updates: my coworker wants me available 24/7, my boss had his wife do our work, and more

Here are five updates from people who had their letters answered here in the past.

1. I work from home and my coworker wants me available 24/7

First of all: thank you so much for publishing my letter! Your advice, along with the commentariat, was perfect. I keep my phone super-quiet now, and don’t jump when she calls. I also think that a lot of the commenters picked up on the fact that I was trying to “prove” I was working just as effectively from home and not doing anything helpful with my minutae-based away messages.

I was all happy to let this go and move on with my life, but we actually had a fairly bizarre outside incident happen the other day and Karen’s boundary-pushing is actually about to get her in trouble with someone besides me!

As I mentioned before, we are a small, family-owned company. Very sadly, our owner suffered a stroke and passed away last week. The owner’s son, Norman, is our CEO, so the status quo is remaining relatively the same but we’re all pretty sad. Norman has missed a few days of work due to the loss, but we’re plodding along, business-wise.

However, at the funeral this week, apparently Karen decided to bring some contracts that needed to be discussed and signed off on. And decided it would be a good idea to ask Norman to review/sign these documents while he was meeting with the other pallbearers, while they were all gathered around his father’s casket. (!!!!)

All of us from the office saw this happen and frankly none of us knew what to say — it was so surreal! Fortunately, Norman just shut her down with a firm, “This is really not a good time,” which is much more diplomatic than what I think I might have said in that situation.

I suspect Karen will be spoken to about this, since Norman is aware of my complaints re: Karen as well (and I’m not the only one who’s had issues with her boundary-stomping in the past), and I might have a pretty strong ally moving forward, now.

2. My boss had his wife do my coworker’s assignment

In a somewhat predictable result, my coworker whose work was given to the wife got a new job not long after. She was very talented and had no reason to stay. So she’s been gone about two months. It was a big blow to our department and the department head lamented the loss. Fortunately I’m pretty sure it’s because he knew he f’ed up and crossed a line.

Now we’re in the process of planning our biggest annual event (it’s in sept) so your script and those of some of the commenters are really helpful. I did comment on the thread a bit but was unable to be on the thread day of as I was running an event.

Moreover as the new year begins I can tell he’s just more “gravity has brought me down to earth” and realistic about what we can do as a department in the context of the agency so he’s being more of an ally to staff and accepting what we propose instead of throwing out non practical ideas.

3. My interviewer left me alone to run the office while she ran errands (#3 at the link)

Thank you for answering my question! I was glad to hear from you and the commenters that I wasn’t unreasonable in being put off by that interview. Quick update on the whole thing: I gathered up all the social courage my conflict-avoidant self could muster and called the interviewer, saying matter-of-factly that I hadn’t seen a check for my two hours of work show up in the mail yet and that I wanted to be sure she had my correct address. She sounded surprised, but took down my name and address (twice, actually, as apparently she lost the info the first time and texted me later asking me to tell it to her again). About a week later, I got a check in the mail–but, going by the minimum wage in our state, she stiffed me two dollars.

At this point, all I can do is laugh and be glad I dodged that bullet. Thanks again, Alison!

4. Being booked in “basic economy” on flights for job interviews (#3 at the link)

My email to the admin got passed up to someone higher up who had me rebooked on another airline! The manager sent me a note saying sorry for the confusion, that this admin doesn’t normally book travel. Apparently they have policies against doing basic economy for business travel AND this manager shares my hatred of United. I had a pleasant travel experience on JetBlue instead. :)

Thanks Alison and everyone else who chimed in. I thought this was a “suck it up” situation, but the manager wanted me to have a more pleasant travel experience, which I appreciated!

5. I don’t want to use my personal cell phone for work (#4 at the link)

While my issue may not have been a major one, I certainly did spend a lot of time thinking about it so I appreciate the response. I was on vacation when it posted, but reading through the comments later made me realize how insane my boss was being.

Your guidance and the commenters’ validation gave me what I needed to stand strong. While I’m typically one to keep talking and explaining, I said my piece then stopped. My boss hemmed and hawed, making it clear she just didn’t want to put in to her manager to incur the cost. She finally agreed to ask her manager. Every week in our check-in I asked if she’d talked to him, and about a month later she finally did. Turns out he was fine with it.

Extra good news is that this was indicative of a larger inability to advocate for her team or support them… so I took an internal transfer to a team that’s a much better fit. And I got to bring my company-issued phone along with me! Win-win situation. Thanks everyone.

{ 303 comments… read them below }

        1. General Ginger

          Unrelated, but Marthooh, I just realized I’ve been mentally reading your name as “MarTOOTH” for quite some time now. Oops.

      1. Liane

        Jerks. I think Karen and Mr. Gravenote are related to a company a Sunday school classmate told us about yesterday. Classmate’s friend just gave birth to *very* premature twins, one of whom isn’t doing well. On the same day Mom got flowers from her company, they called her up to say, “You used up all your leave, so resign. “

        1. Detective Amy Santiago

          OMG

          I hope she can get a lawyer and file suit against them. It astounds me when people are so heartless.

        2. Strawmeatloaf

          What they should have said was, “We are gifting you a huge settlement if you sue us. Please do so.”

    1. Soveryanon

      OMG! Who does that! Seriously, the man is BURYING HIS FATHER and Karen decides this is a great time to get those contracts signed? Holy cows!

      1. A.N. O'Nyme

        Considering there was a boss who made their employee leave a work note on the grave of another employee’s recently deceased family member…This actually doesn’t surprise me all that much.

          1. ElspethGC

            At least Karen did the horrendous deed herself this time. I would argue grave-note boss is somewhat worse because he made a young and vulnerable employee do his dirty work and basically led to her losing her job.

            1. valentine

              Karen makes less sense, though. Even if the company’s in danger of imminent ruin, she could communicate that otherwise and elsewhen/-where, if she’s even meant to contact the CEO.

        1. Free now (and forever)

          Don’t forget the boss who went to the funeral of an employee’s father and interrupted the minister giving the eulogy in order to ask the location of a file. Flames!!!

    2. Aurion

      Karen is cut from the same cloth as that horrible boss who made his report leave a note at a grave. Just…wow.

    3. Psyche

      Karen really doesn’t understand what an emergency is. I wouldn’t even know where to start with her, other than telling her that she can never ever try to contact someone outside of work because her judgement is so bad it probably isn’t fixable.

    4. WellRed

      Wasn’t there also an incident with a funeral where a boss showed up and had to be escorted out? And I know there’s a similar one related to boss showing up to a wedding.

      People! Work does not ever take priority over weddings and funerals (and frankly, lots of other things). Get. Over. Yourselves.

            1. Delightful Daisy

              PB was an update to this one ever posted? Holy buckets it is hard to understand people sometimes.

      1. ThisColumnMakesMeGratefulForMyBoss

        I’d actually say that work doesn’t take priority over you living your life. Yes, overtime may be needed at times, but if work is taking over your life, you need to reevaluate your priorities (unless you like it that way).

        1. rmw1982

          Exactly. I’m fortunate that all the manager-types I work for/with are generally respectful of my right to have a life outside of work (even if they don’t do so for themselves). But showing up at the funeral of the CEO’s father with paperwork to sign? Holy hell. That crosses ALL the boundaries of good taste and common sense.

      2. EvilQueenRegina

        I think there was someone in an open thread who mentioned an incident where someone turned up at a funeral and got escorted out by the family. I believe that one is referenced in the comments on the post about the guy who got escorted out of the wedding.

      3. Rachel 2: Electric Boogaloo

        Not to mention the boss who regularly barged in on his employee during her chemotherapy sessions to talk about work. I’m pretty sure that was the one voted Worst Boss of 2016.

    5. Jennifer

      I’m wondering if Karen is one of those “well, the work still needs to get done,” types, no matter what his happening. Not justifying her actions at all. We had an emergency situation at my last job where a building collapsed and an employee was unaccounted for, later found dead. When our boss announced this to the team, someone asked if we could expect delays on client services from this facility. Everyone was shocked. I could see her doing something like this.

      1. AnonAMouse

        She just might be. My crazy toxic boss responded to our fellow when informed of his father’s recent late stage cancer diagnosis with “parents get old and they have to go eventually, i guess”. People like that and Karen are the cultish followers of Workism who usually have very little left in their own personal lives.

        1. irene adler

          I wonder if there’s just something she simply does not get regarding interactions with people.
          Something that is several orders of magnitude above ‘misses social cues.’

        2. General Ginger

          I guess I will never understand this kind of lack of social awareness. I have trouble with some social cues and appropriate reactions sometimes, and I’ve done a lot of work to make sure my reactions are not wildly out of line with social norms. How do people like your boss or Karen not look around and think, “huh, nobody else seems to respond to stuff the way I do, maybe I should check into this a little more”, but just keep going in their toxic, completely inappropriate ways?

          1. MatKnifeNinja

            I know people who have no problems plowing ahead, if the work not getting done will get them grief later on.

            Sort of like dead is dead, but this is time sensitive so here’s the pen.

          2. Electric Pangolin

            My mom is like this, and she is constitutionally incapable of seeing anything wrong with her behavior at all. “Huh, I didn’t know she had such a complex about her appearance,” she’ll say after her longtime friend stopped speaking to her for months because she just casually called her ugly in passing. (I don’t remember the exact context because mom does these things on a weekly basis, but it was something like friend talking about her feelings on getting older and my mom replying “oh well, you were never pretty anyway so it won’t be a great change for you!”)

        3. That Girl From Quinn's House

          Oh god this reminds me!

          Years ago I was working somewhere that hired a (controversial) safety training consultant. One of the senior VPs who was involved in contracting with him showed up to every training to “observe” ex: make sure everyone was on-board with this new training and was drinking the Kool-Aid appropriately.

          At one point she says, “Oh well I had to leave my father’s funeral early to be here, but I’m here, because this is important.”

          This did not impress upon me how important this training was: this, combined with the consultant sexually harassing participants, impressed upon me that this SVP was nuts and this organization was toxic.

        4. gmg22

          My dad’s father and mom’s mother died within six months of each other, and before my grandma’s funeral my toxic boss at the time made a roundabout comment that wasn’t EXACTLY “I hope you don’t have any more sick grandparents” but definitely hinted at it. I managed to keep it together and say “yes, it’s sad, she was my last surviving grandparent” so I could enjoy his slightly red face and stammering attempt to dig himself out of the hole.

          1. That_guy

            I wish I could think on my feet like that. I probably would have said something wildly inappropriate like “I’m sorry my having people I actually care about is inconvenient for you.” Followed by a string of profanities and a resignation.

          2. Drago Cucina

            Old grandboss did that to me. My grandmother died and he said, “You were just visiting her (in other state) a few months ago. Surely you don’t need to go to the funeral.” I wish had been more quick in my thoughts for something similar.

      2. Elizabeth West

        Oh my gaw that’s horrible.

        Not nearly as bad as what happened at your work, but a tornado hit us at OldExjob, and the power was out. Most of the employees were at the other building helping clean up, and some went home to make sure they still had homes.

        The phone still worked so I was fielding calls. Everyone who phoned was properly sympathetic when informed of this–“OMG are you guys okay, thanks for letting us know, we’ll call back,” etc. Except for one person, who asked why her fax wasn’t going through to estimating. When I explained the situation, she said “Oh. Well when do you think I can send my fax?”

        HOW THE F*** SHOULD I KNOW KAREN THERE ARE LIGHTS OFF ALL OVER TOWN

        1. What the What

          Oh my goodness that reminds me of my former boss (who was located at a different location). We were on the phone and she was very irritated by “that noise in the background.” I explained the tornado sirens were going off and I needed to take cover. She actually asked if I really needed to go and seemed incredulous that I needed to hang up.

        2. pope suburban

          I’m normally very even-tempered at work, to the point that I acquire a reputation for such pretty much everywhere I work. I still almost lost my shit entirely in a situation like yours. My area was suffering devastating wildfires on the heels of another tragedy. My husband and I were, fortunately, safe from the whole thing, but I had to come into work regardless, because I work for an agency that runs emergency shelters, and we needed people around in case our building had to become one. Our contract instructors had cancelled classes that day, and the only one who thought about teaching had personally called all her students in addition to letting us know- totally reasonable, things were terrible, we didn’t expect anyone to come in. It looked like the Apocalypse outside.

          Except one student. One student who made the five-minute drive here, through Hell, when in her own words she was “sure there wouldn’t be class today.” One student who stood in front of me and berated me for this, claiming that the five-minute drive ruined her budget forever (Which, okay, I’ve been poor, but I call slight shenanigans here, especially since she repeatedly said she didn’t think there was a chance class would be held that day). I just stood there, biting my tongue, because I could not for the life of me find a single response that didn’t contain profanity, as the town burned around us. I was so angry I felt lightheaded. People were dying and losing everything, for all you know my home and/or loved one are in peril, but SURE JAN, STAND HERE AND ACT LIKE THIS.

          For what it’s worth, I was aware from what she was telling me and the fire maps that her home was in no danger, so I rather doubt this was someone in the throes of deep but understandable panic. Some people are just complete heels, and that was why I was so angry with her. Not that I did anything; I let the BSOD take me, told her that the instructor followed protocol, and if she wanted to try to ask for a refund I wouldn’t stop her (The answer would have been no). Just…the callousness bothers me to this day.

          1. rmw1982

            About six years ago, we had a raging forest fire not far from my office. People were evacuated for days. Plenty lost their homes, possessions, pets, and in two cases, their lives. The site manager’s reaction was “I guess if you need to work remotely, you can. But we’re not shutting down the site.”

            1. pope suburban

              Oh my God. I hope you and yours came out of it okay. Fires are no joke. I can’t believe that site manager, though. There really aren’t that many companies or industries that are *that* critical, and even there, natural disasters tend to create allowances. That makes me inclined to say that the manager was wrong in addition to being terrible. And also that they don’t understand what disasters can do to, say, power and the internet. We had some electrical outages here, and no internet for a couple of days, and this in a good-sized, suburban town. Good luck with Skype in a case like that.

            2. Anonny

              Wow, was this a relative of the woman who called the Sims customer service line whilst her house was burning down (her actual house, not her sims’ house) and clearly her video game problem was so much more urgent than smoke inhalation?

          2. WorkingStiff

            I’m in Chicago and due to where my work was, we had a mandatory evacuation on 9/11. Our president left a message for all our clients basically saying to call him but we were closed due to a national emergency. I come in the next day and there is a message from one of our clients in San Francisco complaining about no one being there and she wanted to know where we were on her project. Her project, a retail catalog that wasn’t due for another month was apparently the most important thing that day for her.

        3. Seeking Second Childhood

          Cluless Karen… we’ll put her to work with Waukeen and Fergus and Jane.
          (They have spots in the carpool from hell.)

        4. AnonAMouse

          What?! Ugh… yes Karen, you’ll be the only one deeply inconvenienced. I guess empathy isn’t as common a trait as I’d like to think.

        5. PJs of Steven Tyler

          Ha! This reminds me of a time at my last job when there was smoke in the basement and it set off the fire alarms in our giant office building. They turned off all the air conditioning, so it was in the high eighties in the building, and they wouldn’t let us evacuate while they worked on what was causing the smoke. But we didn’t know that, so it kind of seemed like I was trapped on the 13th story of a burning building. A client called and asked if I could pick something up from them downstairs right then. I said, “No, our building is on fire and they are not letting us evacuate.” The client was really surprised that I wouldn’t let them drive over, park in front of the building where all the fire trucks were, and defy firefighters’ orders to come downstairs to them.

      3. Anon for This, Because Whoa Nelly

        OK, I’m going to admit my natural instincts are Karen-like. By this point in my life, I’ve mostly figured out which situations are Not Appropriate to push for work as usual, so I mostly manage not to act on my first impulse. My parents were abusive, and I was not cut any slack for extenuating circumstances of any kind. The way I grew up, getting my stuff done was a matter of survival. I can definitely remember times as a kid when I was “oddly” pushy (from the point of view of the adult I was petitioning) that something absolutely had to be done a certain way, it had to get done today, it doesn’t matter that the power has been out. Because it wasn’t going to matter to my parents when I got home.

        Nowadays nobody is going to beat me for not turning in the TPS reports on time. People are mostly understanding if there was a real reason something didn’t get done punctually. But the instinct is still there. I hope this helps.

        1. Jaz

          I thought I was the only one!

          I grew up in the same sort of home. It didn’t matter what was going on; if your work wasn’t done, you would get a beating and a few days without food. I remember being nine years old and lugging buckets of gravel across the yard to build a retaining wall, and vomiting every twenty minutes or so because I had a concussion.

          As an adult in my first full time job, I walked into work one day bloodied up with a twisted ankle because I’d had a seizure on my walk to work and fallen into a ditch. My boss and I had a long and very important talk about how it’s okay to take time off when you’re badly injured, and that I should never expect myself or anyone else to work in that condition. It was a really eye-opening moment, because I hadn’t realized before then that people shouldn’t be expected to work when they are badly hurt, sick, at a wedding or funeral, etc.

    6. MusicWithRocksInIt

      The part that really boggled my mind is that she would do this to her boss – possibly the new owner of the company. I mean, it was bad she was doing it to the OP – but that was a coworker and she hasn’t been punished for doing things like that before. But the boss… it really shows she just has no concept of what is appropriate. I had originally thought she was just trying to bully the OP because the OP got to work from home, but this is other level.

      1. Lissa

        I think this is a really interesting point. Very often we judge people to be malicious rather than doing something unintentional because they are doing these things to people “lower” than them or who they see they can get away with it with – we say things like “she knows what she’s doing, no way would she be doing this to the boss.” here, we have someone who IS doing it to the boss! Though I don’t see anyone going “oh obviously she just doesn’t understand” or something.

    7. Jess

      My cousin recently buried his dad (my uncle), and received a text that morning from someone he is on a volunteer board with asking him to do something, and saying hope the day went well. She KNEW he was burying his father that day, just thought it was also appropriate to text about a minor, non-urgent, admin thing. He gave me the phone and asked me to reply because all he’d be able to do would be tell her to f*** off. And I feel like nothing will ever surprise me again.

        1. Katefish

          The last straw at OldJob was getting a phone call the morning of my grandfather’s funeral asking why another employee hadn’t completed a documentation step assigned to him. “I’ve got no idea, and don’t really care today, but you could try asking the person responsible for that task.”

      1. Jess

        Ehhh, I can *kind* of forgive this kind of thing. With a text, or even more-so with an email, I might send something but with the expectation and understanding that it wouldn’t be read or actioned until the person was back at their desk.

        If the text was a request for him to do something RIGHT THEN, sure, that’s bad. But if it was “I’m thinking of you and hope the day goes well. When you’re back at work, I’d love to chat about XYZ – let me know when you’re up to it”, and it’s not something that could be handled by a co-worker or manager in the meantime, I think that’s fine.

        1. Jess

          Hello fellow Jess! I will change my name after this :)

          This particular message was to his personal cellphone and was two sentences – the first asking the question, the second ‘Hope today goes well’. I can get that the intention of the sender was maybe what you describe, but intention does not equal impact, and the impact was not good.

        2. Bagpuss

          I think in that scenario, an e-mail to their work account would be fine, as it’s reasonable ti assume they won’t be checking it until they are at work (although if they often check mail outside work, then I’d phrase it to add something to make it clear I wasn’t explecting an immediate response – maybe (if the funeral was on Monday) something like ‘can you get back to me by close on Tuesday’

          Texts I think are generaly seen as more immediate so I wouldn’t send one – I think even with the wording ou suggest it’s still pretty intrusive –

    8. Falling Diphthong

      What is it about funerals/graves and the boundary-challenged? “Aha… I know where they’ll be, what with that death in the family a few days ago…”

      1. HarvestKaleSlaw

        There’s an urban legend about this test that can determine whether you’re a psychopath. It’s something like, “you meet the man/woman of your dreams at a funeral for your relative, but after they leave, you don’t have their name or any way to contact them. What do you do?” Psychopaths supposedly say, “I kill another relative. That way I can see them again at the next funeral.”

        I guess that also works for when you have some TPS reports that need a sign….

        1. boo bot

          Okay, I will admit that I got the, um, “right” answer immediately the first time I heard it (your mother’s funeral/kill your father) but I think it’s just because the question has the structure of a riddle, and it’s the riddle-like answer. Or, that’s what I’m sticking to, anyway.

        2. Indie

          So psychopaths don’t typically come from a family of constantly vigilant matchmakers, huh? Possibly I’ve been ungrateful then.

      2. SheLooksFamiliar

        A friend was at his aunt’s wake and got a call from a colleague: ‘I’m sure you’d like to think about something else for a while, we have an issue here…’ My friend simply ended the call and ignored the next two attempts. Wish I’d heard him when he got back to the office.

      3. Jennifer

        I know you’re joking, but I really think that’s what goes through their head. “They aren’t taking my calls or responding to my emails. The next logical step is to show up where I know they will be.” Some people just have one track minds.

      4. Pilcrow

        This is thematically similar to real advice I’ve seen to ambush people outside the restroom if you need something signed or approved or whatever.

        1. Former Admin turned Project Manager

          I will admit that I used to go out to my boss’ smoke break to get things signed back in the day. It was the one time I knew where I could find him and that he would have a free second. He didn’t mind over all, but discouraged me from doing so while I was pregnant because he didn’t want me near the smoke.

    9. Lusankya

      I accidentally called a client at a funeral once.

      I didn’t know, and I had called their office line, which got transferred to their mobile, so it’s not like it was my fault or anything, but I felt mortified.

      I can’t imagine doing it deliberately.

      1. TooTiredToThink

        Actually, I’ve done the exact same thing. But um… it was a work provided phone and they still answered (and I had absolutely no way of knowing). But yeah; I was horrified.

        1. Jennifer

          I think that’s kind of on them. Their work phone was on at a funeral and they answered it. What’s the point of answering just to tell people you’re at a funeral and making them feel terrible? Turn it off.

      2. Artemesia

        I still cringe about a moment in college when I had an appointment with a prominent local businessman around an issue that was time sensitive for a volunteer thing. I called him and his wife answered that she didn’t know, he was overdue on a flight and she was so worried, so I said some pablum of sorry to disturb. AND I called back the next day. He was still overdue. They found his skeleton and that of a local city councilman on the same small plane lost that day about 20 years later behind a waterfall in the Cascade range. I just cringe when I think about that second call; it just never occurred to me that it was a private plane and that he was actually ‘overdue’ as in missing. All my feelings of being an insensitive clod flooded back when I read about the discovery of the plane all those years later.

        1. Kaden Lee

          oh man! that is. impressive. I don’t think you could’ve reasonably worked out that “he is a missing person” from “his flight is overdue”, though.

          1. Shad

            Yeah. I think that no matter how the wife felt in the moment, she would certainly have realized looking back (if she remembered the incident at all amidst the early panic and emotion) that her words didn’t indicate that it was anything other than a delayed commercial flight in an era when that was much more difficult to track at home.

          2. Artemesia

            I just looked up the story and they found the body just 3 years after that not 20 — it seemed a long time back then. But yeah, it was awful and one of the men lost with him was a very prominent local pol with a great future ahead of him so it was in the news a lot. Happened in the 60s.

        2. CM

          This is all reminding me of the Raymond Carver story “A Small Good Thing,” where a baker keeps calling the family to pick up a cake at a horrible time.

        3. EinJungerLudendorff

          I certainly wouldn’t have worked that out.
          My first thought would be that his plane was delayed and the wife tends to worry a bit much, or that he took the wrong plane and his phone ran out or something.

          Because if the plane crashes the airline would inform the passengers relatives or something, right?

      3. EvilQueenRegina

        At my old job Grandboss once called a coworker at someone’s wake – Coworker had agreed that day off with Boss for whichever family member’s funeral it was, but it somehow happened that it wasn’t recorded anywhere that he would be out, and Boss was out himself, so Grandboss thought he had no call no showed and called to check on him. His nephew answered the phone and said “It’s So and so’s funeral today and you have just interrupted the wake!”

    10. Marion Ravenwood

      Same here! I mean, there’s a time and a place, and the CEO’s father’s (and your great-great-grandboss) funeral is definitely Not. It.

    11. Elan Morin Tedronai

      There’s literally a subreddit called /r/FuckYouKaren. I’ve never visited it but I suspect OP#1’s adventures with her Karen would probably be at home there. That said, I’m glad that (1) it turned out that Karen never really had it out for OP and was just a moron; and (2) OP, from the looks of it, has the entire company on her side WRT this issue. Norman sounds like a classy guy in this instance – I recall having to locking my uncle down at my grandfather’s funeral because his colleague showed up at the crematorium to ask him when his bereavement leave would end.
      Finally… Fuck you Karen! XD

    12. Works in IT

      Yeah… at least when I had to email a coworker who had to go to a funeral last week on the day of the funeral, I did so knowing perfectly well that she wouldn’t be getting to anything I was forwarding her for several days, but I had to forward it so that there was a record that it was being looked at and wasn’t being dropped into a black hole.

      …. when she replied to one of the emails asking if we needed that done now, I told her that was not necessary, because seriously, I had not been expecting her to even check her work email that day, let alone during the funeral. And that her reading the emails I had sent her when she was up to it would be soon enough.

    13. Tom

      I guess your jaw, mine, and several others are down there.
      Hope we can each find our own again…

      This.. I can`t even.

    14. Stranger than fiction

      She’s a perfect match for the bad boss of the year that left a note at the graveyard for his employee

      1. The Cosmic Avenger

        As an observer I would want to see Karen insta-fired (from a cannon, maybe?), but as a boss I think I would want to appear to have done it calmly and deliberately, and that would NOT happen on the day of a parent’s funeral. So if I were Norman, I would wait until I got back to the office and have HR write it up for me, or if there is no HR person, just write out an objective “irreconcilable communication and compatibility issues with coworkers” kind of firing rationale.

    1. CoveredInBees

      Reminds me of the OP who was forced to leave a note for a colleague on their relative’s gravestone.

    1. fposte

      There’s an old Miss Manners letter where somebody wrote in about a relative at a funeral who plastered the funeral home with his business brochures. He may even have put them on the coffin–I can’t remember for sure.

      1. Christmas Carol

        Yes, and the Grand Mistress of Understatement suggested a response something along the lines of, “Do you realize how you’ve just made a solid connection in people’s minds between your business, and sadness and death?”

    2. some dude

      Hey, man, she was just showing initiative. That’s the kind of can-do attitude that some employers really like.

      In all seriousness, I wonder if there isn’t something sort of clinically unique about Karen, like some sort of compulsive disorder that won’t let her just leave things well enough alone. I worked with someone who talked a mile-a-minute and to whom everything was a stop the presses emergency, and with her there was definitely some sort of ocd thing going on where she just had to get everything done NOW.

  1. merp

    #3, you are killing it. Good on you for asking, and maybe they’ll stop that kind of interviewing if they don’t want to be held accountable for it!

    1. Marthooh

      For some reason, I just love that the manager stiffed the OP by two dollars. Like, she literally can’t bring herself to behave decently.

      1. Drew

        OP should borrow a satchel and a bike and show up at that office saying “I want my two dollars!”

        (No, she shouldn’t, but that image will sustain me for a while.)

        1. RandomusernamebecauseIwasboredwiththelastone

          Thank you… needed that image today :) Love that quote!

          ” Johnny: Four weeks, twenty papers, that’s $2 dollars. Plus tip.
          Lane Myer: Gee Johnny, I don’t have a dime.
          Johnny: Didn’t ask for a dime. 2 dollars.”

      2. Indie

        I think she is so cheap that she gleefully deducted for postage, just to feel like she got away with something. Also that she goes round telling people about the unbelievable nerve of one inteeviewee who charged her – but everyone is secretly scandalized for OP.

    2. boop the first

      This update is great, though I just KNOW if I was in this situation, it would be a headache trying to remember and then retrieve the tax form a year later to properly finish filing over a few measly dollars -_-

  2. Psyche

    I’m glad to hear that it was the manager and not the company that was the problem in #5. There is no way I would allow my employer that kind of access to my personal phone! That is such a crazy ask!

  3. Lady Phoenix

    Update 1’s story reminded of that poor LW that had to leave a work note on a grave and got fired for it.

    Only difference is that THAT LW was obviously set up by an abusive asshole of a manager that KNEW shit would hit the fan, while this Coworker is just…. abso-effin-lutely stupid.

    Just wow.

    Also, I like this update. ANOTHER!
    (Slams update to the grounx)

  4. MuseumChick

    Karen comes in second on the “horrible” scale to the guy who made a report leave a note on a grave.

    1. Karen from Finance

      Second, though? I think it’s actually worse. She actually followed through with harrassing the person AT the funeral. HIS FATHER’s.

      1. Arctic

        That manager followed through too. And then tried to put all the blame on the subordinate he made do it.

      2. MuseumChick

        I can totally see your point! For me what makes that situation more horrible was the bosses manipulation of a direct report with little work experience. Karen is a terrible person on here own. That boss ruined a young woman’s job prospects.

      3. Karen from Finance

        Ah, I had forgotten that the manager had gotten the subordinate in trouble for it. You both are right, that one is the worse between out of two very horrible people.

  5. Karen from Finance

    Outside of #1 which left me speechless, I’m glad things turned out ok one way or the other for all the other updates. Specually proud of #3, #4 and #5 for gathering the courage to speak up. Well done!

  6. Hold My Cosmo

    Congratulations, Alison, on this important milestone. You now have multiple letters about employees literally disturbing the dead.

    1. That Girl From Quinn's House

      Next Letter: Dear Alison, my boss Fergus made me get a Ouija board and hold a seance to ask work questions to an employee who recently died. I think it’s wrong to disturb the dead about TPS reports. What do I do?

      1. Phx Acct, now with dragons

        Dear Alison: My boss wants me to perform necromancy and resurrect my dead coworker before his body is too decomposed to use. On one hand, I find the idea of reanimating the dead distasteful, but on the other, it feels like a way to reduce costs and new-hire training time. Recycle, reduce, reuse, right?

        1. The Cosmic Avenger

          Also, are the undead subject to the same overtime and minimum wage laws as the living? You could argue that they will work 24/7 and not complain, and they don’t need sleep, so….

        2. Free Meerkats

          “Raising a family is hard,” he said.
          “Not if they’re buried close enough together,” replied the Necromancer.

      2. Nea

        Ouija boards have come up here before! Remember the person who wrote in because the job they were applying for demanded the prospective employee set up a meeting with every single other manager they’d ever had?

        1. Five More Minutes

          No… and my search isn’t turning up anything that looks like what you’re referring to with the Ouija board. Please post a link if you can find it!

      3. emmelemm

        No joke, I had a coworker die suddenly last year and take a LOT of institutional knowledge with him. I have wished, so much, for a Ouija board. But you’re right, he doesn’t deserve to be plagued with all our earthly nonsense any more.

    2. Snark

      If anyone comes to my funeral with a stack of work for my kid, I will haunt them SO HARD. I got all eternity and not a damn thing to do, so come at me, Karen.

      1. Drew

        Dear Alison,

        I screwed up and now the spirit of my former boss’ dad is haunting me. Can I claim an exorcism as a legitimate business expense?

        Signed,
        As Long As You’re Just Sitting There Crying, You May As Well Sign These

        1. Iron Chef Boyardee

          “As Long As You’re Just Sitting There Crying, You May As Well Sign These”

          No problem, I’ll just sign ’em with my tears…

        2. Akcipitrokulo

          And can I be written up if I asked for my manager to sign off on the exorcism expenses while she was in labour? That’s the opposite of a funeral!

    3. Indie

      I did once have a co-worker ask me if I wanted to join a necrophilia register (You kind of donate your body or something). Though to be fair, he wouldn’t have been disturbing the dead for work purposes?
      Ah to be young and working in retail. I think I actually was unshockable then.

        1. Indie

          Yeah, he was a goth and I was nice to him at a time when other people were mean and that was my reward.

    1. Busy

      Haha it really does put a whole new spin on your name!

      I cringed so hard reading this. I am s adverse to this, that someone would literally have to hold a gun to my head to make me do it. There are 365 days in a year, people!

    2. Elizabeth the Ginger

      Well, if it makes you feel better, you don’t actually share a name with her since it’s a pseudonym!

      1. Former Admin turned Project Manager

        yeah, it’s my real name. I promise I’m not like my namesake!

  7. CommanderBanana

    Karen should go get a job with that boss who made his employee leave a letter at someone’s grave. Then maybe they can all go work for the boss who showed up at his employee’s wedding.

  8. Peppa Porcine

    That reminded me of the letter at the gravesite, only in person and my gawd has she either got stones or, no freaking clue. I hope boss hands her her glutes in a bag.

  9. Tessa Ryan

    There are a place and a time for work-related tasks, Karen. And during funeral arrangments of a family member is NEVER that place or time. This makes me think of the OP whose boss made them drop off a note at somebodies grave… Cringe.

    1. Daughter of Ada and Grace

      The only person who should be doing work-related tasks at a funeral is the funeral director.

      And getting signatures on a contract should still not be one of those tasks.

    2. Beth

      On the other hand, it really does back up OP’s and others’ complaints that Karen is unable/unwilling to respect reasonable professional boundaries, doesn’t it?

      I feel for Norman, being interrupted at his dad’s funeral and all, but part of me also says that maybe if he’d taken those complaints seriously earlier on, he wouldn’t have had to deal with it.

    3. mark132

      I’m trying to think of what workplace emergency would justify interrupting a funeral and it would literally have to be a “life-and-death” thing. I struggle to come up with a realistic scenario, but I’m sure one exists.

      1. Beth

        Even if it is a life-or-death thing…hospitals have more than one surgeon, police stations have more than one officer, fire stations have more than one firefighter, etc. The odds of it both being a life-or-death scenario AND this one person at the funeral being the literal only person who could handle it? That’s a soap opera, not real life.

        1. Mockingbird

          The Thai cave rescue (the doctor’s dad died at the same time). That’s literally the extreme required.

      2. LQ

        We work in the funeral home and it’s on fire.
        We work next to the funeral home and it’s on fire and looks like it may jump to this building.
        We work for the caterer for the food for the funeral and just found out that the food is definitely contaminated and someone’s about to put a fork in their mouth.

        Really what else is there? Fire I suppose, lots of fires are good excuses here. Maybe a gas leak.

      3. Antilles

        The only scenario I can even remotely think of is something like “your ‘job’ involves committing major felonies (drug dealer, terrorism, etc) and someone from your organization is warning you about the FBI showing up”.

  10. Totally Minnie

    I want to give #3 a standing ovation. You got paid for the work they made you do, and you dodged the bullet of a job with a terrible boss!

    1. M&Ms fix lots of Problems

      I will second that surprise, but who knows that could still happen. CEO could be planning that to happen and just didn’t want that scene at his father’s funeral.

    2. Narvo Flieboppen

      I’m actually glad he didn’t fire her on the spot. I know the kind of seething rage I would have in such a situation would lead to untoward things being said.

      A nice quiet letter after the fact, perhaps delivered by process server with the trespass notice, should make clear she is no longer employed or welcome on premises. And without all the hassle of a potential lawsuit over words screamed in anger.

      Also, major kudos to Norman’s professional response under stress where many people would show a lot less grace in the moment.

      1. annakarina1

        Yeah, if that had happened to my dad, he’d probably want to blow up and bury the person right there.

        1. valentine

          Tiny floral arrangement at her desk: “RIP your job. (And WIP your colleagues who won’t suffer you paging them ‘Hellooooooo’.)”

      2. M&Ms fix lots of Problems

        Very true Narvo, I guess some of my surprise is that “Norman” was so patient with “Karen” in the moment. I can imagine that most people wouldn’t have been as polite to her.
        I do think that a very stern reprimand will be coming back in the office and probably a lot more support for the people who were suffering from her boundary stomping.

    3. Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain

      Right. But why wasn’t she, at the very least, asked to leave right then? If not by Norman, than by one of the other pallbearers, who are probably also family or close friends of the deceased.

      Norman: “Karen, this is a funeral for my father. Since it appears you aren’t here for the funeral, you need to leave.”
      Pallbearer: “Madam, this is a funeral for our (family member/close friend). Since you are obviously not here to mourn the deceased, you need to leave, or else I’ll get the staff to show you out.”

      1. Snark

        I would have gone more with “Give me the contracts.” *tosses them over shoulder* “You’re fired. We’ll send you the contents of your cube in a box; you are never to return to the office. Get out of my dad’s funeral, ffs.”

        1. Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain

          I was trying to stick to the professional tone of Norman’s original response, but yes, I would be inclined to your style if it had been my own parent’s funeral.

        2. ThisColumnMakesMeGratefulForMyBoss

          Yeah I would not have been so refined. “You’ve got to be f’ing kidding me Karen. Leave. NOW”

      2. Lissa

        Eh, people usually aren’t quite that “on the ball” when something completely out of the ordinary happens. I think Norman’s response was great! I know when something super odd happens I tend to freeze up and getting out one sentence that’s appropriate is hard! It’s only later that I realize how out of line it was and have a great TV-worthy speech I could’ve delivered. :)

  11. LKW

    As a boss, I’m sure Norman patiently listened to the OP catalog the boundaries that Karen crossed and somewhere in his mind he thought… “hmmmm… is it as really bad as the OP is making it out to be? How disruptive could this really be?”

    Well Norman, now you know. Now you know.

    1. AKchic

      Right?!
      I have been the person both listing problems about someone and been the person to hear about complaints against someone else. Both times the “oh, it can’t be *that* bad, can it?” running through either my head or the person I am reporting to.

      Yes. Yes it *is* that bad. Then the person shows their tuchus and you start to feel stupid for ever doubting the complainer.

  12. Jennifer

    #1 Jaw still on the floor. This at least confirms that Karen has some very serious issues concerning boundaries in general and that the problem isn’t just with the OP. I was concerned after the first letter that she seemed to have it out for the OP for some reason. Norman will definitely be reprimanding Karen once he feels up to it and maybe she will either shape up or end up being terminated.

    1. Ginger

      Yes! I was about to comment the same thing. After the first letter, I really thought it was something personal against the OP but now, it looks like Karen just really has no boundaries and/or has a super self-righteous complex.

    1. Snark

      I recall posting something like “Karen, have some god damn chill,” in the first thread, but I wasn’t aware I needed to be so much more specific.

  13. MissDisplaced

    OMG #1 This Karen person has zero sense of appropriate actions. Even, EVEN if the contracts were urgent, it can wait until later, you know, like after a funeral! What I’m less sure of is if Karen is really a horribly thoughtless person, or just one who frets and suffers so much from anxiety (I mean why else would she insist the contract needed signing RIGHT NOW) that she’s lost all common sense.
    Note: My mum, who is 78 tends to get like that. She frets constantly if she can’t get something solved RIGHT NOW, and often is prone to creating “stress emergencies” if she knows my brother or I are going away somewhere. She’s literally called me the morning I was getting on an international flight because her iPad was running slow due to popup ads, when all she had to do was turn it off and back on (something I’ve showed her how to do many times) but refused to do over the phone. Sigh.

    1. Jennifer

      Surely there has to be one other person at least who has the authorization to sign off on those contracts. Based on her previous behavior, I’m guessing that this wasn’t the first time she tried to reach out to him about the contracts. It’s almost like she was annoyed that she hadn’t gotten a response from him previously about the contracts, you know, while his dad was dying. Unbelievable.

    2. The Man, Becky Lynch

      My mom is the kind of person who stresses out about things. Case and point, her employer hasn’t gotten her the right paperwork for her taxes yet for her medical coverage. She’s stressing out and I’m over here like “Gurl, it’s okay.” Thankfully, she has me and also she has the ability to know that even if she’s in a tailspin over something, she’s not going to say, show up at a funeral home or grave site to track someone down that can help her out. She’s just going to buzz around and be internally panicked and probably call me [unless I’m busy, she also doesn’t call me at work or when she knows I’m busy etc].

      So yeah, I get it but it’s also a huge difference when you’re inconveniencing or being stressed out with your immediate family than your coworkers or boss!

      1. MissDisplaced

        My mum is definitely beginning to lose it a bit. She’s always been overly-nervous and a “fretter,” and it’s unfortunately gotten worse as she’s aged. She’s also begun to say things out loud that shouldn’t be said out loud. Some of Karen’s actions kind of remind me of this, like a “no filter” thing, and make me wonder if there is a much deeper issue w/Karen. But maybe Karen really is just being horrible.
        In my mum’s case, I’m not even sure she’s aware she’s doing it. It’s like the fretting complete takes her over and she will NOT let it go.

    3. ThisColumnMakesMeGratefulForMyBoss

      If this is an actual medical issue that Karen has, then it’s HER responsibility to come up with coping mechanisms at work. Everyone else shouldn’t have to be interrupted every 5 minutes with non-emergencies, especially at a funeral.

      1. Karen from Finance

        I had missed the updates. Wow. This is one of the most horrible things I have ever read. Horrifying. I feel so bad for that poster.

  14. starsaphire

    Work-related tips for OP #1:

    Because you work remotely, there will be no need for you to refrain from Snoopy-dancing around your office with glee when you hear that Karen has been let go. Just be sure that your phone is on mute so no one hears you.

    Practice saying, “Wow, Karen, it just won’t be the same without you; best of luck in the future!” with great sincerity.

  15. Drax

    I am having a hard time picking my jaw up off the floor from Karen. What the actual f is wrong with her. Not just at the funeral but WHILE THEY WERE AROUND HIS FATHERS CASKET.

    I, I just. I can’t process that. Why did no one stop her. Why did she think that was remotely okay.

    1. Sam.

      I strongly suspect she would’ve blown off anyone who tried to stop her! But I am super curious about how she responded to Norman shutting her down.

    1. Seeking Second Childhood

      I’m reminded of a parody advice column associated with a d&d webcomic. Long remembered, probably badly misquoted : Someone writes to the evil mage for help… “I had a terrible argument with someone in my adventure party so I killed him and reanimated the body. He agrees with me now. So the problem is, he’s starting to stink and the job’s not done…what do I do?”
      Evil mage replies “Febreeze. Febreeze solves everything. “

  16. The Man, Becky Lynch

    Norman is a saint. I want him to teach me how to restrain myself. I would have fired her and then had someone escort her out of the funeral home. I cannot even.

    She just sent you a check for two hours work and didn’t even run it through payroll it sounds like. It just gets better and better, as she clearly didn’t have your proper payroll information down. So she paid you as contract labor. My payroll and accounting mind is in full tantrum mode. I’m just glad you got paid. She’s so…I can’t find nice words so I’m going to just stop myself on this tirade!

    1. Amber Rose

      Right? My first instinct reading it was “Get the F*** out of here right now. I don’t want to see your face again until I fire your ass.”

      Though on the spot I think shock would probably cause me to respond calmly as well. I have a history of just sort of freezing up.

      1. The Man, Becky Lynch

        I’m eerily calm and collected in times of crisis, I’m the go-to person for most emergencies for my family, friends and colleagues. But I also have a temper that unleashes only in situations exactly like this, you are asking me for what at my father’s casket? I’ll bury you with him if you don’t get out of my face now.

  17. Amber Rose

    LW1, please come back and tell us about how Karen doesn’t have a job anymore. Just a Friday post would be fine. Someone like that shouldn’t be allowed to interact with other people.

    LW’s 2, 3, 4 and 5: Good job all of you. I’m glad it seems to be good news all around. *thumbs up and high fives for all*

        1. Beth

          Firing someone who causes repeated problems through an inability to treat others with respect or respect others’ boundaries wouldn’t be ‘lowering himself’ to Karen’s level. From what OP has said about Karen’s behavior, it should have been addressed ages ago–it’s been interfering with OP’s work and has driven other employees away. If Norman does end up firing her, this would be the last straw with an already difficult employee, not an out-of-the-blue revenge-on-an-innocent thing.

          1. Kenneth

            I think you and Jules are interpreting my hope that Norman is “merciful” as not firing her. There are plenty of ways to terminate Karen without “lowering himself” and remaining restrained. For example, he could just leave a memo on her desk demanding her immediate resignation. That is what I mean by being “merciful” and “not lowering himself” to Karen’s level.

            1. The Man, Becky Lynch

              I certainly read it as merciful in terms of “firing her where she can at least save face” and not as a “doesn’t get fired at all”!

              I mean he already showed he’s a bigger guy than a lot of us because he didn’t fire her immediately and have her thrown out the door on her rump. I can only hope that he calmly told her that her service is no longer necessary and that he wishes her the best in her future endeavors!

  18. EPLawyer

    Karen is the admin right? yet she just decided on her own that contracts had to be signed right THEN?

    Not that good admins are not worth their weight in platinum, but they don’t decide deadlines.

  19. HappySnoopy

    1. Sorry for loss of your grandboss.
    2. Sad it took loss of employee but glad boss is learning.
    3. Wow. Wonder if they ever figured it out.
    4. Yay on standing up. Did you get the job?
    5. Yay happy ending.

  20. The Gollux (Not a Mere Device)

    LW3:

    If you have some free time, it might be worth calling or emailing your State Department of Labor to report this person for paying illegally low wages, since you have evidence: she accepted that you had worked for two hours, and sent you a check for less than the minimum wage. That makes it less likely that this person/company can defend herself by claiming that she doesn’t owe you money because she hadn’t hired you, it was a job interview. (That depends in part on where you live; some states have better enforcement than others.)

    1. Indie

      It’s actually worth considering that not only is she underpaying, but she’s underpaying interviewees (probably on a regular basis) which is somehow even skeevier.

    2. The Man, Becky Lynch

      It’s a lovely box to open with the Labor department.

      1. Less than minimum wage
      2. It doesn’t seem like it was actually ran through payroll, since how would they do that? The OP never filled out any tax forms or gave them her SSN as far as it sounds to me. So they didn’t withhold anything, send her a proper pay stub or pay their share of the taxes owed.

      You cannot just cut someone a check for services rendered, this isn’t a contractor and if it was, again you need paperwork on file. I would love to see how this place recorded that payment.

      I saw someone popped for a couple checks they wrote their kids and some friends of the family out of the company books for cleaning the office over the summer and help setting up some new computers [aka cheap AF IT work] kind of stuff, things that you can pay for and write off through the business but it has to be through someone who is going to claim it on some kind of tax form. These were $50-$100 checks but they were written to Obvious Person and therefore they needed an invoice with a W9 attached or ran through payroll.

      Sick the labor department on them. It won’t get them shut down by any means, it’s very little in back taxes but it gets them on the radar and they get their wrists slapped and are put on notice that someone is paying attention.

    3. Close Bracket

      OP would have been a contractor, not an employee. It’s not illegal to pay contractors less than minimum wage. They get paid whatever the contract says they get paid, and OP didn’t have a contract. I kind of wish OP had invoiced the interviewer for 2 hours at $x/hr, but that’s in the past and is probably not worth continued space in OP’s head.

  21. Not-So-Mean-Girl

    The closest situation I’ve had to this is when my Grandmother died. She passed on a Friday and I got the call at work, and even though we weren’t close I was very upset. My boss was great about it, telling me I can leave if I wanted to, but instead I took about an hour break and went back to work. Later that afternoon I was told the funeral was being arranged for Monday.

    Monday was our huge meeting, bringing in consultants to try and save the business (it had been declining drastically the over the previous year.) When I told my boss that I wouldn’t be coming in and said “But its the meeting! You have to be there!” I just looked at her blankly for a minute until she realized how ridiculous she was being, and said “Nevermind, you can skip it.”

  22. JulieCanCan

    OP 3, I *LOVE* your update! Good for you! Your original question made me so mad on your behalf, so hearing you were at least paid *something* for your bizarro day at bizzaro office made me smile.

    I just hope anyone else who goes through a similar incident does exactly what you did!

  23. Zipzap

    Regarding Karen, I don’t even think its a workaholic attribute, its a zero-understanding-of-social-norms thing coupled with pretty much no empathy. I’ve known workaholics who worked almost all the time but who were still pretty nice folks and were interested in others and their well-being. I can’t imagine them doing something like this.

  24. Jo

    My eyes were like saucers when I read the bit about Karen bringing along the contracts to the funeral and asking Norman to review and sign them. WTF? Who does that?

  25. Close Bracket

    OP #3:

    I am neither a lawyer nor a tax accountant, but that payment will have to be reported to the IRS and you will probably owe self employment taxes on it. I don’t know if that came to mind for you, so just thought I’d let you know.

    I hope this never happens to anyone else, but if it does, 1) refuse to do it, but if you do, 2) submit an invoice at an hourly rate commensurate with what an independent contractor would be paid for the work. That’s usually something like 1.5x what a regular employee would make.

  26. Cygnata

    Re: Basic Economy. I will NEVER fly that again. I paid $32 when I checked in for my flight to upgrade to a seat near the front, next to a window. I have autism and need to be able to see out, and I *cannot* sit near the engine due to sensory issues.

    When I got to the gate, they changed my seat! An aisle seat, in the back, RIGHT NEXT TO THE ENGINE, and told me that it was due to “weight imbalance issues.” That would have been somewhat excusable, especially since they let me choose a new window seat “as long as it is towards the back.” However, I looked at my original seat, and saw an older, VERY heavyset man sitting there! I asked about it, and they said he had higher priority than I did.

    I am a small female-presenting person, so their “weight” argument holds even LESS water. I made a complaint, but never did hear anything back, nor have I received a refund. I’ll fly Delta or Southwest next time, neither of THEM have ever done anything like this to me.

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