to them helps everybody.

          2. AnnaBananna*

            Actually, as someone who used to thrive on her autonomy, I now totally cherish my highly collaborative team. I can legitmately look back and see how their input stepped up my work quality in a major way, so don’t discount it just because the way it’s communicated is a little more strict than you’d prefer. Instead reframe it as someone assisting you. Think of how an assistant would schedule your meetings for you. Do you think that the assistant is REALLY assigning work to her boss? Of course not, and this is the same thing. Count yourself lucky that you don’t have to manage the team’s project management because it’s a PITA, I promise you.

            But DO speak up if their timelines aren’t reasonable! And if you have more concern than the scheduling of your part in the process, ask your boss her opinion. I bet you she’ll say something along the lines of ‘we’ve tried it so many different ways and this ended up being the most cohesive’.

    3. Rainy days*

      You’re not a jerk for having these feelings—you would be a jerk if you were obnoxious to coworkers because of these feelings.

      Try listing out the benefits of this system, for you or for the company—“Bob caught a mistake in the report before I sent them”—and see if it can help you slowly change your attitude. If you can’t, at least you’ve learned something about the kind of work environment you want.

    4. Autumnheart*

      I think you’re used to an environment where this behavior seemed like micromanaging, whereas in this environment, it sounds like it’s making sure everyone is on the same page. I work in a very process-driven environment myself, and we have a workflow tool that allows people to see where a given project is and who’s got it in their metaphorical inbox at the moment. And we log our time and have specific deadlines, but it’s not to crack the whip over our heads, it’s to make sure that the business team isn’t overwhelming us with projects, and also gathering metrics so we can see which teams need more headcount, or some workload shifted around.

      You may adjust, or you might find that this type of workflow isn’t your jam. I would suspect that the feelings will taper off once you become more comfortable with the context.

      You don’t say how new you are, but if you give it several months, you’ll probably become comfortable enough to take point on certain tasks. On my team, individuals tend to become SMEs on certain processes or types of projects, just because they do them more frequently than others, and that knowledge is a valuable resource for us to tap. Sure, you could look at it as being a cog in a machine, but you could also look at it as being the go-to person for XYZ on your larger team.

      1. OP*

        Yeah I’m not new at the job but we added new staff and implemented this system quite recently. I think I’m just adjusting. I may be able to work through the discomfort and come out the other side successfully.

    5. sunshyne84*

      You just have to start thinking as a team. You all have a common goal and have different tasks to complete to accomplish those goals. I can see how it would be annoying especially if you know yourself to be reliable and have good work ethic, but this also keeps everyone accountable, not just you.

    6. ChachkisGalore*

      No advice, just commiseration. My last job was like this. What they considered collaboration felt more to me like co-dependency. I always thought of collaboration as working well with others when your individual work overlaps or intersects or if you are assigned a project as a group (though then there would be some sort of team lead or someone directing the project). They did the “tackle virtually every task as a unit” and it was so strange to me. Having multiple people doing the same work (it wasnt that there was so much A that they needed two people to handle it all, it was that two people did all A and all B together, rather than one focusing on A and the other focusing on B) seemed very inefficient to me.

      At the time I chalked it up to them being very new to workforce (all had graduated from college within 6mos-1year prior and this was their first job out of school), whereas I have about 10yrs of work experience, but was only just now getting my career started in this field. In hindsight, I don’t think it was an experience thing. I think it was a culture/preference thing.

      Unfortunately I threw in the towel and moved somewhere that fit my style better. This probably sounds egotistical, but it felt like this setup and these colleagues were holding me back because I had to work at their pace and decide everything by committee. My job now has clearly defined responsibilities, but our areas of responsibility do overlap sometimes and we do a lot of cross training. Its the right mix of collaboration & autonomy that works for me.

      I don’t think you’re a jerk! But you might have to decide if you can let go of your frustration with this style or not, otherwise you’re setting yourself up for a pretty tough experience and that will probably start to show in your work (even if you do good work, if its out of sync with everyone else’s it’s not going to be as valued as you think it should be).

      1. matcha123*

        I am kind of in a similar situation. I don’t mind working with people, but I don’t like thinking out loud and that seems to be the default with this team. On top of that they didn’t explain their work style when I joined, so I spent literally two years trying to figure out why the coworker that’s been there longest dislikes me so much.

        It has been hugely frustrating to be getting negative feedback on trifling parts of my work because I don’t have a non-stop monologue of my thoughts throughout the day.

        1. AnnaBananna*

          Did you ever figure out why the coworker didn’t like you? Two years is a long time to wait. You’re way more patient than me!

          1. matcha123*

            I can only make guesses based on things she’s said in my presence and things that have been conveyed to me through my supervisor. Including: disliking a work program I participated in, assuming that I don’t like older people because I don’t talk to her, and seemingly assuming that I was part of a certain ethnic group (which I am not).
            The annoying part is that I’m being told that I’m the one in the wrong and that I must have some problem with her. I can only guess, again, that it’s related to her preferred work style being one where literally everything is shared with her and checked off by her and she took me not doing that as a personal attack?

      2. OP*

        Thank you for articulating. Today there were four of us on the same phone call, and it was something I would have totally just handled alone in my past job. That means 20 minutes before the phone call one coworker asked me if I had booked a room and the other person asked me to confirm the conference call number and then the second person checked with the first person that they had the right room. To me it is terribly inefficient but I don’t think the org sees it that way so I just need to get in line.

        1. AnnaBananna*

          You’re right, that is inefficent. Since they’re new though maybe it’s just growing pains?

          Also, start documenting all these little time sucks and then -gently- bring it up at the next staff meeting and ask for feedback from your team/boss on how your team can reduce time spent inefficiently. (I mean, for starters, your team can start paying better attention to their own calendar entries, I mean come on.)

    7. Not So NewReader*

      Do you use the system at all or do you just read their messages to you?

      My suggestion if you are not using the system is to start using the system. Any number of things could happen here.
      Maybe this will slow down in a few weeks and the pacing will feel breathable…
      Maybe there are one or two people over use the system and you will find that helpful to know.
      It could be that once you take tighter control over your work flows this will feel differently. I like to plan repeating tasks for certain days or times of day.

      I think I might be tempted to ask a couple people about the check box system. How long have they been using it? What problems were they trying to fix by implementing this system? How do people like it? And does it seem to be working?

      Just a point of curiosity, does anyone ever ask the boss to use the check box system???

      I know I don’t like feeling micromanaged. My work is done and my deadlines are met. But not in the same order that other people would do things. It could just be that the job is a bad fit for you. I am not sure I would thrive in this environment myself. This is why I suggest try to find out some background about the system, rather than letting your irritation fester. Perhaps background will put things in a better perspective.

      1. OP*

        Yeah I agree, I think part of the issue is that I’m just getting pinged all day by the system and I need to take ownership of the system and start assigning tasks instead of just receiving them. That might help my feelings.

    8. Hang in There*

      You are definitely not a jerk. I have a close friend who could commiserate with you on this. Her workplace has instituted a project management software for a very small team, and the way people are using it is feeling really unusual to her. Probably like you, she was used to a more autonomous, independent working style; where you communicated with colleagues with words or an email, and now everything is living in this impersonal project management software. The “getting assigned a task” thing is probably the biggest pet peeve I hear her gripe about. It feels really condescending, even though it’s not MEANT that way.

      I don’t know a solution, but I think she’s been adapting to it a bit with time. At least getting used to the self-reminder that some of this is a bad feature of the stupid system. And as a friend, I allow her to vent about Stupid BrandNameProjectManagemnetSoftware!

      1. OP*

        Yeah I think I will just adjust to it. As others have said, it’s hardly a real assignment, in my past life it would have come by way of a heads-up email and now instead its coming through this software. Guess I just need to switch over mentally.

    9. Sleepless*

      I think you will adjust, but your feelings are understandable! My current job has a much more collaborative style than my old one did. It took forever to adjust. My current coworkers are constantly asking “why did you do it this way?” or “what do you think I should do?” At my old job the first would have meant “you idiot” and the second would I meant “I’m an idiot.” At this job they both sincerely mean “we’re all pretty smart, help me think this through.”

    10. V*

      Depending on how long you’ve been there, if it’s still really new like within 3-6 months, you might not have built up a system of trust with people yet? So they are really task/deadline oriented at the moment.

      Otherwise maybe you can break out the important & urgent, important but not urgent, urgent but not important and not urgent/not important matrix to help them with assigning deadlines with more common sense attached? Seems like you have a really good natural rhythm with when to address high priority vs. low priority projects.

    11. Tysons in NE*

      Going through something similar at the moment.
      The team I am in is changing. Goings and comings and the department overall seeing what they really need with the company growth. So the position that I was brought in for changed almost immediately. Then a new manager was brought in so I went from just doing project work, to project work and payroll and some benefits, then still need to finish up the project and yeah sure the payroll too, BUT no guidance on what else comes under my umbrella until the new manager realizes something happened and then questions it.
      Even to the point that when I let her know what I have seen on how things were done, the manager telling me that while she appreciates me telling her she will probably just change everything anyway. Yes, she is the manager and wants to do things more her way (for some things putting in a better process/structure is well needed here and unlike me, she will have the authority to do so)
      Now, I understand the extra scrutiny while she is getting to know her new people, but seriously, I can answer a basic email question without her micromanaging.

  3. Grim Anon*

    Warning for mentions of death and violence

    I was recently reading through the thread about employees discovering dead coworkers while investigating why they hadn’t shown up for work. It got me wondering if anyone has had a coworker die on company time.

    At my last job, I worked in a specific branch of local government (water access). In a completely different branch in a different office several miles away (public housing), two hourly labor workers got into an argument, one pulled a gun from his locker, and killed the other. An email was sent out to all branches and offices to reassure that it wasn’t an active shooter, just an isolated incident. It caused quite a stir around my office.

    Morbid as the subject might be, I was curious if anyone else have any similar stories to share?

      1. V*

        I heard you haven’t really been initiated at Starbucks until you find your first dead homeless person in the bathroom. But then again I live in a major city.

    1. Phx Acct, now with dragons*

      Yup. I used to work for a home builder. One of our sales people was murdered in a model. They never caught the murderer. From then on, company policy was there were ALWAYS at least three sales people at each development. They also installed camera systems inside all the models.

      1. New Job So Much Better*

        I remember that story. And as someone who used to work alone in a remote model home, your new rule is great.

      2. The Man, Becky Lynch*

        Omfg I watched an “I Survived” about a woman real estate agent who was attacked at a showing. It’s so frigging scary. I’m glad your company took steps to make it safer for sales reps.

        1. Liane*

          A real estate agent in our city was killed several years ago in a kidnapping-gone-bad when she went to show a rural house. A (now-estranged) couple were convicted of murder and other charges. A little over a year ago, the family filed suit against the realty company for not doing background checks on clients and not encouraging agents to go in groups to rural/isolated properties. I haven’t read any more on the lawsuit, but the other night at choir a fellow-singer, also a real estate agent, says they are no longer allowed to show solo. I am not sure if it’s a new state regulation or her company policy.

          1. The Man, Becky Lynch*

            I remember when my parents were buying rural property when I was a kid. It’s waaaaaay too much trust for strangers and solo trips, how terrifying. They met the agents at their office and did lots of checks before casually showing places.

    2. AnotherAlison*

      Not my story, but a former coworker’s wife returned to the office after lunch with other office mates to find the one person who stayed to work through lunch had choked on a chip and died.

      (I used to tell this story in parallel with the one about my uncle choking on beef jerky and nearly dying in a car accident, but turns out THAT story was a cover up. He was actually on meth.)

      1. Chuck*

        That story is awful, but your second paragraph made me cackle. And then feel really about about thinking it’s funny. :B

    3. Ann O'Nemity*

      A few years ago a coworker had a bad heart attack during a meeting. We kept him alive with CPR until the ambulance came, but he was declared dead at the hospital. The company didn’t give anyone time off, which I think we should have done, but we did bring in a grief counselor.

      1. Fact & Fiction*

        Ugh. I was shaken enough when the cat I kept alive with CPR (don’t judge me cat haters) long enough to get to the vet then had to be put down. I can’t image going through that with a co-worker, and then for the company to not even give you time off…Ugh.

        1. AnnaBananna*

          Wait. Are there people out there that would begrudge a cat a life? Seriously?

          But thank you boo for doing what you could. <3

          1. Fact & Fiction*

            Sorry, I was more joking than seriously thinking people would judge me. Gallows humor I guess. :) I didn’t really stop to think about it; I loved my little guy and was gutted from having lost another cat not long before that so willing to do whatever I could. Honestly, I was pretty proud of myself it actually worked to keep him alive till we got to the vet. But it turned out he had diabetes that we didn’t know about. A lot of cats are apparently notorious for not showing symptoms of things like that until it’s too late. :( We had no clue until I found him cold and unresponsive in the bathtub.

    4. Ali G*

      Over the summer I was working part time at a small non-profit while I was in between jobs. A woman that worked there had a history of a heart condition. One morning she didn’t show up for work and her boss called the police, because she was never late. She had died in her sleep the night before. She’s worked there for like 10 years (all the staff were long-timers) and it was quite the shock to all. It was very sad.

    5. Michelle*

      My 22 year old son found an overdose victim in the parking lot of his job last year. He works AP and a customer said she had been to the store twice that day (hours apart) and the man was laying in the seat, in the same position both times. He went to check on him, couldn’t wake him and called 911. They ended up having to put sheets on the car because people were trying to take pictures of the deceased!

    6. Hold My Cosmo*

      My company’s workforce skews old in certain departments, so there have been several fatal strokes/heart attacks on site.

    7. Ruth (UK)*

      I work at a university and sadly there have been two student deaths by suicide so far this academic year. One by hanging in their room and the other by drowning. The latter was very recent and their body was recovered from the lake on campus earlier this week. The former I only heard about. The latter, I was indirectly present (ie. On campus and with the lake in view) when the police divers recovered the body

      1. Dust Bunny*

        When I was in college, a classmate committed suicide early one morning. I saw the commotion as I was leaving for class but the news hadn’t been released yet. He was supposed to be in that class with me but I think I and another girl who lived in his dorm knew what had happened–the professor commented that he was absent again (he had a troubled academic history in general) but we both sort of froze. It’s been over twenty years and this still haunts me a little bit.

        1. AnotherAlison*

          A dormmate of mine did, too. He lived on the floor below us, and my across the hall neighbor found him when she came back from Christmas break early for sports and things were still chaotic when the rest of us returned. I know what you mean about it being haunting. He was the first of 5 that I have known over the last 25 years–others were relatives and my son’s friends in high school. It’s one of those things that I irrationally worry about whenever my kids or a particular cousin’s son seem just a little bummed out because of so much history of the history around me.

      2. K*

        A student at my alma mater killed himself last fall by jumping out his dorm room window. He lived on the 13th floor. Really tragic to hear about it.
        I believe another student committed suicide last semester as well but I don’t remember the details.

      3. Anon4This*

        I’m in medical education and we had a med student commit suicide last year. It happened at his home but really shook the whole department and they are taking student mental health much more seriously now.

        1. Not Forgotten*

          We had a house physican kill himself on the himself on the midnight shift at the hospital where I worked.

          It was a small rural hospital, where everyone knew each other.

          30 years ago, and I remember it like yesterday.

    8. Aunt Piddy*

      We had two (adult male) coworkers kidnapped at gunpoint in BROAD DAYLIGHT while they were getting gas at lunch. There was a dramatic high-speed chase and shoot out with police. Both coworkers lived, but one was shot by the kidnapper during a standoff (he survived a gunshot to the head with NO ILL EFFECTS! He was up and walking the next day, it was a miracle). The kidnapper was killed by police.

      We worked in a government-related practice area that got many threats, so there was a period where law enforcement was crawling the office trying to figure out if it was related to our work, but it turned out to be a completely random crime.

    9. Old Airline Hag*

      I worked as a ground supervisor for an airline and one of our part timers was really hungry for overtime. He was on his 15th or so straight day offloading a plane when he collapsed with a heart attack. My ramp crew performed CPR and the paramedics shocked him several times before transporting him. He never regained consciousness and died two days later. I had a lot of guilt for offering him all the overtime he wanted, and still deal with it.

        1. Old Airline Hag*

          My head tells me that, but I remember calling him that afternoon and he said he had just laid down for a nap, but would be right in. Doctors told his family it was such a massive heart attack that he was apt to have had it in his easy chair or sleep, but I struggled for quite some time. He was trying to quit smoking at the time and had way too much nicotine gum in his system also–trying to stay awake, I guess. :’/

      1. Emmie*

        I understand why you wish you would’ve handled his requests differently, though I do not see how you could have known that the work, or his medical conditions, or several other factors could have impacted his health. I hope you can give yourself a healthy does of forgiveness for something that was not your fault.

    10. JanetM*

      My university has had several deaths on campus, including student suicides.

      The non-suicides that I know of (I only knew the faculty member, and him not very well) are
      * About 25 years ago, a faculty member collapsed in class and later died in the hospital.
      * About 20 years ago, an administrator had a heart attack in his office. He was found by his admin.
      * In 1995, there was a murder on campus — two people not affiliated with the university lured a third person onto campus and killed her. The killer was convicted and remains in prison pending appeals.
      * Maybe eight or nine years ago, an employee died in a parking garage when her car rolled forward and pinned her against the wall.
      * Just a couple of weeks ago, a custodial worker died (apparently natural causes; I haven’t heard anything otherwise) in her building; she was found when faculty and staff started arriving to work. I don’t know why no one checked on her when she failed to clock out after her shift.

      1. Electric Pangolin*

        A prof at my faculty killed his wife last summer and kept her body in a suitcase in his office for a few days until the police came to arrest him and found it. I didn’t know him and it’s the building next to mine, so I only read about it in the news (all the communication we got from the university was one extremely vague email saying that if we had heard something, counseling was available at the student affairs office, and another saying that the floor his office was on was going to be inaccessible for a few days), but it was quite notable because it hit the newspapers just as they were reporting on the trial of another prof (at a different university in my city) who had killed his wife and daughter the year before in a crime worthy of a murder mystery, by putting a yoga ball filled with carbon monoxide in the trunk of their car.

    11. Busy*

      Years ago, a guy bypassed the safety guards on a large injection molding machine to try to knock out stuck pieces. The mold slammed shut on his head.

      1. Elizabeth West*

        There was one about ten years ago near OldExjob. A guy was doing maintenance inside a big molding press when it suddenly activated and crushed him. They ended up removing the machine; I saw the truck with it loaded on the back a few days later. He was only in his early thirties. :(

    12. Autumnheart*

      Several years ago, one of the freelancers that we’d hired for a project killed both himself and his passenger in a car accident. Apparently they got into an argument and he floored the gas pedal, in a part of town where that is definitely ill-advised, and hit a concrete barrier. We were all pulled into an emergency conference call at the crack of dawn the following morning so our manager could inform us why we were suddenly minus a writer. It was pretty crazy.

    13. Seeking Second Childhood*

      Death yes, violence no.
      Last year the man who hired me to this job (and then moved on to head another department) had a heart attack at his desk at the start of the work day. He didn’t make it despite CPR & AED. We’d worked together off & on for nearly 20 years.
      The entire engineering department was called to the room used for division meetings so we’d hear the news at once. It was pretty traumatic, especially for the co-workers who’d found him and kept CPR going until the EMTs arrived. It also made me very aware of the work-till-it’s-done attitude he’d instilled in me, and I was suddenly not so upset the corporation had converted my entire job classification from exempt to non-exempt. We have to go home when we hit 40 hours because no-OT rules…and now I’m HAPPY to do that. I don’t want to die at my desk.

    14. Sheep herder*

      We had an employee in the break room with his head down on the table – everyone thought he was just resting, but he had had a heart attack and died.
      Another employee retired fairly early after being employed here for about 12 years. Two months later, he committed murder/suicide – most of his co-workers still think he was set up and didn’t do it.
      Not a death, be we had another employee flip out and bring a gun onto the premises. We locked down the building and called the police. Luckily, that ended peacefully.

    15. Decima Dewey*

      I wasn’t directly involved, but a guard working the overnight shift at the main library died on the job. They found her body when the person who was supposed to relieve her showed up. The main library scrambled to provide coworkers with grief counselors.

      When I worked for the investment firm, the president of the company came in to tell us that one of the analysts had had a fatal heart attack in his parking space the night before.

    16. Nonnynon*

      Yes. It’s horrible. A few years ago one of our directors had a heart attach while at lunch. Since we’re government as well we were infringed because our ems responded and found his ID. His boss had to go make the identification as the man didn’t have any family in town.

    17. Best cat in the world*

      I don’t think I ever met him but we had a coworker turn up to a scene and a few minutes later, his crew members were alerted to the fact he had also collapsed. They managed to get both him and the original patient to hospital but he (my colleague) was pronounced dead on arrival.

    18. TooTiredToThink*

      Not at my site, directly, but I still remember the day a person passed in the office of another site (small site too). I was helpdesk at the time and later that day the receptionist had put in a helpdesk ticket about something. I called her. Only one of our phones decided to be jerks. I had to call her something like 3 times. I was SO mad at technology that day because she did not need that added stress.

    19. Anonandanon*

      Hubby told me just yesterday a woman he knew at work (a psych hospital) hanged herself in her office. He’s thankfully out on leave due to a surgery and won’t be back there for a couple of months. He can’t wait to get out in three years, and I can’t wait for him to either…too much stress and poor management…!

    20. Hotel Manager*

      I’ve found 3 bodies, two were overdoses, and I actually found one last week, which was an elderly lady who had passed in her sleep. Work in hotels long enough and you’ll eventually find some. I have a colleague who discovered the aftermath of a murder/suicide, which was gruesome.

      1. SignalLost*

        Yep, when I worked at a hotel years ago, a guest had a massive heart attack as his group was boarding for their tour. He collapsed and was pronounced dead by EMS.

    21. Rachel 2: Electric Boogaloo*

      Not exactly on company time, but years ago, a much-beloved longtime employee of the village where I worked had a heart attack and died suddenly after coming home from work one day. It was a huge shock.

    22. LaDeeDa*

      Yes. It was my 6 month in my job, I was sent out of state with the Head of HR, and a few senior HRBPs to announce that that location was being closed, and to deliver the severance packages, offer jobs in other locations, etc etc etc. We had just had the big employees were walking back to their offices/desks and a gentleman had a heart attack and died right there.

      It was awful. I still think about that every time a re-organization or layoffs are happening.

    23. CupcakeCounter*

      We had someone pass very suddenly at my work about 2 years ago in the lunch room. I had left the office for an appointment and when I returned there were flashing lights and sirens going off. A couple months after that another coworker on the same floor had a seizure and it sent a couple friends of the coworker who passed into an absolute panic.

    24. Cat Mom*

      This didn’t happen at work, but I found out about it at work. I worked as a groomer for a large, national pet store chain. One of our coworkers, a girl who was 19, was killed in a car accident. Management told us at work as soon as the police called them. We had to work the rest of the day, sobbing into the dogs we were grooming. I wasn’t allowed to explain the situation to customers and they kept complaining that everyone was so gloomy. Management said they’d give us bereavement leave to go to her funeral. After the funeral they changed their mind and took one of our vacation days instead! I hated that job.

    25. JGray*

      I once had a coworker die when she was in a car wreck when she went home to check her mail. Found out later that there was a malfunction in her car as she was going down the interstate. She was going east bound and ended up in west bound lane. The cops found a pay stub and called the CEO of the company. The CEO then called the director of our division and let him know the news. The director then had to spread the news & it was horrible. The other thing that was a little odd is no one seemed to notice that she was gone for three hours. There was lots of autonomy in that organization so I think people just assumed she was somewhere else. Very sad & tragic.

    26. That Girl From Quinn's House*

      My dad’s boss died of a heart attack at his desk when I was a kid. I also worked somewhere where an employee had been shot across the street from the building, walking to the bus stop after his shift ended.

      One place I worked shared a lobby with a residential program for the disabled, and one of the residents passed away in his sleep. The only way for the coroner to get the body out was through the big, open front lobby, and they went through pretty serious lengths to block off the lobby and divert traffic to the back and side doors so no one would see them wheeling the stretcher with the body bag out.

      I spent many years working in fitness and training first aid/CPR, and while I can’t think of a death off the top of my head, it wasn’t uncommon for someone to have a health event in the facility meriting first aid and an ambulance ride. Slip and falls in the shower, seizures, heart attacks, stroke, diabetic emergencies, fainting from dehydration, overheating in the sauna are pretty common at gyms.

    27. DCGirl*

      When I was in fund raising, the husband of one of our top volunteers had a massive heart attack a a fund raising luncheon and did not survive. It was awful.

    28. Merci Dee*

      We came into work exactly two weeks ago, and were called into an office staff meeting just as soon as we walked in the door. They gave us the news that one of our production team members on 3rd shift had gone out to his car around 3 a.m. and committed suicide in the parking lot. From what I understand, nobody knew that he had been having any kind of problems at work or at home. The whole situation was just really sad, but I have to say that our HR and management team in general has done an excellent job of stepping up to the plate as a result of this tragedy. They immediately announced the general news of the loss to the team members on 1st shift and in the office so that there wasn’t a chance for any wild rumors to grow. They were in constant contact with his family, and made sure that announcements for the memorial service were passed along to all of the team members. They’ve put out more notices for our employee assistance program, and have made announcements about the program and available resources in the start-of-shift meetings. And, this week, they implemented a crisis intervention training program that all team members will be required to attend over the next several months. I’m glad that management is putting new training in place and is emphasizing the tools that team members have at their disposal to help if they find themselves facing difficult times in their lives. But I’m so very sorry that losing a coworker in such a fashion was the impetus for our increased awareness.

    29. Rose Tyler*

      Everything turned out ok but last year one of my reports didn’t show up for work on a day that she had a big project she was working on. She didn’t respond to my text around 9:30 asking if everything was ok and by 11 am I’d contacted HR. Their attitude was that sometimes people do a no show/no call and it was probably nothing, but I insisted it wasn’t like her to do that at all, much less when she had something time-sensitive to work on, and pushed them to call her emergency contact. Her husband also couldn’t get ahold of her so he went home and found her on their kitchen floor having attempted suicide.

      She recovered fully and when she came back to work thanked me because otherwise she would not have been found for hours. I don’t think I did anything remarkable, just sharing here to encourage others to trust their gut when it comes to these things.

    30. Ick*

      Not a death but a police action on a very remote site. We had the federal police sow up to remove a coworker from a remote mine site once. Took his computer and everything. We all speculated for months, turns out he was arrested as part of a child pornography sting. He lived in a small community and has since had to move, no longer works for us, and has had his entire family publicly shun him, which seems about right.

      1. No Green No Haze*

        Listen, that is a terribly depressing story but I have to tell you I stared at “federal police sow” for quite some time before I recognized the typo.

        I don’t know what I would do if a police sow arrived at my work site, much less one on the federal level, but I do know that I would definitely follow all of her instructions because making her mad at me would be terrifying.

    31. Not All*

      I did field work on public lands for decades. Thankfully haven’t had many coworkers who died (a few people on medical leave who lost to cancer, a couple suicides in other locations) but I’m not sure I even have a count on the number of bodies found/helped retrieve. People drown, die of exposure, commit suicide, murder, dump bodies, etc on federal lands all the time. And usually we have more equipment than the coroner does for getting into the back country so even if it’s on adjacent private land, we usually get called to assist with transport. I (thankfully) don’t get upset by dead bodies so used to end up as the person driving the boat/OHV pretty regularly. (Severe injuries really upset me though so I was able to trade off “rescue” duties for “retrieval” duties…worked well for my group.)

      PSA: please don’t go into the backcountry if you don’t know what you’re doing and think your cell phone will save you! And don’t rely on mapquest or googlemaps for remote areas!

    32. Liane*

      1–Extra warning for circumstances of death:
      I did have a campus work-study job at the time, so I think this counts, even though it wasn’t, thankfully, where I worked. Prof. A was the advisor for my friend “Yvonne,” a couple years ahead of me. I knew Prof. A vaguely because he was part of a summer high school program I’d attended. He was found murdered at his home. Of course, Yvonne was upset, and we made plans to attend the funeral. But then Yvonne told me she was having second thoughts because of sordid rumors about the crime, so we didn’t go. Eventually, we learned the rumors were true–it was a torture-murder (not writing the details, they are too horrible) by several young men Prof. A had been involved with. This was the early ’80s, so Prof. A being gay would have been considered sordid by itself. (I was friends with 1 or 2 gay students, so I know that while there was a large, visible local gay community, individuals kept it quiet at work/school.) The murderers were convicted.

      2–No violence, just illegal drugs. My dad was a painting and carpentry contractor. When I was a teen in the ’70s, he had 2 Vietnam vets on his crew (I don’t recall if it was at the same time) who happened to share a name, “Derek S” & “Derek L.” Unfortunately, like many Vietnam vets, they struggled with drug addiction. Dad, who liked them and was sympathetic because of his WWII experiences, kept them on a long time, until their drug use made it impossible, but Dad regretted having to let them go. Derek L visited us a couple years later and seemed to be doing well, but I don’t think it lasted. Years later, Dad told me that both men committed suicide as a result of their problems. Dad never forgot Derek S & Derek L, and mentioned them, sadly, every so often.

      (all pseudonyms)

    33. Anon for this today*

      At old job, my manager pulled us into his office to announce that Fergus from another team had been arrested on child pornography charges and that the strangers in the office that morning were FBI agents seizing his work computer for evidence. My manager also told us that Fergus was out on bail until the trial and would be coming in to work tomorrow, and that we were NOT allowed to talk about it at all with Fergus (I think to avoid harrassment claims from Fergus?).

      Fergus never came to work the next day – he committee suicide that night. I can only imagine how difficult that was for his wife and high school age kids – to find out your dad is arrested for something so awful, and then to have him take his own life on top of that. It was really shocking all around.

      No one wanted Fergus’s window seat after that. They gave it to a new employee – who eventually asked why people were acting weird about her sitting there and learned the whole back story (and proceeded to be a little freaked out that she had his old keyboard – luckily it was plugged in to the laptop docking station so was likely never taken home or used in his sordid viewing habits).

      Of course months later, when it no longer felt like a “cursed” cubical, senior employees felt it was ok to grumble that the newbie got the window seat and they didn’t. Office politics…

      1. rmw1982*

        A former coworker of mine had a “cursed cubicle.” The previous occupant had died from an asthma attack at his desk. Our manager found him. When “Barney” started with the team, he got “the dead guy’s” desk. He wasn’t particularly happy about that but facilities made it clear a desk was a desk and he needed to suck it up.

        1. Seeking Second Childhood*

          I’m very glad that when my co-worker (and former manager) died of a heart attack at his desk, his office was converted to a mini conference room.

    34. Scotty Boy*

      In the last company I worked for, staff traveled a lot to meet with clients and sell our product/services. A group traveled to an overnight, out of state client meeting. After the first night in the hotel, the staff group gathered the next morning to meet with the client but one coworker was missing. No answer when they called his cell phone or knocked on his door. They thought maybe he’d suddenly had to return home to his family in the night. Turned out the employee had killed himself in the hotel room; housekeeping found him and contacted the police, who alerted his family and the coworkers he’d traveled with. That was extremely upsetting to the travelers and all of us back in the office.

    35. WinethetimeKat*

      Two years ago (I love working for very small companies) I came in and he was there we started talking then his face sagged and he told me” I need to see the sun” I called EMS saying he had a stroke they had me do some things for him but he must have had a second one because his ear started bleeding and his eyes closed. EMS go there about 30 seconds later and were trying to revive him. Went to hospital and found out he was pronounced in the ambulance. Right then and there I said I am not dying at work so I don’t work to late or come in too early.

      1. IrishEm*

        Strokes are so damn scary. One lovely lady I used to work with had a suspected stroke. A customer overheard a coworker telling Manager and offered her services as she worked at a stroke unit of a hospital. Idiot Manager said “No thanks – we have First Aiders” as if they’d know more about a stroke than a stroke nurse. Thankfully colleague was ok, the docs figured it was a tmi (or what ever the acronym for the mini stroke is).

    36. Bend & Snap*

      You would be surprised at how many people die at conferences. For companies before the one i’m at now, we had people get killed in car accidents, via drug overdose, heart attacks, you name it. There are actually contingency plans that security runs when attendees die or something happens to them.

      Sometimes they just run amok and get arrested and there are plans for that too.

    37. I should be working ...*

      My last job, I worked at a remote mine site where everyone flew there and lived there for their shift (working 12 hour days, two weeks at site, two weeks at home rotation). The nearest community was 20 minutes away by plane. One day on a weekend, one of the miners didn’t show up for his shift so his supervisor went to his room to check on him. The miner had died in his sleep from probably a heart attack, but I don’t remember the exact cause. We had a nurse/EMT and an Emergency Response Team on site who had to deal with the emergency until the RCMP could arrive (it was a Canadian mine). These were women and men who were volunteers and at least of few worked with the miner; I really felt for them.

    38. ElspethGC*

      A close family friend, who had previously worked with my mum but left that job to return to teaching, died of a pulmonary embolism due to deep vein thrombosis while at school. I think she left her class with a teaching assistant so she could go to the staff room for something, then collapsed in the staff room. It was a complete shock to everyone; she was only in her late 40s and we’d seen her just the day before.

      1. Jaid*

        One of my co-workers had knee surgery as an outpatient. His family found him the next day after he hadn’t called them… he’d died from an embolism.

    39. sub rosa for this*

      At ToxicJob, we had a Token Suit in our building who was completely useless, but he had an exec admin who basically ran the whole place, very competently. She was young and brilliant and an incredibly sweet person — a real gem of a girl.

      One Monday we came in and a whole lot of things weren’t working right or hadn’t been done yet, and Gem was nowhere in sight. No one had seen her and no one knew what to do. Token Suit retreated to his office with the door closed for the rest of the day, and a lot of stuff didn’t get done.

      Tuesday morning, there was a very brief email saying Gem had passed away over the weekend, found dead in her apartment, and there were no more details. The rumor mill was explosive (young beautiful healthy girl, living alone, big city, you do the math) but no one ever got any facts.

      One fellow took it upon himself to spread all manner of scurrilous X-rated rumors about her and what she was supposedly doing with a supposed boyfriend — but no one knew anything about a boyfriend, and anyway the fellow spreading the rumor was a real creeper who later stalked one of my co-workers, so… well.

      Also, nothing ran right after that, even though the Token Suit eventually got a new admin, and he basically went into a downward spiral that ended up in half the managers under him quitting en masse and a “big reorganization.”

      Some admins really do hold the whole company, or at least the whole department, in their incredibly capable hands, you know? Everyone who worked in that building at the time said the same thing: “Nothing was the same after Gem died.”

    40. Serious Sam*

      At an old UK chemical works, a room was re-purposed to house some servers. It was cool, and there were strange but convenient channels in the floor that cables could be run in. The walls were tiled. It turned out that the room was formally the work’s mortuary. That’s right, when the works was being first built, they expected a sufficient casualty rate to justify an on-site mortuary. Thank goodness for the UK’s Health & Safety at Work act!

      1. ThePinkLady*

        Spooky but well prepared!

        Reminds me that when I was an archaeology student I spent some time processing finds with a local excavation unit which was housed in some Victorian buildings, formerly a railway station. Except for the finds room, which was a detached building next to the former hospital. It conveniently had a large, shallow, rectangular, lead-lined ‘sink’ with water supply and drainage set at waist height against one wall. Yes, you’ve guessed it – I was spending my days washing Roman pottery and glass in the hospital’s nineteenth-century former mortuary. On my own. It was good training in de-spooking, and came in handy the following summer, which I spent cleaning, marking and reconstructing some of 580 skeletons which had come from a trial trench in a medieval cemetery, again on my own, again in a nook in an old building, surrounded by boxes and boxes of skellies.

          1. ThePinkLady*

            After we’ve learned what we can from them, they’re all reburied with the closest appropriate rites. And I’ve never known an archaeologist not to treat human remains with the respect they deserve. I know that this element of archaeology can be disturbing but having been there, I can offer this comfort.

            1. Miss Pantalones en Fuego*

              It’s a part of archaeological ethics that professionals take very seriously. Sure, there is a degree of banter on site but everywhere I’ve worked with has very strict policies on, for example, not posing for photos with any skeletal remains and certainly never posting anything on social media etc. Most places I’ve worked that would be grounds for being taken off site immediately if not terminated altogether.

              Years ago I worked with the human remains in a museum and each individual was kept in its own archival box, and in anatomical order with any associated finds. There was an entirely separate room used only for this purpose. Reburial or repatriation can be difficult, especially if it is not clear what rituals might be appropriate (skeletons don’t always come from secure contexts for various reasons). But they are always stored in a respectful way.

              That sounds like an excellent setup for finds processing though!

    41. Snark*

      I discovered a body while doing field research in college at a little biological station in Costa Rica. Guy was a British tourist, tragically overdressed, who’d gotten some variety of heat-related illness walking on the beach with a full backpacking pack. Wandered into the forest, sat down against a tree, and passed away.

    42. Camellia*

      Yes, last year we had a co-worker who was killed in her own home by her ex-husband, who broke in. Our company was great. Every department has early morning meetings so the announcement could be made personally, gave time off as needed, brought in grief counselors, and did everything they could to help this terrible situation.

    43. V*

      Not on company time but a few years ago two people died in an avalanche while on vacation. I only knew them tangentially but the group they worked with was completely devastated. I was running an event for their group and people literally showed up crying from a meeting where they had all JUST heard about what happened. Needless to say we cancelled the event…

    44. Claire*

      This happened to a co-worker. He was interviewing for a job, when the person interviewing him died in mid-sentence. It was pretty shocking, as you can imagine.

      1. rmw1982*

        A woman was murdered on-campus my freshman year of college. I didn’t know her but I became friends with one of her friends a few years later. The murderer was never caught, AFAIK.

        I also have a coworker at retirement age who works long hours. I worry a bit about walking in one morning (I’m usually one of the first ones there) and finding him dead at his desk.

    45. AnonAnonAnon*

      Back in the day when I worked at a private school a middle school student committed suicide. It was horrible. There were teachers that were closer to her than her parents I felt so bad for them (her mom was a founder of a drug rehab place who never came to school events, student often told parents her mom didn’t have time for her). An upper school teacher committed suicide. His colleagues said they did not see it coming. He was a nice person, if I remember correctly they sent his friend/another teacher to check on him when he didn’t come to school with no phone call. Sad times.

    46. Jaid*

      We’re a pretty big campus (at least a couple thousand employees), so yeah, people have died at work. One of the most memorable was someone who OD’d in a single user bathroom. I…used to use it, but yeah. Not anymore.

    47. MRK*

      We’ve never had someone pass at work, but I’ve had a few work adjacent incidents.
      1. I used to take the train to work and one morning the train hit and instantly killed someone walking the tracks. Poor conductors had to deal with both what must have been an awful scene AND a bunch of cranky passengers since all they could say was there had been an incident. It took a couple hours to get a new train to take us to a station. Whole thing was bad.
      2. There was a man “sleeping” on one of the benches near my work. Someone passing by realized that they well, weren’t sleeping. Typical chaos ensues.
      3. We had a long time regular who lived in the apartments above the business units commit suicide. Whole plaza was devistated, he was a really nice guy and always friendly to all the workers. That one was really heartbreaking to be honest.

      1. IrishEm*

        Oof, those are tough. A neighbour of mine was found on the DART tracks one morning after either falling or jumping from up over Bray Head somewhere, and it was just awful :(

      2. Seeking Second Childhood*

        Remember Colin Ferguson, who shot up a Long Island Rail Road car? I had sat next to him many times on our commute. (That journal of his was 100% memorable.) A couple of my hometown friends were on the train that day, one shot (recovered), one “just” in the next car and traumatized.
        Happily, I had missed my train, staying late for irrelevant reasons.

        1. Slartibartfast*

          One of the victims of the first post office shootings was my daycare provider’s husband. She had to go back to full time work and mom had to find somewhere else for us to go. I was young but I won’t ever use the phrase “going postal”.

    48. ThePinkLady*

      I’d just started in a new department, supporting three specialists, one of whom worked remotely. He was due to come into the office for a couple of days to spend some time with me, so on day two I called his mobile to set something up, leaving a voicemail. I had no reply over the next couple of days of the same thing, and my colleagues were increasingly concerned as he was usually on the phone once a day. Turns out he had gone out into a field and ended it all on the day of my first call – away from home, so that his family wouldn’t be the ones to find him. So I’d been calling his phone for several days as it lay with him there. As a young 20-something, this rattled me for some time. He was lovely, much too young, and I still think if him often, 25 years on.

    49. Paris-Berlin-Seoul Express*

      I was a federal employee working in a federal building shared by a couple of organizations. When I came to work that morning, our building was surrounded by police. We had an active shooter incident. The guy killed our beloved janitor and injured two of my colleagues. He didn’t even work in our organization. He just randomly shot people as they came to work.

    50. Anon for this*

      A coworker of mine commit suicide a few months after he was fired from the company where we worked. GrandBoss, who was in another office, called each of us that day to let us know though we had already heard from on site HR. Our department was spread out across multiple offices in different parts of the country. Turns out, GrandBoss only told managers and staff who worked in the same office with Coworker. Some of our non-local colleagues were good friends of Coworker and asked about how he was doing, had anyone heard from him. Unfortunately, one of my colleagues had to break the news to good friends of Coworker’s many months after he passed away. I’m still upset about it.

    51. IrishEm*

      One lovely former coworker called in sick at 10am, and when her son called in to see if she wanted any lunch (between12-2ish) she was cold in the bed, dead a while. She must have been feeling truly awful, as she wasn’t one to call in sick very much. She was one of the sweetest people you could ever hope to meet, and I’ll always remember bopping with her to the cheesy muzak in the fitting rooms when we were assigned to them together.

      1. Elizabeth West*

        This happened to the wife of my grandboss at an old job, a lovely sweet woman. She was feeling under the weather, like she had the flu, and went to the doctor. They sent her home and told her it was probably a virus. Well, it was congestive heart failure, and her daughter went over to pick her up so they could do some shopping and found her dead on the bedroom floor.

        As if that weren’t bad enough, her husband was in our office several states away and got the call from his daughter at work. We quickly got him packed up and my boss booked him a flight, and I drove him to the airport as fast as possible and he flew out that evening.

        I was in charge of the plants in the office and when the business closed later, I adopted some of them, including a three-foot-tall ponytail palm that had been her pride and joy. Unfortunately, it died during the 2007 ice storm when I had no power–it was too heavy to move out of the cold house. I was pretty upset about losing it, because I had really liked her. The two pothos from that same office survived, though. And that office closed in 2001! I like to think she would be proud that I kept them going so long.

        1. IrishEm*

          I’m sorry, that must have been tough to go through. I bet she would have loved to know you kept those plants going :)

    52. Ltrim Press Club*

      3 months ago I was walking out to my car, paused and did a double take. The gentleman who had pulled up and parked at the sidewalk to unload was dead. I knew from one look at him that he was gone. (I got help, dialed 911, but he never responded to the efforts.)

      He wasn’t my coworker, but someone who worked in our building for a different department. I remember him being quiet, but polite.

      I still think of him every time I walk out that building.

      Worst though were the people who walked by thinking he was sleeping. Most people do that with eyes close. :(

    53. Common Welsh Green*

      Yes. One of the men out on the production line felt dizzy, left the line to sit in the cafeteria, collapsed, and died. His wife, who was driving in to pick him up after work, passed the ambulance as it was speeding away from the plant.

    54. Buffy*

      Three years ago a colleague of mine did not show up at work, without notice. Turned out he had killed himself that morning. After first having killed his ex-girlfriend with an axe.

      He was pretty new to our department, we heard only later that he had prior mental issues. I have felt very guilty for quite a while for not seeing any signs that he needed help, though I know that’s not reasonable.

  4. Murphy*

    Is it ever OK to follow up on a job application? I applied to another position at the university where I work that I’m really interested in. It closed 2 weeks ago and I haven’t heard anything. I’m assuming that’s a no, which has me pretty bummed. My experience does not make me a shoe-in, but isn’t out of the question. (The only place at the university that would give you appropriate experience would be already being on that team.) I didn’t reach out initially because I don’t know anyone on that team and I didn’t want to show too much “gumption” or circumvent the application process. Would it gain me anything to reach out, or is this just my sad feelings talking?

    1. Sloan Kittering*

      This is just me, but I would try to put it out of my mind, even though I know it’s difficult. Two weeks could be that they haven’t finished reviewing, or that they had better candidates. It’s not super likely your application was lost. i find that the best way to move on is to get excited about a new application and have lots of apps out there.

      1. Murphy*

        Thanks…I’m trying. For various reasons I don’t want to leave the university, so I’m sticking to internal postings at the moment, which is obviously limiting.

    2. Anonymous Educator*

      I guess it depends on what you mean by “OK”? Will it give you a better shot at the job? Doubtful. But I’ve followed up on hiring managers who’ve ghosted me, and at least then gotten an actual confirmation I didn’t get the job (yes, these were situations in which I interviewed in person, and they couldn’t even be bothered to send me form rejection email). So you might get a confirmation at least.

      But, no hiring managers are sitting around going “Murphy would really be our top candidate. Too bad Murphy hasn’t reached out. Guess Murphy isn’t interested. We’ll move on to the next candidate,” unless “reach out” in this context means “replies to our emails” or “returns out phone calls.”

    3. Mediamaven*

      You should definitely connect via email and follow-up. I’ve had several instances where I didn’t move forward with an application because I get so many, that person followed up and I reread the the original app and brought them in, sometimes actually hiring them! It can’t hurt!

      1. fposte*

        Oh, that’s pretty unusual. Can I and other hiring managers convince you to stop doing this, unless you’re in in a field where hiring is a clear exception to usual practice? Because with most of us, it won’t help and might hurt to nudge, and hiring somebody because they nudged you even though they hadn’t made the first cut seems to be prioritizing candidates for qualities that aren’t officially what’s sought.

        Murphy, for a university hire I’d give four weeks minimum before asking about the time frame. And I’d make sure it was a closure date, not just “for best consideration apply by.”

        1. Blue*

          Agreed, four weeks would not be unusual in university hiring, unfortunately. Two weeks is definitely too soon to give up hope. I’m actually on a search committee right now for a position that closed over two weeks ago, and no applicants have been contacted at this point. That’s kind of how it goes.

          1. ArtsNerd*

            This. Took me three months to get hired into a position I was already doing the work for at a university back in the day.

      2. Anonymous Educator*

        I’m going to join fposte in encouraging you not to do this. Not only does it reward candidates for things that have nothing to do with how good they will be at the job, but it continues a tradition of you missing out on otherwise good candidates whose original apps you didn’t re-read and who may have been better for the position.

      3. Triplestep*

        I’ve had several instances where I didn’t move forward with an application because I get so many, that person followed up and I reread the the original app and brought them in, sometimes actually hiring them!

        *Sigh*. My job search of 9 months ended successfully, but this makes me want to scream. I was ghosted so many times by hiring managers and recruiters with whom I had gotten past the application stage (meaning anything from a phone screen to multiple in-person interviews). What this tells me is that some of of them might not have dropped me and “forgotten” to get back to me had I simply nudged.

        Anytime a friend suggested I follow up, I’d say “I can guarantee that if they even bother to take or return my call, they are not going to say ‘oh, we totally forgot to hire you … we’ll start the process right away!’ But apparently – at least for some – that’s exactly how it goes.

        1. MoopySwarpet*

          I think this is more of an exception than a rule. About 99% of the time I receive a followup after just a resume submission, it just reinforces my decision to put them in the “no” pile.

          I think in your case, after interviews, the only thing I would have to say is that we haven’t made a final decision yet OR that we’d made the decision and my apologies for not letting you know.

          I agree with you that it’s not likely to change the outcome (if you were hired, they would have told you), but it does give some closure and/or lets you know the process is just longer than expected.

          1. MoopySwarpet*

            I should add that the other 1% of the time, it annoys me to the point it drops them out of the “maybe” pile.

            BUT . . . I always respond to them (politely) and let them know that we are going a different direction. So, there’s that . . .

    4. merp*

      This is sort of a side issue but 2 weeks seems like it would be a pretty fast turnaround, at least at the university where I work. In my experience, they just take forever. I know you already work there so you know better than I would, but it might just be too soon!

      1. Murphy*

        You may be right! It’s been a few years so I don’t remember what the time frame was when originally got my job and different teams may be different. They’re understaffed so I thought if they were interested I might have had some communication by now.

        1. Sam Sepiol*

          Haha, I hear they’re understaffed and presume that even though that means they want to fill the position quickly it will take 3x as long as they anticipate

      2. Twinkle*

        Coming to say the same thing. I’ve been involved in hiring at my university over the last couple of years and we have never got back to someone within 2 weeks – I think the fastest would have been over a month, and that was only because we desperately needed to spend out grant funds (which were to pay the salary of the person hired). I wouldn’t contact them after 2 weeks; there a very real risk they’ll think you don’t understand how university processes work (not to say that you don’t, just is the risk of creating this misperception!)

        Also, best wishes with the job :)

    5. Call of Dewey*

      As someone who hires at a university, I can tell you it takes a lot longer than you would expect. My last position we didn’t reach out to candidates until almost a month later (and this was for a staff, not faculty position). So don’t follow up, that doesn’t tend to be received well, but 2 weeks doesn’t mean you aren’t a candidate.

    6. Bye Academia*

      I want to chime in to second? third? everyone saying that two weeks is absolutely nothing in university hiring time. I have a staff position at a university, and I didn’t hear back that I got a first round interview for two months. At least at my university, emailing after two weeks would do nothing and also make you seem impatient, even as an internal applicant. While your current team may have moved faster when hiring you (and if it didn’t, that’s something to remind yourself!), the other team may not. Just leave it be, and if they want to contact you, they will. I know it’s hard though!

      1. Anonymous Educator*

        I would say it’s not just university hiring. I’ve worked in K-12 schools, and I’ve never seen a permanent hire happen within two weeks of a closing date (well, usually there isn’t a specified closing date, but even a month after a job is posted). Typically, we’ll get a bunch of applications, spend a week or so sifting through them, doing phone screens over the course of another week or two, and then scheduling people to come in in person a couple weeks later… or sometimes a month later, depending on how busy things are. Most of the time I’ve been involved in hiring, all the people doing the hiring are not doing hiring as their primary job, so how fast they get through application reviewing and candidate interviewing greatly depends on how busy their primary job is.

        1. Murphy*

          I was thinking more that I’d heard something if they were interested, definitely not that they’d have a decision by now! But it still might be too soon, I guess.

          1. Anonymous Educator*

            Yeah, but sometimes even applications can be held up. The one time I worked in higher ed, HR wouldn’t even let us see applications for three weeks, and we were the hiring department, not them! So phone screens couldn’t even happen for almost a month.

          2. Just commenting to say...*

            It definitely might still be too soon! I work in higher ed and years ago I was up for a promotion that I’d applied for specifically because the hiring manager asked me to, so I knew I was going to get an interview (in fact, I was reasonably certain I was going to get the job), but it still took a couple months to get everything scheduled! Higher ed is just super duper slow sometimes.

          3. SignalLost*

            I still have open applications at my local Big U from my job search last year. They may also need to hit a certain pool size. If you see the position re-listed, it doesn’t automatically mean you weren’t selected.

      2. Seeking Second Childhood*

        For my first ‘real’ job out of college, the university position had a July apply-by date, I didn’t hear until August, interviews didn’t happen until September, start date was in October. I tempted a lot that year – I’m happy on your behalf that you’re within the same university so it’s not the temping frenzy I went through.

      3. Asenath*

        Universities are SLOW, and some departments are worse than others. I got a job in a university office months after I applied. I had assumed that they’d rejected me and simply not bothered to let me know so I continued job hunting. I was still available, though.

    7. BRR*

      I would ask what you’re hoping to accomplish. Following up on an application has the potential to do a lot more harm to your candidacy than good. The best thing you can do is to assume you didn’t get the job and move on mentally. If you hear anything it’s a pleasant surprise.

      1. Murphy*

        Probably convey my enthusiasm, which yeah, is pointless.

        I’m just at BEC level with my job, where I mostly sit alone at my desk with not much to do, so it’s difficult not to think about it!

    8. sammy_two*

      I work at a university and HR is notoriously slllloooooowwwwww because of all of the boxes that need to be checked and processes that need to be followed. It honestly would not gain anything for you to follow up (they have all of your materials and will contact you if interested in bringing you in for an interview), however it’s possible they haven’t contacted any of the candidates yet. Maybe the search administrator didn’t have their stuff together and couldn’t get the search committee together yet to review applications, etc. I also know that it seems we get a lot of applications for every position and sometimes it can come down to who you know to get to the interview stage. If you can get out more on campus (join associations or organizations where you’ll get to meet more people, or take on visible leadership positions) more people will get to know you. Good luck!

    9. Amylou*

      The time between my application and invite for first interview was over a month for a previous university job. It’s bureaucracy, it’s slow – put it out of your mind. I applied to several positions there, and they only send a form rejection note at the very end of the process after they hired someone at this particular institution.

    10. Cruciatus*

      Just to add to what others are saying…I also work at a university. It took months for them to call me. It was so long I had to go back through my notes to remember which position it even was. I had also assumed it was not going to happen but then one day I (obviously) finally received a phone call for an interview. Definitely give it some time (and try to forget about it which is easier said than done)!

    11. Mass Hirer*

      For what it’s worth, I do tons of hiring (seasonal work). If I get a reminder/follow-up email*, I do often end up getting back to that candidate more quickly. It’s doesn’t change my answer, or their strength as an applicant, but I will often quickly check and respond with either an interview offer, job offer, or polite rejection. Important qualifier here, though, is I (and my company in general) do always reply to every candidate with either good or bad news eventually.

      *one follow-up, at least ten days after the application. For interviews, I always say “you should hear back in about two weeks, if you haven’t heard by then for any reason, feel free to reach out.”

    12. Happy To Report*

      I’ve applied to three university (fundraising) jobs within the last 6 months and only one of them got back to me within 2 weeks.
      #1: Got back to me quickly for the phone screen end of October, set up the interview for a week or so later (Election Day), said they’d get back to me before Thanksgiving, followed up in January to find out I didn’t get the job.
      #2: Applied mid-December, contacted mid-January to see if I was still interested, set up an interview for the end of January. Second interview last Friday (mid-Feb) and they had expected to tell me more by beginning of this week, but now it’s mid next week because they are waiting on HR.
      #3: Applied mid-January, mid-February contacted to see if I was still interested, interview scheduled for three weeks later.

      Both #2 and #3 had search committees, but #1 did not.

    13. Narvo Flieboppen*

      I put in for a new job at a local hospital a couple months ago. I hadn’t heard back and sort of gave up. Then I got a notice from their automated system notifying me that my resume was in consideration for the position. Some places just move like molasses.

      The worst I’ve ever had is near unbelievable to me, had I not lived it. I once got a call to set up an interview 11 months after I originally applied. When I asked why they were calling me nearly a year after I applied, the woman responded they were ‘a little bit slow’ in getting back to me but they were absolutely excited to interview me because my cover letter indicated I was unemployed and able to start immediately upon hiring. I declined because I had long since found a full time job and zero faith in their HR/management.

        1. Triplestep*

          I’ve had two experiences with Universities, neither of them good, but these might help you put the two weeks into perspective: One of them ghosted me after I had been a finalist (i.e. multiple interviews) but got back to me 8 months later to say they’d selected someone else. A friend of mine had been another finalist, and we laughed about this a lot. We figured out via LinkedIn who had gotten the job, and she’d had it for several months by the time they told us. And their rejection was not even automated, so it wasn’t as if someone just had gotten around to clicking a button and it triggered the message.

          For the other job, the Hiring Manager had gone back to the applicant pool after they’d been through on round of interviews, made an offer, and it was rejected. So it was about three months between application and first contact. I had a phone screen and then two days of interviews with four small panels. This was over a period of two weeks. Then they ghosted me. This was last August. They seem to have reorganized about a month after I interviewed – I can see their org chart online and they added two positions above this one. But they are all still open, as is the one I was considered for. It’s on their org chart, and if I log on, my application says “under consideration”. I have found and started another job, but I haven’t withdrawn from this one mostly because I want to see what will happen. Will they go into their applicant tracking system and realize they have all these candidates who are technically “under consideration”?

    14. Alli525*

      1. Because you already work there, I think it’s much more understandable if you gently nudge HR or the hiring manager to see if there are any updates on the job search.

      2. Is the posting DEFINITELY closed? Just recently I revisited a bookmarked job posting and saw that the listing had expired, but when I searched the company on that job site, the position had been re-listed. I think some posting sites must have automatic expiration dates, but that doesn’t always mean the position has been filled.

      1. Murphy*

        I’d definitely get a notification if it was filled, which I know would take a lot longer than 2 weeks. I looked back and it does say “anticipated closing date” of two weeks ago so it might still be accepting applications.

    15. Hotel Manager*

      It sounds like you’re an internal candidate. Everytime I’ve applied for an internal position I’ve always shot an email over to the HR screener from my company email saying something along the lines of “hey there, I applied for X-position and didn’t want my application to get buried among externals”. Depends on the company of course, but mine tries to hire management from within when they can.

    16. Rock Prof*

      I’m seconding all the other academic advice here to wait. I’m currently on a hiring committee for an academic staff position, and the position opened about a month ago and closes today. We aren’t even meeting for another two weeks to separate into “possibly” and “definitely not” piles.

    17. Public Sector Manager*

      Generally, I wouldn’t follow up. There is no problem with following up once, as long as you keep it polite, short and sweet. Where applicants get into trouble is that they follow up multiple times (and rarely are those people at the top of the to-be-interviewed pile) or are so aggressive in the follow up that it is off-putting. But the truth is if they want to interview you, they will find you.

      Also, I’m at a public agency, and if the university is anything like us, they will be notoriously slow. Generally our time frame works like this: 2-3 weeks after the close of the application period we’re waiting for HR to do a pre-screen to determine who meets the minimum qualifications. Our actual guidelines read one week for this process, but it’s always 2-3. Then we contact people for round one of interviews, which will be scheduled around week 4-6, depending on our own internal schedules and applicant availability. Then another week figuring out who should come back for a final hiring interview, and sometimes that takes 2 weeks. Then another 2-3 weeks to schedule the final interviews, another week to reference check, another week for any last concerns to be expressed, and then the next week we make an offer.

      Although it has been a few years, when I applied for my current agency, I applied at the end of July, was contacted in August for an interview at the beginning of September, contacted in late September for a final hiring interview at the end of October, made an offer mid-November, and started mid-December. That’s quick compared to the group we hired last fall. Final hiring interviews didn’t conclude until mid-December and offers were not extended until January, all for a group of people who applied in July.

      Best of luck to you!

    18. ThatLibTech*

      As someone who works in the uni environment (that has a union): it takes forever unless its a project position. I applied for my current (perm, FT) job in May and didn’t hear back until the beginning of August, and it’s pretty much the norm for this environment unless you’re making a lateral move/applying for a project position. However YMMV!

  5. Namast'ay in Bed*

    We have a newish intern on our team and one of the benefits they were supposed to bring was taking a fairly simple but time-consuming task off my plate, leaving me free to work on more important projects. This task is simple, but it is also incredibly important. However, the first time the intern worked on it, it apparently didn’t go 100% smoothly, so my manager has decided to keep assigning this task to me, because “they can depend on me to do it right and in a timely manner”. Being told repeatedly that I am awesome, a lifesaver, and other such complements is very nice, but I’m honestly frustrated that I have to keep doing this time-consuming task, which is taking me away from the work I want to do and am supposed to be focused on, all while the intern keeps asking for work to do. It feels sort of like I am being punished for being good at something (which honestly a lot of it has just come from repetition, something the intern is not getting because our manager has decided they can’t be trusted to do it).

    I understand that my manager is completely strapped for time and they get hauled into meetings every time the task isn’t performed perfectly, so it makes sense from a limited resources aspect that it’s easier to keep making me do it. But I’m starting to get resentful every time I have to stop what I’m doing to take on this task. Do you think there’s a respectful way to ask if there’s a game plan/time line for the intern to take on this task again?

    1. neverjaunty*

      The intern is supposed to be learning this task, yes? (Hence intern, rather than employee.) You can respectfully tell your boss about it right now, saying that you completely understand that it’s a hassle for Boss when the task is not done perfectly, but the point of the intern was to take this task off your plate and for the intern to learn about the task. I would phrase it as “given this, what’s the best way for me to work with the intern to do this task while minimizing any hassle o ln your end?”

      1. Namast'ay in Bed*

        I think that’s a good way to frame it, I think my boss has just been in survival mode so framing it in a “let me make this easier for you (which will then make it easier for me)” is a good way to go.

        1. Gumby*

          Another possible benefit to the org: it is never a good idea to have a critical task that only one person at an organization can do.

      2. TootsNYC*

        the first time the intern did it, it didn’t go smoothly? Gee, I wonder why…

        the point of an intern is to train.

        So maybe ask your boss if you can work with the intern to transition it over to them, and point out that the reason you’re good is that you’ve had practice, and that if you can supervise the intern, THEY can get enough practice.

        And that by working WITH them for a few go-rounds, you can get a much better assessment of WHY the intern struggled the first time, and whether they’ll be safe to hand it off to later. And promise that you won’t let it go if you think the intern can’t do it right.

        Maybe even point out that by working more closely with the intern, you will be able to find ways to create documentation, or find glitches that can be streamlined so it’s easier for someone else to do it without you later. (I find that working with a rookie helps me see all the flaws in the systems we have set up.)

        It may actually be more work to work with the intern on it, but there’s a potential payoff.

    2. somewhere over the rainbow trout*

      Do you think there’s a respectful way to ask if there’s a game plan/time line for the intern to take on this task again?

      Yes, and I think you should do it. Very few people do something 100% perfect the first time they ever do it, there’s always some kind of training period needed. Your boss needs to let the intern do what the intern was brought on for.

      1. Grits McGee*

        Plus, think of how demoralizing it must be for the intern to make normal* mistakes, and then having no chance to improve.

        *Assuming these were normal newbie mistakes, and not egregious screw ups

      2. Lurker*

        Also – you could offer to supervise/troubleshoot/train the intern so that the mistakes or issues get caught and it isn’t increasing your manager’s workload. Might make your manager more willing to let the intern take another stab at it!

        1. Zombeyonce*

          Assisting in the training here seems really important, and I wonder if the intern was just given the task with minimal instructions or if they actually got helpful training and documentation on how to do it, and then had it reviewed after it had been completed. Those are all important steps to learning a new task, especially one that’s time-consuming.

          This could be a great time to improve any documentation/instructions on how to complete the task. I think it’s definitely worth the time to do that since interns are temporary, so if a future intern is given this task, you already know the instructions are up to snuff. Working on those instructions with the intern would also be beneficial to you both. The intern would learn about documentation and the OP would get good feedback about what in the instructions was confusing or needed clarification.

      3. Namast'ay in Bed*

        That’s another part that has been so frustrating – I definitely stumbled a bit when I first learned how to do this task! So it feels ridiculous for them to now be like “oh nope, not perfect the first time, you blew it”.

        1. Blue*

          I even think this would be worth mentioning when you talk with your manager. Like, “I know it took me a couple of attempts to master this task, so I still have every confidence Intern will be able to deliver as we need them to.” And I agree with the others – you might volunteer to work with them closely the next time around, or to review their work, or whatever makes sense. That sounds like time worth investing if it means convincing your boss to transition this back to the intern.

        2. Iron Chef Boyardee*

          If it’s appropriate to use pop cllture references where you work, you could remind your boss of the episode from MASH where Col. Potter was frustrated at Klinger’s incompetence as Radar’s replacement, until Father Mulcahy pointed out that Radar was also terrible when he started out but Col. Blake gave him the chance to grow into the job and make it his.

    3. anonymoushiker*

      I don’t know the language, but I’m sure I’ve seen Alison answer questions tangentially related to this, so you might dig around in her archives to see if you can find examples.

    4. Ishouldbeworkingrightnow*

      Is the task something Intern can do and you review after? Like you said they can’t get better with out training and practice.

      1. Psyche*

        That does sound like the best plan. Or you can do it with the intern a few times, which will be very time consuming but after that hopefully you can convince the boss to trust the intern to do it without as much oversight so long as you are available in case they run into a problem.

    5. JobHunter*

      Reassigning a task because of inexpert execution the first time…sounds like you have an opportunity to discuss cultivation of patience. I would probably take the tone of “We all started out not knowing how to do something. Since I do this time-consuming thing a lot, I would be happy to walk Intern through the process once or twice. After that, she is welcome to ask me for advice when she gets stuck.” when making the request to your boss to have the intern resume that task.

    6. WellRed*

      Please bring it up again. It’s not reasonable for an intern (or anyone) to master a task on the first try so maybe it’s possible for you to oversee it more closely, but still not have to do it.

    7. Amylou*

      Oh that sucks and sounds familiar!

      I’d say something like this, emphasising the impact on the actual work that supposedly your manager wants you to finish, and emphasise even more a solution and that you’d be happy to get Intern on her way with this task:
      – Hey boss, I’d like to talk about Intern taking over task X again. Doing X takes up quite a lot of time, and is starting to cut into my time to do A B C properly. I’d propose for Intern to start doing X as of Time, she’s been eager to learn new things and I’d be more than happy to take some time and train her on X, and check her work afterwards to ensure its quality. I’m confident she can handle this – it’s not easy the first time around, but I’m sure she’ll get it after doing X a couple of times.

      As long as you present a problem + solution, and especially one where your boss doesn’t have to lift a finger except say ‘yes’, I can’t see what’s the problem… (caveats for crazy bosses apply)

    8. The Ginger Ginger*

      Or can you phrase it as a question? Assuming the mistakes made were normal learning mistakes.

      “Boss, I know there were some problems with interns initial attempt, but I think they could absolutely learn to do this well, and the benefit of transitioning it to them would be freeing up my time and effort to focus on things like X, Y, Z. Can I try working with them on this task again to help them improve? If we’re not seeing the level of quality you expect after X tries (or X amount of time), we can revisit it again, but I really think this is something intern could manage if we give them the chance to succeed.”

    9. Not So NewReader*

      If the intern keeps asking for work to do then the boss really does not have a defined internship available for this person to do.
      What I would do is ask the boss to take one of three things off my plate: The boring task, the intern who keeps asking for work or my regular work. I’d say it nicely, perhaps as in, “Okay so now I am doing Boring Task plus my regular work annnnd Intern asks me regularly for more work to do. It’s chewing up a lot of my time finding things for them to do. Can we come up with an action plan for this? “

    10. AnonAnon*

      (1) If the task is incredibly important, to the point that your higher-ups have to call your manager into meetings every time it isn’t performed correctly, then it might actually be too important to assign to someone at a lower skill level.
      (2) If you hired an intern to perform the task, and they didn’t do it 100% correctly, why is anyone surprised? It takes time for people to become proficient. Did anyone supervise the intern? Or did he just get thrown in the deep end? Asking a new employee to do a new task and then over-reacting when they don’t do it perfectly is a massive over-reaction.
      (3) What do they think will happen when you aren’t around? Eventually you will need a sick day, or you will find a new job, or maybe you’ll just get run over by a bus one morning. If there is no redundancy in your department, I bet the higher ups will be REAL happy with that.
      (4) You say that your manager is strapped for time. There’s another failure of leadership. People sometimes call this being in permanent ‘reaction mode’ or ‘trying to keep their heads above water.’ Essentially, the stakes are so high and the tempo is so fast that nobody has the time to actually sit down and train and mentor junior workers. When every day brings a crisis du jour, nobody is thinking or planning for future requirements. I don’t know whether this accurately describes your office, but if you can’t take the time / resources / risk required for training new people there is a bigger, systemic problem at work.

  6. Daughter of a Job Searcher*

    My mom is starting to look for a new job. The thing is, she’s been at the same job for 20 years and has only made lateral moves within the company during that time (being moved to different departments as they needed her to fill slightly different roles over the years. She’s unsure how to put this on her resume. Any advice for her?

    1. FFHP*

      Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory 1999-present
      Juicing Room 1999-2005
      Chocolate River 2005-2010
      Boat Operator on Chocolate River 2010-2015
      Golden Ticket Creator 2015-present

    2. Annie Moose*

      In addition to what FFHP says, if there’s roles that had extremely similar accomplishments/work, you could combine those specific ones, e.g.

      Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory 1999-present
      Juicing Room 1999-2005
      – accomplishments
      Chocolate River 2005-2010
      Boat Operator on Chocolate River 2010-2015
      – combined accomplishments from these two very similar roles

    3. Alli525*

      Adding on to what FFHP and Annie Moose have said – her cover letter would be a great place to explain why she hopped around within the company and all the various skills she’s been able to build. This could also help assuage any concerns that the company has shuffled her around because she’s difficult to work with or whatever (this was something I saw a lot at my last job, admins were shuffled around as their bosses – not the greatest people – neglected to train them properly and then got frustrated at suboptimal performance. Shocker!)

      I usually have a line about “I have worn many hats at the organizations I’ve worked for and enjoy learning new skills and gaining a breadth and depth of knowledge about those companies’ functions and goals.”

      1. Daughter of a Job Searcher*

        Ah okay! I’ll let her know! Thank you!

        Yeah, at least 1 instance of why she was shuffled around was because the department she was in was eliminated as her company changed some things. Other times (from what I know), they needed her in a different area and then decided they wanted her to stay there.

  7. Disappointed anon*

    My department is heading into its busy season in a couple of months. We’ll have augmented staffing for the teapot makers around the clock, and the department manager said a few weeks ago that two people in the department will be temporarily promoted to supervisor positions during the busy season.

    I’m a teapot designer with 15 years of experience in teapot making and teapot design, including 5 years at this company, and a track record of high performance. I’ve been trying to get into management for the past few years. I applied for the Teapot Making Supervisor job the last two times there were openings, and I was passed over mainly because I have very little management experience. Both times, the person who got the job had management experience from being a temporary supervisor during the busy season.

    I was told that a good way to get some management experience was to go into the manager-on-call rotation on nights and weekends. I volunteered to go into the rotation, along with one other teapot designer and the department supervisors. We go on call for a week at a time, taking on extra work and getting phone calls at all hours of the day and night for any issue that needs management attention. We do not get any extra pay or other benefits for this, and it’s completely voluntary, so the rest of the teapot designers (other than the two of us who volunteered) have opted out.

    I really thought I was getting some good experience out of being a part of the manager-on-call rotation, and becoming a credible leader. My boss and grand-boss have been giving me increased responsibilities and latitude, and I am becoming the go-to person for many things — similar to OP #2 from this morning. Even when I’m not on call, people (both in and outside my department) seek me out for help often. I am regularly asked to train teapot makers. When I was on call last week, we encountered a major crisis, and I received a lot of praise for how well I handled the crisis. I fully expected that I would be one of the temporary supervisors during the busy season, and many of my coworkers talked as though they assumed that I would be.

    The temporary supervisors were selected this week, and I’m not one of them. One is the other teapot designer who’s in the manager-on-call rotation (who has been at the company longer but has half as much total experience as I do). The other is someone who is a good performer with a lot of knowledge and experience, but has made it clear that he has no interest in management (and opted out of the manager-on-call rotation). I feel like this is a gigantic slap in the face. I think what bothers me the most is that the temporary supervisors get a pay raise while they are filling these roles. I have been putting in all this extra time and effort to be in the manager-on-call rotation for nothing, and now that there’s an opportunity to get some extra pay for extra responsibilities, I get passed over in favor of someone who doesn’t even want it. I just feel like a chump. Plus, the next time a supervisor job opens up, I’ll get rejected again due to lack of management experience. It looks like I am being sent a message that I’m never going to be considered for management, so I don’t know where to go from here.

    1. Colette*

      You’re not actually putting in the effort for nothing – you’re doing it for experience. Have you asked your supervisor what you can do to make yourself a better candidate for temporary supervisor?

      Have you looked at other companies to see what jobs you might be qualified for? Sometimes you have to leave a company to get that kind of promotion.

      1. Disappointed anon*

        Well yes. I was told that being in the manager-on-call rotation would make me a better candidate. The joke was on me.

        My company is the only employer in my industry in the area, so there’s nowhere else to go unless I make a long-distance move or take a huge pay cut to change industries and basically start over in my career.

        1. Colette*

          “Better candidate” doesn’t guarantee you the job, though. Talk with your manager again and ask what you can improve at.

          And management is a different skillset than non-management, so it is possible you can transfer to a different industry.

        2. Not So NewReader*

          No, the joke is not on you. This is because NO experience is ever wasted. Ever. It might take years but all your extra effort here WILL work into something meaningful to you. Maybe not with this employer but you will hit a time in your life where you will say, “thank goodness I took a chance and did all that.”
          No, the joke is absolutely not on you.
          Always remember, that companies buy our time but they do not buy what is in our brains, our creative thinking, our resourcefulness, our ability to take on new things and so on. All this is yours and you get to keep it.
          I get that right now things are not looking good, it doesn’t sound good to me either. So I do get this. Take pride in the fact that you are doing your best and you have your best foot forward at all times. Keep working this way. I know I have been through a few spells where all I have is my own satisfaction that I am playing a fair game.

          As long as your boss is not a totally foolish person, start by talking to her. Tell her what your goals are. Tell her what you have done so far to meet those goals. Oddly, they may think that you do so well with the on-call that they don’t want to lose you. You may end up tearing a page out of your coworker’s book and YOU start saying you are done with the on-call. You might have to force their hand. Maybe that is what your cohort is doing, he is forcing their hand.

          Taking a one in a million long shot here, perhaps you can ask your cohort if he is refusing on-call so he CAN get assigned to this other thing. It’s a long shot guess on my part. Ignore me if this does not make sense with what you see.

          1. Disappointed anon*

            Thanks for the advice, and I suppose that it might still be good experience even if it won’t get me anywhere at this company. The thing is, I have discussed my goals with my boss and that is what led to my going into the manager-on-call rotation. And yet he seems oddly oblivious to the fact that this is such an insult to me. It hasn’t even occurred to him that I would be disappointed about this.

            I don’t think my coworker is strategizing by opting out of the on-call rotation (and the temporary supervisor job does not conflict with the on-call rotation; there is no rotation during the busy season because there’s a supervisor on site 24/7). He is close to retirement age and has openly said that he is happy in his current position and intends to stay where he is until retirement. He hasn’t applied for the teapot maker supervisor position when it’s been open. My other coworker (the one who is also in the rotation) did apply for the supervisor job, so she has been, and is likely to continue to be, my main competition for the job. Most of the teapot makers were assuming that the two of us were going to be the temporary supervisors. The fact that she was promoted to temporary supervisor, and I wasn’t, all but guarantees her the next supervisor job that opens.

    2. Ms.Vader*

      I think your next step should be meeting with your manager and saying something along the lines of “I was disappointed by not being considered for the temporary supervisor position. I felt that i have put in a lot of effort to be considered. I wanted to get some feedback on what I should focus on in the next ‘quarter’ to help me step into this role in the future”. Depending on their answer, perhaps it is time to move on.

      1. Lora*

        Yes, this.

        Although be prepared for a sort of crummy answer that may mean you work for a-holes. Have seen that quite often.

        1. ChachkisGalore*

          Yes! By all means, proceed as if your manager is a reasonable person and ask directly about what (else) you need to do or work on to be considered for the temp supervisor position.

          However, just remember that actions speak louder than words. As we see from this site a lot of managers just are not good with clear, constructive feedback. If your manager’s actions are not matching what they tell you (ie: they can’t give you any direct advice/feedback or they do, but they continue to pass you up) when you discuss this with them, you might need to come to terms with the fact it’s not going to happen at this job or company or under this manager (or whoever makes the supervisory hiring decisions). It’s incredibly unfair, but such is life.

          I had a manager who did this. I kept asking what I needed to do to be promoted and eventually gave her multiple outs (told her I understand if I wasn’t the right fit for this type of role or that I’d understand if the answer is simply I need more time in my current role), but she just kept insisting “no, no, no you’re great. We’re going to give you a few projects or light responsibilities to see how things go” and then crickets. Then I’d go back a couple of weeks or a month or two later to followup. Same answer. Repeat for almost a year. It was so frustrating, because I felt like without a no or timeline if I didn’t continue to followup and I didn’t get the promotion, then it would be my “fault” (in my mind), because I let the opportunity pass me by. Finally someone left her team (it was a flex sized team and growing, so I didn’t need to wait for an opening nec. to be promoted, but now that they were down a person they definitely needed to bring someone in). I figured this is it – I’ll go through the formal HR process to apply and at least I’ll get a yes or a no.

          Finally one of my boss’s peers had pity on me and pulled me aside, and basically told me that I could pursue this role and I might be able to strongarm my way in with HR’s support, but that I would be set up to fail. My manager just did not think I was suitable in that type of role. All I could think was why did she actively string me along for so long. Just say no. It just seemed so cruel to straight up lie to my face. I had a lot of anger and bitterness towards that manager for awhile. Boss’s peer actually ended up being a great resource and started giving me some side projects or reading materials. With his advice I was able to be hired into the promotion role at a different company.

          So yeah, learn from my mistake – if everything except your boss’s words says “no” then, believe their actions and start working on next steps as if the manager actually had said no. Definitely do start by going back and talking to them! Hopefully your boss won’t be like my old boss, but just offering some suggestions in the worst case scenario that your boss is like my old boss.

          1. Not So NewReader*

            I like your old boss’ peer a LOT. Well done on their part and well done on your part also.

          2. Disappointed anon*

            Wow, that sucks, but it was nice that someone was willing to be honest with you. I keep going over everything in my mind, wondering how I read the situation so wrong, and I still can’t figure it out. The thing that really confuses me is that so many of my coworkers seemed to think the same as I did, that I was going to be one of the temporary supervisors. So it couldn’t have all been in my head, right?

            Maybe it’s because the real story is not something they want to say. I have a pretty good feeling that one of the factors at play is that I don’t have the right look, the right body type, which is something that I’ve had to work really hard to overcome my whole life, and maybe I am fooling myself to think that they are pleased enough with the work I am doing to overlook that. Of course, nobody wants to come right out and say, “You’re too ugly to be a manager,” and maybe it’s even more subconscious than that — they look at me and just don’t see someone who looks like a leader. But geez, why string me along?

            1. ChachkisGalore*

              But that’s the thing! You might not have read the situation wrong – it is possible that your boss just might be totally incapable or unwilling to have this difficult or unpleasant conversation. If that’s the case that would be entirely on them – they’re a manager and they would be failing in at least one of their responsibilities if they are not being straight with you.

              Another possibility is that it could have been a situation that I think Alison brings up fairly often – it’s not that you’re being judged against yourself, you’re being judged against the other candidates (and that will be so variable) so maybe you weren’t lacking, the other two people just happened to edge you out. That would be a bummer, but at least you’d know that it wasn’t you, it was these particular circumstances.

              I’m so sorry you’re going through this! I totally understand how frustrating and demoralizing it is when all you want is basic info and it doesn’t seem like you’re getting it or getting the full picture. You start to doubt yourself and wonder if it’s all in your head. And oh my god, if body type/looks is what is holding you back then your manager/whoever is making the hiring decisions are hideous people (and very poor at their jobs, so I would not take their rejection as a reflection on you).

              Try to hang on to the positive feedback you’ve received and remain confident in your skills (while still being open open to any legitimate constructive feedback :-)). Maybe another direct conversation with your manager will clear some things up – I’m really hoping that it will for you! If it doesn’t, maybe start thinking about what your next steps would be if your boss had just said flat out “nope it’s not happening”. You don’t have to actually start putting wheels in motion, but just think about what you would do.

      2. Aunt Piddy*

        I agree with this. Just ask your manager point blank what else you need to do, and if there were any reasons you weren’t considered for the temporary supervisor position.

    3. LCL*

      Yeah, you got stiffed. Your ‘problem’ was that you did a good job, so now they want to keep you there. Someone who is willing to take on the off hours management and can do it is priceless. That’s you. Unfortunately you may be stuck in that role. That can be the reality of doing shiftwork if your management is unwilling to advocate for the workers or if you don’t have a strong union.

      If you have a good working relationship with your supervisor and management, ask for a meeting. Ask them what the qualifications are for being a temp supervisor. Ask them why someone can be hired to be a temp supervisor if they don’t have any on call experience. Ask them if being an oncall is considered good experience for the temp job. And ask them why temp day supervisors are paid extra but oncalls aren’t. And push hard for all qualified to be included in the oncall rotation. Just based on what you posted, your job doesn’t value their off hours people like they should.

      I think it would be to your advantage to learn about labor rules in the US re on call work. They are complicated. It is sometimes easier to pay some overtime when someone has to be called than to put someone on on call status.

      1. Disappointed anon*

        I am exempt so I’m pretty sure there are no labor laws requiring me to get paid for being on call. This is a pretty common thing in my industry. I don’t think I will get anywhere by asking for changes to the on call situation because they told me from the beginning that it is optional (so if I don’t like it, I can get out). Before I went into the rotation, the manager-on-call would get Friday off the week after being on call — basically a comp day to make up for the extra hours on call — but right after I went into the rotation, we changed to a 4-10s, Monday-Thursday schedule, so we already get Fridays off every week, so that benefit went away before I ever got it.

        Im not sure if it’s even worth discussing with my boss at this point because the decision has been made and they won’t change it, so it’s too late to do anything.

        1. Southern Yankee*

          Nope. Lack of communication never solves the problem. There could be any number of reasons that management made the decision it made, and some them could certainly be logical. Ideally, your manager would discuss it with you, but if they don’t, you absolutely should discuss it with them! While true that “the decision has been made and they won’t change it”, that has nothing to do with what happens in the future. You seem to be in a disappointed headed to resentful place, and don’t seem optimistic about opportunities outside your company. If you stay in the resentful place, it could impact your future a lot more than being passed over one time. If you discuss it with your manager and don’t get a logical or helpful answer, then at least you can make decisions about your future with all the facts.

        2. ginger ale for all*

          Any way that you can ask the people you help during on call to let your boss know if they liked how you did the job? If you can get 5 star ratings from outside of your department, it would help your case, jmo.

          1. Disappointed anon*

            I don’t think it would really go over well to ask for this, but when I was dealing with the crisis last week, I had to interact with a lot of people from other departments, and my boss actually mentioned to me that other managers were impressed with me. Apparently that didn’t help my cause, though.

    4. Red5*

      I think where you go from here should include dusting off your resume and start looking at other jobs. Not because you’re angry or feel like a chump, but it seems you’re getting a message that this may be as far as you go in this company. I would leverage the experience you got being the manager on-call (especially the crisis you solved) as resume fodder to see if you can get a shot at a promotion somewhere different.

    5. LaDeeDa*

      Oh I am so sorry! everything you said sounded so on the spot and the right way to reach your career goal. I think when you are feeling less emotional and down about it, this is a conversation you need to have with your manager. You have to find out where your manager sees your potential and your future.
      The conversation may not lead you to getting that role next time, but it will let you know if and why your manager isn’t considering you for leadership. The answer (or non-answer) may lead you to make a change in company.

    6. AnonAnon*

      What is your career development plan? What are your businesses’ actual career advancement policies? Has anyone provided you with an actual, sit-down mentoring session? Have you asked for one?

      Leaders owe their subordinates an actual plan for advancement and professional growth. Your supervisor should be able to sit down with you and say, “You are at X and you want to be Y. Here is what you need to do to get there.” You need to be able to have concrete, achievable professional development goals. The supervisor might say something like, “In the next six months, your goal is to complete 6 credit hours of Advanced Teapot Development,” or “We are sending you to the Teapot Management Seminar and then you will have six months to manage three subordinate Teapot Designers.” They also need an Order-of-Merit List for when these openings become available. For example, they might say, “You are number three on our list for the next temporary supervisor opportunity.”

      Right now, it sounds like your professional development program is nonexistent, and your career advancement system is sloppy and haphazard. This sort of chaos is exactly what I’d expect from an organization that never bothers to write down plans of action for professional growth and promotion. If your bosses are unwilling or unable to give you the kind of mentorship and guidance you need to advance your career, I’d ask if I need to find a new place to work.

  8. Rintintin*

    My coworker, who sits directly behind me, hums constantly. All day. The same four note tune again and again. Asking her to please stop does not help. I can only listen to music for so long, and often I can hear her through the headphones anyways. I’m asking to move to an empty desk in a different cube next week, but if that doesn’t work, what should I do?

    1. Anonymous Educator*

      Is your co-worker deliberately being a jerk, or does she honestly not realize she’s doing that? Sometimes people have little ticks that they automatically engage in without even noticing it (tapping their feet, making popping noises with their lips, yawning loudly and repeatedly, whistling, etc.). I’d say if it’s the latter, maybe you can problem-solve it together with her. Just let her know you know it’s not something she can necessarily help but then also let her know it’s very difficult for you to concentrate when she does that, and ask her what she thinks would be a good solution. If she says “You should just deal with it,” then you know she’s being deliberately a jerk. Otherwise, maybe you two can work out some kind of… something.

    2. Murphy*

      Can you get noise-canceling headphones and wear those without listening to music? If they’re good headphones, just wearing them could drown her out.

    3. Millenial Lizard Person*

      See above re: Grim Anon and workplace violence… (Just kidding!)

      Maybe a white noise machine / fan for the cube? It sounds like she isn’t interested in stopping the habit.

      1. Sloan Kittering*

        It’s weird that she isn’t stopping. It’s totally true that some habits are ingrained, and it may take more repeated reminders than you’d like in order to help her realize she’s doing it, but what you’ve written makes it sound like she isn’t even trying. I would not hesitate to remind someone five or six times a day if this was really the issue that was driving me crazy.

      2. Ishouldbeworkingrightnow*

        I am here to second the white noise/fan and retraining your brain to accept it as background noise. Good Luck.

      3. KillItWithFIRE*

        If you do get a white noise machine/fan, point it directly at her. Childish? Yes. But So is humming in a shared workspace and refusing to modify your behaviour when asked.

        1. Hamburke*

          seriously this and make it the babbling brook type! I had a white noise machine in my kids’ room when they were babies and if I hit the wrong button, we got the insta-gotta-pee babbling brook!

    4. Emily S.*

      I recommend some white noise. Videos are easy to find on YouTube with white noise for audio, and you could either use headphones or speakers.

      My office is across the street from a very loud construction zone, and this helps me a lot.

      1. LaDeeDa*

        I can’t stand listening to music while I work, so I will put on a white noise YouTube video and put my earbuds in.

    5. Bye Academia*

      I’m glad I have my own office, because I do this all the time without realizing. It’s a really hard habit to break. If I were your coworker, I’d want to be reminded each time because I honestly don’t notice that I’m doing it. I would be mortified if my coworker were sitting there stewing about it. Have you asked her to stop once, or do you keep asking every time she starts up again?

      If you can’t move, I’d assume good faith and keep bringing it up each time. Hopefully if you do this long enough she can break the habit. I’m sure you’re not the only person around her annoyed by it.

      If your coworker isn’t open to that and keeps humming, then I’m not sure what else you can do besides a white noise machine or something.

    6. Rintintin*

      Thank you for the replies. To add, this has been a problem for literally decades, apparently, and she has been asked to stop before. On my very first day of work I was told “she hums, she won’t stop, you basically gotta deal.”

      Also, she doesn’t like me, so I feel like if I am the one to ask her to stop, it might add to the animosity.

      I would use noise cancelling headphones but I work in an office where I need to hear my phone ring, or be able to talk quickly and casually with my coworkers – it’s not sustainable for every day.

      1. ArtsNerd*

        That’s absurd. I only realized I hummed when I caught myself and told my officemate “sorry, I just realized I was humming for some reason.” The chair slowly turned and she stared at me for a minute. “You didn’t know that you do that? All the time?” I was able to stop that habit basically immediately out of sheer embarrassment.

        1. valentine*

          Yes. If it’s less annoying to you to say or do something than it is to listen to music, go ahead and knock on the cube wall or IM her a music note (Alt+13) or something.

          Since everyone knows about the humster, maybe mentioning your need to escape will help you give the free cube.

  9. Anon anony*

    I’m in a toxic work place, desperately trying to get out because it is awful. Even the women that I sit by are clique-y to the point where some don’t say “good morning” if I say it, or they say “Hi” to everyone around me *EXCEPT* me.

    Or one woman says, “Good morning, X! How are you?” but I only receive a “Hi Anon!”. (The tone she uses on me is different than the one she uses on them. She is warmer towards them.)

    I don’t want to be best friends, but can’t we all be civil enough to say good morning? Why is it so hard?

    Also, if someone upsets them, then they ALL get upset. One coworker sent a nasty email to a manager because her friend was upset about a new policy. (The friend and manager were going back and forth on an issue. The coworker had to also jump in there too because her friend was upset.)

    It’s this nasty pack mentality and other stuff going on. One-on-one they’re sweet as pie, so I don’t get it. I’m just sick of being in *another* environment like this. It’s awful.

    I just feel like if I had better social skills and confidence I would know how to handle this better and/or not let it affect me so much.

    Has anyone ever been in a situation like this? Can anyone commiserate?

    1. Anonymous Educator*

      I’ve been in toxic work environments, but not that kind. Sounds horrible, though. Unfortunately, the only advice I have is to get out. I’ve never been in a toxic environment that just magically got better on its own.

    2. Minerva McGonagall*

      The people at my old job were just like that to me, and it was SO frustrating. What was most confusing was after months of them acting like this, they all expected wedding invitations and were shocked when they didn’t get one. Best advice is to keep your head down and focus on friendships outside of work, but also getting out greatly helped!

    3. Colette*

      Can you try to find it funny rather than mean? I mean, how sad does your life have to be to refuse to say hello to someone you see every day? That’s champion levels of petty right there.

      But also, this is about them, not you. It is not your fault, and you can’t change them. So if it bothers you to not have them reply when you greet them, stop greeting them. Deal with them when you need to for work, but otherwise just pretend they’re not there.

      1. Boop*

        Seconded. My general philosophy is “don’t poke the beast.” Interact when you have to, be polite and nice, but shrug it off or walk away if they ignore you or make nasty comments. It makes them look bad, not you, and everyone else in your office/department will totally know this.

    4. Leela*

      I was in a situation where I said good morning to a coworker who came in with headphones on and she didn’t respond, I assumed she didn’t hear me with the headphones so I waited until she came back from the kitchen without them and said it again, to which she said “um. you already said good morning to me.” and walked to her computer.

      I also worked at a place with someone who got really outwardly upset that I’d asked her to keep it down talking to her neighbor when I was on the phone with an important candidate and couldn’t hear them. She started doing things like (imagine it’s me, Cersei is the upset coworker, and Sarah is our awesome coworker) getting up to leave for the day, I can see that she’s staring at me so I turn to look and she smirks and goes “BYE SARAH.” while staring at me and then walks out, thinking she really stuck it to me. Sarah looks at me sympathetically because she was also there for the incident and knows it’s a direct response to her being upset.

      1. Lilysparrow*

        Oh good grief. This is how the mean girl in my kid’s fourth grade class acts.

        And we consider her immature for her age.

      2. Headshrinker Extraordinaire*

        That’s so ridiculous. I’m impressed you were able to keep a straight face. I probably would have burst out laughing after one or two of those “snubs”.

      3. Camellia*

        I’d be inclined to say “MY NAME’S NOT SARAH” just to see what she would do.

        After that I would just pretend to be so involved in my work when it’s ‘that time’ that, gosh golly gee I wouldn’t notice that she was staring at me and therefore would not turn to look at her.

    5. Hello.*

      Been there done that. My last job I was sent to another department to help out for 2 months and hadn’t seen my boss and coworker during that time. On my first day back, they said 7 words to me throughout the entire day. Hi (x2), “Bless You”, and “I’m heading out”.

      The fact is that some people just don’t realize that they aren’t in high school anymore and there isn’t much you can do about it. Just start looking elsewhere.

    6. sunshyne84*

      I’ve dealt with this at my job. I was apart of a different department than the people I sat with so I didn’t bother speaking anymore unless spoken to, but fortunately another desk became available on the other side of the building! Is there possibly another area you can sit?

    7. LabLady*

      I’m currently working in a similar environment. Where I’m at, we’re divided by a building, and the women in the front office are very cliquey. I had to work up there for two months and they would frequently get lunch/ Starbucks runs and ask everyone in the office except for me if they wanted anything.

      It really makes you want to retaliate, but really, what would it do?

    8. Rainy days*

      I’m so sorry. This sucks. It doesn’t take social skills to say hello to people.

      My office used to have a bit of this dynamic. My boss would take us on work retreats where she’d be like “How can we bond as a team?” and I would always say in front of the group, “I think it will help our team dynamic if everyone greets everyone else. I don’t think we need to bond if we can’t get that done.”

      But ultimately the only thing that helped was that the two most cliquey people left. The good thing was that since they were co-dependent, when one left the other followed. The people who replaced them are quite pleasant.

    9. Nervous Accountant*

      I’m sorry, that really sucks. I was in this same situation a few years back when I was new at my company. It was a lot smaller, about 20 or so people. Eventually all the toxic people left, so it’s changed. Then recently, a few people I’d gotten along with earlier were suddenly being jerks..individually, they were great, but together they weren’t. That also stopped eventually.

      What helped me cope and get past it is knowing it’s about them and not myself. I’m also satisfied knowing that I did my best and there’s nothing wrong with me, if someone is a jerk, that’s on them.

      Leaving is also an option. I opted not to, and I made a conscious decision to stay here so I don’t regret it. Maybe once you are closer to leaving, you will be able to look back on them and smirk and laugh.

    10. Joielle*

      This reminds me of one of my husband’s coworkers! Apparently the other day when he got to work, she was already at her desk, wearing earbuds and rummaging through some papers. She didn’t look up when he walked in and he didn’t want to surprise or interrupt her, so he didn’t say anything and went over to his desk. A little while later, she came up to him and snottily told him how rude it was that he hadn’t said good morning to her.

      He did have to (politely) correct a couple of her mistakes the day before, though, so I can only assume that’s where it was coming from. Some people are just tall children!

    11. Aggretsuko*

      Yes, the people I used to have to share an office with despised me and we did not speak unless we absolutely had to for work. It was a joy. All you can do is ignore them right back.

    12. JediSquirrel*

      It’s not about you.

      These people are jerks. They are also immature. It’s not your job to make them better people. Sure, they’re nice one-on-one, but I suspect that’s because they don’t have their toadies backing them up.

      As a veteran of toxic work environments, you really only have two choices:

      One, keep your head down, do the great job you’ve been doing, get your paycheck, and don’t take this home with you.

      Two, get out.

      I have opted for choice two most of the time; once or twice in the past, I went with option one because my commitment was for a limited amount of time (think basic training). The choice is up to you, but you know their true nature, you know it’s not your responsibility to manage it, and these kinds of situations almost always lead to passive-aggressive behavior on your part.

      1. JediSquirrel*

        Really, I meant “passive-aggressive behavior on my part”, because being snarky and ironic is one of my primary coping mechanisms. YMMV, of course.

  10. somewhere over the rainbow trout*

    Am I off base for thinking this was annoying? I’ve been in the same very large org for a long time now, had a couple different positions, have applied a lot internally, had some interviews. Every time I apply, I use my outside e-mail, not my work e-mail. But a few months ago, I got contacted about an interview for a job applied to, and it was sent only to my work e-mail and not my outside e-mail. Now, I’m not the only person in the org with my exact name, so it would have taken them some sleuthing to figure out which one I am (sleuthing they wouldn’t have to do, since my application included an e-mail address for me!). We went back and forth a few times, I had an interview, and didn’t end up getting the job, no big deal.

    But it still bugs me a little that they contacted me entirely through my work e-mail and not the one I gave them. Am I off base? I try to keep job search stuff not only separate, but all in the same place so I have it for reference. I had to keep forwarding things to myself. I don’t have access to my work e-mail outside of the VPN, whereas I have access to my outside e-mail all the time; by sending things only to my work e-mail, I could only reply while at work.

    Also, quite frankly, my work e-mail is sometimes visible to other people, especially when I share my screen on conference calls. Anyone could have seen those e-mails show up, and while my org is very good about people moving around internally and don’t hold it against you, I don’t necessarily want my boss to see every detail of my job search, you know?

    1. anna green*

      No, that’s totally weird. Why would they waste time searching out a different email address? Probably better you didn’t go to work there.

      Also, always close your email if you are sharing your screen!

      1. somewhere over the rainbow trout*

        I turn off the outlook pop-up with new e-mails when I’m presenting on really big conference calls, but on internal ones or project calls, I’ve gotten out of the habit. I should get back into it, although there are lots of times when they want me to dig up an e-mail or check my availability on my calendar for another meeting and so that wouldn’t be a perfect fix.

    2. Ann*

      I think you’re off base. When you apply internally, you should use your internal email, and expect people to communicate with you about the job internally. Also, there’s never a guarantee when you apply for an internal role that your manager won’t be notified anyway.

      1. somewhere over the rainbow trout*

        They aren’t allowed to notify managers without permission, and they recommend never using your work e-mail on the job site, because then if you leave the org and want to reapply, you won’t be able to get your password mailed to you.

        1. somewhere over the rainbow trout*

          Oh, for clarification, there’s no specific internal jobs site. All jobs are posted publicly on the internet. Some of them are listed as only internal people can apply, but everyone in the world can see those postings.

    3. Murphy*

      That’s weird. I like to keep that stuff separate as well so I wouldn’t like it if someone did that to me.

    4. Overeducated*

      If it’s an internal position I’m not actually sure that’s so bad…might be part of their standard procedure for considering internal candidates, which is likely to be a little more transparent to your manager in the long run than a totally external process.

    5. Colette*

      Generally, I’d use my work email when applying internally. It’s a different situation than applying outside the company. And if you are afraid about someone seeing something pop up when you’re sharing your screen, take action to stop that (i.e. share your second monitor if you have one, close your email program, turn off notifications).

    6. Semaj*

      Try not to be so bothered by it, I don’t think it means anything. I do hiring in my department within a University, and University-internal applicants typically use their work email address. It doesn’t matter to us either way.

      For a department-internal employee it would be especially understandable that whoever is doing the recruitment starts to type your name into their email and it auto-suggests your work email.

    7. Psyche*

      It seems a little weird but not a horrible violation. Forward the emails to yourself and reply from your preferred email. If it really bothers you, tell them you would prefer to use the other email address so that you can access it at home.

  11. FaintlyMacabre*

    I put in my two weeks notice and in both conversations with my boss and my coworker/relative they said, “You’re killing me.”

    This is so frustrating! It is completely and utterly not my fault that they don’t have extra coverage for the position, and it is especially not my fault that they’re trying to hire someone for the position at the same rate from several years ago. Fun fact- it was an insulting wage back then. Now people are less desperate AND my state’s minimum wage has been raised, making their not great salary that much more pitiful. Aaargh.

    On the plus side, despite my automatic guilt reflex, all the chaos and tooth gnashing does not make feel like I made a mistake in moving on.

    1. somewhere over the rainbow trout*

      I put in my two weeks notice and in both conversations with my boss and my coworker/relative they said, “You’re killing me.”

      If you can with your coworker/relative (don’t know about with your boss), can you try reframing it as “the boss/company is actually the one killing you”? The onus isn’t on you to provide coverage or arrange anything, it’s on management.

      1. valentine*

        If you’re the one who’s been trying to get away from this person and managed to job search and interview despite sharing a computer with the albatross, bravx!

        I would amuse myself by saying:
        ~Oh, my goodness!
        ~It’s a jolly holiday with Mary.
        ~The sun’ll come out tomorrow.

        You can’t laugh in their faces, yet, but you can breathe easier now you taste sweet freedom.

    2. neverjaunty*

      “You’re killing me” – no, seems like y’all are killing yourselves pretty good without my help.

      Recognize the guilt reflex for what it is; a reflex (the desire to be kind to others) triggered by pressure.

    3. Dust Bunny*

      Nope, not your problem.

      My boss at Long-Ago Job tried that on me. Sorry, man, you own this business. It’s on you to hire and train people, and to make sure the rest of us are happy enough to stay. Maybe you should have given me that raise you promised and then reneged, after all.

    4. manuka honey*

      I totally understand the initial jerk reaction to feeling guilty especially if a large part of your identity is being a good worker/hard working person! Regardless, you owe them nothing and congratulations on the new job! :)

    5. Bunny Girl*

      I hate this. I had a manager who tried this with me because I quit on the spot when we had two major security issues two days in a row. He was complaining that he didn’t have enough coverage. I told him it was because the wages he paid were insulting for having to deal with people who were basically wild animals, and that if he would warn people during the interview process, then maybe he would get more prepared employees.

    6. Wulfgar*

      I’m my own boss in a service position, and I don’t have backup if I need time off. I was upfront with my clients about that when they hired me. Inevitably I’m asked what they’re supposed to do when my vacation conflicts with a date that they need me. You’ve been my client for six years and never looked into another company? That’s on you, not me.

    7. Not So NewReader*

      Tell them they killed you a while ago.

      I “love” how folks like this never, ever consider their contribution to the problems.

    8. BeenThere*

      Agh, I’ve had that happen to me once, it sucked. During my exit interview, I tried to explain that I was moving on because the job didn’t have a lot of intellectual stimulation or social interaction, and the new position I found had plenty of both…

      But instead of listening, my manager tried to make my resignation about how I was leaving them in a hard position because a couple other people had also resigned recently, and how I was leaving because I was too lazy and entitled to fix the issues that had been identified in my performance review.

      I wanted to bite him. First, I did fix those issues (in less than a month even), but no one was going to know until my next performance review because no one bothered to look at my work the rest of the time. Second, the place was chronically understaffed because of a rather high turnover rate; they would have been in a hard position no matter when I left.

      Places with high turnover should seriously look at themselves and ask if they haven’t designed the kind of job/environment that makes people want to peace out… that job had been designed to be as boring and repetitive as could be and there was basically no feedback ever. No wonder people get in there and immediately want to leave.

  12. Awkward anon*

    I work in a toxic, dysfunctional workplace but there are a lot of people dating each other, having affairs. I was hit on by this young guy in front of my boss when I just started. (Unprofessional and um, no thank you!) He’s dating his boss now. It’s like bad reality tv. I’ve never seen anything like it. Can anyone relate?

      1. Awkward anon*

        True, but I don’t know if I’m overreacting or if it is wrong. (No one else at work seems to care!)

        1. Annie Moose*

          It’s definitely wrong! Boss-subordinate relationships are a HUGE no-no, and most people do not consider affairs moral. You aren’t overreacting by finding this bizarre and uncomfortable!

    1. Less Bread More Taxes*

      At my last job, during like my second week, I went for a coffee break with my team. Someone said “Isn’t it funny how there are three couples standing in this room?” There were nine of us. Six of them were married. It felt very incestuous and explained all the dysfunction I encountered over the next few months. I wish there was a tactful way to ask “So how many couples are on the team?” in interviews.

        1. Bunny Girl*

          And anything entertainment related. I worked in a haunted attraction for years and holy crap I would never take a black light in there.

    2. Lora*

      Had a job like this for exactly one year. When I came in, they swore up and down that they were putting an end to the shenanigans and indeed, they had fired a whole bunch of people to show this was serious business. The time I was there, was one looooong year of sexual harassment from married colleagues where I was punished for, apparently, holding my liquor and politely turning down dudes who spent each and every “team building exercise” grabbing at every woman within 10 feet of their bar stool. This evidently made me Not A Team Player.

      From what I hear, it hasn’t really changed since before I was hired and half the married guys there have Tinder profiles. It gives me no end of joy to see their direct competitors succeeding amazingly, growing their partnerships and their stock skyrocketing, while the Duck Company fails miserably, year after year. They’re good at selling their business to investors, but that won’t last the longer they fail to make a product.

    3. Mashed potato*

      I work in a small teapot lab company of less than 50 people in this building and I found out she got this job from meetings one of the founder on dating app and now dating another guy at work, and another girl is dating the manager. The first girl also seems to be the office gossiper / don’t tell her anything you don’t want everyone to know

      There’s other issues I have but it’s kinda toxic and dysfunctional

    4. Red5*

      Yup, can relate. Our HR director was dating (and living with) one of her direct reports. It was an open secret forever before leadership moved the report to another team. I wish this was the only story I had.

    5. Karen from Finance*

      It’s not quite AS bad here, but there are a bunch of couples and ex-couples. And there have been a lot of drunken hookups during office parties, before my time. There’s a lot of people who are married or in relationships outside the organization, but everybody seems to flirt with everybody in here. It’s getting hard to get use to and I’m not really sure that I should.

      I just came back from getting a cup of coffee, where I was surrounded by 2 guys who started to sing at me every song that they could think of that had my name in it (not Karen). It was weird but very much the kind of thing people get up to here.

    6. Hold My Cosmo*

      Can relate. Parents and kids work here, husband and wives, exes are everywhere, dating is rampant. The first thing anyone asks a summer intern is “Who are you related to?” The family tree of this company is a wreath.

    7. HR Anon*

      Yep, worked somewhere where we had pools about which babies were conceived on property…(not from the married couples either).

      1. goose goose goose duck*

        I misread this, and just saw “pools … babies conceived on property”, and I thought about the swimming pools/hot tubs at the “Intern apartment complex” that a company I used to work for runs. Apparently, at one point, that complex was on a list of “best places to get laid” published by a certain adult magazine.

    8. Juneybug*

      Oh, that sucks. But have you thought about writing a book (changing the details to protect the not so innocent)? With all of the actions (no pun intended) going around there, this book will write itself.

  13. Pinky Pie*

    Crazy thing happened on the job hunt… I got a ‘thanks but no thanks’ email followed by a email from the recruiter letting me know this is an error and I’m under consideration. Job hasn’t closed yet.

    1. fposte*

      It happens. Autofill grabbed Tangerina A’s email when they wanted to reject Tangerina C, that kind of thing. And people do get rejected before the job technically closes.

    2. SaaSyPaaS*

      It was probably a mistake. At one job I had, I had been there for about two weeks when I got a rejection email saying they had decided to go with another candidate. I was like, “But I’m already here…?” It turned out that it was an automatically generated email. We had a good (awkward) laugh about it.

    3. Lily Rowan*

      Yeah, I’m pretty sure I auto-rejected everyone in a pool one time, before reviewing anything! Oops.

      Good luck!

    4. Garland not Andrews*

      I can see this as being a “Oh crap! Oh crap! Oh crap! How do I get that back? AARRRGGGHHH!!!” moment for the recruiter.

    5. Andrea*

      I got a rejection for a job, a month after I started doing the job. :) Sometimes the recruiter hits the wrong button.

  14. Jack Be Nimble*

    I’m supposed to work 9-5, but I typically get in between 8:30 and 8:45 and leave promptly at five, since I take the bus and it gets less and less reliable after that. My boss keeps commenting on how late one of my coworkers stays and recently said “it must be nice to leave while the sun is still up!” to me as I was packing up my things.

    I get good reviews, and she hasn’t said anything about my hours during our one-on-ones. Should I bring this up proactively, (“Clementia, you’ve commented as I’m preparing to leave several times, would you like me to adjust my times?”) or just ignore it until she says something more direct?

    1. Anonymous Educator*

      I think I’d bring it up as “Are you unhappy with my work? Are there things you want me to get done that I’m not getting done?” instead of “Would you like me to adjust my times?” But, yeah, I think a lot of managers who value face time over actual work getting done or over the quality of work getting done tend to favor people who come in later and stay later over people who come in earlier and leave earlier.

    2. Colette*

      “Clementia, you’ve commented on my hours a few times. As you know, I get in between 8:30 and 8:45, but I have to leave directly at 5 to catch my bus. Is that causing problems?”

      1. Anonymous Educator*

        This is good. I actually wonder whether you’ve been explicit about the need to catch the bus or not. One time I had a really long commute (1 hour and 45 minutes each way), and I had a very specific commuter rail to catch to get home. If I didn’t get that one, the next train was 40 minutes later. So I told my boss specifically that I’d be leaving exactly five minutes after the work day was done to catch that train, and my boss was fine with it. Not that yours would necessarily be fine with it, but sometimes it’s good to be explicit about “I’m leaving for this logistical reason and not because I hate my job and can’t wait to get out of here.”

        1. Jack Be Nimble*

          That’s a really good point! I definitely need to make sure that we’re on the same page about why I leave when I do!

          1. valentine*

            Don’t offer to adjust your hours unless you really want to surrender them. In time, she wouldn’t remember it was a sacrifice for you and might come up with something else to gripe about.

    3. Armchair Analyst*

      I think a direct conversation is good, and also acknowledging the reality: “I am leaving now to catch my bus because it’s not reliable after this time.”

      Today I dropped my son off at our school carpool meetup place and… I was in my nightshirt and jeans. I was not very embarrassed and neither was the dad driver but he did say, “Oh I kind of wish I had the sort of lifestyle where I could head back home to get ready.” I jokingly reminded him that I am heading back home to help my husband get two preschoolers ready and we could really use the help, did he want to help us? He said no.

      I think people just see your life through their own narrow viewpoint. You’re probably fine but a direct conversation or reminder is ok.

      1. Anonymous Educator*

        I was not very embarrassed and neither was the dad driver but he did say, “Oh I kind of wish I had the sort of lifestyle where I could head back home to get ready.”

        Slight tangent: I really hate when people say things like “It must be nice” or “I wish I had that lifestyle,” when they really have no idea how it is for you.

        1. Moonbeam Malone*

          Oh gosh, yes. When I was struggling to find full time work and stuck part-time with a really toxic living situation (because I couldn’t afford to move!) a coworker said to me, re: being a part-timer, “enjoy it while you can!” I was not enjoying it! At all! Keep your opinions to yourself, buddy!

        2. Parenthetically*

          I sometimes say TO MYSELF, “Ah well, must be nice to be rich” when one of my better-off friends goes on a fancy vacation or something (when we haven’t had so much as a weekend away in going on two years), just as a kind of “que sera sera” thing, but I would never dream of saying it TO someone.

          I also think a good response to that is a cheery, breezy, “Yeah, it really is, thank you! Every life has its ups and downs and this is one of the ups” or something similar.

          1. Armchair Analyst*

            I made up a story in my head where all the rich people got their money from beloved relatives who died and left it in their will. That way, in my head, The Rich People are sad about losing their beloved relative. It helps me have empathy for people jetting off from their private helipad to their private yacht.

            In this story, I’m not sure where The Rich People’s dead relatives got their money. I haven’t thought that through yet.

            1. Parenthetically*

              Way back in the mists of time, the ancestress of the Rich People made her money on… I dunno, a profitable but fair, community based housing initiative. Or was Madam C.J. Walker. Or something heartwarming. ;)

        3. Jack Be Nimble*

          More than seconded! I don’t think anyone’s ever said “it must be nice” and meant it in a friendly way.

        4. BeenThere*

          That sort of comment really needs to disappear. I was talking with a coworker last week about the average number of steps we take everyday because she got a FitBit. I told her I had no idea how many I took but that I walked on average about 1h everyday.

          “Must be nice to have so much time for exercise!” she commented, not knowing that the reason I walk so much is because my commute to work is about 1h15 and I need to drag myself between the several different bus and metro lines I take. I was more than a little miffed that she assumed it was “nice” – especially since that day I had missed one of my buses and had had to walk an extra 15 minutes during a snowstorm.

        5. Hamburke*

          I used to work from home with OldJob. I’d walk my kids to the bus stop in gym clothes, walk to the gym, workout and be home in time to shower and start work. That kind of lifestyle is great and I worked really hard to find a flexible job where I could do that. I said to way too many people, “You could too – if you can’t do it with your current job, look for another job where it’s possible.”

          I could actually do that with my current job too – most days (I cover phones once a week) – but I like putting in face time with my boss.

        6. Mina, The Company Prom Queen*

          I hate when people say “must be nice” too. It’s incredibly rude to say that. I agree that nobody says that in a nice way. There are good comebacks for when someone says that, but it’s probably best to just take the high road (with your boss or with anyone, really). You’ll still have what you have and Ms. or Mr. Must Be Nice will still be miserable being themselves. I like the advice about asking your boss if she is dissatisfied with your work, and also explaining that you leave right on time to catch the bus. But yes, “must be nice” is very rude.

    4. Annie Moose*

      Have you ever said something in the moment? e.g. “well, that’s why I come in early!” or “gotta catch my bus!” or something like that. If she hasn’t mentioned your hours as a problem, I wonder if she just meant it as a little joke and hasn’t realized how frequently she’s mentioned your coworker.

      But yeah, if it’s bothering you and your boss is otherwise reasonable, it wouldn’t hurt to bring it up. That way you both know you’re on the same page about your schedule.

      1. Jack Be Nimble*

        I think part of it is her personality! She loves to chat, and I don’t think she thinks very much about what she says. She almost definitely doesn’t realize how often she’s commenting on my coworker’s late hours or my promptly-at-five departures.

    5. Utoh!*

      Like someone else mentioned, you should confirm that your supervisor knows your schedule and why you need to leave at 5. Hopefully that will cut down (or out) the comments. I would find that extremely annoying and would want to nip it in the bud instead of waiting for her to say something (and actually she’s already said something, albeit in a passive-aggressive, offhand way as opposed to directly).

    6. CupcakeCounter*

      Have the conversation but don’t offer to adjust your times. Make it clear you take public transportation and there is a reliability issue after certain times. Make it clear that IF you are needed (and I mean really needed not just a “well it would be nice if you stayed a little later here and there”) you will obviously stay later to make sure the work gets done but in general you need to leave by X time to make the bus.

    7. Seeking Second Childhood*

      A thought — is it possible she just means it’s really nice that the days are getting longer?

    8. Jack Be Nimble*

      Thanks, all!

      You’re right, it’s not helpful to ignore her comments just because I’m frustrated with the way she’s phrasing them. Current game plan is to tell her about the constraints on my commute during my next one-to-one (I’ve mentioned it in passing, but it will be helpful to get it on the record!) and go from there. If she comments again as I’m leaving, I’ll definitely try to use Annie Moose’s script and say something like “yup, gotta catch my bus!”

      Part of the solution will also be for me to get over it–in a previous job, I had a manager who expected everyone to stay until 7, no matter when you got in. I got in before 8 most mornings, and got a lot of snide comments when I left at 4:30. I’m defensive because of that, so I just need to remember that this is a different office and a different manager!

    9. Eccentric Smurf*

      Just out of curiosity, is she saying that where the other coworker can hear? I had a boss once who would do things like that to encourage other people to change something. I.e. if you got your work done in a timely manner OtherCoworker, you could go home while the sun is up like Jack. Wouldn’t that be great?

      (Yes, I realize this is a terrible way to communicate, but I have seen it quite a bit. )

  15. Lumos*

    I have a payroll question. I’m an accountant with a small firm and it’s tax season. I do my own taxes through the firm, my supervisor checks them for accuracy, signs off on them and then they’re submitted through the firm. I’m hourly non-exempt, and I thought that I would be paid for that time. My supervisor isn’t sure. I looked up an FLSA fact sheet and I guess I could see an argument for both sides, but I’m really not sure.

        1. pandq*

          That is most likely a cost the firm is probably paying to e-file your return through the outside software vendor. It sounds like you are not paying for the checking for accuracy? I don’t think my old firm would have paid for your time for preparation of your own return.

        2. MoopySwarpet*

          I guess to clarify . . . are you paying the same fee an outside person would pay to have you prepare your taxes? Or is it just a fee to cover the actual out of pocket cost of submission.

          If you are paying for labor and then are actually DOING the labor, you should get paid. If you’re paying a nominal fee for the software and your supervisor’s time, you shouldn’t necessarily be paid.

          Although, I think it depends on the amount of hours and rate of pay you’re talking about. If it’s pretty minimal (an hour or two), I’d probably just pay you if I were your boss.

    1. Foreign Octopus*

      Are you paying the company to do your taxes? In that case, yes you should be paid for your time.

      Is this a benefit of your employment there? Also paid for your time.

      Is this just a way to consolidate your time i.e. you’re doing taxes so you throw yours on the pile? Maybe not.

    2. LadyByTheLake*

      Is having the firm do your taxes a benefit they offer? If so, I think that time would be paid. If not, no.

    3. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      I’m flinching at doing your taxes through them, you’re an accountant, it’s so unnecessary IMO.

      If you’re being required to do them thorough their service, it’s paid time. If you’re not required and it’s a perk, you’re not doing it on paid time. It’s about the requirements set forth by your employer and if it’s seen as work or not.

      I still am really uncomfortable with using a firm for personal returns unless you’ve got some complex income or write offs…

    4. WellRed*

      I don’t know. I am a writer, but at work I am paid to write for the company, not my personal stories.

    5. Mobuy*

      How long will it take? A couple of hours or less? They should just let you do it on the clock as a perq. Half a day or more? A little iffier.

  16. Rhymes with Mitochondria*

    I need a good reminder app for my Windows computer. I do NOT want a phone app, just something that will pop up reminders when I am at my computer and can handle recurring reminders on, say, the 15th of the month. Windows has a “remind me” one but it won’t pop up and can’t do recurring reminders like that.

      1. Lucy*

        I use Google for private life and Outlook for work. I prefer Outlook.

        Outlook tasks are very flexible – they can recur daily/weekly/monthly/yearly (choose particular weekdays, or “second Thursday of the month”, or to generate the item for a certain period after you complete it) – and the associated reminders are also customisable. I run tasks with actual due dates but then reminders a suitable distance out, if necessary. The whole set functions as a to-do list marked for importance and urgency, and each item can have attachments and text associated – e.g. paying a bill could have a scan of the bill attached, and a hyperlink to the payment site in the text.

        I find Google less flexible EXCEPT THAT the notifications are more useful to me as I run Google on my smartphone so the notifications pop up in my hand/on my hip, and they’re easier to share (eg with my spouse when relating to our children).

    1. Murphy*

      I have an extension for Chrome called Cool Clock. You can set alarms through that, which might get the job done.

    2. rocklobsterbot*

      do you use outlook? you can set up regular meetings at various intervals and use the meeting reminders?

    3. Annie Moose*

      What version of Windows are you running? Windows 10 has the Calendar app, although I haven’t used it and can’t comment on how well it works. It can sync with Outlook/Google calendars, as far as I know, and can pop up in your Windows notifications.

    4. epi*

      If you have Windows 8 or 10, there are multiple ways to do this. Both versions of Windows have a built-in assistant app called Cortana. You can create reminders within the app at your desktop.

      Windows 10 and I believe Windows 8 also have built-in email and calendar apps. You could sync an account to those and use them to serve you reminders while you’re at that computer. You could also decline to sync them to anything, and use the calendar app just for reminders you want to pop up while you are using that machine.

      It is possible to use the Task Scheduler to create popup reminders for yourself in Windows 7. I won’t link right now so this won’t be caught in moderation, but if you Google “Windows 7 reminders”, an article on it is one of the first results.

    5. Amy Farrah Fowler*

      Outlook reminders. They keep my entire schedule on track at work. You can set recurring reminders and you can also tell it how early to remind you of an upcoming event.

  17. seller of teapots*

    Just passed 9 months pregnant over here! Any advice on making it through the final weeks while working?

    During my last pregnancy 2 years ago, I worked from home full time, so it was a lot easier on me physically. I’m just finding myself exhausted these days, and my motivation/focus is slipping.

    1. Sloan Kittering*

      Hopefully you are winding down at work and preparing for your leave … I don’t think it’s reasonable to expect yourself to go at 100% when there is a nine month old inside you, and I’m not sure anybody else would expect you to either. Is this an opportunity to prioritize the few most important things you need to get clear of your desk, maybe?

      1. seller of teapots*

        Truthfully, I don’t know that anyone is expecting me to operate at 100% aside from myself! This is a good reminder that it’s okay to prioritize and take it a bit easy. I’m in my first year as a manager, so I think I feel an extra layer of guilt that I’m letting my team down.

        1. Sloan Kittering*

          I guess just thinking if you’re about to be unavailable, it is actually a good sign if you don’t have a whole ton of urgent things in your waning days that need you badly. That should be natural because you’ve handed stuff off successfully / empowered your team, and is a good sign for how well they will be able to cope once you’re on leave!

    2. Rusty Shackelford*

      I don’t know if this is an option for you, but in my last weeks, I took every Wednesday off.

      1. seller of teapots*

        I don’t quite have the time off for that (well, technically I do, but I want to save it for a summer staycation), but I have started wfh every Wednesday and that has really helped. Next week I think I might add Tuesday as well, actually.

      2. seller of teapots*

        You know, I’ve started WFH every Wednesday and that has been a godsend. Maybe next week I’ll add Tuesday, actually.

    3. Phx Acct, now with dragons*

      I found baby #2 and #3 WAY different at the end. With #1 I was all chipper-nesting-manic. I was super-productive at work and astounded my coworkers with my energy.

      #2 I felt just as you do. To be honest, I drank a crapton of coffee to stay awake those last few weeks. Of course, not everyone indulges in caffeine (and me only at the end there), but… it helped. I also got up regularly for short walks and made sure I ate small amounts throughout the day. I was on the borderline for gestational diabetes for the last two kids, so my blood sugar and activity had a direct impact on my energy levels.

      #3 I gave up trying I worked from home exclusively. It was end of August, during Phx monsoon season, and I was the size of a sweaty house. At that point, I just rolled with it. Very, very slow rolling.

      1. seller of teapots*

        This is so encouraging! Which sounds strange, because you’re talking about being exhausted and uncomfortable, but…pregnancy! Reminds me to go make another cup of tea, in fact.

        The short walks is a good call! I definitely could do a bit more of that to keep my energy levels up.

      2. Phx Acct, now with dragons*

        I guess it didn’t really answer your question, I apologize. My advice would be to you to take it as it comes. Every pregnancy is different and you just have to roll with what your body gives you. Try a couple of different things and see if they work for you. Take frequent breaks that aren’t to the bathroom, eat small amounts throughout the day, and focus on clearing your desk off.

        For all three, the First-trimester fatigue was terrible. I would sleep under my desk during my lunch hour. Is there a quiet place you can do that? An un-used conference room or nursing room?

        1. seller of teapots*

          Haha, oh man the fatigue lasted well into my second trimester this time! (Last pregnancy I was that obnoxious lady who loved being pregnant, haha)

          Trusting your body and honoring what it needs…what a novel concept! Haha, feels like good intention to channel before labor, too.

          And thank you, I do feel like both of your comments were really helpful and answered my question!

          1. Phx Acct, now with dragons*

            Lol! That was #3 for me. AND I puked the whole time. Not nausea, just random, without warning blowouts. My boss thought it was hilarious. Me, not so much.

            But hey, I LOST 20# that pregnancy, and the giant baby I produced is pretty cute now.

            Anyway, before I get any further off topic, give yourself a break. You’re doing fine.

    4. WellRed*

      My boss worked at home the last couple of weeks. She was too uncomfortable, physically, to drive in and she lived in mortal fear of going into labor in the office ; )

    5. TXAdmin*

      I can SOOO relate to this. I’m almost 37 weeks and I’m just OVER IT. I’m an admin, so my work isn’t physically demanding, but the chair has become uncomfortable, all clothes are uncomfortable and generally being expected to be friendly and chipper is really wearing me down. My job doesn’t offer any work from home options, so I’m stuck in the suffering. I also work in a very male-dominated field and office, so even though they almost all have wives and children, none of them truly know how uncomfortable life is at the moment.

      1. seller of teapots*

        Regarding clothes: I am currently wearing a men’s XL tshirt to work. It’s masked under a big scarf and a sweater, but we’ve reached that point. I also wore this same tshirt to bed. Ha!

        I think you’re right; having to be *on* is, I think, especially draining at this stage. Good luck, mama!

    6. Katie*

      I just did a lot of small, easily accomplished projects that didn’t require a lot of brain power to complete – hey you won’t know if you’ll be there tomorrow to finish it! Now’s a good time to organize your email inbox/backlog, clean and organize your desk files, make sure your contact list/away message/task list is ready for your boss etc. I don’t know what kind of work you’re in, but if you have the opportunity to take several small breaks, I took a lot of short walks towards the end.

    7. Lady Kelvin*

      I hear you on the lack of focus! I’m now a week past (they’re inducing on Monday if kiddo doesn’t show up this weekend) and I am exhausted. I’ve been working from home every Wednesday and also just allowing myself to not be productive. I made a list of “have to do, should do, want to dos” and started on the have to dos and worked my way through the list so that I could get everything I needed to done and if I missed stuff it wasn’t as important. Since I’ve been here two weeks longer than planned, I’ve finished all my list and more. For me, coming to work has kept me sane vs sitting at home and waiting. But mostly, nobody else expects you to be at 100% so give yourself permission to not be at 100%. It just makes you stressed out and that’s not good for you or baby.

    8. iglwif*

      I mean, presumably you are in the winding-things-up-and-handing-off-to-your-replacement stage now? (I hope so!!) Probably nobody except you is expecting you to be firing on all cylinders and most of your co-workers are doing in their heads what all of mine kept doing out loud in my last few weeks at work, which is asking, “Is she STILL HERE??” So my advice would be to really relax your expectations of yourself, do what you can do, and try not to stress about what you can’t get to. (And try not to kill people who insist on asking you if you’re still there when they can plainly see you sitting right in front of them.)

      I had a summer baby and no A/C at home, so my usual advice also includes “enjoy the office A/C while you still can”, but if you’re in the Northern Hemisphere that presumably doesn’t apply to you ;)

      Congrats on the impending new arrival! :D

    9. Seeking Second Childhood*

      My voice of experience is to have your projects ready to turn over every day when you go home…my daughter decided to come early!

      1. Ooh, Baby Baby!*

        I second Seeking Second Childhood. My first came at 35 weeks- days after a product launch when I had so much left to do! Second child waited until 40 weeks and I was dying-I had finished everything by 37 weeks since I thought I’d go early again! Take it easy, waddle freely and prioritize what needs to get done. Ignore any comments about how tired you look! Good luck!!

    10. CaptainLaura*

      At my workplace, parking and walking is a big event due to the size of the facility. My doctor ok’d a 2 month temporary disabled parking pass at the end of my pregnancy so I could park closer to the door. It also saved a ton of time when leaving for appointments.

      I ended up getting clearance to go out on disability at 37w4d. My baby made an unexpected, splashy entrance two days later.

  18. Scott M.*

    How do others handle working for a company that gets bad press? I work for a utility company. From inside, I know that the company is well run and the employees and executives care about the customers. But new stories are invariably negative. Whether it is a story about higher bills, or an accident involving the product we deliver, or a billing mistake from an I.T. vendor, we are invariably painted as an evil greedy corporation.
    It gotten so that I hate opening the paper anymore. And this is coming from a person who actually subscribes to a real newspaper, and reads it every day.
    Am I just identifying with my job too much?

    1. Ali G*

      You can’t take it personally. There will always be someone out there that doesn’t like what your company does/how they do it, etc.
      I worked for 15 years for companies that were regularly protested with long-term campaigns launched against them. There will always be someone yelling and screaming from the sidelines, but it’s not about you.
      Repeat – It’s not about you.
      Does your company do anything to counteract the negative press? Maybe you could assist with that – would that help you feel like you have some control over it? I personally did not like being in charge of responding to negative claims and stuff. It’s a losing battle sometimes. But some people enjoy it!

    2. FFHP*

      Same. I work for a large public school district and nearly every day there’s a negative story in the news about one of our 80+ schools, 55,000+ students or 7,000+ employees. In sheer numbers we’re larger than many cities, and we are constantly dealing with the effects of poverty in our schools, so OF COURSE things are going to happen. We NEVER want anything bad to happen and actively work to prevent things from happening. Most of our employees truly care about the students and want them to succeed, and anonymous parent surveys show most students and families have good experiences in our schools. Statistically speaking, most all of our students graduate on time and never experience an unsafe event at school.
      When something negative does happen, it’s really hard to watch the news coverage and see how things get reported inaccurately, or how incidents get blown out of proportion. We’re always painted as irresponsible, uncaring, etc., but by and large it’s not true. I will say our Communication office has done a great job giving the media positive stories about things going on with our students and employees – because for every negative story, there are at least 5 positive stories.

    3. MuseumChick*

      Optics will always be a problem for certain companies/industries. People love to complain and its much rarer for them to discuss when they have gotten good service. For example, nearly every apartment complex I have ever lived in has lots of negatives reviews on line. I have loved each place and never had any issues except fora noise issue in one apartment.

      You cannot take it personally. It’s simply human nature.

    4. Lora*

      Oh gosh. I work for Big Pharma. I have worked for the biggest of Big Pharma. I often want to shove the entire Marketing Department into a volcano in the hopes that their sacrifice might raise the average ethical behavior of the field. I’ve had to do a LOT of mandatory court-ordered company-wide trainings that were essentially, “Marketing fked up and tried to bribe a regulatory agent, FYI passing bribes is wrong”. I mean, I’m clear on why human sacrifice is technically wrong, I’m just saying, sometimes, I understand.

      I just remind myself that if I actually want to make drugs, this is where you do it.

      1. MuseumChick*

        I have a friend who works in a field closely related to Big Pharma. I showed him this post and he couldn’t stop laughing.

        1. Lora*

          I mean, we do a lot of cool stuff that you really cannot do anywhere else! I personally have been on teams where we took a drug all the way from Drug Disco to Commercial and got to see our “huh, that’s a weird result…” turn into actual parents of patients showing us pictures of their kids who lived past age 8 thanks to the drugs that resulted from our work, while we shuffle our feet and get all embarrassed. So that’s a thing you hardly ever get to do in other jobs. And we get to play with really cool technology that the academics don’t have, which is very nice and makes things much faster. There’s a lot of good things.

          I just despise the Marketing Department, everywhere, all of them, in pharma. I understand the calculus of why they exist, I understand the math behind their continued employment, I just hate their work beyond my ability to put into human language.

          1. MuseumChick*

            I feel you. I kind of hate all Marketing Departments (I apologize to anyone who works in marketing). I’ve noticed (having worked at most smaller places, like less than 100 employees) that if the Marketing Department people start to be promoted it spell doom for an organization because everything becomes more Flash than Substance. But that just my (very biased) opinion.

          2. neverjaunty*

            The math behind their continued employment is very flawed. Because apparently nobody is considering the actual costs of the negative publicity, the regulatory scrutiny, the lawsuits….. my guess is your C-suite doesn’t want to see it (after all, they’re not getting a balance sheet showing that in dollars and cents) and Marketing, being Marketing, is very good at talking their way out of it.

            1. Lora*

              No, they do consider it. They just still come out ahead. It might be $0.01 ahead, but it’s ahead.

              Example of one I have not worked for: J&J fined 2.2B USD for marketing shenanigans of Risperdal.

              Sales of Risperdal: estimated at 30B USD while it was still under patent, currently about 1.5B / year after going generic
              R&D costs ~ 1B
              Marketing costs ~2B (Marketing regularly has 2-3X the R&D annual budget at any given Big Pharma)

              Lawsuit costs vary widely by company. They don’t have as many lawsuits as you’d think, many big ones that you’d imagine would look like a nice big fish to any tort lawyer, actually don’t get sued all that much because the company makes examples of plaintiffs and makes them go all the way to the Supreme Court, and not many people can afford that kind of litigation. They are very used to regulatory scrutiny, to the point that it doesn’t much bother them; they have often reckoned that it’s cheaper to pay the consent decree and keep operating like crap than to actually upgrade a facility. And the publicity doesn’t actually hurt them much either – if you’re sick and in pain, are you actually going to hand a scrip back to your doctor and say, “no thanks, I’ll just have my leg fall off / continue wishing for death to bring me peace, I disagree with this manufacturer’s ethos”? The people who need the drugs NEED them, and if they are the only game in town (they often are), there’s no other option really.

              So, it sucks. But there’s nothing I personally can do about it, other than complain about how dumb it is.

          3. JustaTech*

            Oh, a volcano! I’ve never thought of that. It’s not bad now, but my biotech was briefly owned by the Worst People In The World, like, the NYT would find any excuse to kick them (and they deserved it).
            It’s soooo frustrating. With close friends and family I would often say “that’s the Evil Overlords, at it again!” in a tone that conveyed frustration and disassociation.
            I and my immediate team are not the people who are doing the thing that gets the company on the nightly news, and no I don’t want to listen to you tell me I’m a bad person.

            (The training on how not to bribe Russian officials was at least sort of funny in its absurdity.)

      2. Anon4This*

        I feel you. I work in healthcare and we’ve been in the news a lot over the last couple years with big lawsuits. What’s frustrating to me is that no one here seems to understand that things like Medicare fraud are a big no-no. Some of the people who were found guilty are still working here, and I would very much like to throw their whole department in a volcano, too.

        Somehow, the system still seems to have a good reputation overall, but I personally have lost a lot of respect for them based on the articles I’ve read.

      3. Maggie May*

        oh man, we are a global company and I don’t know how many times I’ve had to sit through “don’t freaking bribe people” training.

        like, is it wrong to buy the customs official a coke? is it wrong to give the customs official $50? Even if you reaaaaaaaaaalllyyyy need your stuff?

    5. Annie Moose*

      I work for a government contractor, and man… the inaccuracies that end up in newspapers! Every time there’s some technical problem, out come the conspiracy theories, even though the reality is something like, a programmer wrote a date calculation that’s off by one day and it was caught almost immediately. You just gotta be prepared for you and the people around you to be misrepresented… and maybe avoid those articles. You can’t stop it from happening, but you can continue to do a solid job and know at least for yourself that you’re doing what’s right.

      1. Guacamole Bob*

        The inaccuracies kill me. It’s not so much that the facts are wrong, usually, as that they don’t have all the right context or they try to make something sound like a big deal when it really isn’t.

        “Agency spent tons of money on useless consultant report!” Well, no, it wasn’t useless, because of X, Y, and Z that wasn’t reported. “Agency considering doing crazy thing!” No, one board member asked an off-the-wall question and staff answered it and nothing is going any further than that. “Agency spent tons of money doing bureaucratic thing!” Yes, we did follow federal regulations as required, thank you very much.

    6. Autumnheart*

      I work for a well-known company, which has gotten a lot of good press in the last few years, but about 10 years ago it was all bad news, all the time. I basically avoided reading those articles. Suffice to say that even reporters don’t have an inside view of what’s actually going on in the company, and while it is immensely frustrating to see the narrative controlled by a person who really doesn’t know what they’re talking about, it’s not something you can change. Plus, your company almost certainly has a team whose job it is to handle PR, so someone else gets paid to deal with it.

    7. Utoh!*

      I also work for a utility company (in IT) and bad press just comes with the territory. To top it off, we are a monopoly so we are under even more scrutiny. I take comfort in knowing I work for a company that really does put its money where its mouth is, and yes, we do have to raise our rates, but we also do a great deal of community outreach and assistance to our customers. I only identify with my job as far as how I perform it, everything else is out of my control.

    8. Guacamole Bob*

      I feel you on this one. I’m in a similar agency, and it sometimes drives me nuts, especially the way many decisions about how our agency operates are made in stupid political ways that aren’t what’s best for our customers.

      I try to focus on the good: the fact that my coworkers are great, we are doing good work that’s important to our customers and to the city we live in, that it’s a good working environment. I’m infuriated by our relationship to the media, but it’s important to consciously take a deep breath and move on after a particularly inaccurate or out-of-context article comes out in the paper. Take 5 minutes to rant to a colleague or family member about it, but don’t get hung up on it.

      And don’t post about it on social media, however tempted you might be.

    9. Sleepytime Tea*

      Oh I worked for a utility company, so I feel you here. We were shutting down a coal plant and got negative press for killing jobs (but no positive press for reducing our reliance on high carbon emission energy production). We were building a new natural gas facility that would help with picking up the slack from getting rid of said coal plant, and got negative press for that, even though it created jobs, was filling a desperate need in the area, and was significantly cleaner than coal. Not to mention it was also providing natural gas for SHIPS, which can’t use something like wind or solar, so we were reducing reliance on coal and gas where there wasn’t really another alternative.

      We had protesters outside our office on multiple occasions and so I came into work a few times with tons of police at every door checking our badges. No one wants to talk about how if we just got rid of gas entirely like the protesters were suggesting that meant that everyone with gas appliances would have to buy new ones and rewire their house for electric for those appliances.

      Anyways, yes, I feel your pain. That said, don’t identify with your job too much on these things. Negative news sells papers. When I talked with people who would complain about rates or things, I educated them. When I talked to people complaining about the natural gas facility, I educated them. Sometimes people appreciated the information, sometimes they were stubborn about it and refused to listen. People are like that. The best you can do is educate the people you come into contact with, and ignore the rest.

      1. Midwest utility anon*

        Exactly! Totally agree with the “educate the ones you come into contact with”. It does make a difference.

        I work for a large utility and yeah, the only stuff printed is about raising rates, gas explosions, blackouts, or other complaints. The good stuff like purchasing solar and wind farms, putting money into renewable research, donations for schools and environmental issues are tiny paragraphs on page 12.

        I figure this gives me an excellent example of how our local news media works and reports. It’s increased my awareness of looking for both sides of the story, since I see how skewed the reporting is for my particular company.

    10. Not So NewReader*

      My uncle worked for Well Known Paper. He worked there for decades. He said it’s very important to remember that a news article is nothing more than what the reporter sees from where they are standing. He went on to explain that at least 90% of news stories are NOT true. The story has embellishments, missing key details, biases, missing entire major components of the story, and some things are pure and out right lies.

      I got in the paper at one point by a situation blown so out of proportion, that the report did not even tell what actually happened. A couple of kind friends said, “Are you alright?” Yep. I am good here. I don’t think the reporter even understood the situation. That is what it looked like when I read the article.
      In that moment what my uncle had warned me about come home to roost.

      All we can do is learn from it. We can offer other people the benefit of the doubt more often We can say things like, “I know what happened with my work/company so I know that stuff gets distorted sometimes to the point of beyond recognition.”
      And we can encourage other people to get news from more than one source. This helps also.

    11. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      It’s like property managers. You can never believe the press or coverage. When you work for a general public serving job, lots of people will hate you just got existing.

      Detach detach detach.

    12. swingbattabatta*

      I’m also in the utility industry, and I fantasize about writing editorials or corrections to articles. Never do, and have to strongly resist the urge to comment online, but MAN do I show them what’s what in my head.

    13. many bells down*

      My husband works for a video game company. Hoo boy. Any announcement AT ALL will invariably be met by huge blog articles about how awful it is. And in the last year or so there’s been two very negative stories released about the company.
      Gamers are a very … passionate bunch. And it’s impossible to make them all happy.

    14. Fake old Converse shoes (not in the US)*

      I worked as a contractor for a local government agency for some time. We had people protesting near our building twice a week, even a large group occupied the lobby and stayed all day. It took ages to get me out of there, and as far as I know they haven’t found my replacement yet.

  19. I'm not a Serial Job Hopper, Really*

    I’ve been with my company for 6 years and finally found a new position internally 8 months ago (different division of the company). Our company rule is that you have to wait a year before positing internally but a new job posted that I’m very interested in. Would it be terrible if I applied for it even though I haven’t been in the new role for a year? (The new role is def. not a good fit for me). And if I do apply, do I mention it in my cover letter?

    1. somewhere over the rainbow trout*

      Our company rule is that you have to wait a year before positing internally but a new job posted that I’m very interested in.

      Is this hard-and-fast in writing that they will not consider you for an internal job if you haven’t had the current one for a year?

    2. Armchair Analyst*

      Go ahead and apply. Act like you didn’t know or were surprised about the requirement “oh, it certainly felt like a year”. What the worst they can do, fire you?

    3. Scott M.*

      If you apply for it through normal channels, I bet that it would be seen as a negative. You may be viewed as an employee that can’t even follow one simple rule.
      One possibility is to discuss it with your manager and see if she can indicate your interest through other channels (if she is OK with losing you).
      Otherwise, I wouldn’t do it.

      1. Kathenus*

        Agree with Scott M. Since there is definitely the possibility of it being perceived as negative (didn’t take the time to look at the rules, thinks they are above the rules, etc.), asking the question directly about whether or not the rule is hard and fast or if there is any flexibility might be the best option.

      2. Seeking Second Childhood*

        This sounds good to me — if your manager’s willing to recommend you to the other group and that other group’s actual hire-to-start date is out four months after you hit your anniversary, it would be an all-around positive.
        If you don’t want to discuss it with your manager, is your organization the kind where you might actually meet up with the other hiring manager in the cafeteria/breakroom/etc? If yes, say hello and say you saw their your post in the newsletter and wish it were just a few months later because you haven’t hit the magic 12-month mark in your current role. Ask how long the position might stay open or re-open… and take it from there.
        Good luck!

    4. Semaj*

      Don’t do it. There’s a similar rule where I work and applicants are asked to confirm that they are ‘eligible’ (past their probationary period) before they apply. If I trusted that you applied under the rules of the company and I wasted all this time interviewing you and extending an offer, only to have your current boss call me up and inform me you aren’t even eligible I’d be pissed. The rules are different everywhere, but there’s a potential to burn bridges here and to look shady both to your current department and the new one.

    5. Psyche*

      When would the new job start? I work somewhere with the same requirement and applied after 10 months, but the job started exactly a year after I started my previous position so it didn’t cause any issues. They do make exceptions if your current manager agrees so I would not have had a problem, but it would have been extra paperwork.

      1. Psyche*

        Additionally, is this something you can talk to your current manager about? If your current manager agrees it is a bad fit they may help you with applying for internal positions. Of course all of this depends on how much you trust your manager.

  20. Very anon for this one*

    I am part of a Facebook group where there are part time, one-off gigs posted frequently and if you are available, you can respond. Although the following post was eventually deleted, people had some thoughts about this. I’d love to get your thoughts on it too.

    Seeking 2 llama groomers for XYZ event March 1st, will be grooming llamas!

    2 female llama groomers
    Race – Caucasian
    Height 5’7 +
    Must have- All black llama grooming outfit
    Will be grooming llamas- Basic llama grooming knowledge ***

    Date: March 1 2019
    Time: 3-9
    Base pay $XX + TIPS
    Place: City, State (will reimburse up to $X for travel)

    Please email resume and photos (head shot & full body length) to EMAIL.

    Some details:
    – Person posted is a person of color (which some people commented on)
    – The OP stated that this is a client request and not his or her own. The OP seemed to be a staffing agent of some sort since he/she used the word “client.”
    – The OP also stated that she has asked for Hispanic/Spanish speaking staff (most likely also a client request) before with no backlash and could not understand why.
    – It is not unusual to ask for height/age/other requirements in this industry.

    1. Armchair Analyst*

      Was it for an entertainment or performing industry gig? The insistence on gender and race seem odd, even if height/age requirements are not odd.
      I think of “booth babes” in the expo and convention world….

      1. Very anon for this one*

        Gender requirement is also a “norm” in the industry. The posting was not for a “booth babe” and there was nothing in the job description that would indicate that males would not be able to do this job. Think something simple such as “banquet server” or “short term retail associate.”

        1. Armchair Analyst*

          So the odd part is the race requirement?
          What about the tips?

          Do you want us to think in one specific way or many ways? What do YOU think about it?

          1. Very anon for this one*

            You can comment on whatever part of the post interests you :)

            I personally feel that this person is honest but should have stipulated that clients are asking for these requirements to avoid the backlash. They are the paying clients and warranted or not, they should get what they pay for.

            I would have applied if I met the height and race requirements. Why waste my time applying knowing that I am not who you are looking for? There are tons of recruiters out there who don’t explicitly state that they are looking for certain things and are wasting my time by having me apply fully knowing I won’t get the job.

            1. fposte*

              It doesn’t matter if it’s what the clients want if what the client wants is illegal. You can’t post an ad for heroin for your client, either.

    2. Decima Dewey*

      I thought requests for staff by sex and race went out decades ago.

      A head shot and full body length photograph required? Really? I’m getting a whole slew of bad feelings about this.

      Also, asking for Hispanic/Spanish speaking staff could be an essential part of a request if the staffing agency is filling a request from a client that’s doing an event in which Spanish speakers are an important demographic.

      1. Very anon for this one*

        Having to submit photographs is normal for our industry as well. These photographs are in good taste – they even specify that they don’t want to see you in your bikini etc. (unless the role is for swimsuit model or the uniform shows your stomach and that is generally stated in the posting)

        Absolutely agree about the Hispanic speaking staff!

      2. Seeking Second Childhood*

        Race is all wrong.
        It’s not analogous to language skills — those are something you work hard at to learn & maintain.
        Height could in some cases be arguably relevant — if the event stores grooming supplies on a high shelf and no footstools are allowed in the llama stalls, or if they’re debuting the new giraffe-llama crossbreed. ;)

        (And I know it’s an analogy but I did find myself sidetracked wondering why random people would tip llama groomers.)

        1. Your comment made me LOL*

          The same reason they are tipping hairdressers or waiters! They are providing a service to you/your llama.

          1. Seeking Second Childhood*

            Oh of coyrse…I was picturing someone grooming the corporate llamas on display at the trade booth.

    3. fposte*

      Assuming that race and gender aren’t BFOQ for this job, this is likely to be illegally discriminatory (whether it is will depend on the jurisdiction and the size of the staffing agency’s business and the client’s business). EEOC has held *both* staffing agencies and hiring employers liable in such discrimination.

    4. Aunt Piddy*

      Yikes no, that’s not okay at all (and a little creepy). If it’s not for an entertainment industry job (actor, model, etc) it’s also probably illegal.

      The request for a head and full body picture puts it over the edge into creepy territory for me.

      1. Very anon for this one*

        I can say that 99.9% of the jobs in this industry require a head shot and some (not all!) require a full length, family friendly photo. It’s not for an actor/model but the industry is (in part) about looks. Depending on the client, they do want women to be model-esque.

        1. fposte*

          And that may be legal if they can prove it’s a bona fide occupational qualification, or it could be an industry riding for an EEOC fall.

          1. Very anon for this one*

            I’m sure there are many instances where it would be hard for them to prove BFOQ. Over a decade ago, a girl told me that she was hired by a staffing agency to represent an internet or cable TV provider, talking about their services, where to go for support, etc. at a community festival. When she got to the festival, she realized every single person out of 20 was blonde, tall, and female, herself included. Highly doubt that was a coincidence, nor can only tall, blonde females have the ability to talk about cable TV packages.

        2. JustaCPA*

          Its impossible for me to comment based on the parameters you have offered.

          Other than the entertainment/modeling industry, I honestly can’t think of any other where its ok with request the things being requested. Without knowing more about what industry it is, I would simply say the client requests are illegal and I would therefore nto want to work for this person.

          But I’m not clear what your question is?

    5. Lilysparrow*

      The poster put the wrong title.

      If the client’s top screening criteria is by gender/looks/ethnicity/body type and costume, then they are hiring models/actors who can also groom llamas.

      If they wanted llama groomers with a “glamorous” or “professional” or “quirky” appearance, or whatever, then the top screening criteria would relate to grooming skills and experience, and they’d sort for appearance afterward.

      The industry may be llama related, but this particular client is hiring for entertainment purposes, not skill. The poster should have accurately specified the nature of the job.

      1. fposte*

        Oh, I bet you’re right; that’s a really helpful framing. But to keep the BFOQ you really need to make sure your postings are clear; it sounds like this staffing agency is asking for trouble.

        1. Lilysparrow*

          A lot of people – particularly in event production, IME, don’t actually understand the difference between a casting call and a job opportunity.

          1. hmm*

            That’s an interesting comment. What makes those in event production so unsure as to what is considered a casting call and what is a job opportunity?

            1. LilySparrow*

              I have no idea why. It’s just the type of gig where I most often see job descriptions that are actually casting calls.

              Perhaps – and this is sheer speculation – it’s because planning and promoting events is marketing work, not work related to a specific industry like hospitality or manufacturing or technology or finance. It’s often outsourced to professional promoters. And so the planners/promoters lean toward advertising/entertainment practices instead of ordinary hiring practices.

      2. Victoria Nonprofit (USA)*

        Ah, the clever ways wrongdoers find to get away with their illegal behavior.

        I suppose they might get away with hiring “models who know how to groom llamas” or “models who can do accounting” or whatever the actual job is. But that doesn’t make it any less wrong, and it’s still begging for a lawsuit.

    6. n*

      This reminds me of American Apparel job ads. They require a full-body photograph. And while on the surface, they claim to be hiring retail associates, they’re actually hiring models who can also sell clothes.

      It may be standard in certain industries, but it’s still icky, illegal, and discriminatory. Even if I did meet the requirements, I would not want to apply for a job like this because all this ad says to me is that I’m being hired for looks and therefore will likely be objectified and harassed by customers in the process. I’m not into that.

      1. Very anon for this one*

        But what if the requirements were the opposite?

        Let’s say a plus sized clothing store was hiring plus sized sales associates and you meet those requirements. You are looking for a new job and have sales associate experience that. The salary range is within what you are looking for. Would you apply for that opportunity?

        1. LilySparrow*

          Not if they specified that candidates had to be white, female and/or tall and blonde.

          If they’re hiring to please the customer’s eye rather than the customer’s need to have the work done, then it’s a modeling gig and they should just say so.

          And pay accordingly.

        2. Amy Farrah Fowler*

          I will not apply for anything that asks for a picture. Period. Full stop.

          I want to be evaluated on my resume, my qualifications, and my ability to do the job. I do not want to be evaluated on my looks at all for a job.

        3. n*

          I’ve never seen a plus-sized clothing store hire only plus-sized people (which is not to say this doesn’t happen, but that I see the original scenario waaayyyyyyyy more often). And I’ve seen straight-sized people working in plus-sized stores regularly.

          And we’re not just talking about body-size– we’re talking about race and gender, which are legally-protected statuses.

    7. Alldogsarepuppies*

      My thought is that they deserve the backlash, but with this type of coding I can’t say how much. What industry is this where your looks always matter but its not a modeling/entertainment service?

      1. Very anon for this one*

        I can think of a few: pharma sales rep, certain positions in companies that make “21+ in the US” beverages, PR, fashion, beauty

        Not saying that any of these are for the original posting but those are some examples I can think of. I once overheard a guy on an Amtrak saying on the phone that he was looking for a medical device sales rep who went to the gym, was fit, takes care of himself, works hard plays hard etc and didn’t mention anything about sales experience to whomever was on the other line!

        1. Alldogsarepuppies*

          Ugly people are able to sell medicine and beer though. And certainly race doesn’t matter in any of those.

        2. Jasnah*

          I don’t think that guy you “once over heard on an Amtrak on the phone” is a good standard for what is legal and/or appropriate in hiring practices. It sounds like someone explaining to the recruiter what they want, and then the recruiter will go and ignore everything except “medical device sales rep” because the rest of those are illegal or unethical to consider.

          1. Very anon for this one*

            I didn’t say that he was a good example to follow, just an example of what people are looking for that had nothing to do with the original job.

      2. AvonLady Barksdale*

        I was thinking of dancing, both exotic and… non-exotic? I’m picturing a client hiring exotic dancers for a party, or perhaps go-go dancers. Or “exotic” servers, like cater-waiters who walk around with minimal clothing serving canapes. In those cases, I think it’s much closer to modeling and I’m not surprised that a particular look is specified. I don’t like it, but I think that’s the nature of the business.

    8. Fake Old Converse Shoes (not in the US)*

      Makes me remember a local job board for the automotive industry, last time I checked their ads stated gender, age, height and college degree required to apply. The only available positions for women were admins, assistants and janitors. I heard their HQ force diversity initiatives, but they were for workshop positions only.

    9. Akcipitrokulo*

      UK here… and unless has set up legal exemption in advance, very, very illegal.

      (Exemptions are pretty strict and rare… outside of actors where a role is a certain race, you’d have to be in a social work or support agency and jumped through all the hoops (easiest would be “women only for refuge position” but also “minority candidate required for counselling on minority-specific issues”).

  21. Ann O'Nemity*

    Does anyone’s company make all employees sit through HR trainings? I just spent an hour in a mandatory-for-everyone Harassment Prevention training that included a comically bad video from the early 90s, shoulder pads and all.

    1. fposte*

      I don’t think that’s HR training per se, and I’m actually in favor of discrimination/harassment education for everybody in a workplace. (It’s mandated at my employer, since we’re state.)

      However, finding *good* training is another matter, and yours sounds . . . substandard.

    2. Millenial Lizard Person*

      Ours are online trainings, so you can mute them because you can read faster than you listen. I do enjoy that it’s “Anti-Bribery Training” but “Harassment Training” so at the end you’ve learned how to harass people correctly.

      1. Betty*

        We do online trainings but in one of the first times we had it, we didn’t know the training timed us and like 1/3 of the department got a notice that the software thought we’d done it too fast and failed us. (We’re academics. We’ve spent decades spending most of the day reading. We read fast.) The next year, the department admin emailed us all with the reminder to leave the training open in the background to make sure the software recorded it as active for long enough.

        Reader, it was an ethics training.

        1. anon teacher for this*

          Ours, in a k-12 school district, is essentially a video of text slides (sometimes there are also stock photos). You are not allowed to fast forward and must read them at the pre-determined (extremely slow) pace they are also being read aloud to you at. Well, I take that back. You are allowed to fast forward in the sense that there is a button for that, but if you use it you are scolded and required to re-start the video and “watch” it again.

          Then, there is a multiple-choice quiz with 5-10 questions.

          This is for a long series of “You Have Been Told” trainings: FERPA, Mandatory Reporter, Harassment, etc. We have to take them every year, they do not change in any way from year to year, and there are many hours of them. I generally turn off the sound and let them run on my laptop on a tv tray while I’m watching Ninja Warrior (on the TV, not on the same laptop as the training), since they both conveniently happen in August/September. I have had not had any trouble passing the quizzes using this method.

          I’ve never seen a worse format for actually learning or referencing anything than these videos, since it’s not like you could easily search through one of them later in the year if it turned it you did have a question about harassment/FERPA/mandatory reporting/integrated pest management/whatever. If one of them were ever over something I didn’t already know about I’m not sure if I’d try to watch it or if I ‘d try to find somewhere else to learn about it first and then treat the video like all the others. I’m sure if they assigned any of our teachers to design an actual curriculum to teach any of these topics it would look very, very different, but it’s not about having the staff learn. It’s about them being able to document that the staff has Been Told, which is a completely different thing.

          My dad says that at his previous workplace (a bunch of mainframe systems programmers and other old-school techies) they’d split up responsibility for screen-shotting each new training of this type among their team, then share the screenshots so everyone had access to them while taking the tests.

    3. JanetM*

      We have annual, mandatory, online training for IT Security, FERPA, and Sexual Harassment/Domestic Violence.

    4. CS Rep By Day, Writer By Night*

      I currently work for as Fortune 500 company in the U.S. and yes, we have to watch these videos. My favorite one about harassment featured as an example making fun of someone because they were of Irish heritage – “we know how you guys like it – Spuds and Suds!”. It was like someone at corporate HR figured that examples with POC and/or LGBTQ folks might be a little too edgy or something.

      1. Teach*

        We had one on sexual harassment that featured a woman leering at a man and saying, “Niiiiiice pants, Tim.” Which then created roughly four years of us all greeting each other with cheerful pants compliments, because we are all 12.

    5. Elizabeth West*

      Exjob did. They used a decent training module, but some of the examples I’ve seen at other companies were pretty cringeworthy and even hilarious. I recall one with a dramatization about a guy making jokes in the break room that involved a banana. It was funny mostly because the acting was so bad!

    6. Busy*

      Almost every job I have had. And they should train employees on harassment. But the 90s Dupont-type videos are terrible, and I wish some company would make more modern ones!

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

      Absolutely. I work for a university and we do several mandatory annual training classes — Harassment and Discrimination prevention, FERPA, Basic Computer Security are the 3 that immediately come to mind, but I think there is one more. Ours not only has dated video presentations, but quizzes throughout that we must pass.

    8. iglwif*

      Yes, absolutely. Hazardous materials handling, dealing with harassment and workplace violence, safety, disability accommodations … I forget what else.

      It was mandated by the Min of Labour, IIRC, which at least meant there weren’t any videos from the early 90s!

    9. Dreamboat Annie*

      Government Agency. Our Diversity training/EEOC is online and I was surprised to see that they mentioned sexual orientation mentioned for the first time EVER. It was as an “aspect of diversity”.
      Note that LGBTQ people don’t any protections as such in my locale. I was actually surprised at how forward thinking the whole thing was and wondering if our new HR Director is going to get a talking-to about it.

    10. Coverage Associate*

      Yes. I think some jurisdictions require it for employers over a certain size. And some insurers require it/offer significant discounts for it, even when the government doesn’t require it.

    11. Seeking Second Childhood*

      They’re delivered over our computer at our convenience now but yes. And we get to do it every few years when they expire, too. I just learned how not to take bribes for the third time.

    12. Anon4This*

      Yep. We have to do mandatory training every single year. The same work place violence / sexual harassment / discrimination / basic work place etiquette / etc videos every year. It’s not just irritating, it’s infantilizing to assume we are such idiots that we can’t remember not to harass people year after year.

    13. Maggie May*

      we have to do these weird quizzes that have videos and quizzes throughout/at the end. Like it’ll either be a cartoon drawing of situations or actors going through scenes and then you have to pick out what the bad thing is. One was for email phishing, so you had to watch Brad the Graphic Designer checking his email and see what he did wrong.

      Brad the Graphic Designer had a corner office with a plant and I was very distracted by that fact haha

      1. Anon4This*

        We have those ones with cartoon drawings too. I wonder if there is a set that organizations just buy somewhere. Most of the videos don’t require you to pay attention but those sneaky interactive ones will get ya.

    14. Rhymes with Mitochondria*

      Our sexual harassment training is online. It covered four bullet points on sexual harassment, I think they were:
      – Know what sexual harassment is and what can be reported
      – Know that you can report it if it happens to you – here’s how
      – Know that retaliation is not ok, here’s how to report retaliation
      – Know that honesty is key – don’t make false claims
      Notice anything missing? Hour long training never once, ever, said DON’T HARASS PEOPLE or DON’T RETALIATE.
      I was so annoyed.

    15. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      We did them as “safety meetings” at previous jobs. They fall under the heading because it’s an OSHA issue as well as just standard laws. It’s silly but Labor department looks kindly upon it as a way to avoid issues.

      If you don’t, then get reported for an alleged violation, they will ask why you don’t train employees and use it against you in the claim. Department of Civil Rights will be all over the company for being complacent.

      1. NotMyRealName*

        We just did our non discrimination training as our monthly safety meeting last month. The video was actually better than most of training videos we get to watch.

    16. UK Civil Servant*

      Yes, via online courses, and we have to renew some of them every 1 or 2 or 3 years. There’s a box on our yearly review form to tick that we’re up to date. I renewed *all* of mine in one day this year and it took 5 or 6 hours.

      1. Ann O'Nemity*

        I don’t know if I could sit through them all in one stretch. I had enough trouble getting through an hour today!

        1. Anon4This*

          Very few people actually watch ours. Start the video in the background on your computer, do something else, when the video is done do the same with the next one until they are done. There are tests after each but they are such basic common sense subjects that it’s pretty easy to pass without watching the video. Which is another reason why the system is stupid.

          1. UK Civil Servant*

            Ours aren’t videos, they’re interactive slideshow things. Lots of “click on this picture to find out the next nugget of info”. Progress is tracked so your manager can check if they want, then there are tests with 80% pass mark.

    17. Gertie*

      I actually like our IT Security Training video. Probably because the humor is so over the top, and the video is narrated by a Famous Actor (from a long time ago in a galaxy far away) that the company has a relationship with.

    18. Kendra*

      I had an online “Standards of Business Conduct” training! But I work for a very large company who put a lot of money into the production budget for it, so it felt more like watching a Netflix drama than doing a training :D

    19. NoLongerYoungButLotsWiser*

      Not just HR training. In health care, and management track. So ethics, diversity, mental health (an 8 hour in person), harassment, regulatory & compliance, IT/ security (don’t leave your computer unlocked and walk away; don’t print out and hand patient records to others); much more. I spent close to 1 week sitting in classrooms and clicking through videos (each course is at least 1 hour).
      That excludes the “target” and “stretch”goals for training and “growth” I have to meet “personally,” which involve things like shadowing clinicians or customer service agents answering calls, or 1-2 days seminars/ training in management/ conflict/communication, etc.
      Fortunately sideways on the food chain right now, so they no longer send me to the almost-week-long conferences.

    20. ..Kat..*

      Our sexual harassment training used to use realistic, but simulated people (think cartoon people, but very realistically drawn). EXCEPT, all the women had tiny waists and DD size breasts.

  22. Interviewee with a cold*

    I’m not the OP, but I did interview with a cold this week. It was an internal interview, so I asked the team ahead of time if they wanted me to postpone. Answer: no, we’d need to adjust to your germs anyway. I wish I had postponed, though, because I felt mentally sluggish. It’s hard to feel on your game when you have to stuff tissues up your nose. I really wouldn’t have wanted to do an external interview — I could fall back on “you’ve worked with me before” to sell myself, but I couldn’t do that with new people.

  23. Anon Admin*

    My boss wants me to “track” another coworker who has received some complaints. She doesn’t answer her phone, return voicemails or emails and is often not at her desk. He spoke to her and it improved for awhile and now it’s happening again. I feel icky doing this but how do I say “no” when my boss basically ordered me to do so? I think he might be planning a formal reprimand soon and wants to have some specifics to point to. He left on vacation this morning and he wants me to do the “tracking” while he’s away. She’s going to know I was the one who “tracked” her and I’m sure that will cause friction.

    (Currently, she had been in another office talking/gossiping about a coworker who is out on medical leave for 37 minutes. I feel so gross doing this.)

    1. Leela*

      I’m not sure I love your boss asking you to do this; managing that employee is their responsibility unless you supervise them in some way, and it puts you in an incredibly awkward position.

      Also, it takes you away from your work. Are you able to say that with your workload you couldn’t reliably track someone? Or is your boss the kind of person who would yank your work to free you up and pressure you into doing this?

      1. Anon Admin*

        I’m in the least busy period of the year for me and I sit directly across from this coworker, so I think that’s why it was assigned to me. Part of me is mad at my boss and part of me is mad at her, because when she was spoken to, she improved so it’s not like she doesn’t know she needs to do better. She can be a bit dramatic, so I’m expecting a drama bomb if/when he speak with her.

        Oh God- I hope he doesn’t ask me to sit in on the meeting and read the tracking notes or something.

        1. valentine*

          If you didn’t post this before, you’re not alone in this situation.

          I don’t understand not wanting to help. I would struggle to contain my enthusiasm at getting paid to CSI.

      1. Anon Admin*

        My boss is not her direct boss, but he is the “big” boss. Her direct boss is the person out on medical leave she is still in the other office talking about. (She tends to be on the loud side and our walls are pretty thin). Since her boss is out on medical leave, my boss has to supervise her and had to have the talk about not answering the phone, returning calls/voicemails, not being at her desk for long periods of time. He was hoping to let her boss be the one to speak with her but he must have had some complications and will be out another few weeks.

        1. valentine*

          It’s kind of him to take this on. Do you feel better if you think of it as helping him right the ship before boss returns? So this isn’t hanging over her head when she returns?

          Ask him whether your involvement is anonymous and mention you’re worried about retaliation.

    2. Paige*

      I get why it feels icky, but if she were doing what she was supposed to, you wouldn’t have anything to report. And I mean, it shouldn’t be on you to track voicemails/etc., but if she’s not at her desk when she should be, that’s something anyone could report, really. “I tried to go see Coworker, but she wasn’t there at Time A, Time B, or Time C, which I thought was weird.”

      Honestly, just be glad you’ve got a boss who wants to address it, but who didn’t resort to having someone “track” her as the first step. She had a chance to do what she’s supposed to, she knows it’s on the big boss’s radar, and yet she’s started doing it again. I’ve had coworkers like that, and it slowly becomes infuriating/morale depressing when the boss knows and does nothing. Better to nip it in the bud well before it reaches that point, and in time to save the employee’s job.

      1. sunshyne84*

        agreed, sounds like they will actually do something and if she loses her job it’s her own fault

        Who is doing her job while she’s away gossiping?

        1. Anon Admin*

          It’s not getting done. She has some voicemails that she has not checked and she hasn’t even opened her email today.

          I really want to say “Hey your job might be on the line, please do some work” but I know I can’t. I think that might be what happens when the boss returns from vacation. She did really well when she started so I know she can do the job. I don’t understand why she has slacked off so much.

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

      Are you on good terms with your coworker? Are you sworn to secrecy by Big Boss? Will it affect your job if she gets mad? If it were me, I honestly might give her a general heads up that I’ve been asked to …umm, help her improve her customer service, and if she needs any pointers for keeping on top of phone calls, emails or returning calls, I’m there to…umm help. That way she sort of knows that she’s being tracked. I do understand that you’d just rather not be involved, but I don’t think NOT doing this is an option so it might be better to be less discrete about it rather than more — she can’t play victim of a secret plot if it isn’t that much of a secret.

      1. Anon Admin*

        I would say we are on ok terms. I’ve offered to help her before and she always refuses. When she started the position, she was doing well. I have also noticed that when the other 2 members of her department are away (like today- her manager is on medical leave and the other coworker took the day off) , she tends to wander more. They have a pretty big event coming up in March, so I know she had things to work on.

    4. CM*

      Ugh. I don’t think you can say no, since it’s your boss asking you. I think your best bet is just to do it, feel icky, and if she confronts you say, “I’m sorry, I didn’t want to do it, but I was instructed to do this as part of my job.”

    5. CupcakeCounter*

      Is this tracking just while he is on vacation and coworkers direct supervisor is on medical leave? If so I don’t have much of a problem with it since it seems to be more of a last resort (and I’m guessing he is correctly under the impression that her behavior will be worse when all the bosses are out of the way) and not a permanent thing.

      How would you feel if boss came to you and asked for feedback on coworker? Would the stuff you say differ from what you are tracking?

      1. Anon Admin*

        Yes, it’s just while he’s away and her manager is on leave. My feedback would not differ much from what I’ve been asked to track. She’s been away from her desk almost 3 hours so far today, her phone has rang 12 times and she has voicemails (not sure how many, I just see the red light blinking). The small amount of time she had been at her desk, she has not checked the voicemails or opened email. I’ve had 2 workers from another location call me directly looking for her because they called and she did not answer.

        I don’t mind helping when I’m in a slow period (like now) but she always refuses any help and got upset with me for using the phone feature that allows me to answer any ringing line to answer her phone. It had rang over and over. She either ignored it or let it to go voicemail and did not check the voicemail. I am used to hearing phones ring, but when it’s obvious someone is dialing over and over, it might be urgent.

    6. The Ginger Ginger*

      I’m pretty sure AAM has answered a letter like this, but I can’t find it. IIRC, her response was, your boss can ask you to do this. You’re not tattling, and you’re not making up anything; this is something your boss asked you to do. And YOU aren’t the one getting your coworker in trouble. Coworker has been told this is a problem and is continuing the actions. Plus, your boss may not have the time or availability to do this on their own. If they’re in meetings or something 60% of the day, they HAVE to have someone else keep an eye on it, because they’re not around. Ideally, it would be someone in the coworker’s management chain and not you, but that doesn’t appear to be how it worked out.

      I’d just make sure you’re ONLY reporting facts, not assuming intention or motivation – just a dry factual log of # of missed calls, times they’re not at their desk, or whatever else it is you’re supposed to track.

      1. Anon Admin*

        Thanks. I am doing just the facts. I don’t know how exactly to word “she was gossiping about her boss for half an hour so loudly that I’m sure half the office heard her” so I’m putting away from her desk for half an hour.

        1. Not So NewReader*

          Yeah, you can go with “away from desk for a half hour” or “talking loudly in office across the hallway for a half hour”. You don’t have to state the subject matter and honestly the subject matter is a smaller issue than the neglect of her post.

          I do agree the boss has asked you to do this, so you are pretty much on the spot. If she ever raises an issue with you then you can just say, “This could happen at any job, people can do reports on other people. It’s helpful to be aware that at any time any one could be watching what we are doing.”
          OTH, you can also say to the boss, “Gee, I hope I don’t have to do that again.” This might plant the seed that the boss needs to, uh, act like a boss.

          The sad thing here is with what you say, the boss could just call her and note down how many times she fails to answer or return his call. He could do this himself and get a fair idea. I took a temp job with 8 or 9 incoming lines. My boss would call right at the busy point to make sure I was answering ALL of the lines. Since it was a temp job, I just laughed and said, “You’re checking to make sure I answer all lines! Of course if I am talking to you, then I am not answering other lines.” I could hear the shrug/sigh/defeat in his voice, “Just doing MY job.” We were fine after that.

        2. The Ginger Ginger*

          You could say away from desk and having non-work related convo. That’s factual enough without getting….too detailed.

          I’m sorry you have to do this, but your co-worker. Yeesh.

    7. Seeking Second Childhood*

      If the phone rings again while she’s away from her desk, find an excuse to pass by where she’s gossiping and tell her in passing. Also consider mentioning that so-and-so was looking for her. That way you’ve covered yourself for a bit of whining about “no one TOLD me my phone had been ringing…”
      Which of course is silly because if she’d been doing her job at her desk no one would have had to.
      Good luck…I’ve lived through the magical disappearing co-worker too and it was pretty awkward just saying I didn’t know where she was. And that was on a short-term temp assignment when I wasn’t having to track her whereabouts in writing.

    8. Anon for this*

      Ew. I had a supervisor ask me to do this once. I was team lead, but this was still not really my responsibility. Someone on my team was taking more than the daily allowance for smoke breaks. We were hourly customer service, so being away from one’s desk for more than a few minutes was considered not working. So Supervisor asked me to walk past the window where I could see the smoking area outside after Coworker left his desk and note if he was out smoking. I had to keep track of his daily smoking habits for a week so it could documented that Coworker was taking several unauthorized breaks. Coworker found out I was tracking him. Coworker was an otherwise productive employee – he just smoked a lot.

      Have you tried telling your boss this makes you uncomfortable?

    9. AnonyMouse*

      I don’t blame you for feeling icky about this. I had a coworker (who has since left, thank goodness) who took it upon herself to track everyone’s behavior/whereabouts. She was never asked to do this and she was no ones supervisor. Someone left early? Documented. Someone came in late? Documented. Too loud? Documented. Too quiet? Documented. Someone sneezed? Documented. To be honest it made the office extra toxic for most of us. I felt like I was constantly being watched and even though she’s gone, I still have that feeling that my ever move is being monitored.

      Personally, I’d push back on this. Especially if her behavior is not affecting you or your work. As others have said, this is your bosses responsibility and not yours. Is it really so time sensitive that this has to be done while they’re on vacation? Or can they resume their tracking once they’re back? Maybe say something like “I tried to do what you requested, but I’m really not comfortable with this since I’m not her supervisor.” If there’s no way to push back, then could you just give general feedback, like “There were a few times during the week where she was away from her desk for a while, but otherwise she appeared to be working” or something along those lines?

      1. Rosaline Montague*

        Like others have said, your boss asked you to do this so IMHO you need to. But you can clarify the scope; for example, for how long!? This is t a sustainable activity for you and would keep you from doing your own work, presumably.

  24. Armchair Analyst*

    GREAT 2nd round phone interview with a hiring manager. Yay! New job would be 45% increase in pay, and more interesting and more people-oriented.
    Even if it doesn’t pan out, I am MUCH more motivated to keep applying for jobs – there’s got to be a better one out there.
    Thanks for the encouragement!

  25. Leela*

    I started a new job this week, and I am quite confident that a woman in the multi-stalk bathroom with me was masturbating based on the sounds I heard. I coughed awkwardly hoping she’d realize I was there and stop (I was in the middle of a longer bathroom visit and really couldn’t stop in the middle) but she finished, with me as a captive audience. This is a huge corporation, I’m also a contractor, I don’t have any idea how to contact HR at the moment save just searching “hr” in outlook and letting it go blindly to whoever.

    Thoughts? I mean more power to her in private but I was trapped there for her entire session and that’s really, really inappropriate. How would you proceed?

    1. Sloan Kittering*

      Wow, I would have just assumed I wasn’t hearing what it sounded like I was hearing. For my own mental health. I have covered my ears in a public bathroom before to tune out a variety of noises (from phone conversations to … well never mind). Cone of silence! I definitely wouldn’t follow up or anything. Anyone want to disagree with me?

      1. Common Welsh Green*

        No disagreement here! According to dear Miss Manners, etiquette requires the pretence of ignorance when it comes to what others are doing in a bathroom. Commenting on the likely causes of noise simply Is Not Done.

    2. Less Bread More Taxes*

      Oh my god how awkward! I don’t know what I would have done. If I was feeling cheeky, make those noises right back at her? Jokes aside, I probably would have just started making a lot of noise. Rustling toilet paper or humming or something just to get her to realise how weird that is.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        Family member has bouts of constipation and FM will grunt and groan loudly from the bathroom.
        Perhaps you could grunt over her noises???

    3. Dr Wizard, PhD*

      Honestly? I think the risks to you for saying anything are too high. You’re not in a position of power: you’re a contractor and extremely new.

      I’m really sorry you were made to feel so uncomfortable by her behaviour, and you’re absolutely in the right, but I don’t think the chances of this being resolved in a way that’s good for you are good if you bring it up with this company.

    4. Lilysparrow*

      I would probably have called out, “Oh, my gosh, are you okay? Are you sick? Do you need an inhaler?”

      And if she didn’t stop and answer, I’d call her by name and say, “Hang on, it’s going to be okay, I’m going to go get (whoever you would get if someone were having a medical emergency in your office)!!!!”

      And then hurry to pull myself together and really go get the person and describe the sick person’s “symptoms.”

      I used to accept General Delivery packages of awkwardness. Not anymore, send that right back to the point of origin.

      And who knows, I could be wrong. She might actually be having some kind of attack, and then I’d feel terrible for assuming she was being a terrible person.

    5. Former Retail Manager*

      Walk away….say nothing. You really can’t prove what she was doing…you only suspect. Definitely weird on her part and I feel for you, but yeah, leave this alone.

    6. this way, that way*

      You cant report that to HR, you will be the joke of the company. There is no way when you call that in that they dont bring in the guy/girl in the next cube/office and make you repeat it and tell everyone. There is no amount of HIPPA or any other protection that will keep everyone from knowing you reported this.

  26. Gen*

    I’d like some advice on how to approach a topic about my schedule.

    I am a non-traditional premed, so I work full time. I have an opportunity to participate in a doctor shadowing program where I volunteer. The program is oriented toward student who don’t work. I have about two weeks of vacation saved, and including sick days, I could take off two days a week to do the shadowing.

    How should I talk to my employer about this? Do you think I might also be able to ask for a handful more days unpaid? (I am exempt, though so I’m not sure how they would handle that.) My employer has been very accommodating of one of my coworker’s schedules for school in the past, so I’m not super naive.

    I’m just nervous about asking because I don’t want to not say what the program is fir but I’m also showing my hand by Indy sting that I will leave in a year or so.

      1. Lou*

        If you need to explain the program, must you indicate that you’ll be leaving in a year? Or can you get by with massaging it a little and saying something like “I’m considering becoming a doctor and I thought this shadowing program would help me decide!” and leave it a little more opaque about the whole “leaving in a year” thing?

    1. Foreign Octopus*

      Do they need to know what it’s for? Can you just say that for the next X amount of time you need to take two days off work for a commitment and that you’ll use your vacation time?

      1. Gen*

        You’re right, that’s probably the best approach. I’m taking the MCAT soon so I’m pretty frazzled right now!

    2. Llellayena*

      If they know you’re in school you can say: “I’m taking a course at school that is only offered in the daytime. I’m planning to use my vacation time to cover most of the days, but the course is longer than my available time. I’d like to use some unpaid days to make up the difference. Is this possible or is there another way you’d like me to handle this?” The other way might be making up the time either after hours or over weekends so be prepared with how that would work for you. If they don’t know you’re in school it’s a little harder but maybe start with “I have a personal development opportunity that is only offered in the daytime…”

    3. Seeking Second Childhood*

      I take it you’re at a company that isn’t paying for your classes? Because if they’re paying for it, they probably can already guess where it’s going. Depending on your industry they may want you if you decide that medically trained is what they want. (I’m thinking of all those “medical writer” ads I see here in Pharma Corridor, the ones I can’t apply to because my background is not biology/chemistry.)

      I’d also suggest you talk to the administrators of the shadowing program — many doctors work nights and weekends and may be opened to shadowing then too. ER would of course be an eye-opener, but after-hours walk-in clinics and weekend healthcare centers also come to mind.

  27. Hold My Cosmo*

    How much effort do you put into what I’m tempted to call “chasing someone down to do them a favor”?

    For example, if I can see in my missed calls list that Fergus called my desk three times on a day I was on a job site, but never left a voicemail, never sent an e-mail, and never Skyped, I don’t feel particularly bothered to call and ask what he wanted.

    How does this work at your company?

    1. somewhere over the rainbow trout*

      Here, if they don’t leave a message, that’s on them. You don’t have to notice a missed call and ask them “why did you call?”. As you point out, there’s a variety of ways for this person to contact you and they never actually told you why they contacted you or what they wanted. You don’t need to start trying to track them down for details. A missed call isn’t a message.

    2. seller of teapots*

      Same. If someone doesn’t leave a VM or shoot me an IM/email, I assume they got the answer they needed elsewhere.

    3. Less Bread More Taxes*

      If they don’t leave a voicemail, I assume they got what they wanted from someone else and the case is closed.

    4. Dr Wizard, PhD*

      I’d send them an email asking what’s up. Normally they’ll reply by email or immediately call.

    5. Amylou*

      When I try to call someone multiple times (usually because they’re late replying to an email) and they don’t answer, I send off a quick email which says I tried to call them about X, and (I’ll try again tomorrow, but feel free to suggest a best time to call) or (please call back or see email about X, need it by Time).

      No voicemail, no email, no call-back :P

    6. manuka honey*

      I don’t have this problem at my company. Everyone here schedules time in your Google calendar even if they have a simple question that could be answered via email, IM, or just walking over to ask it. They just like to make it super official I guess.

    7. Ashley*

      If you call and don’t leave a message or text I assume you don’t need me and you got your info elsewhere. I do have this discussion with new co-workers who get annoyed that I should have called them back.

    8. sunshyne84*

      I would just call them and say hey I was on a job site the other day and saw you were trying to contact me, do you still have a question or were you able to handle it?

      Then if you are able to check email from your phone while you are away or take calls I would offer up that info for future use.

    9. Sleepytime Tea*

      No voicemail, no e-mail, no IM, no follow up from me. Partly because there’s a decent chance that they found someone else to resolve their issue in the meantime (I’m not the only one in my position or who would know certain things). And partly because it’s obviously (in my mind) not that important if they can’t be bothered to leave a message.

    10. iglwif*

      I don’t call people back unless they’ve left a message asking me to.

      My teenager informs me that “No one leaves voicemails anymore, mom” [insert eye-roll here], but IME if someone really needs to talk to me and needs me to get back to them, they will leave a message, or send me an email or an IM.

      Thus far, this has never caused a problem, although some people are unreasonable so you never know.

    11. froodle*

      Yeah I don’t bother. The is a group inbox for my department, two other people who do the same job as me and a supervisor two desks over. If you keep.badgering just me and won’t leave a record of what you wanted, I’m gonna assume it was some nonsense that involves them trying to palm their work off onto me.

  28. grace*

    Hi! Anyone done a long(ish) distance job hunt lately? I’m looking to move from $southernish state to DC (about 4 hours – it’s really not that far) this summer, and I’m not sure when to start applying – I know it takes longer for distance – or if there’s any merit in actually putting a DC address on my resume, as currently it doesn’t have my address at all.. Basically just a lot of questions, so if you done it semi-recently and have tips or tricks or advice, I’d love to hear it!

    (I took a look through the archives and mostly saw older ~2010 articles, so if there’s a more recent one I missed, I’d love that, as well.)

    1. Me.*

      I only have the following on my resume: Name, Email, Phone.

      How willing are you to go to DC to interview? When would you be willing to start? Are you able to meet them in person at the drop of a hat (let’s say 24 hours notice) Can you foot these costs on your own?

      1. grace*

        Honestly that’s good to know! I know a lot of conventional wisdom is to have address but I don’t like that – I’d rather not give out that information, especially when the resume may be posted through an online site. Maybe I’m just paranoid :P

        Very willing to go – I have friends I can crash with and my own transportation – but I’d need more than 24 hours notice as I think right now I’d feel too guilty taking a fake sick day (ask me again in a few months, though, and it may be a different story, ha). I’d like to have an offer in May/June and start in June or July – but I’m flexible and don’t need that long to give notice, just the standard 2 weeks. I can definitely carry the relo costs / travel for interviews cost on my own but obviously would love assistance with that, lol.

        1. Tara S.*

          I think you’re fine to leave off the address, and these days your phone area code doesn’t mean much since we all take our cell numbers with us when we move. Most jobs should be able to give you more than 24 hour notice for interviews, even if you have to ask for it (they ask if you can come in the next day, you say you have a commitment but could come in on X).

    2. Lebanese Blonde*

      I did this last summer! Granted I had lived in DC beforehand (and had things in storage in DC), but was freelancing from another country while I job hunted.

      I think I had on my resume: Name, Email, Phone number, Washington DC/Foreign City.

      My first Skype interview they asked about it almost immediately (especially bc my personal website said “based in Foreign City”), but I was able to just say “Yeah, I have connections there/plans to return to DC as soon as a job is secured, but I’m based in Foreign City doing XXX while I hunt.” It did require about 3 extra weeks of moving time from the time I got the offer, but all worked out.

      Not sure if putting two different cities on my resume made things more confusing than necessary, though — interested to hear others’ thoughts.

      1. grace*

        That’s really interesting! I’ve lived / interned / worked in DC before, so I’ve definitely played that up in my cover letter – I’m not moving for any reason that’s particularly compelling except that I’ve lived in my state all my life and it’s time to #go so really, emphasizing that I’ve experienced DC (and DC prices, lol) is all I’ve got haha.

        I definitely know that if it comes to a Skype interview I can emphasize all of this, but it’s difficult if I never get to that point :)

        1. Seeking Second Childhood*

          Sounds like a logical a cover-letter item to me ! *Returning* to an area makes it easy for anyone to understand. You tried Timbuktu — but despite the great experiences you had designing teapots, you wanted to come back to the center of teapot development.”

          What does the commentariat think — Does that get a separate sentence? Or would grace use the location as a side-note about what she did there before? “….excited to find a teapot design position in Washington DC, where I previously worked as a teapot-handle prototyper.”
          “A teapot design position in Washington DC. When I previously lived in that area, I produced teapot handle prototypes for….”

          Cover letters are my nemesis so I’m loving the specific suggestions that get volunteered here.

    3. ArtsNerd*

      One time I eliminated a mid-distance candidate like you from consideration, and it was because the job I was filling wasn’t one any reasonable person should move for.

      The employer was a “cool” one (from the outside) but it wasn’t a great work environment and the job itself was a glorified part-time, hourly entry level thing. I did talk to her and got the impression she thought I wasn’t “giving her a chance” but that wasn’t the issue at all. She could do the job; she wouldn’t want it.

      So if you’re applying for jobs that might not otherwise appeal to out-of-town candidates, I’d definitely communicate that you’re actively moving to DC on top of being interested in the position on its own terms.

      And with not being available on 24-hours’ notice, that’s pretty normal. I can’t drop everything to rush into an in-person interview on that short of notice in town either. Just communicate that you’re available to come in for interviews, and only mention that you don’t need relo if they bring it up first.

      Lying about already being local is more stressful than it’s worth to me, especially when you’re close enough you can drive in without it being a huge project.

    4. BPT*

      When I was graduating from grad school in NC and looking for jobs in DC, I started in late February and didn’t get a job until July (offered in June, started beginning of July). I’d say go ahead and start – jobs in DC are very competitive and, especially if you’re entry level or close to it, it could take 50-100 applications to get one interview. This was 2010 for me, so I think the job market has changed to be a little more friendly to job seekers since then, but there’s still a lot of competition.

      That said, I don’t think the address matters that much, especially if you’re entry level. With jobs requiring 0-2 years of experience, I think a lot of employers realize that younger graduates are coming to DC from all over. If you’re above entry-level, it might matter more honestly, so I might err on the side of keeping it off. But if all your jobs on your resume are located in Southern state, they’ll figure it out anyway.

      1. Aunt Vixen*

        I left DC for grad school with every intention of returning, and when I emerged from grad school – in 2006, so for all I know *everything* has changed – and was temporarily living with my folks in another state (a full day’s drive away, but just one), I got nowhere with anyone. I hadn’t wanted to rent an apartment without a full-time job, but it turned out I couldn’t get a job without a local address. I moved, signed up with all the temp agencies I could find (only one of which ever actually got me any gigs, thanks, grr), and promptly started getting interviews.

        Good luck!

    5. Person of Interest*

      I wouldn’t worry about it too much. I’ve lived in DC and hired people from all over. Tons of people move to DC for work so it’s not that unusual to see out of town applicants; more common than in other cities in my experience. Just be clear in your cover letter what your timeline is for moving (or be ready to answer that in the phone screen) and be willing to travel to DC on your own dime for in-person interviews.

    6. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      Don’t listen to people who say not to list your city on your resume, it’s often required to even be accepted.

      I moved 5 hrs a few years ago. I was honest that I was relocating. I was willing and able to travel here for interviews. It was so easy. Just don’t play coy games, hiring managers see through them.

      We eliminate people who look like they’re just looking for an in to the city pretty quickly. It’s not worth our time.

      I wrote about relocating and my ability/willingness to drive to meet with them for an interview. I lined up 3 interviews for one day. I got 2 of the 3 jobs. All were impressed by my drive and desire to be there.

      Asking to Skype and making them guess about you and your reasons for being cagey about location is no good in my experience. But it works as well but can backfire

  29. robineer*

    Hi all! I’m a temp at a great public agency and would love to nab a permanent position if they had one available. However, I think open positions are rare because their retention rate is stellar.

    I’m considering moving on in about six months so that I can get a permanent position with benefits and more responsibilities. Though I like my current job, it is very easy and doesn’t offer much in benefits. The thing is, I got very ill and required surgery earlier this year. My manager let me take a leave of absence for six weeks even though I’m only a temp and she could’ve easily hired someone else. My timeline being at the agency is like so: Employed March 2018 – August 2018, contract renewed difficulties, November 2018 – December 2018, LOA, February 2019 – present.

    Would I be burning bridges if I leave in six months?

    1. Tara S.*

      Since your position was explicitly a temp position when you were hired, it doesn’t look odd to leave after a short time. The fact that it was temporary can also explain the gaps in your work by itself. I wouldn’t bother explaining the gaps on your resume (you can always do so in person if asked), but instead would just list the intervals you worked. If “Temporary” is in the job title, I think that explains the short stints to most people.

    2. Not All*

      As a fed, I can say that pretty much all our temps/terms/seasonals are chasing permanent positions. In over 20 yrs, I’ve never once met someone who would hold it against even the most critical temp/seasonal position who left because they were able to get on permanent someplace, no matter the timing. We all know how hard it is to get permanent!)

      (I also worked in really crappy office/location for awhile that we knew pretty much anyone we hired who didn’t have permanent status already would only stay in the job for the 1 yr it took to get it…it was just part of being in that office and we didn’t hold it against them.)

    3. Not my normal name*

      I don’t think you need to list the leave of absence at all. You wouldn’t do that if it was a permanent job, and being a temp makes it even less relevant IMO since there’s no real expectation that your work builds on itself.

      1. Seeking Second Childhood*

        That’s what I was thinking. I temped for more time than I like to remember, and when I came here I put down my time span with a particular agency, but bullet-pointed interesting assignments they gave me.
        And because I went back to some places more than once, I did have overlaps.

        TeapotDesignTemps January 2018- current
        -Teapot assembler, ILikeBigTeapots Ltd, March 2018-current
        -Teapot handle molder, TinyTeapots, Inc, August 2018
        -Coffepot lid coordinator, CoffeOrTea International. September 2018

  30. AlexandrinaVictoria*

    How do you deal with corporate speak without losing your mind? One of our higher ups has latched on to “source of truth.” “We need to use this as our source of truth.” “One person has to do all of this so they are our source of truth.” “What’s your source of truth?” I’m so tempted to reply “The teachings of the Buddha, you ridiculous twit!” (I’m not a very good student of the Buddha, obviously!) My shoulders go up to my ears with tension when I see them coming because I know “source of truth” isn’t far off. Ugh.

      1. AlexandrinaVictoria*

        Usually a document, though this person uses it for everything. “This P&P is our source of truth for XYZ”

        1. Tara S.*

          Hopefully it’s a phase and will disappear in a few weeks/months, but you could try to speed along the process by asking something like, “Boss, you keep using this term “source of truth” and I’ve been meaning to ask you what exactly you mean by that? I’ve never heard anyone else use that term for work stuff, and I think I get the gist but I wanted to be sure?” Pointing out how weird it is *might* help your boss see that it’s not effective communication and to knock it off sooner rather than later.

        2. A tester, not a developer*

          We use the term ‘book of record’; same idea – it’s the definitive source of information about XYZ, and anything that contradicts it is wrong. Unless someone forgets to update the BoR…

      2. Autumnheart*

        It’s basically a phrase used to define the standard for the company. For example, let’s say you have one central database for customer data, and applications across the enterprise pull data from that database, as opposed to maintaining their own (which means duplicating work, increased chance for error). So the central database is the source of truth.

        Sounds like this guy read a book and now he’s using that phrase everywhere.

    1. CatCat*

      “On a go-forward basis, I will interface with Ted and Linda on source of truth best practices. Why don’t I circle back with you this afternoon so we can close the loop on this?”

      I mean, not really. But gosh, I would be so tempted to just really jargon it up.

      1. SignalLost*

        My favorite boss ever and I did that. We’d come up with the most jargon-heavy terms we could and then announce we were a quarter-credit closer to our MBAs. It actually does help, if you’re a sarcastic person.

    2. fposte*

      If you don’t know what he means, ask; if you do know what he means, let it go. We all have verbal tics, and it’s not something that needs to be stamped out.

      1. Parenthetically*

        Yeah, I was just going to say the same. Next time he says it, say, “Hey, just so I’m sure I understand you, what do you mean by ‘source of truth’? You say it pretty regularly and I want to make sure I’m understanding that phrase in the way you intend it. It has religious/philosophical overtones to me but that interpretation never makes sense in context.”

    3. ONFM*

      Maybe you should start using the phrase, but intentionally wrong? “Are these the new sales projections?” “Yes, it looks like this spring will be the source of truth.” I’d do it.

    4. I See Real People*

      Ha! This is one of my pet peeves as well. “Outside the box” has driven me insane for years now.

        1. Kowalski! Options!*

          Mine is “pen holder”: “Who’s the pen holder on this project?” “Fergus, as pen holder, will guide the team.” That, along with “tiger team”.