employer is angry I didn’t show up for an interview I didn’t know about, how much working from home is too much, and more

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

1. Employer is angry that I didn’t show up for an interview I didn’t know about

There is a job I really want. I applied and didn’t hear back for a while. After a few months, they emailed me stating that my interview would be on X date with no time nor location. They had scheduled it for the next day and it was already evening. I wasn’t in town and wouldn’t be back until the next week. I sent an email in reply, letting them know and that I would be happy to reschedule.

Fast forward to today, which is five days later. Last night they sent me an email with today’s date, time, and a location for the interview. I am still away and hadn’t checked my email. I only saw it because I woke up this morning with several angry phone calls and emails asking where I was and why hadn’t I shown up yet. My morning is their afternoon, which is when they had the interview set up. I had no idea they had an interview set up! At first I thought the voicemails were for someone else because they didn’t mention my name but the emails do. I have no idea how to respond. Help!

It’s bizarre to simply assign the time and date for an interview via an email the night before. Some employers do just assign interview times (which is problematic for obvious reasons — people have lives and other commitments), but it’s absurd to do that the night before the assigned date. Plenty of people wouldn’t even see the message in time (as happened to you), and many/most others would already have commitments for the following day (for example, their current jobs that it’s too late to get time off from).

I would rethink your assessment that this is a job you really want. This is an organization that acts without regard for people’s time — and does so in a particularly irrational way. It’s annoying enough to deal with that as a candidate; think about what it would be like to deal with as an employee.

But if you really want to pursue the job, you could say, “I typically need a few days notice for an interview because of my work and travel schedule. I’m currently out of town, but will be back on (date). I would love to set up an interview for any time after that, as long as I have a few days notice and time to make sure the time works on both ends.” If they find that very reasonable statement to be overly demanding, please please pay attention to what you’re learning about how they operate.

2. How often should you send “thanks” emails to close the loop?

When is it appropriate to send thank-you emails? I have a colleague who thanks me for everything, like literally. Everything. For example, I email a vendor, they email me back saying “I will find the PowerPoint and forward it,” and my colleague will reply thank you to BOTH emails, the first email saying they’ll forward it, and the email with the actual content.

I barely send thank-you emails myself though — if I email a vendor, and they say “I don’t work here anymore, please email X,” I wouldn’t email “thank you!” back. But if a colleague did me a favor, I would answer “thank you.”

I am all for emailing less, since I easily receive 100 emails per day, and we have strict cut-off times for placing orders, so I need to get through all my emails as quickly as possible, every day. What’s the right answer here?

What your colleague is doing sounds excessive. But a lot of people use thank-you emails not to convey “you have my heartfelt gratitude” but rather to acknowledge receipt. That can still be annoying when it’s excessive, but sometimes it can help to reframe it in your head that way.

There aren’t really universal guidelines about when to send a thank-you/acknowledgement email and when not to, but if I were going to come up with some, I’d say that if you’re emailing the same person multiple times a day, there’s no need for “thanks” every time. If you’re corresponding with them much less frequently, it makes more sense as a way to close the loop on the exchange. Also, you definitely don’t need to reply-all on those “thanks” emails; it’s especially annoying to have your inbox fill up with “thanks” emails that you’re just cc’d on.

I also have a not-entirely-fully-formed theory that the number of “thanks” emails you send sometimes corresponds to where you are in your career. When you’re up and coming (junior and early mid-level roles), you sometimes have more of a drive to ensure people see that you’re conscientious and on top of things. You’re efficient! You’re churning through emails! You’re appreciating everyone who’s helping you! And it’s not that you don’t care about those things as you become more senior, but sometimes there’s less of an orientation toward displaying them in this particular way (plus you’re often busier and just prioritizing other things). As I said, it’s not fully formed yet! But I’ve definitely seen that evolution in myself and others.

3. Am I working from home too much?

I report directly to my CEO as a department of one (Compliance) and my work computer was recently upgraded to a laptop and I was given VPN access and permission to “work off-site whenever I wanted” (direct quote).

How much is too much though? I’m sort of an introvert in a noisy cubicle farm so I actually very much prefer working from home. I also had previous careers in freelance/self-employment so I have no issues staying motivated at home. I’m always in the office for meetings and I answer work emails/IMs instantly. I know we have keyloggers that measure mouse movement as a productivity monitoring metric so I’m actually probably more productive when home because I’m paranoid that they’ll accuse me of not working because the mouse wasn’t moving. Unless I have afternoon meetings, I’ve been working in the office in the morning and working from home in the afternoons.

That said, I’m feeling self conscious about it. Our timekeeping system doesn’t accept off-site IP addresses so I have to email the HR director for every off-site punch and she hasn’t said anything but emailing her daily for my off-site punches feels excessive. Some of my cubicle neighbors have made comments about “how nice it must be.” Which felt like it was a loaded comment.

I guess I’m feeling guilty and self-conscious about how much I’m working from home? Aside from the outside sales people who are on the road regularly or based in other cities, no one works off-site as much as me. I’m getting everything done working (roughly) 20 hours at the office and 20 hours from home. Is this something I should continue to do until my boss feels it is affecting my productivity or am I breaking office etiquette here? I only report to one person (the big boss), and I am a department of one so no peers or underlings to worry about having access to at the office.

If you were working remotely nearly all the time, I’d be more concerned about whether that was outside of the spirit of what they really intended by “work off-site whenever you want.” But if you’re in the office 20 hours a week, it’s likely fine. Still, though, it’s worth asking — because there are managers who say “it’s fine to do X as much as you want” but it turns out they really mean “you can do a little of X.” (And it’s not that they intend to be misleading; it’s that they don’t think it all the way through before they say it and they assume that the playbook they have in their heads — “of course doing X every day would be too much!” — is the same one everyone has.)

You’ll get a lot of peace of mind by just running this by your boss. Say something like, “I’ve been working off-site about half the time and am in the office half-time. It’s going really well — I actually get more done when I’m at home because it’s easier to focus — but I want to make sure that split sounds fine to you.” Asking this does open up the door for her to say no, but if that’s her take, it’s better for you to know that now than find out later on anyway. But I think there’s a good chance she’ll tell you it’s fine, and then you can stop worrying.

4. Visible dog bite in a public-facing role

Last night I got bitten by a dog while I was out on a walk. It was a rather traumatic experience and has left me with very visible wounds on my wrist/hand. At the hospital, they instructed me to keep it uncovered until it is healed, however I’m nervous about doing this at work since I am in a public-facing role. My boss and coworkers are great and supportive, but the thought of a host of strangers I encounter on a daily basis asking about it is filling me with dread. Even just saying “I was bitten by a dog” out loud causes me to tear up (I was maimed by a dog as a small child and I think this is bringing up a lot of old fear). What advice do you have for managing this situation?

You are 100% allowed to come up with a cover story that doesn’t make you tear up every time you say it! The only rule on cover stories for accidents is that they can’t be more glamorous than the actual story. (I just made this rule up.) So you can’t say “I got injured sky-driving with Hugh Jackman,” but you can say “I fell while doing some yard work” or “I had a run-in with a fence” or anything else that could plausibly explain the wounds.

I am not generally a fan of lying, but you’re really not obligated to re-live a traumatic ordeal in order to satisfy strangers who are mostly attempting to be kind when they see someone with an obvious injury. Alternately, though, you can just be vague: “Oh, it’s a long story, but I’ll be totally fine — just need to leave it uncovered to heal for a few days.” Or jokey/vague: “Ladybug attack! But I’ll be fine; it looks worse than it is.”

5. Should I ask for a raise once I get my master’s?

I’m going to be graduating with my master’s degree in about a year and am working full time in my field. I’ve been working in my field for about five years now, but started at my current job in September. Once I get my master’s, should I ask for a raise? I’d much rather stay in my current job than have to look elsewhere just because I graduated with a higher degree.

There are a small number of jobs where getting a master’s will justify a pay raise, but for most jobs, that on its own doesn’t do it. Raises are based on your actual contributions to the company — your work quality, accomplishments, etc. So just completing an additional degree doesn’t on its own warrant a raise (and in many organization it would come across as naive to base a raise request on that).

However, if it’s been a year or more since your last raise and you’ve been doing excellent work, you can certainly construct a raise request based on that.

{ 534 comments… read them below }

  1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock

    OP#2, the thank you email has been the subject of EPIC commentariat threads. Although I think your colleague may be overdoing it, I’m probably the same kind of offender because I say “thanks”to signify that a loop has closed. But your approach is also totally reasonable. I think this all comes down to personal preferences regarding email communications.

    1. Lisa

      Years ago I worked with a person who replied to “thank you” with “you’re welcome” every. single. time. “Here is the report you requested.” “Thank you” You’re welcome.” She was pretty junior – a notch or two above an intern – so it might fall under Alison’s hierarchy theory. I chalked it up to workplace newness, even though, in hindsight, I only had a few years on her at the time. But she had other attention-seeking habits… in our one-hour weekly staff meeting for a team of ten people, she used about five minutes every time to give a rambly and repetitive update. So I was never sure if she had been overly trained in manners as a child, or just needed to get the last word in.

      1. TechWorker

        I think the rambly updates can also be basically put down to newness. When you’re new it’s difficult to judge both a) how interesting/relevant your work is to the rest of the team and b) how much detail they actually expect. I’ve definitely had people irritate me with their rambling that have just fixed the problem themselves once they got a bit more used to what other people’s updates sounded like. (Or maybe my facial expression gave me away haha).

        1. Forrest

          I *wish* this was just a new-person thing. It’s been a thing in several teams that I’ve been in, and I think it’s a poor-manager thing, who is relying on “tell us what you’ve been up to” to try and build team cohesion rather than figuring out what information actually needs to be shared.

          1. Kimmybear

            I was in a meeting yesterday where each team lead was supposed to give a short update (2 minutes or less). After 5 minutes and being asked to give a high level summary for the rest, one team lead switched to the second PowerPoint slide. I don’t think this person was capable of summarizing. It is a skill to learn.

            1. Half-Caf Latte

              The Wisdom of Inigo Montoya. “Let me explain. No, there is too much. Let me sum up.”

      2. hbc

        I feel like a lot of people think “team update” means “prove you’ve been working” rather than “share stuff the team needs to know.” If you’re junior, you might not feel confidant enough to say, “Nothing for the team this week, same old stuff.”

        1. Sara without an H

          hbc, I think you’re right. One reason why team “update” sessions tend to drag on so long is that too many people feel they have to say something.

        2. I Wrote This in the Bathroom

          Was going to say this. My read of the rambly updates is that the updater does not feel job secure and is trying to give proof that they are indeed earning their keep.

        3. Eukomos

          It took me a while to figure that one out. My old job was super independent, like “here’s your task, go accomplish it, we will try to check in once in a month or two to see how it’s going.” When I moved into a normal office setting and my boss asked for weekly updates my first assumption was that she was checking to make sure I was working, so I would give her lists of every single thing I did that week. We were all relieved once she explained that she actually just wanted to know where I was on each of my major projects once a week.

      3. TootsNYC

        Not intending to argue with your perceptions of that colleague.

        but my first thought right after “she sent ‘you’re welcome’ email every time” is, “Oooh, what a passive aggressive way to send the annoyance factor right back at them.”

        I actually thought it was kind of brilliant.

        Even if that’s not how SHE was using them.

      4. Echo

        I have a counterexample to the hierarchy theory – I worked with a senior manager/team lead who did the “You’re welcome” and, I’m fairly sure, expected it from others! He wasn’t from the US, though, so I also wonder if there is a cultural difference at play.

      5. IDesigner

        As a starry-eyed new grad, I developed the habit of sending thanks emails…and it has actually been very useful. Once there was a corporate email issue and my developers, having gotten used to a quick “Thank you!!” email after sending me input, checked in to make sure I had received a document they’d sent earlier that day when I didn’t send my usual reply. Sure enough, it had been lost to the ether during the email disruption and I would have missed that information I needed otherwise.

        To me it’s courteous (especially because I email a lot with folks who are on other teams and providing feedback/info I can’t get myself so i want to be sure they know it’s appreciated) and as a confirmation that I got it, we’re good for now.

    2. Jimming

      I have to log all my emails into our internal system so I hate “thank you” emails since it wastes my time. Now if someone actually wants to thank me sincerely, that’s another story! Real thank yous make my day!

        1. Michaela Westen

          Wow, manually logging them sounds like a huge waste of time! I would think they’d have a system that scans/captures/tracks them automatically.

    3. Asenath

      I say “thanks” mostly as a signal that I’ve gotten the message – that is, “thanks” really means “I’m confirming that I received your confirmation that you have done/agreed to X like I asked, so I won’t nag you about it any more”. But my emails (unlike my blog posts) tend to be terse.

        1. noahwynn

          Yeah, I’ve actually replied “wilco” before. I work for an airline though, so at least on the ops side it is understood.

      1. Artemesia

        And I think we have all had emails missed by peoples and thought ‘oh I responded to that so that’s done’ and then have the thing fall between the chairs because the person receiving it somehow overlooked it. If it is important then a closing of the loop is necessary. I once had someone not prepared for a meeting we had set up because I had not ‘confirmed’ although my previous email was that I could do X time and date. Now I always send a re-confirm the day before something important. People miss stuff when they get lots of emails; their ‘thanks’ signals that they got the message.

      2. Aurion

        Yeah, this. When I used to send read receipt emails, I made it very clear they were read receipt emails–my answer was literally “received with thanks”.

        I don’t send them as often anymore, usually only for very big/complicated processes or new processes I haven’t done before. I’ll skip the inbox spam for the routine stuff.

    4. LGC

      I’m kind of like that myself. (It’s gotten to the point where one of my vendors actually checks in with me if I forget to send a thank you, since I’m so regular about it.)

      Personally, I think this is…probably the upper end. I’ve had coworkers reply all to say thanks (sometimes repeatedly, often to announcements), which definitely IS excessive.

      1. Environmental Compliance

        I have one of those. There are days where I would like to disable their ability to reply all after the 10th “Gotcha” email arbitrarily sent to all of us after a generic office-wide update (that really truly does not require a response….think something like “Hey, the office cache of pretzels has been restocked, and we ordered more pens, they’ll be here next week.” or “FYI [Person that orders desk supplies] will be out of the office [date to date] so make sure if you need something you let [Person] know by [date].”).

        1. JessaB

          I think there’s a step between disabling it and setting reply to sender as first choice and making them actively have to use extra clicks to reply to all which makes them think before they do it.

          When I last set up an email system I made it so the reply all function had to be accessed from the menu not the icon bar. It helped a lot.

      2. uranus wars

        I have to send several announcements and group emails. Unless discussion is warranted I use bcc: every. single. time. I forgot the other day and the onslaught of reply all – “got it”, “thanks”…made me cringe. The individual replies are enough to make me roll my eyes but 40+ reply all just makes me feel bad for everyone.

    5. CTT

      Yeah, I do it to close the loop as well. Not all the time, but if we’re close to a deadline and there are lots of emails going around, I’ll send “thanks” or “confirming receipt” emails so the other side knows I’ve seen and processed the information. It’s a little annoying to be on the receiving end of it, but I’d rather have some extra emails than stress about whether or not the other side has actually looked at the email.

    6. ThisColumnMakesMeGratefulForMyBoss

      I feel like I could have written that letter. I use my inbox as my to-do list. Once I’m done with the request, if I need to save it, it gets filed in a folder. If not, it gets deleted. I CAN NOT STAND unnecessary emails. If I’m doing my job, I don’t need you to thank me. But I’ve come to realize that everyone is different, so when I get excessive emails I just roll my eyes and delete them.

    7. LadyofLasers

      I feel like I got a lot more discriminatory about thank you emails once my inbox started to get overloaded. When I was young I didn’t fully appreciate daily email tidal waves

    8. Sara without an H

      At my last job, there was an expectation that you’d apply to emails with “got it.” Why? Because the vice-president to whom our dean reported insisted that all his direct reports acknowledge that they’d received his emails, and the expectation spread.

      While OP#2’s colleague is almost certainly overdoing it, it’s possible that she’s coming from a place where “thank you” was short for “your message received.”

      1. Dust Bunny

        This is how my office works. My supervisor tends to read emails and then get distracted and forget to act on them unless prodded once or twice (he has a lot of pulls on his time and attention; it’s not actually a big problem, though). “Thank you” is “over and out”.

    9. JustMePatrick

      #3, Regarding the online timeclock, have you tried connecting via the approved VPN? Completely understandable non Work IP would be blocked, however, when connected via VPN you would be using of their IP’s. Unless of course they’re blocking those as well (which, to me makes no sense).

    10. dramalama

      This one got me on the defensive, because I’ve noticed myself getting this habit. But then I don’t send many emails, and 90% of those I do are asking for something in some form. One thing I try to do is be observant of what the person I’m interacting with tends to do: if I notice I get a lot of thanks/acknowledgement emails from them, I try to reciprocate. And if they ever give me a “did you get the thing I sent?” (DYGTTIS) then they’re on the ‘thanks’ list indefinitely.

    11. DC Cliche

      On Twitter, if I’m going back and forth with a colleague I often just “like” their last response as a way of signaling “I appreciate that we’ve engaged in this dialogue and I see your last response, but this is end of the road for me.” I wish there was a similar functionality in gmail.

  2. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock

    OP#4, hopefully people will be better mannered than to ask what happened to you (unless they have a pre-existing relationship with you and are asking out of genuine concern).

    If you’re comfortable with it, I would go with a vague truth. For example, you can say it was an accident, that you’re going to be fine, but that talking about it makes you squeamish. You can even ask the questioners to help spread the word that you’d really prefer not to talk about the injury.

    1. Beth

      For visible injuries, I like either a vague truth or a truly outlandish lie. For example, my brother tripped and got a bad cut on his knee when we were younger; he told anyone who asked about it that he ran into a low-flying helicopter. That kind of story is great–it’s obviously untrue (no one is actually misled or feels lied to if they find out the truth later), it deflects from you having to share the true story, and it’s humorous enough that it comes off positively instead of feeling like a dodge.

      1. Rich

        I think this is a good approach and one I generally use — outlandish and spectacular is disarming and effective. “A mountain lion got loose in my kitchen and I had to fight it off using only a spatula” always sounds better than “I tripped over a garbage can and landed on a large can of tomato sauce”. When people press against the obviously untrue story, you shut them down by doubling down. “Hello, mountain lion. Spatula.”

        1. Jasnah

          Yeah, honestly I have the opposite personal rule from Alison: lie as outlandishly as possible. If you’re interacting with a stranger, they’re not entitled to know anything personal, and mostly what they want is to express concern anyway. So you can accept their kind wishes with a nonchalant attitude, and deflect any questions with a wild or silly story. Who cares if you tell the bank teller that you were attacked by Shia LeBouf? I think this is more effective than something vague that invites curious people to ask for the real story (“It was just an accident… I…*sniffle* I don’t like to talk about it.”)

          1. TechWorker

            Ditto the ‘its a long story’ wording – I totally get that OP doesn’t want to start a whole conversation and have to relive it (very reasonable!) but ‘I was bitten by a dog’ is actually a pretty short simple story, so by saying that you’ll probably get people trying to guess/assuming something else.

            1. valentine

              hopefully people will be better mannered
              Customers can be really gross about aesthetics (See: No seating or refreshment for checkout clerks).

            1. JessaB

              I thought it was perfect. Skydiving with whoever you think is the currently hot, athletic actor is a great dodge.

          2. General Ginger

            If you tell people you were attacked by Shia Le Beouf, there’s always a small chance they might break into song, which would make it absolutely worth it.

            1. VictorianCowgirl

              Actual cannibal Shia Le Beouf!
              I too agree with the outlandish story, which I use in everyday life to dodge the dreaded personal questions. I have an arsenal now.

          3. Ms. Mad Scientist

            Next time I’m visibly injured I’m definitely telling people I was skydiving with Hugh Jackman :)

        2. MostlyHere

          My daughter has a number of self-harm scars on her arm which sometimes draw looks and occasionally comments. My favourite story of hers concerns one rather direct (rude) woman said “what the hell happened to you?”. Daughter looked her in the eye and said “I was attacked by a bear.” We live in the UK. The woman blushed furiously and was VERY polite for the rest of the encounter.

          (Her favourite encounter was with a little girl who looked intently at her arm for a while, then very gently stroked her scars. Daughter said it was a beautiful moment).

          1. MayLou

            “Bear attack” is my go-to explanation for visible injuries, or in fact anything where that could plausibly be an answer. Even though I’m also in the UK.

            1. Qosanchia

              Absolutely with the bears. It might be culturally dependent, but the last time I used this, people gave a look and said, “And you lost?” to which the obvious response is, “Psh! You should see the bear.”

        3. Ophelia

          Same. “Werewolf attack. I’m planning on taking sick leave next time there’s a full moon.”

      2. Ovieaptor

        While I was in college, I managed to get the tips of 2 fingers slammed in a car door. After a few days, decided I needed to go to the doctor. One long appointment involving X-rays and a Dreml (really!), the Doctor bandaged my hand and told me I could now tell everyone who asked what happened ‘I was chased by a dinosaur and barely escaped after he bit me’ or something like that. Most awesome doctor ever! I told everybody who asked about the dinosaur. Would totally use that excuse again.

        1. BookishMiss

          Oh, nice. I’m adding “fight with a dinosaur” to my arsenal. I get asked about why I wear wrist & knee braces pretty frequently, and I get bored with “old injury, I’m fine, built in barometer just doesn’t like the weather” pretty quickly.

          1. Nelalvai

            I have the old injury problem too! When it was new I made up a story about the Russian mob and it gets longer with each telling. At no point do I explain how mafia shenanigans relate to the injury, and when I run out of ideas I say “I’ve said too much. Never mind!” It’s my go-to whenever the injury flares up now.

          2. Kimmybear

            Yup…my one visible scar is now “fight with a dinosaur” rather than the actual “attacked by a file cabinet”.

            1. Not A Morning Person

              Although, “attacked by a file cabinet” is still a funny reply as long as you are not still hurting!

          3. Michaela Westen

            Before I figured out I’m allergic to yeast, my sinuses told me *very* firmly when the barometer was dropping.
            Ouch!

        2. Falling Diphthong

          “I’m getting out the dremel now” is a totally reassuring thing to hear in a medical setting.

        3. New user name for this post

          I fell off a curb once and sprained both wrists and knees, plus had visible bruises. I told everyone that I was knocked down by my pet dinosaur. It sure beat admitting what a klutz I’d been!

      3. Zombeyonce

        I also prefer the outlandish lie. It makes it fun to hear and removes any kind of traumatic response you might have about the dog attack.

        I went to summer camp with a girl that had a massive scar on her abdomen (looking back, it was obviously surgical but we had no idea as kids) and she had a different story for everyone that asked about it when they saw her in a swimsuit. I heard everything from a detailed fight with a mako shark to a haunted house with a too-sharp falling scythe that malfunctioned. She always told the stories with a twinkle in her eye and I’m sure it made it easier to deal with something that must have been associated with some pretty unpleasant memories.

        1. Media Monkey

          i have a huge vertical scar on my tummy (giant ovarian cyst and ovary removal). i also say “shark attack” if asked (not often as it’s pretty easy to hide).

        2. Elemeno P.

          A place I volunteer has a lot of kids who have gone through surgeries. I once saw a kid with a little temporary tattoo of a shark on his arm, and when I asked to see his shark, he lifted his shirt up to show me a scar. I was kind of surprised and looked at his parents (mostly because I didn’t want them to think I’d asked him to do that!), and they explained that he called his surgical scar a “shark bite.”

      4. Lucy

        In my house our go-to is “shark bite” (we don’t live near the sea, nor in a country known for shark attacks).

        1. OP #4

          Unfortunately I live in a beach town where a shark bite would’ve definitely made the news!

      5. RUKiddingMe

        “Attacked by a swarm of radioactive butterflies. Still waiting for my superpowers to manifest…”

      6. Tiny Soprano

        And if LW feels like an outlandish lie is too much, barbed wire injuries can look like anything. Ran into barbed wire on fictional cousin’s farm. Even if it looks like teeth, barbed wire injuries sure can and do look like teeth as well.

      7. I edit everything

        People do occasionally believe the outlandish lie. I broke my ankle last July, in a non-ski, 90-degree summer area, and used the old “skiing accident” excuse. I don’t know how many people took me seriously and asked where I been, that I was skiing. But I’ve found that people around here don’t understand that kind of dry humor.

        1. CmdrShepard4ever

          Unless I knew you personally and knew that you hated skiing/had never been skiing, I would also believe and take “skiing accident” at face value. Someone to traveling to a ski resort in the middle of summer would not strike me as outlandish. If you said tripped and fell while running away from a dinosaur I would realize you did not want to talk about it.

          I had a teacher in high school that if you were a few minutes late he was technically supposed to mark you late. But if you could come up with a crazy outlandish lie/story of why you were late he would not mark you down as late.

          A few of my favorites that I remember were: A pterodactyl picking up the car flying with it, until the kid was able to distract it with Taco Bell burritos and have it let the car go. The other one was a kid who ran into a band/group of raccoons that were robbing a bank and they took the kid as a hostage and the car as a getaway.

        2. Beth

          If you’re going to go the outlandish lie route and you have a fairly dry or flat way of telling it, I think you really need to commit hard to the outlandish thing. Maybe try going for the outright impossible (even a low flying helicopter isn’t going to be at knee level; T-rexes are extinct) next time?

      8. Elemeno P.

        I love outlandish lies, too. I usually say I was wrestling with a bear or something similar; I get scars really easily from small things, so hearing “Yes, that’s also a cat scratch!” for all of them isn’t too interesting.

        The exception to that was when I actually had a dog bite on my face (my fault), because it bruised terribly and the placement looked like I was being abused. I told the truth on that one as soon as I saw the concerned look in people’s eyes because I appreciated where they were coming from in asking.

      9. AKchic

        When my husband had shoulder surgery, we went the “outlandish story” route, because no matter what, everyone would automatically make the “oh, did your wife beat you” joke. Usually, he just said “I didn’t let the wookie win” and made a pained face.
        When I had neck surgeries, my neck would look really bad. Sometimes I’d look like I’d been strangled, and my husband would get dirty looks in public if I wasn’t wearing a scarf to hide it all. To those who didn’t know, or those concerned strangers who would corner me in public settings, thinking they were opening up a line of communication to help me out of an abusive situation, I was honest because yeah… I was *not* about to let them think I was being abused (especially since I had been in a previous marriage and had absolutely no help at all), but then would tell them I would appreciate it if they passed it around that my moonlighting as a world-famous assassin wouldn’t be ending anytime soon.

      10. many bells down

        My husband broke his arm a few weeks ago, and he got tired of just saying “I fell down some stairs” so now it’s “I fell down some stairs while running away from a shark.”

        I’ve had a couple open-heart surgeries and my go-to is “I lost a swordfifght” or “This is the zipper to my human suit beep borp beep.”

    2. Chriama

      I feel like a boring lie is usually the most effective way to stem further commentary. Saying “it’s a long story” will raise an eyebrow even if people are polite enough not to say anything. “Kitchen accident” or “hit myself with a hammer” will probably evoke a wince if sympathy and the topic will move on. I do think that in this case, saying “dog bite” might prompt some people to start asking about rabies shots or talking about what breed it was, so I understand wanting to bypass that entirely.

      1. aelle

        I’m not personally comfortable with lying, even with a lie-as-a-joke, and like you I’ve found that “it’s a long story” just begs for more questions. I’ve had good success with “it’s a boring story” or “a stupid story”, along with a dismissive hand wave. If people push, I double down with “no, really, it was a real dumb thing. Enough about me, how was your weekend?”

        I’m currently wearing a neck brace after a particularly embarrassing sports mishap, so this is extra relevant today!

        1. Rezia

          Same. I’m bad at lying, and I also worry with the lie-as-a-joke that someone would take me seriously (“A ladybug attack? Did you walk into a nest of them? I didn’t know ladybugs could do that!” and then having to awkwardly explain that it was a joke).

          I would just go with, “Oh, you don’t want to hear this long story… SO how’s your day going???”
          Aelle, hope your neck heals soon!

        2. Someone Else

          I think part of the benefit of the completely-absurd-no-one-could-mistake-it-for-truth lie, is both that it lands as funny and depending on the recipient they receive the message as either “I am telling you this joke because it’s too personal to tell you the real story” or “I am telling you this joke because it’s too boring to tell you the real story” but either way, the recipient (if the joke version were ridiculous enough) does not feel lied to. They understand that it’s code for “not telling”. You might still be uncomfortable with that, but I thought I’d throw it out there since it’s really less about lying and more about bringing a comedic element to the refusal to explain.

        3. Pommette!

          I’m a terrible liar, and will invariably get tripped up by even the most straightforward of coverup stories. Which is to say that I like your approach!

          I’ve also had luck with super matter-of fact answers that state the obvious as if that was what the person was actually asking bout (Q:”What happened to your hand?” A: “It got injured, but I’m fine!”). It makes it sound as if you’re answering the question, even though you really aren’t.

          Good healing to your neck!

        4. MJ

          There’s a difference between a lie and an outright unbelievable story, which is what most people are suggesting.

    3. Annie

      Exactly. I’m surprised the response is to make up a cover story. It’s exceptionally rude and ableist to ask someone about scarring and the LW is well within rights to simply respond, “That’s private.” Honestly shocked anyone would be boorish enough to ask.

      1. Galina

        There’s nothing rude or ableist about expressing concern when someone has a visible injury, especially someone you see frequently and presumably have some sort of relationship with, such as a coworker. Responding “That’s private” is weirdly hostile. The normal thing to say if you don’t want to talk about it would be “Oh, just a small accident. I’ll be fine.”

        1. Falling Diphthong

          This. If I know the person, it’s weird to not comment via the requisite social ritual of offering sympathy.

          If it’s a stranger I probably wouldn’t… but I think that’s pretty fluid and a lot of people who ask are concerned that you are going about with a visible recent injury. Asking means “Oh dear, I extend sympathy.”

          1. valentine

            “That’s private” is weirdly hostile.
            Sometimes it’s private/s. I injured my knee jumping into the tub with my thighs together to keep my period off the floor. No way was I telling a colleague.

        2. Health Insurance Nerd

          I wholeheartedly agree! When it becomes rude to show concern because someone you work with is clearly injured, we’ve really collapsed as a society!

          1. Big Bank

            X1000. I can see the flip side of this: “I showed up to work after being visibly injured over the weekend, and no one said anything. I thought these people were my friends! How do I get over feeling like they dont care about my wellbeing?”

            When someone is visibly injured or distressed, it’s normal and polite to express concern. If they say they dont want to talk about it, you stop. But that doesnt make the initial concern rude.

        3. JB (not in Houston)

          Maybe. But asking what happened isn’t necessarily expressing concern, is it? If you just want to express concern, you can say something like “Goodness, I hope you’re ok.” Asking what happened is also what people do when they aren’t concerned but are overly concerned about information that isn’t their business. If you are actually concerned about someone, it’s better to express it in a way that doesn’t make them talk about something they don’t want to talk about–and unless you are especially close, you have no idea from the outside whether they want to talk about it or not. Putting someone on the spot to make them talk about something that isn’t really your business is not the best way to show you care, if that’s really why you’re asking.

        4. Annette

          Yes Galina. Society moves along because we care for each other. The occasional moments of awkwardness are certainly worth it. Perspective.

        5. Beth

          It makes a big difference if someone’s expressing concern vs being nosy about all the gory details. (The latter group often tries to look like the former, but they’re not as subtle as they think.)

      2. BatmansRobyn

        There’s a lot of circumstances where it can be rude to ask about old scarring, but asking once about what happened if someone comes into work with fresh, visible, wounds that weren’t there the last time you saw them is pretty normal and generally an expression of concern.

      3. Cheesecake2.0

        I wear leg braces and I would say that around 50% of people I encounter when my braces are visible (not covered by wide-leg pants) ask me “what’s wrong with your legs?” or “what did you do?”. It’s very very common. I tend to deflect a bit and say something like “Oh don’t worry, it doesn’t hurt and I’m doing fine” without actually saying anything about what happened.

      4. That's Private

        I personally think it’s a little weird that people wouldn’t comment, especially if you know them or see them regularly enough. I recently had an accident that resulted surgery and some major facial scarring (very Bond villain looking – ala Ernst Stavro Blofeld). As much as I dread talking about it, I find it very weird when people/customers I deal with regularly don’t comment, because I KNOW you see it. My scars are fresh enough that new people notice them too. Wanted to say “We can’t talk about fight club” to the guy at the grocery store staring at me the other day, but I haven’t gotten to that level of confidence yet.

        1. Massmatt

          But really, what should be said? You know you have scars (or leg braces, whatever) , I know you have scars. What is there to talk about if we don’t know each other well, other than some variation of “what happened?!?” That in this context comes across as tedious at best (how many times does the bank teller want to explain her scars?) or nosy and intrusive at worst?

          I don’t need to know whether the scar is from a dog bite, skydiving with a celebrity, or dinosaur fight, isn’t MYOB a good option?

          1. That's Private

            MYOB is always a good option, but people rarely follow it.

            In my recent experiences, most strangers will not say anything, and the few that do are either genuinely concerned or nosy and you can tell them whatever you want (my vote would be utterly ridiculous lie). But with co-workers or regular clientele you are going to have to deal with a fairly real conversation at some point, MYOB will probably come across more then a little rude in that circle of people. Even saying “Oh that? it was nothing” will probably get most to back off with less rudeness being attached then MYOB.

          2. many bells down

            I’ve had a scar from childhood open-heart surgery for so long that I actually forget about it. So when someone points to my chest and says “what’s that?” (which honestly happens very rarely, surprisingly enough) I often have to look down to see what they’re talking about. Like, oh crap, did I spill mustard on myself again? No? Ohhhhhhhh the SCAR, right!

      5. smoke tree

        I think there is a distinction between asking about an acquaintance’s recent injury and asking strangers for details about their disabilities, though. If my coworker came into work one day using crutches and wearing a cast, I think it would be pretty weird not to mention it. Of course, there is always the possibility that you’ll still be asking about something they don’t want to share, but that’s where a considerate person will pick up on hints to drop the subject.

        1. JessaB

          True, but I’d probably parse that as “Need any help?” and drop it if they say “no.” Someone with crutches and a cast might need help carrying stuff or someone to do the walking around part of their job.

      6. Lilysparrow

        Several commenters are talking about scars.

        The OP is talking about open, undressed wounds.

        Many laypeople aren’t going to know at first glance exactly what stage of healing they’re in. Wondering if OP is okay is a normal and kind reaction.

      7. Eukomos

        It’s rude if it’s a permanent or long-term injury, but fresh wounds are a pretty normal thing to ask about. Many people do want to talk about it, especially if the circumstances around the injury weren’t traumatic like for OP. My partner jumps at every possible chance to tell people about how his ski binding failed him. Certainly it’s polite to ask in such a way that allows the person to brush it off if they don’t want to talk about it, but it’s not by default rude to make a sympathetic comment.

    4. Lynca

      When I was in my serious car accident I was bruised and in a sling. People were visibly concerned (a pretty natural reaction).

      I was pretty shaken up by the accident. I relied on addressing people’s reactions because I didn’t want to get into the gritty details, like how they had to bring out the jaws of life to get me out of the vehicle. So I just was very breezy and upbeat: “It looks worse than it is.” “Thanks for being so concerned, but I’m fine.” “Don’t worry about it! The doctor says I’m fine.” And I would just segue back in to talking about work.

      I found that worked better than “I was in an accident.” Sometimes people just want details, people are curious and I don’t fault them for that. But addressing their concern did help deflect from wanting to know how it happened most of the time.

        1. JessaB

          I learn of so many blogs, shows, advice columns, funny people, comic strips, podcasts, etc from this site. I swear I must have at least fifty bookmarks that I can directly tie to something I saw or learnt on this site.

          I adore learning new things from the commentariat. I never heard of Cat Noir til now. Thank you for another new thing.

    5. Smithy

      While I think the outlandish lie is fun, it’s really going to rely on the OP’s comfort with it.

      I was once attacked on the street and was left with a pretty messed up cut on my hand. While I was open at work about it, I also had a public facing job and in no way wanted to get into the story during those meetings. For me “kitchen accident” and a shrug shut down all follow up with a few exceptions of folks who had “omg, I can relate” stories.

      For me a more fun/flamboyant lie would have made me feel like I was ashamed and felt the need to put on a show. Whereas my kitchen accident allowed me to move past it. Totally a case of different preferences for how people deal, but did want to share why a funny lie might not work for some when the cause is more traumatic.

      1. M&Ms fix lots of Problems

        Totally agree that this is a your what your comfort level is has to be addressed. Not everybody is going to feel comfortable with the crazy fake story. Depending on the situation, at work go with: never fully outgrew the childhood klutz phase but now the results show up, I’ll be fine in a few days. My other go to (only with people I know really well who know my sense of humor) is: I was I had a crash test dummy moment, it looks worse than it really is.

      2. Pommette!

        The good thing about “kitchen accident” is that everyone has either injured themselves in a surprisingly dramatic way while cooking, or knows someone else who has. It’s plausible, it’s boring, and it’s not something that people are going to want to hear more about. Most people will wince and wish you a quick recovery, and a few will chime in with a story about that time they got a new can opener…

        1. JessaB

          And it covers so many possible injuries from tripping and breaking a leg or twisting an ankle, to cutting some part of yourself, kitchens are dangerous.

          Although my go to is my cat, she can be bitey scratchy. Especially for some reason when Mr B is ill or hurt, for some reason she always blames me, especially if I have to treat something that hurts, he had surgery once and had to have the wound packed. It’s like “What did you do to him you evil person.”

          So cuts and scratches, no matter where they came from are “blame Parker she did it.” This is also why Parker’s middle name is Dot, so I can say “Dammit Dot Don’t Do that.” to her.

    6. TootsNYC

      Oh, I think the public will absolutely ask her–multiple people, multiple times a day.

      And I think a dog bite would cause the conversation to be prolonged, so even if it weren’t a traumatic story for her, I’d be suggesting something really boring (yard work, for example) to say.

      I also wonder if she could wrap a thin layer of gauze around it–like, two layers only, just enough to obscure it a little bit–just for the time period that she’s in her public-facing role. It might allow enough air circulation but allow her to say, “Oh, I scraped it,” and move on.

      Which reminds me of another tactic.

      Don’t give details–you’re not required to answer questions just because people ask, and you’re not required to give them the dramatic story they’re seeking.

      when they say, “What happened?” say, “Oh, I got hurt.”
      If they say, “Yes, but HOW did you get hurt?” say the same thing–with a smile–and immediately ask them a question about their purchase: “I got hurt. Is there anything else I can do for you?”
      The repetition of the exact same phrase says, “I’m not having this conversation with you,” without exactly saying it. They may feel a little miffed and rebuffed, but they’ll recover. They WERE rebuffed, and that’s completely appropriate. Let them handle their emotions like the grownup they are.

      1. Aspiring Chicken Lady

        I also thought about a loose gauze option. Keeps the oozy bits away from random dirt and wandering eyes.

        1. JessaB

          Yes especially if you get the thin single layer roll of gauze and a bit of paper tape, and just use one layer, and keep the roll where you put your work stuff, so you can re apply as needed. A roll of gauze is crazy cheap and protects it from getting stuff in it, or getting directly hit by something/one, and lets plenty of air at it.

      2. Pommette!

        Just to add: saying that it was a dog-bite won’t just cause the conversation to be prolonged (which it totally will- that’s a very good point). It will also – and I’m sad to say that I can confirm this from experience – encourage lots of people to chime in with stories about their own encounters with dogs, stories that the OP does not need or want to hear right now (or ever?).

        This is definitely a deflect or invent a boring lie scenario.

    7. Garland not Andrews

      My favorite is the cryptic ” You should see the other guy!” with no explanation.

      1. Goya de la Mancha

        My 90 yr old Grandmother used this when she fell down her stairs and ended up with a broken wrist and black eye.

      2. Narcoleptic Juliet

        I’ve done that, but with the advantage of it being a totally misleading truth. I was taking a martial arts class when I was in college, and broke my hand during a sparring session. Going to church that weekend with my hand in a cast was fun. I answered the “What happened?” questions with “I got into a fight with a guy.” I’m not the type to get into fights, so it was fun seeing the reactions to that. :)

  3. KatieKate

    One of my first managers LOST it at me for not closing the loop with a thank you email with him. I had already thanked him further up the chain—but apparently I missed one.

    Years later, I am still a “Thank you!” freak.

    1. Persephone Mulberry

      I’ve gotten feedback from a couple of jobs that I need to be better at closing the loop. I spent seven years at a job working completely independently and even though it’s been a few years, it’s been a challenge re-adapting to a culture of tighter accountability.

    2. hbc

      That’s so weird. I don’t think of “thank you” as closing the loop, at least not on its own, and I really dislike it for being content-free. “Thanks, I have everything I need to get started now, and I’ll check back in only if I hit a snag” or “Thanks, look for the PO to come by Friday” are so much more useful.

      Even if the only true message I want to send is one of gratitude, I’ll be specific. “Thanks for getting this to me so quickly.” “Thank you, this is exactly what I was looking for.” Otherwise, what might be a nice gesture basically becomes a read receipt.

      1. TassieTiger

        I don’t think there’s anything wrong with read receipts though, especially if it’s time sensitive it can be useful to know they got the information.

    3. Rex

      I had a coworker who, if I didn’t respond with “thanks” or “got it!” would follow up multiple times to make sure I had received her message. She definitely got a note every time. Right away.

  4. LilyP

    #4 — if you want to deflect with a joke, “you should see the other guy” is a classic for a reason. I hope you recover quickly and with a minimum of awkward encounters!

    1. Wintermute

      I came here to say exactly this! It works best if it’s an injury that’s obviously not from a fight though, if you have two black eyes, a broken tooth and scuffed knuckles from a snowmobile altercation with shrubbery, then you just might start the rumor you star bar fights for fun or run a fight club!

          1. Human Sloth

            Diphthong, I don’t know who you are, but don’t change your call sign, because I’m going to search for your comments. I love your quips.

          2. TootsNYC

            OH MY GOODNESS!

            I had a surgery on my thyroid over the summer in college.
            When I got back to school, I had a red line across the bottom of my neck in the front.

            When people asked me what happened, I told them, “I was out on a snowmobile and ran into a fence.”

            So yes, literally, I blamed the snowmobile. In August.

            1. Michaela Westen

              That lends itself to a lot of halloween stuff.
              “I was attacked by a blind vampire.”
              “The zombies tried to cut my throat, but I defeated them and got away.”
              I’m sure there are lots more…

            1. TootsNYC

              though, blaming the snowmobile in August is part of the joke. When I did it, it was always amusing to me how many people blew right past that.

              It’s like a version of “you should see the other guy”

    2. Tiny Soprano

      My grandad used this when he fell off the verandah and busted his nose chasing the cat at night after a few beers…. Always got a chuckle and people were too polite to press the issue.

    3. Où est la bibliothèque?

      “You should see the other guy” is always my go-to.

      I’ll sometimes follow through with the truth, if I feel like it. “You should see the other guy! He is a car door. He’s fine.”

    4. Totally Minnie

      I had a minor surgical procedure on my face the last time I visited the dermatologist. I work in a public facing job, and “you should see the other guy!” was my standard response with customers. It works like a charm.

    5. ThursdaysGeek

      And I slightly disagree with Alison’s rule – you can make up a lie as long as it is a completely unbelievable whopper, so everyone knows it’s a joke. Let them choose between skydiving and ladybugs!

      I got a black eye from hitting myself with a hammer. It was stupid and I didn’t want to admit it. So when co-workers asked, I said something like “You get to choose. 1) Yoga and I don’t agree. 2) It turns out that I can’t climb a tree like a 12 year old. 3) Aliens.” I turned it into an obvious joke and never mentioned the real reason.

      1. StrikingFalcon

        Go for both! “I hit a swarm of ladybugs skydiving. It’s okay though, they were the invasive kind.”

  5. Mary

    Our company used office 365 and we can “like” emails, and a lot of us use that as a way to signal reciept or acknowledgement without sending another email. It does alert the other person that you liked their message, but I think its less intrusive than a new email.

    1. Adlib

      That’s why I love iMessage on my phone. Can just react to the text instead of having to type out a response to something!

    2. TootsNYC

      Oh, so nice!

      One thing I like about our company’s switch to Slack is the ability to put a thumbs-up on things.

      I use it to mean “thanks” and “got it” and “agree.” It’s lovely.

      1. Stranger than fiction

        We just got slack last year and i love replying with the emojis, but have learned my coworkers sometimes reply not understanding that a green checkmark means “done”. So I guess I’m defeating my own purpose.

    3. ello mate

      Oh man I will have to good-naturedly disagree here! I HATE it when people just “like” something. Respond to what I said!! Even if its only thanks or TY. Someone downthread mentioned doing this on Iphone and I find it to like the most infuriating thing ever! You get 20+ notifications that people “reacted” to a text. Just write a response! Is typing LOL harder than “liking” it. I think I might be alone in my thinking though based on the frequency people do this….

      1. Indigo a la mode

        I don’t have an iPhone, so I do find it amusing when I text someone, say “I’m thinking of becoming a llama groomer” and getting a return text that says “Laughed at ‘I’m thinking of becoming a llama groomer.'” The reactions come through on my phone as a separate, generally passive-aggressive-sounding text, haha.

        Work, though? I would vastly prefer not getting responses. Like it, say “Got it, thanks” out loud, whatever, but I hate sending what amounts to “K” emails and I’d prefer not to get them back. I will, of course, thank someone for digging up files to send to me or whatever.

  6. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock

    OP#5, in addition to Alison’s advice (all bang on), it’s also important to consider whether your Master’s degree connects to your work in a way that increases your job responsibilities or capabilities. The most important thing is to be able to make a business case.

    For example:
    I have a professional degree, but let’s say I earned it while working as a development associate for a nonprofit. Unfortunately, my degree has little to no influence on my capability or potential for growth in the field of development. Despite the fact that I’d want a raise (because OMG student loans), I would have a tough time making a business case for why my degree improves my work. And if I wanted to stay in development, I don’t think other employers would pay me more for obtaining my professional degree. But if I’d had success over the prior year, I could easily make a case for a merit raise.

    So if you can connect your educational achievement directly to your work performance, it may be worth asking for a raise. If it doesn’t but you have other accomplishments that would justify that accomplishment, you should still ask for a raise! Just make sure the request uses your strongest job-performance-related facts/metrics.

    1. London_Engineer

      Yes, I know someone who has studied for a Masters in a specific technica area directly related to our work. I don’t know if he got a raise because of it but it would have been a good starting point for moving up a grade. If this enables a higher level professional certification then it might also be worth it, eggs additional education requirements for chartership or something.

      But I am in an industry where technica education can be directly related to our work and where official letters after your name allow you to sign off on higher level work, though not as strict as medicine or law

    2. Sloan Kittering

      I think there’s a thing where sometimes a degree allows your company to charge more for your time (or you no longer require supervision to sign off on things, or similar) so in those cases you are literally more valuable to the org after completing your degree. However, this is specific to certain fields – maybe like CPAs, lawyers, medical fields maybe? – and is sadly not the case for most Master’s in things like polysci or X studies. I wish!

      1. hermit crab

        Yes, this is definitely a thing. When I worked in consulting, my master’s degree bumped me up a pay band because my P-level/external billing rate increased. I imagine this may also be the case in jobs with rigid pay formulas based on years of experience (some government agencies, maybe?). In my case, I worked full-time while getting my degree so I effectively double-dipped — my “years of experience” increased by 5 in the span of 3 calendar years because a master’s degree counted as 2 extra years.

        1. Sloan Kittering

          Oh yes, I’ve heard consulting can be this way, that’s an example I should have named.

    3. Smithy

      Just to pull the Development thread here specifically – it’s also worth shouting out that some masters in some fields (ie Nonprofit Management) currently are not widely accepted as automatically advantageous in the field. A development associate who then gets an MA in Nonprofit Management may well be seen as no different by their current employer.

      Depending on your current job and degree, this might be a great time to seek some informational interviews on how your degree is viewed in your field and if you will need to apply for internal positions or another job all together for a promotion.

      1. Sloan Kittering

        I would argue the best time to get the answer to this question would be … before you apply to a master’s program, but I’m ASTONISHED at how many of my peers seem to just assume degree = money and proceed full speed into crushing debt … :(

        1. Smithy

          Well…yes…but without knowing what degree we’re talking about older advice might have seemed reasonable at the time but not so much now.

          I was a considerably poorly informed two-time grad student. Got one degree immediately after undergrad in a subject I loved but no real prosepects aside from PhD programs and then later got the Nonprofit Management MA. I was recently talking to a more recent grad from my Nonprofit program who was apparently told in a recent interview that she should consider getting a second MA.

          Now this was a very informal chat where I have guesses on what her real barriers might be but it wasn’t too informal to provide insight. But now apparently my “accident” that I’ve always said was a poor decision is now being recommended by some???

          I’m less than ten years out from that degree – but for the actual quality of my grad school advice, maybe it is dated?

          1. Sloan Kittering

            I think there’s still a general sense that additional education is a good thing to get, that can help in your career, and that’s arguably true, but it gets sticky when a prospective student has to decide if they can afford a specific price tag for a certain program. Degrees may pay off generally in some vague way, but that doesn’t help you if you are 50K specifically in debt right now :(

        2. Michaela Westen

          “assume degree = money”
          This is because schools hard-sell degrees. Their material is full of stuff about how their degree will supercharge your career and make your life perfect.
          As we see here, people need to know their industry and employer before making this investment. Never take the word of the school, do your own research – and make sure you get all degree requirements in writing.

        3. Stranger than fiction

          Yes, since I never made it that far, I’m wondering if schools promote this somewhat misleadingly?

      2. Ralph Wiggum

        In fact, in software development, post-graduate degrees are often negatively correlated with ability to get a job.

        1. Sloan Kittering

          I suspect there are several fields where this is the case, actually. Particularly if you have to “catch up” on the entry level job skills that you would have gained if you’d spent those same years working instead of school. My father is an engineer who said he is usually sour on PhD candidates and lukewarm on other advanced degrees.

    4. Research Professional

      Also be sure to check your company’s handbook/policies – at some places if you have an advanced degree it is their policy to pay more (I know that is the case where I work). Iagree that if you are able to make the case for how/why this is a benefit and potentially what additional responsibilities you are equipped to take on it will strengthen your case.

  7. SB

    Re: #3, I don’t work in the corporate world — do a lot of companies monitor your mouse movement?

    1. User 483

      No. That’s weird of them to track. Should be able to tell if you are working by what tasks are or are not getting done and how you are responding to necessary emails/phone calls/etc.

      1. Anonandon

        >Should be able to tell if you are working by what tasks are or are not getting done

        I can’t comprehend what kind of freak show thinks activity = productivity. The ONLY question the employers should be asking is whether the work got done on time. I wouldn’t put up with this crap and I hope OP doesn’t, either.

        1. Rainy days

          Yes, this sounds crazy to me. I could be using my mouse more to like posts on Facebook than I would be if I were working on a spreadsheet and relying on keyboard shortcuts.

          1. RandomusernamebecauseIwasboredwiththelastone

            I went to the Simpsons episode where the water bird toy was used to push the nuclear vent button for Homer.

            1. MusicWithRocksInIt

              I have a ball python who *loves* to form a ball around the mouse and move it around. It is his favorite toy!

          2. Gumby

            In the way back days there were a few companies that, for some reason, paid you for web browsing. (Tracking your activity? No idea.)

            At the time, my company was looking into tools that would allow us to automate some of our testing. I might have written a quick script that would select a random web site from a list I provided and then “click” on the [random number] link on the page. Wait [different random number] seconds. Possibly scroll. And then repeat. It worked when I ran it and watched. I briefly considered but didn’t follow through on plans to rack up “browsing time” by running it overnight.

        2. The Cosmic Avenger

          Google “mouse jiggler”. I was actually told to use it by an IT person, to keep a secondary laptop from going to sleep on days they need to remote in and install updates. :D

          1. Mr Shark

            Ha! Mouse jiggler, I’ll have to look that up (purely for information purposes).

            We always joked about having one of those Chinese birds that are solar activated, that keep moving forever, pecking at the keyboard. That, or putting some food on the keyboard so your dog/cat keeps messing with it while you take a nap (and it keeps you as “active” in the messenger service, instead of “away”).

      2. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock

        Yeah, this is super weird. It’s like people who track comp time to determine who’s “really working hard.” Maybe there’s another industry where this is normal? It stuck out to me as well. I believe OP—I just think it’s a weird measure that says something about the employer.

    2. alienor

      Mine doesn’t. It would be a weird thing to monitor except for certain sorts of data entry-type jobs. A lot of perfectly valid work tasks I do (reading a long white paper, watching a video) don’t require me to touch my mouse at all for a long time.

      1. Clisby

        Yes, I worked for an employer whose data entry application had a built-in keystroke-monitoring capacity; I got the idea it was sort of common for that particular type of job. Never heard of it anywhere else.

      2. pleaset

        I know a management consultant who said his firm monitored when the keyboard or mouse were active. Not details of their movement.

    3. Language Lover

      This is coincidental timing. A colleague was just telling me that this is how his spouse’s work-at-home is monitored. And that it can somehow tell whether the mouse movements are purposeful vs. random.

      It was the first time I’d heard of something similar. Usually, if corporate looks at something other than productivity, the most I’ve heard of was having IT make sure the people working off-site were logging into the network. But key logging and mouse watching? That’s new to me and I think it’s pretty unusual.

      1. CmdrShepard4ever

        You would be surprised at how well programs can monitor and determine what kind of movement or behavior is purposeful vs random. As machine learning get better and takes in more data the ability of machines/computers to predict and replicate human behavior will keep increasing.

        I used to work in retail while I never saw it first hand, I heard that the security cameras could alert the security team to people that seemed suspicious based on their movements. I don’t know what the parameters of the program were, I don’t think even the security people knew. But when I worked there we were trained to look for people that lingered too long in certain aisles (usually near high value items), that passed by the same aisles over and over, refused to make eye contact, were looking at the camera placements

        1. Bostonian

          LOL @ the security cameras. I would definitely get flagged since I am INCREDIBLY indecisive sometimes and will often walk through the same aisles several times trying to talk myself into/out of buying X item.

      2. Stranger than fiction

        I’m reminded of a letter I read here a few years ago where the person had a camera on her all day while working from home.

        1. Mr Shark

          I just read that one recently. That was bizarre. I would never work in a situation like that.

    4. annnnon

      I have a family member who works for a big 3 auto company who works from home once a week that has this kind of program on their work laptop. And she’s middle management (if not higher) at that company.

      1. K

        I’m also in the Big 3 and don’t have that. I don’t have a formal work from home arrangement but do it on occasion though.

    5. Anonalyst

      We monitor mouse/keyboard activity to head off fatigue & injuries from repetitive motion. The system gives reminders to take breaks if we are furiously typing for too long!

      1. Human Sloth

        Seriously! Wow. I would love to see “Take a break” pop up on my screen.

        I’m in a new role about a year now. My current manager will pop in to my office and say “team building- let’s go.” And then we go on a walk around the block. I love it!

        1. IDesigner

          FYI, there’s a free application called Grindstone (it’s a time tracking application) that can do this. You can tell it to remind you to take a break (set it to however many hours/minutes/seconds you want) and to tell you to stop working when you’ve worked a certain amount of time in a given time period, i.e. you’ve worked 8 hours of the last 16, time to call it a day.

    6. NewNameTemporarily

      Changed name. Not on work computer. Our laptops have a managed desktop with a keystroke logger, and they know the entire contents of any emails that go over the firewall, for example. I know this as one of our contractors sent something to her personal email that was protected ( HIPPA) info (she/he didn’t know, I think… there was a good reason and no one had warned them). It took several months for after she left, for it to come to light, but we had to change our policies.

      OldJob, we sent (financial loan applications) to an outside, small conservative firm… they had logger/firewall alarms set up… one of our sales reps tried to finance the database software for a company that had several things, including a porn website, sent the application (including URLs for the various sites) to the lender. The lender quickly clicked out of the site as soon as he/she saw what it was, but within a half hour, security paid them a visit and proof was needed that this was not “Surfing the net” on company time for porn.

      So while I have no proof that keystrokes are not being logged for internal use (like in word or excel), unless I’m working on a project that has reading or thinking for periods of time (and I am old school enough to print out and read my documentation for really critical text….) I “log off” when I’m not actively working/in a webex/in a meeting etc. My hours on the timecard match my actual schedule worked. And I never visit personal sites from the work computer. ever. Or even write personal emails on the computer. I don’t even want my google password cached. Etc.

      One of my coworkers (justifiably) had a 2 level down demotion during the last restructure. He thought it was unfair. I, who watched him cover 2 (I had 17) – “teapot production lines” – and mine were harder… and watched him (but never said anything) play fantasy football, do his kids’ soccer coaching & scheduling, leave early, take long breaks, and surf the net… just kept the chair warm for 3 years while I killed myself because he was “too busy” and convinced the boss of it…. I was glad someone ran an algorithm somewhere that let them know where the real work was being done.

      I suspect they only have time to look at the data when they need it – but it’s there in case. Not an IT person, but… I’ve seen stuff.

      1. TechWorker

        Maybe there are jobs where monitoring your keyboard/mouse use is actually a reasonable indicator but it’s not a substitute for good management – surely fantasy football dude would have been out of a job much earlier if their manager was actually paying attention to the work they produced?

          1. LQ

            Every single time this comes up here about do you speak up about your shitty shitty shitty slacker coworker the answer is always mind your own damn business. You’re only allowed to say if it impacts your work, and if your boss says it’s totes fine for you to drown in work while your fantasy football coworker laughs his way to his bigger than yours check every week then it’s a your boss problem and you’d just be being nosy and a jerk. That’s why you don’t say anything, you’re trying to do the right thing based on what you read here.

            1. Stranger than fiction

              It does affect your work morale,
              I’d argue. We have a coworker here who sleeps in his office regularly and it looks really really bad and people are pissed. No, doesn’t affect us directly, but his productivity is low and it affects sales and the customers he’s supposed to be calling. We’re assuming he’s got narcolepsy or something but it’s not like he’s making up the time by staying late or anything. Just reason #156 why I’m looking for another job…lack if accountability

      2. LQ

        The weird thing about this is that if you have all that tracking you should not need “proof” it’s in all that data that they were on that site for a second and not on a bunch of others. It’s definitely a level of bs going into that which assumes all employees are evil and The Corporation is Good.

    7. Delta Delta

      I was wondering about that too. Not every task requires mouse movement. Also, OP also says they can’t punch in remotely. Seems like an odd bunch of software that’s both overly yet simultaneously unable to track offsite workers remotely.

    8. Karen from Finance

      In a former company I worked at, if your mouse wasn’t moving for a while then you’d show up as idle on the IM system, which would be seen by everyone who looked. There was no way to deactivate that feature or add more minutes. So some people downloaded software that would make the mouse move around the screen.

      1. Overeducated

        Oh man, this came up at my work a few months ago because apparently someone’s manager expressed displeasure at someone being “inactive” on the chat system during telework. (Mine shows me as “offline” whenever I move away from my email tab when offsite, even though I can still receive messages, so to be “active” all the time, I’d literally have to spend the entire day on email…great use of time.) The union had to put out a “reminder” that the IM system was not designed as a way to remotely monitor work and if it were treated that way it might be considered a change in working conditions eligible for collective bargaining.

    9. ThisColumnMakesMeGratefulForMyBoss

      I would hope that something like this falls under the same category as “we monitor the websites you visit, but unless we’re unhappy with your work or looking for a reason to fire you, we’re not going to track it.” I mean realistically, you would have to have full time employees to keep track of keystrokes and internet activity.

      At my last company, I worked from home on Fridays. I was always more productive at home because there was less distraction. When a new manager came in, she wanted those of who WFH to create reports to describe what we did all day. It was obnoxious and unnecessary. So many people equate WFH to slacker. If someone is a slacker at work, they’ll find a way to slack off when they’re in the office.

      1. Bostonian

        Yup! This is a good point. Some professional slackers are also really good at looking busy in the office…

      2. Massmatt

        I am wondering why this manager didn’t request the same report for the people in the office. If it was not apparent to her what her WFH employees were doing based on their output, how would she know what in-office employees were doing? A good manager should be aware what responsibilities her employees have and whether or not they are meeting them on a deeper level than “send me a report of what you did all day”.

      3. Stranger than fiction

        We have to send daily updates of everything we do each day and I swear they only get looked at like twice a year, because I’ll purposely put something silly on occasion just to see if someone replies.

    10. I Wrote This in the Bathroom

      No, omg, I missed it on my first read. That’s a terrible practice.

      Some of our leaderships have been way into micromanagement in the recent couple of years and now I hope they do not read this blog. Don’t want them to get any new ideas.

    11. Michaela Westen

      Many companies use spyware to check up on their employees. When I first learned of this several years ago it seemed creepy, but I always use it to my advantage.
      I make sure my screen is on something work-related before I leave my desk or do something that’s not on the computer, and don’t spend too long on non-work things.

    12. Someone Else

      In my experience it’s common for companies to have software that can do it. It is not common for they to use it on everyone or as a measure of “productivity”. Like everything, some are jerks and do that. But usually when I see this, it’s because they suspect someone of some SERIOUS wrongdoing and it’s implemented on a specific workstation or for a specific user, basically to catch them in the act.

  8. Snorks

    #4, I used to say any injury was a shark attack (bites, scratches, pulled muscles, etc) but I live next to the ocean and a couple of people thought it might have been true.
    Now I say it was either a T Rex or a velociraptor. I’ve never had anyone press for further details. Not in a serious tone anyway. They’ll ask how I came to be bitten by an extinct animal. (My usual response is ‘I won’t deny, it’s been a bit of a weird day!’)

      1. Critter

        My first thought was “Uhhhhh… *awkwardly hide hand behind back* DEFINITELY NOT A ZOMBIE!”

    1. JKP

      I had a friend who lost an arm from illness. Little kids were always fascinated with no filter and would ask how he lost his arm. Every time it was a different dramatic story about being bitten by a shark or sword fighting. He probably tried the T-rex before too. He would get a kick out of their wide eyes and gasps.

      1. WS

        My dad had a friend who had had both legs amputated and told similar stories. He had me convinced of both the shark AND the runaway train for several years!

      2. Susan

        I always try to get my dad to claim an alligator accident for the top half of his ring finger being gone, but he doesn’t do it. (He lost it in high school – chain link fence accident)

      3. Michaela Westen

        My grandfather lost a few fingers in machine accidents.
        He used to show the little kids and say, “I dropped my finger! Help me find it!” and have them looking under furniture. :D

    2. Auntie Social

      I live by the ocean–my hip replacement scar became “leopard shark!” when people would ask. Everyone would just nod and accept it.

    3. No Mas Pantalones

      “Made the mistake of trying to break up a narwhal fight. Trust me. Not a good idea.”

    4. ThursdaysGeek

      I’m going to start saying “shark attack” – I don’t live near the ocean. I’m rarely injured, but I occasionally get colds. Sharks (or dinosaurs) can cause colds, right?

    5. Bulbasaur

      “Oh yes, that reminds me. Watch out for the mosquitoes around here! Some of them get really big.”

  9. Close Bracket

    > The only rule on cover stories for accidents is that they can’t be more glamorous than the actual story.

    My go to story is I was attacked by a yeti. Should I stop that?

    1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy

      Right? I feel like the cover story should ALWAYS be more exciting than the real story.

      1. Elizabeth the Ginger

        I think it can either be less exciting or WAY more exciting. So I think the yeti/Hugh Jackman skydiving/saving an orphaned sloth from a runaway train kind of story is a-ok, as is “oh, I tripped,” but if I slipped on some ice I can’t claim I got the injury in a motorcycle accident or while running a marathon, because those are both plausible-ish.

        1. Wintermute

          Bingo! It’s about what people will think if they find out the truth. No one will go “that dastard! he said he had to fight off a dozen zombie leopards to save the orphanage! you can’t ever trust him!” But they MIGHT just think “well he said he ran marathons but it turns out he can barely jog, I wonder what other accomplishments he’s invented?” which can rapidly impact their professional assessment of you and doubting your actual work-related accomplishments.

          1. Hope

            And now I want to see the movie where someone fights off zombie leopards to save an orphanage…

      2. voluptuousfire

        Agreed. A friend years ago tore her meniscus tendon in her knee (actual story was she was a catcher on a softball team and she lunged for the ball and she went one way and her knee went the other) and she got tired of telling the same story. I came up with the story that she was on the US women’s hockey team (it was in 1998 when they won the gold) and she got whacked in the knee with a hockey stick by a rival. People actually bought it and she would embellish it differently each time. It was a hoot!

    2. Wintermute

      I think an obviously fake story (see: T-rex, supra) is an exception to not making it cooler. It’s more than a bit snarky so I wouldn’t lean HEAVILY on it but something obviously impossible or ludicrous is a way to say “I had a severe case of nunyas at the ‘your’ business”. At that point everyone knows you didn’t really have to fight off a zombie werewolf vampire.

      If you go with something plausible not obviously silly then I think the rule stands. No one will accuse you of trying to pretend you’re someone you’re not if you say ‘fence’ instead of ‘dog’ but if you say ‘fencing’ they might suspect you’re a serial liar that inflates their accomplishments– not a good look in the workplace.

    3. Bagpuss

      I think that’s fine – no one is going to think you were actually attacked by a Yeti, so it’s a humorous way to deflect any further questions.

    4. PB

      Nah, obvious lies are good. I think Alison’s point was that you don’t want the story to sound more interesting than reality. No one’s going to believe a yeti attack is real, but sky diving is a possibility.

      1. Ask a Manager Post author

        Right, that’s exactly what I meant. My Hugh Jackman example might have been too outlandish, but my point was that you don’t want to say something believable that makes you sound more interesting than the truth.

        1. Close Bracket

          I knew exactly what you meant. Apparently, I was a little too dry, though, bc nobody knew what I meant!

      2. Putting the "pro" in "procrastinate"

        You never know what’s obvious! Years ago I went from having notoriously long curly hair to a very short haircut. I grew tired of all the “you got a haircut!” comments so I started joking that I had lost a fight with a lawnmower. Some weeks later I learned that someone had thought I was serious, and had really had my hair chopped off in an accident!

  10. Polyhymnia O’Keefe

    My colleague and I are always trying to get my boss to thread her emails. She reads her inbox from oldest to newest and replies to many (although not all) emails as she goes. It’s not uncommon to a) get multiple thanks for individual emails in the same thread; and b) get an answer to a question that someone else in the thread answered 3 messages ago. If only we could get her to read everything in the thread before answering…

    1. TechWorker

      OMG I hate this!! I have a very senior colleague who does the same. I’m basically assuming they’re so busy they don’t have time to read the whole thread, but they split it so many times and fire off random questions to each bit.

      There’s only so many times you can go ‘copying all responses below to summarise!’ before it sounds passive aggressive. Plus once they sent two emails ~ 1min apart, where the first said something along the lines of ‘what is this it makes no sense, this is terrible’ and the next (with someone else asking a question and only a brief clarification inbetween) ‘great, this is fantastic work!’. That time I chose not to copy all responses in looool

    2. Asenath

      I have a variation on this – someone who sends multiple (3 or more) emails on the same thing. “Here’s the data you were all waiting for” “Ooops, forgot to include Harry Potter’s info – I’ve updated it” “Oh, yes, Maria Workerbee on this file is the same person as Maryann Busybee on the database” (I’ve been wondering since I got that one why one earth not put Maria/Maryann’s official name in BOTH places, but haven’t quite gotten up the nerve to ask because the answer is likely to be complicated and apologetic.) I’ve reconciled myself to waiting a day, and then reading through all the emails before starting anything with the information.

      1. Karen from Finance

        That kinda sounds like a person who is very nervous and that makes them distracted. Can relate. I get that it’s annoying (please just proofread!) but also I feel for them.

        1. Mine Own Telemachus

          This is me. I have an anxiety disorder, so I have to work very hard against my own nerves in wanting to get things done fast (because then people are wondering what I’m doing and what if they think I’m a slacker?!) in order to get things done correctly. I’ve lost jobs over anxiety-fueled errors in the past and it suuuucks.

      2. Michaela Westen

        That’s why I check all the details three or four times before I send out. It works, I have a reputation for accuracy. It helps that my boss has realistic expectations of how fast I can do things (accurately).

    3. Falling Diphthong

      I think it’s the “Touch everything once” rule–that anything actionable in the email on her end gets dealt with before she clicks to the next one.

      1. Polyhymnia O'Keefe

        I agree. Which is why having her emails threaded would mean getting to the present without having to touch them all individually until she reaches the end of the chain. However, it’s a pretty minor hill, so it’s not worth dying on.

    4. cat socks

      Ugh, that’s annoying. When I’m doing through my in-box first thing in the morning, I group by subject so I can respond to the latest email in the thread.

      1. Polyhymnia O'Keefe

        I’ve used a gmail interface since it first came out (for all my work addresses, too), so I haven’t had un-threaded emails since 2005. I wouldn’t want to go back!

        And actually, I sometimes have to remind myself that not everyone does it that way — it also changes the way I send emails. For instance, if I forget something and send a follow up 10 seconds later, in my mind (and in my inbox), it just adds to the thread, almost like a chat; it doesn’t send a whole new email just for my extra clarification. I forget that not everyone receives it that way.

    5. Jadelyn

      *insert 5-minute whoopee cushion noise* Ugh I have a former manager (still work with her, but report to someone above her now) who always does this. It’s a running joke among the rest of the team, because she is constantly replying to requests to say “Jadelyn will send you this” a day and a half after I already took care of it (with her cc’d on the whole thread). We haven’t been able to convince her to stop that yet, so we just try to shrug it off as a quirk of hers and remind ourselves that if anyone looks like a disorganized idiot, it’s her, not us. It’s annoying, but what can you do?

      1. NotAnotherManager!

        I had that boss once, and my coworker and I finally sat him down and asked him to, pretty please, knock it off. We had a good working relationship and were able to come up with five examples from that week where we’d already taken care of something to which he replied – we were trying to make him look like he ran a proactive, functional team, and he was getting in the way of that by jumping in hours after we’d cleared the docket.

        He mostly got the point, but, every once in a while, he’d hop onto something late, and you’d hear from the cube farm, “Dude! We’ve talked about this!” and he’d apologize. I think it took nearly 6 months to totally work it out of his system.

        1. Jadelyn

          You know, I’ve hinted in that direction about it before, but never had a super clear conversation. There’s some drama between her and other members of the team so if they tried to bring it up they’d just get shot down, with prejudice. But since I don’t report to her anymore, and I’ve managed to mostly stay clear of the drama, I might actually be able to bring it up and have her take it seriously.

          I’m a little envious that you and your coworker have the kind of working relationship where you could do that and have it listened to!

    6. ProgrammerGuy

      We use Outlook at my work, which has an unobtrusive little message tell you when replying that you’re “not replying to the latest message in this thread” or something to that effect.

  11. Approval is optional

    LW: I’m with AAM – think long and hard about whether you still want to work for these people. One mildly annoyed phone call/email would perhaps be reasonable (if they had given you reasonable notice), but several (!!) *angry* ones would be overkill no matter what the circumstances around the interview scheduling were!

    1. Ada

      Especially since it was never even confirmed you received the email. Have they never encountered a spam filter before? If I were in your shoes, I’d write them of entirely by that point and call it a gigantic bullet dodged.

      1. Elizabeth the Ginger

        The exception *might* be if there’s a possibility that this is someone low-level going kind of rouge – like if all the emails and calls are from a random HR person or the admin that sets up meetings, and none of them are from the people who would actually be your bosses. Still not great, because who wants to work somewhere with dysfunctional HR? But maybe, maaaaaaybe it’s all New HR Guy and the higher-ups don’t know he’s setting up last-minute interviews and then yelling at people about them.

        If these emails and calls are from the people who would be your managers, run.

        1. Mystery Bookworm

          That occured to me as well. Worth following up if only becuase it might be that the person scheduling is sort of dropping the ball, and the person hiring is someone different.

        2. Asenath

          Could be someone new in HR who doesn’t realize that “setting up an interview” requires some notice to the interviewee, and generally enough notice so that the interviewee can confirm the arrangements. It sure doesn’t give a good impression of the business, though. Even if they have a new employee making these interview arrangements, isn’t someone – maybe the person doing the interview – asking why on earth are you setting these up on 24 hours notice? Especially since they must be getting a high number of “no-shows” who can’t make an interview scheduled the night before.

          1. Michaela Westen

            But could even a new person who never worked before be that clueless? They went through an interview process to get their job, didn’t they? They have a life and wouldn’t necessarily see an email sent the night before, don’t they? If it is one unsupervised person doing this, they must be very oblivious.

        3. Dagny

          If the person scheduling the interview is not the same as the hiring manager and the interview team, I think it’s actually worth saying something to the manager about. Just explain what happened (in a small number of words), state that you never confirmed the interview, and that you always show up to interviews for which you have confirmed that you will attend.

          Then leave it at that. If they want to have you and are committed to being a functional company, regardless of a few loons, they will schedule an actual interview with your input. If not, then do not worry about what happened.

          (This really has the look of HR dropping the ball on reviewing applications and scheduling interviews, then throwing you under the bus for their own tardiness.)

          1. Christina

            It was the manager’s assistant who was scheduling the interviews and then presumably telling the manager when and where. Manager was at the interview location waiting for me and he left the angry voicemails and an email (first call and emails were from the assistant).

            I am the LW1.

    2. nonegiven

      Maybe OP could have responded to the first missed interview by responding they were traveling and asking to reschedule for some time after [date.] Especially if it wasn’t feasible to check email more often.

      1. Approval is optional

        She did. From the letter about the first interview: ‘After a few months, they emailed me stating that my interview would be on X date with no time nor location. They had scheduled it for the next day and it was already evening. I wasn’t in town and wouldn’t be back until the next week. I sent an email in reply, letting them know and that I would be happy to reschedule.’

    3. Fergus

      Yesterday I turned down a phone interview for a job. The recruiting company, and I kid you not, called me 7 times the recruiter 5 x, his boss 2x, sent me 2 emails, and a text.

      1. Disgruntled Engineer

        Ugh, I had a recruiter last week call twice and email about a job 70 miles away. I politely emailed back that I recently moved and am not interested in relocating again or long commutes (it’s in my LinkedIn profile too, which is where most of them find me). And he proceeded to call back 3 more times (leaving a voicemail that we should still discuss it) and text me asking me to call back.

        Here’s the thing – like many non-management employees now, I’m in an open office environment, and it’s really difficult to discretely take a phone call during business hours. I’d much prefer to reply by email, especially when it’s a job that obviously won’t work. And I still get calls and emails for short-term contract, out of state, and jobs outside my field. What’s the deal with these recruiters?

        1. Yvette

          What? You mean you have no desire to relocate 3 states away for a 6 month gig? What is wrong with you? I get calls all the time like that. They are shocked, simply shocked that I have no desire to relocate for a 6 month position.

        2. cncx

          my linkedin also says no short term in like three different places and these recruiters still call me. im so tired of it.

          1. Yvette

            It has been my experience that most of the recruiters who behave that way are reps for relatively new consulting firms, are often out of state, and quite frankly seem to have no concept of US geography. I also get the feeling that they are used to working with H-1B visa holders who need to work somewhere, anywhere, because the first or second question is “do you require sponsorship to work in the United States” or “What is your visa status?”

        3. Dagny

          Many recruiters aren’t interested in your career development; they are interested in the money they make by getting someone hired. I’ve found it’s best just to tell them you are not interested in working with them.

    4. Mookie

      I’ve had this happen to me several times with some variations (sent me two different time/day slots, the second labelled as a correction, which I acknowledged and confirmed, and were furious when I showed up for that one; unhinged voicemails at a decibel that shook my phone and then feigning ignorance/innocence when I complained about the aggression) always from organizations I was already iffy about. I’d say they’ve wasted enough of your time and emotional energy that they are not worthy of any more.

    5. stump

      No doubt. I was wondering what the heck kind of clown show this employer’s running. Scheduling interviews for the next day without even confirming it with the applicant? That first email that didn’t even have a location or time on it? Not understanding that time zones exist? Or that people aren’t shackled to their computers/emails 24/7? Even without the whole “YOU DIDN’T SHOW UP FOR A SHORT NOTICE INTERVIEW WE NEVER CONFIRMED WITH YOU” tantrum, all of the interactions up to that point definitely point to “Don’t Have Their Shit Together”. Hopefully it’s the work of a rogue HR employee like Elizabeth the Ginger mentioned, but dang, whoever is pulling this is really not making their company look good.

        1. Thornus67

          Last week, I was offered an interview with a city government. I last applied to that city in October 2015. I politely declined.

          1. Jadelyn

            Holy crap. I mean, I know government recruiting moves at a completely different pace than private sector, but still, that’s…really something.

          2. OhNo

            See, that actually makes sense to me. A lot of the city/county positions in my area have a line right at the bottom of the posting that says “Applications may be used to fill future positions”.

            To be fair, I’ve never gotten one quite to late as three and a half years later, like yours. But I have gotten called ten plus months after submitting an application because another spot opened up.

    6. Sara without an H

      LW#1: Please, please think very carefully about whether you want to work with loons. Because that’s what you’d be doing.

    7. kittymommy

      Yeah, the way they are setting up these interview (less than 24hrs notice, no input from the applicant) and the way they deal with applicants who don’t show up are HUGE red flags. I cannot imagine what they will be like to work for. Even a dream job can turn sour in the right environment.

      1. Oh no, not another Jennifer

        Yes! Exactly. You don’t even work for them yet. I can’t imagine what type of work environment you will encounter once you actually work there.

    8. cncx

      worst job of my life was with people who didn’t care about my schedule or that i would have a life. lady made me pull an all nighter once and get on an airplane then complained i looked tired at the meeting we flew to. not that i did anything wrong, that i looked tired.

      When people show you who they are believe them. LW1, this is just the tip of the iceberg with this place, i’m positive

    9. Tysons in NE

      Yeah, sometimes people really don’t think. Whether they think that the company is so great that the candidate is willing to drop everything to go interview or an incredible lack of communication.
      My example of a potential employer losing my interest in the position was when an interview was scheduled and confirmed. Since I was out of the country and on vacation, I really did make sure that I could take the call. The person interviewing me called almost two hours late and then got sulky that I wasn’t on a land line. As she reached me when I was in the middle of a meal.
      She would have been my boss, actually yes I could point fingers at HR since this was an HR position. But it was a red flag and I was glad that I never heard back from this place.

    10. Christina

      Hi! I realized shortly after I sent this letter that I did not want to work for these people. I love love the job but it isn’t worth it if they’re yelling at me before I start!
      That said I did find out what happened. I was scheduled to meet with the manager. His assistant is the one who scheduled the interviews and told him that I was going to show up without asking me first! He then left angry calls and emails for me, which is insane. Most places would have just written off that person not yell at them (literally yelled on my voicemail). I can’t work here. Despite loving the job.

      I have had so many bad interviews lately that I was like is this that bad??

      The last one had me travel 8 hours across multiple states for a position they had already filled!

      1. Michaela Westen

        It’s the bad jobs that are most likely to be open! I’m glad you realized this is a bad job.
        When you say you love the job, do you mean the type of work? Or is the company one of those icons everyone thinks is wonderful (they’re clearly not!)
        I expect you can find better companies doing that type of work… it takes a while to get a good job, but it’s worth the time!

        1. Christina

          Love the type of work! It encompasses everything I want to do and it’s one of those companies everyone thinks is amazing. Most of the jobs I have seen don’t have the freedom this one has and chance to really apply myself. It’s hard to explain without revealing what field it is. Less grunt work and more actually doing stuff if that makes sense. I’m pretty recently out of school so this type of job for someone my level is a rare find. I will keep looking for the dream one though.

          1. Michaela Westen

            When the managers yell at people for things that weren’t their fault the company is *not* amazing!
            I don’t know if you’d want to do this, but I would be tempted to help their reputation be more accurate by posting a GlassDoor review.
            I’m sure if you keep trying you’ll get a good job you like!

      2. Willis

        It’s that bad. Even if you had confirmed and for some reason didn’t show up, it would be bad. A voicemail and/or email asking where you were would be one thing, but yelling is unprofessional and crappy even if the other person legitimately messed up. He sounds like a jackass, and I’d assume he would continue to be one to the people he manages. Good to know now.

    11. AnonForThis

      I’m glad Allison answered this question. I was about to write in with a similar one. I got an email from a recruiter who said she wanted to speak with me about a position I applied for, and I didn’t see the email until late that night. She wrote back and said she was scheduling a phone screen at a certain time without asking if I was available, and then called my home phone number, and seemed quite annoyed that I didn’t answer. I emailed her apologizing for missing the call (I’m in a low-wall cube farm and huddle rooms in the office are generally not available, so no real place to slip away and talk at work), and she asked me to call her back. I wasn’t able to do so until I got home at about 4:30pm. I never heard back from her. I’m disappointed, but I agree with AAM…this probably isn’t a job I want, since the company doesn’t seem to have any consideration for my time, only their own.

      1. Michaela Westen

        This reminds me of the woman at a recruiting company who would call me and leave a message, “call me back ASAP, I have a great job for you” and when I called she wouldn’t take my call. She did that three times before I stopped calling her back.

  12. Anonandon

    My employer will very occasionally send out emails late at night or very early in the morning. My policy is: If you don’t send it at a reasonable hour, don’t expect me to respond. It’s not my fault you sent it while I was asleep. No sane person does business this way.

    Alison has it right. OP is dealing with a bunch of buffoons. OP says, “Help!” but my question is: Help with what? Help you salvage your relationship with morons? Help you get a job at place that will treat you like garbage? Is that really what you want?

    1. AnitaJ

      I’m with you on the timing-of-emails thing. I work a 9-5 schedule. If someone sends a request at 4:45pm and then follows up at 9:00am the next day, you have given me 15 business minutes to respond. I will prioritize and assist with your request as needed, but I will not act as though you have given me a solid 16 hours, because I wasn’t working then!

      (I say all this but I’m also bad about working after hours when it’s necessary….but for pushy people I push back)

    2. KnittyGritty

      I had a problem with a co-worker who would send emails out at 1am then get really mad when folks didn’t answer by 8am. It was so frustrating! The OP should think really hard about working for a company where this happens.

    3. Delphine

      Yep. Someone I know currently gets emails and phone calls from work all weekend and in the middle of the night. He just goes ahead and does whatever they want. Do not put yourself into a position where you can be taken advantage of. LW, take this as the red flag it is.

    4. SusanIvanova

      I used to have a QA department in China that combined #1’s cluelessness about time with #2’s cluelessness about social interaction lubrication phrases: If they happened to start a chat when our work hours overlapped, it would look like this:

      Them: Hello
      Me: Hi, did you have a question?
      Them: Yes. *asks question*
      Me: *answers*

      However if they didn’t, it would still go the same way:

      Them (after work my time): Hello
      Me (the next day): Hi, did you have a question?
      Them (after work my time): Yes. *asks question*
      Me (it’s now two days after the first question): *answers

      Just ask! You get the answer the next morning instead of two days later!

      1. Mr Shark

        Yes! This drives me crazy when dealing with some people from CurrentJob who are out of the country. They always ask if they can ask a question. Usually, if I have a question, I just say “hey, I have a quick question” and then follow it up with the question itself.

        It also drives me crazy when they IM me and say “hey do you have a few minutes to discuss something? I’ll come up to your desk” and then don’t tell me what it’s about. If I know what they’re going to ask over IM, then when they get to my desk I can be prepared to review it/pull up files, or maybe I already know the answer.

    5. Christina

      You’re right. I do not want to work there. I love the work they do but this was a wicked bad experience and is not worth it. Not a dream job if I’m already getting yelled at and I don’t work there.

  13. KR

    #3 – could you fill in a timesheet and send it to your HR manager every week? I work at a very large company and that’s kind of how we do it.

    1. valentine

      I think HR uses the email timestamp as the punch-in. If that’s what HR wants, let them be annoyed; they can filter.

      But, OP3: They already trust you to work from home. Why not trust you to report your in/out times? If CEO wants the emails, maybe HR will back you up on switching to a report?

  14. Story Nurse

    OP4: Many sympathies on the injury and associated trauma. I don’t want to offer medical advice (I am not an actual nurse, for one thing) but I suggest you follow up with a primary care doctor or dermatologist and ask whether there are ways to safely keep the wound covered while it heals. It sounds like it would be easiest for you psychologically as well as less challenging at work if you didn’t have to see the injury every time you look at your hand. I hope there are other options available to you.

      1. Story Nurse

        That is the standard of care, but sometimes there are reasons to recommend a different course of treatment for a particular patient under particular circumstances. Since neither of us is the LW’s doctor and able to take all relevant factors into consideration, I’m going to stick with “check with a doctor”.

        1. QWYaa

          Dude. OP said her doctor told her to keep the wound uncovered. We’re not supposed to question letter-writers here.

          1. Ask a Manager Post author

            A clarification: When I ask that we take letter-writers at their word, it means don’t assert facts totally contrary to the LW’s account. (For example, if the letter says they’re reliably on time to work, don’t say “It really sounds like you must have been late a lot” if there’s no evidence of that in the letter.) But it’s fine in a situation like this to say “would it help to go back and ask X a different way?” (That said, it’s also true that it’s not useful if that becomes a long derail because the LW may already know that the answer is no.)

        2. Mystery Bookworm

          It sounds like the OP has spoken to a doctor. She’s not asking for medical advice here.

        3. WS

          I presumed she had already, since she has the correct advice and is now asking about how to cope with that.

        4. Mookie

          You’re not being a very careful reader here, unfortunately. The LW is not concerned about her own reaction to seeing the wound but about how to navigate performances of sympathy and probing questions from strangers while working.

        5. Super Dee Duper Anon

          I don’t understand why multiple people are jumping on you.

          It’s perfectly acceptable to go back to your Dr and say “hey, I didn’t realize it at the time, but keeping wound completely uncovered in public settings actually makes me a bit uncomfortable. I’m checking in to see if there are any other options” and it’s not questioning the LW to mention that double checking with the Dr is an option.

          1. sunshyne84

            Right…

            Maybe loose fitting long sleeves or some kind of breathable fabric wrapped around. It wouldn’t hurt to ask.

        6. Karen from Finance

          Yes, I get it. Story Nurse is not saying OP got the wrong advice initially, but is saying they could go back and ask if they could keep it covered somehow, as it would attract less attention and probably be less triggering of their trauma. I don’t think Story Nurse is trying to contradict the medical advice, rather propose they check if there are alternatives that suit OP better given the psychological baggage, which may be a possibility.

          1. Annette

            Yes Karen. LW can call the doctor. Worst answer = you really do have to keep it unbandaged and uncovered. Oh well.

          2. Lance

            It could arguably attract less attention, and not look like a bite at all… but I don’t think it inherently changes the fact that it would attract at least some attention, and OP would still be fielding questions about it.

        7. Seeking Second Childhood

          Especially by “keep it uncovered” the doctor might just mean “don’t bandage it” — without realizing that OP thinks she can’t wear a loosefitting long-sleeved shirt to deflect questions.

          1. Super Dee Duper Anon

            Exactly! I had a wound that the dr told me “needed to breath”. The placement was very awkward and after exploring it more deeply, dr and I agreed that I would place a piece of gauze over it and tape the gauze down on two sides (while making sure not to pull the gauze tight across the skin). I would wear the light gauze cover at work, then leave it uncovered all evening and overnight.

            I’m definitely not saying the LW should do that, just agreeing with Story Nurse that sometimes there are additional options that the dr won’t think to mention at first.

          2. Ophelia

            Exactly. Or asking for more clarification on the timeframe for keeping it totally uncovered re: bandaged loosely with gauze or a sleeve. I don’t think this is discounting either the existing medical advice or the OP’s experiences.

    1. That Girl From Quinn's House

      I was actually going to add that too. I had a job that required first aid certification, so it wasn’t impossible that we’d have minor bloodborne pathogen exposure at work. In light of that, it was best practice to cover all open wounds at work- even if it was the kind of wound that would ordinarily be best allowed to heal on its own.

      Obviously this varies by job, but if you’re using a communal keyboard that hits your wrist, or you’re in potential contact with other icky things, like tying up the trash, moving soiled linens, using cleaning fluids even casually, or shaking a lot of hands, covering the wound would be healthier than following the strict direction of “air it out.”

    2. OP #4

      OP#4 here. I appreciate this, but one of the reasons I am keeping it uncovered is to prevent infection since I live in a warm area and keeping sweat/bacteria out is a concern. It doesn’t bother me to look at it, it’s just visible to other people.

  15. OG Karyn

    I once burned my arm while using my flat iron (it is impossible to reach the back of my hair without injury, I swear to God). It was bad enough that I had to wrap it in gauze and then use an ace bandage. People kept asking what happened and I just said, very deadpan: “Zombie bite. Any minute now…” and then would look at my watch. Hilariously, they invariably went quietly away.

    1. Dasein9

      I’d probably say, “Well they promise it’s a dog that bit me, but I’m hoping it was a werewolf!”

  16. Kitty

    I find “thanks” emails very helpful from external stakeholders and contractors, just to make sure they received the email, because I’ve had situations where we’ve lost several days of a schedule when it turned out they hadn’t received the original request.

    But my boss is more like your coworker, sending thank you emails constantly for the smallest thing, which feels excessive and patronising.

  17. Common Welsh Green

    OP4: I’m a fan of the obvious exaggeration – Shark Attack! Deked left instead of right! Or You oughtta see the other guy! followed by a rapid change of subject – so, how about those Red Wings? It usually derails any further questions.

  18. Suggestion! (from Cathie from Canada)

    This is completely off-topic I know, but I have a suggestion for Allison:
    The next time you are upgrading the site, would you consider setting up a system for numbering the comments? It would be really useful in two ways, I think.
    First, when there are a large number of comments on a post, I often can’t read them all at one sitting. It would be very helpful to be able to note that I had stopped at comment #XX, so then I could start reading from there the next time. Second, it would also be helpful for commenters, I think, to be able to refer to “comment #xx” if they are adding to a conversation or responding to something that someone else said earlier – right now, these earlier comments are hard to find.
    We will now return to your regularly-scheduled programming…..

    1. Tarra

      You can just save a link to the comment you got up to, or link to comments you’re referring to, so this isn’t needed. Just click on the date and time stamp.

      1. Seeking Second Childhood

        I find the interface clunky too. Numbers or time-sort come more naturally to me — but I suspect the numbering or lack thereof is a function of the underlying website software.

      2. Lance

        This is what I’d be thinking; or, perhaps, search by name, as I tend to. Numbered posts would look like clutter to me personally, and then there’s the question of what the numbering scheme would be. Top to bottom, so that it’s all even but then the same numbered post wouldn’t get you where you want? Chronologically, where the numbers would be all over the place?

        Honestly, I’m not really sure how this would work.

      3. OhNo

        Technically, the comments are numbered. If you click on the time stamp for each one, the URL always ends in comment-#######, so each one does have a unique identifier.

        I don’t think there’s a way to search for that, though, unless you want to pull up the HTML code for each page and search in there.

        1. valentine

          I click on the link for the comment where I leave off and then click on it from my history. (If you keep all comments collapsed, make sure you click on an OP.)

    2. PJs of Steven Tyler

      Ooh! I really like this idea! Not sure if it’s feasible but it’s a great idea.

      1. Dragoning

        I’m not sure how you would number them because of the way the site nests threads–are the nested comments higher numbers? Because if so, that’s confusing and not really helpful to reading comments in order anyway–and if the numbers change as threads get added to–what’s the point?

        1. Seeking Second Childhood

          Outline levels are nice but would be brutal to implement.

          I wonder if the “new to you” text bar could be searchable. Again…probably brutal to implement.

    3. Janie

      I’m pretty sure Allison is hosting through wordpress and as far as I know, that is not an option.

  19. Emma

    See, Alison, you joke, but I have legitimately been bitten by a ladybird!

    It was a great personal betrayal, too – I was a kid, on holiday, a ladybird landed on my hand while I was touring around a castle. I don’t mind bugs so I figured I’d leave it alone and it would soon fly away. Nope, it decided to ride with me for a solid few hours, I was getting quite attached to it, then suddenly the cussed thing decides to bite me and fly away.

    Unsurprisingly, being viciously mauled by a ladybird is not particularly painful or in the least bit damaging, but I was indignant!

    1. Cercis

      I had one of their larva draw blood on me (it managed to bite me in the webbing between my fingers). I’ve also been “bitten” (pierced really) by a cicada, bitten by a grasshopper and bitten by a japanese beetle grub. The only logical conclusion is that I’m an ent (okay, so it’s really that I like to handle insects).

    2. Glitsy Gus

      I’ve been bitten by a ladybug too. It really hurt!! Way worse than any mosquito or spider bite I’ve gotten.

  20. Akcipitrokulo

    OP4 – I think this is a point for my theory that there are very few questions which can’t be answered by “trebuchet”.

    “What happened?!?!?”
    “Trebuchet. How can I help?”

    ;)

          1. Environmental Compliance

            “Life IS pain! Anyone that tells you otherwise is trying to sell you something.”

    1. Kathleen_A

      I have often thought of using “bat’leth,” and one of these days I will. And it will be a happy day for me.

  21. Hey Nonnie

    OP 3: I think this is a good lesson on “say what you mean” for managers (or really, everyone).

    If you tell me I can work from home “whenever I want,” you will never see me again, short of meetings that require my physical presence (and I’d look into skyping or phoning in, first).

    I like sleep more than commuting, so will absolutely take the opportunity to take those 1.5 to 2 hours back every day.

    (Also if I can’t take what you say to me at face value I will likely be oblivious, or I will find you exhausting and will be looking for ways to escape the relationship.)

    1. Jen S. 2.0

      Not only that, but for me the hardest part of the day is getting up, getting motivated, getting caffeinated, battling morning traffic, and doing the work of getting into the office. When I work from home half the day, it’s the first half! The hard part is the effort of making it to the office on time (or thereabouts) in the first place!

      (Note: I’m single with no kids. I might feel differently about this if I already had to do a morning scramble to get 2-3 other people out of the house. At that point, yes, I’d just go on to the office.)

      1. Michaela Westen

        Me too! I’ve never been a person who likes to get up early and get things done. Look how many things are structured as: Do them in the morning and the afternoon is free. That so doesn’t work for me!

    2. ThisColumnMakesMeGratefulForMyBoss

      I agree. I WFH twice a week, and sometimes other days if needed. I much prefer to sleep later, than get up to beat traffic. I do think she should go to manager as Alison suggested just to make sure she really did mean WFH as often as you want. And next time co-worker says “must be nice”, respond “Yes actually, it is”. OP needs to not let them get to her. WFH is a pretty big perk, so be appreciative, but don’t let the others make you feel guilty about it.

      1. Roy G. Biv

        Coworker says “Must be nice,” and you respond, in your best Alan Rickman as Severus Snape, “Yes, it IS nice. It is so much …. quieter….. working AT home. ” And don’t quite stare them down, but don’t blink, until you look away in a slightly dismissive manner, and go back to what you were doing.

    3. RandomusernamebecauseIwasboredwiththelastone

      I’m not sure how the manager came into play here. It’s the coworkers snark that is making the OP question herself.

      That being said, if the OP is wondering they should check in with boss, and I’d find a way to do the time thing without emailing the HR director every day, because that would be annoying.

      1. Hey Nonnie

        I’m just saying that it almost certainly wouldn’t occur to me to ask if my boss really meant what she said, because I would think that she would have stated any caveats if there were any. If, as Allison suggested, said boss didn’t mean “whenever I want” despite saying that, I would not be searching for any hidden meaning. And yes, that would mean responding to “must be nice” with “it IS!” and putting no further thought into it.

        Just fair warning to anyone who communicates this way, few if any will pick up on your hidden meaning, so just say what you mean the first time.

    4. Kathleen_A

      I have often thought of using “bat’leth,” and one of these days I will. And it will be a happy day for me.

    5. Jadelyn

      Same. I’m an introvert who likes sleep. Tell me I can WFH “whenever I want”, I’ll roll out of bed at 8:25 so I can start answering emails by 8:30, and I will never come into the office again.

    6. Lucille2

      I’m with Alison on this. I’ve been the rookie manager who says, “sure work from when you need it. We’re flexible!” Not really considering that someone is going to take an inch and run a mile. This is the kind of thing that bites you when you’ve never had to reel that behavior back in. And it can be a tough conversation to set some parameters on what level of WFH is no big deal and what becomes excessive. The manager has probably never considered where the line should be drawn. I actually think OP is working from home a bit excessively, but their manager may be fine with it.

    7. Mr Shark

      Yes, this is me, too. I was able to work from home basically for about 6 months, with the idea that we’d show up in the office a few times a week. Even when I went in the office, I WFH in the morning, grab something to eat on my way in, and then work in the office in the afternoon.

      I loved not having to deal with the morning traffic and waking up and dealing with people, yet still getting a lot accomplished.

  22. Amerdale

    #2
    Could you ask the HR director if it would be okay to send her your punches once a week instead of daily? That way (if procedures allow it of course) she had less mails to go through and you might feel better.

    1. Jadelyn

      Also, do the punches have to go directly the HR director? Can’t your manager edit your timesheet? Most timesheet systems allow delegation and selective access; I manage security for our system and all managers have access to their own staff’s timesheets, plus many of them have designated a backup person for when they’re out of the office, and some of the higher-level managers have “cascading access” so they see not only their direct reports, but those reports’ reports, etc. all the way down. I’d be very surprised if the system OP2’s employer is using can’t handle that.

      1. DKMA

        OP’s manager is the CEO, so the HR Director is definitely the less disruptive option. That said this process sounds terrible.

    2. Glitsy Gus

      I was thinking this as well. If your boss is fine with it that’s great, but I could see HR getting irritated for having to do this for you daily. At the very least, if they say they are fine with it as well, you can put your mind at ease that they had the opportunity to tell you they didn’t like it or to come up with an alternative. That said, your timekeeping and monitoring systems are pretty archaic and pedantic.

      The only thing that might give me pause about the coworkers’ comments is if telecommuting is an overall contentious thing in your office. If it’s something that people have vocally mentioned several times and been told no way no how but then you get to do it? I could see that maybe being something to be a little concerned about optics-wise. Not that it’s OP’s fault in any way, but sometimes jealousy can grow to a point that it does start to affect the person benefiting from something, but not hurting the person actually being unfair (the boss, if that is the case).

    3. Someone Else

      I was confused about the punch situation. I thought OP said she was on a VPN to work…but punches are restricted to computers in the office…but if she’s connected to the VPN, isn’t she on the work domain and thus her machine should be considered internal for this purpose?

  23. Tarra

    #5 I mean this kindly but I’m struggling to understand why you think your only options are a raise or another job. I guess it depends a bit on your field.

    1. Mookie

      Yeah, I found that puzzling, too. The connection between graduating from a program and requiring more pay isn’t as direct as she’s suggesting, in most fields. The advice still holds: if the degree itself doesn’t warrant a raise in your current position, I don’t see why a lateral movement in a different company for the same role would substantially change your compensation, if it’s already close to the industry and local standard. Or was the LW interested in promotion, too?

    2. Jules the 3rd

      At my employer, an MBA while employed there gets you 1) reimbursement for tuition and 2) more advancement opportunities. There’s no cash pay bump at the time, but the upper limit for your salary goes up.

      However, leaving for another company for a similar position can get a 10K or more bump due to the MBA. I think we’ve got a ‘you have to work here 1 year after degree to get reimbursement’ because of that.

      1. NotAnotherManager!

        If someone were willing to pay my graduate school tuition, which, even for my public university master’s program was more than $10K, I would happily stay on for a year. That’s a really big perk!

    3. Ali G

      I also find it odd that the LW doesn’t know the outcome of getting an advanced degree for their job. I certainly wouldn’t take that on for fun – I would want to know if there was any payoff in my current role to achieving it in the first place.

      1. Kathleen_A

        I don’t find it odd, but I wish it were odd. It’s actually not uncommon for people to decide that “X degree will result in Y financial result,” and with very little evidence to support it.

        I mean, there are advanced degree programs that say that sort of thing overtly in their advertising. That’s how all those awful for-profit colleges managed to scam so many people. But not-for-profits say it too, just in a less scammy way.

        1. Michaela Westen

          I live in a big city with train transit and ads for colleges and universities on the trains are common. The *all* say variations of “advance your career with our degree” and of course their counselors have been trained to tell prospective students they’ll have a great and lucrative career.

    4. Mavis

      I’m not sure why the assumption is that the masters is not relevant, not regarded for value and by extension compensation.

      OP 5 gave little details on the connection but the assumption made by OP was that the degree was an asset. I think we need more details to make the case that isn’t so.

      I’m actually surprised by the trend of the comments. Most job posting we do in our department are bachelors required/masters preferred. Those degrees count in initial salary offers, raises and promotions, etc.

      1. Tarra

        You give people raises and promotions based on their past education and not on their current performance? That’s sad.

          1. NotAnotherManager!

            Personal experience? At no time in my 20 years of work experience have I run into a direct correlation between quality of work and attending a top-tier undergrad/having a master’s degree/getting a perfect score on a standardized test/etc. It’s simply not required for the folks I supervise nor has having one shown a reliable increase in performance or productivity.

            Not to say that someone with a master’s degree will not be a strong performer, just that I have just as many strong performers without a master’s degree as with one.

            1. Mavis

              In my field degrees are important and useful. At my previous company the CVs/resumes of all staff for a project were sent out with the proposal in response to RFPs.

              We never sent one without at least one phd. The degrees, conference presentations, and publications were important.

              1. NotAnotherManager!

                It makes perfect sense that there are industries where this is more important, but you seem surprised that this is not common for other people’s. My jobs are not heavy on the academics and there are a core set of identified skills for which higher education does not correlate directly with success. It makes sense to reward for things that enhance business success, but a master’s degree does nothing for a lot of jobs and no one cares of my staff has published papers, except as a conversation piece.

                1. Mavis

                  No. I’m surprised that people are shocked that some industries value advanced degrees.

                  My only real point is that the op in question did not clarify why she expected immediate advancement following the degree and that it may be because it does add value.

      2. Frozen Ginger

        Yeah, at my work place it would (almost certainly) result in a pay raise. I think it’s because they know you’re more marketable.

        1. Mavis

          Exactly. More marketable and more skilled.

          Also, while not every job is enhanced by a graduate degree, when someone completes that degree you might need to consider if you want to enhance the position (pay and maybe responsibilities too) or think about replacing them if they take that improved marketability on the road.

          What I’ve seen is that when you try to replace people, you frequently end up paying more than it would have taken to keep a good and experienced employee.

          You have someone at 45k they get a masters and you don’t adjust salary. They start interviewing, leave, and you end up hiring someone in without a masters at 52k. And then you get to train them, and then they may or may not be good fit.

        2. soupcold57

          this! If another company will hire you at higher pay, then thats what you’re worth.

          There’s a reason why people get faster increase in their pay by changing employers than staying at the same company. If you’re already employed at a company, then that company has no incentive to significantly increase your pay since you’re already there. But another company that has a vacancy that they need to fill will be more willing to shell out the $$$ to get you in the position

      3. Jadelyn

        Out of curiosity, are the positions you post for ones where a bachelor’s degree is genuinely necessary to complete the work?

      4. NotAnotherManager!

        My guess would be that, in many (if not most) people’s experiences, a master’s degree doesn’t have a huge impact on how well they do their job. It’s not the same as a professional degree or industry certification, and, outside of teaching or government positions with comp formulas that count education, I don’t know anyone (outside of teachers) who to got a raise specifically because they completed a master’s degree. Passed the CPA exam, became barred in a needed state, acquired hours for a professional certification? Sure. Master’s? Not so much. It might figure in for a new position that prioritizes education (or can bill you out for more for having a relevant master’s) or if the knowledge/skills gained in the program improve job performance, but a master’s is something you really have to do a cost-benefit on before proceeding.

        1. Ophelia

          Exactly. I’m getting a master’s now (15 years out of college) because I’ve switched roles in my field, and getting the specific degree will help me be billable (our main client prioritizes education), and allows me to have a better grasp of some of the more specific technical things I need to know to do my new job better. It would NOT have been necessary had I not made the switch; 15 years of hands-on training more than made up for the lack of a degree in my old job.

      5. Small but Fierce

        Seconding the trend that a lot of job posts, at least in marketing, have an MBA as a preferred qualification. That’s really the only reason I’m pursuing mine – online and at one of the most affordable programs so I don’t go into debt. It theoretically should open opportunities at higher pay. Giving a raise to an existing employee that received their Master’s makes sense from a retainment standpoint, even if it’s not directly applicable to the job.

      6. Mookie

        If that were the case, the LW would have provided that information as justification for requesting a raise, I should think. It’s reasonable to assume there’s no precedent for an automatic bump in compensation for this degree in this position; otherwise, why write in (or, at least, why not mention this)?

      7. Someone Else

        I think the reason most people are assuming it’s not an extra value because for the vast majority of jobs, it’s not. OP giving no indication of what field they’re in means statistically they’re probably in a field where they are overestimating the value of the graduate degree. If her role doesn’t require one, and her employer doesn’t explicitly have a policy that says “get XYZ degree or certificate and get abc bonus”, then it’s probable that it’s not necessary. Only OP knows, and sure maybe she’s in a field where this will be an automatic boon…but if she knew that already, she wouldn’t have needed to write in.
        It’s not that degrees aren’t useful at all, but in most cases if she need a particular degree to qualify for the job, you’d know that and have one. If her current role doesn’t require one, it might be helpful in getting her a different role that does, but it won’t necessarily make her a better Whatever She Already Is.

    5. smoke tree

      I think it is hard to say without knowing if that’s typical in their field, but it might also just be for financial reasons–now that they’ve finished the degree and have more time, they want a better-paying job to pay off student loans.

  24. Ella

    #1 This puts me in mind of the employer who would just set an appointment and take any attempt at rescheduling as a sign that the applicant wasn’t ‘passionate enough’ about the job. Maybe they’re doing something similar and think that springing surprise appointments on people will weed out the applicants that aren’t really dedicated. Just guessing of course. I’m always curious to know about the thought process that leads to bizarre behaviour like this.
    And yes, please reconsider if you want this job. They sound bonkers.

    1. Indisch blau

      A friend was in a somewhat similar situation. She was recruited for a job and offered an interview for the next day in a city two time zones away. She said she wasn’t available for that time and asked for another date. A few days (or longer?) passed and she was offered a time to interview, again on the next day in the city two time zones away. Again, a wait of several days or more and the offer to interview the next day in another city. This time she realised that the short notice was part of the program, rearranged her schedule, booked the last flight out of her city, arrived on the East Coast at midnight, drove a rental car 25 miles to the hotel and had the interview the next day. She didn’t get the job – there were other reasons in addition to the short-notice interview requests. But the role involved quite a bit of travel and the company seemed to be trying to evaluate flexibility by scheduling interviews at short notice.

      1. Ella

        Smh. I can’t get my head around the mindset that people having prior commitments would be indicative of a casual attitude. You can’t evaluate someone’s general flexibility and willingness to travel based on their flexibility to interview WHILE they’re in a DIFFERENT job. I think in terms of flexibility and dedication your friend definitely should have made the cut. Not just because she actually dropped everything and hopped on the next plane but also because she managed to guess the meaning behind their scheduling practices. If it were me I’d just figure that the person in charge of scheduling wasn’t very bright and move on.

      2. Massmatt

        The likely unintended consequence here would be they are selecting people that are flexible because they have less going on—people not currently working, or blowing off their current job, or not having as much responsibility.

        1. Psyche

          Either that or they are intentionally selecting for desperate people who are willing to put up with poor treatment.

      3. Antilles

        the company seemed to be trying to evaluate flexibility by scheduling interviews at short notice.
        This is dumb and bad.
        1.) If it’s your actual job, you can pre-plan far more than when it’s not. If I know that at any time, I might get a call of “hey, can you hop on a plane to LA?”, I’m going to arrange my life in a way that it’s always feasible – always having clean clothes in a packed suitcase, getting a reliable pet-sitter, keeping my schedule free, etc. None of this applies when it’s just an interview.
        2.) If it’s your actual job, you don’t have to figure out how to arrange PTO/coverage in another existing job like you do when interviewing. Nor do you have to take time away from your other job to figure out plane tickets, rental cars, etc.
        3.) Personally, I’d actually be kind of worried about hiring someone whose response is “heck yeah, I have no issue with faking illness to skip work and travel to Boston! Sounds great!”

      4. AnotherAlison

        That backfires if you are hiring people who are already in jobs where they must be flexible to travel and travel a lot. I found out yesterday that I’m going to Minneapolis next week, and the date/schedule is still TBD. That’s pretty normal for me, so I say I’d say I fall into the category of “must be flexible.” When I’m in the office, I have a lot of internal meetings and calls. I can be a “do whatever it takes” person for my job, but that means my personal activities (such as an interview across the country) take a backseat.

        1. RPCV

          OT, but I’m sorry you have to come to Minneapolis next week. The snow is ridiculous, we’re supposed to get another storm this weekend, and next week looks crappy, too.

          1. AnotherAlison

            Well, my last two trips were Milwaukee during the -50 F week, and Green Bay when they got like 12″ of snow in one day, so that sounds about right. Thanks for the warning.

      5. Christina

        This is crazy! And this actually feels like what they were doing. I wrote the first letter! I have since decided they are not worth my time and will look for other opportunities and hopefully a similar job at a way better place.
        They did have flexible in the job requirements so maybe this is what they meant. I did send them an email saying I was out of town at that time and day. 100% possible they wanted to see if I could drop my trip and rush back for them.

  25. The Doctor

    OP #1:

    DON’T bother pursuing that job. DO write a Glassdoor review saying exactly what you’ve said here. Future applicants will thank you.

    1. Database Developer Dude

      Hear hear! If that were me, I’d have savaged this company on Glassdoor.

  26. Rey

    I have always thought along the lines of OP #5, because at my org, they start people who have graduate degrees at a higher pay level. So to me, it seems wrong that hiring policies say “We pay more for more degrees” but raise policies say “We pay more for actual work contributions”. Is this inadvertently perpetuating the pay gap between men and women? My thought is that women have non-linear education paths (like working full-time while getting a graduate degree), so their companies get a masters or PhD level of work, but the individual employee isn’t getting compensated for that.

    1. Environmental Compliance

      I’m a little confused at the “non linear education paths” for women…as a woman, who had a very linear education path, along with all of the (majority) women in that particular STEM department. Is there a study somewhere you’re getting that from?

      1. Environmental Compliance

        (Forgot to mention in this that I do have a MS, my graduate program was about 50:50 PhD & MS, and equally sprinkled with men and women)

      2. Hold My Cosmo

        It’s not all about STEM. Most MBA programs expect you to have real work experience under your belt before applying, so people don’t usually shuttle directly from undergrad to grad degrees in business.

        I’m in tech, and also saw a lot of working adults in my grad program.

        1. Environmental Compliance

          I never said it was all about STEM, I stated that’s the field I’m coming from. We had working adults too – but it was still not the majority women as the working adults, it was relatively equal, so the part that I was pulling out was the “women in nonlinear paths” stated as a rather broad & general thing. In my particular experience, that was not a thing, so I was curious what that was based off of.

      3. Flower

        Similarly, I think I actually see more women on the Pre-K through PhD route in my life sciences PhD programs than I do men, who seem more commonly to have taken at least a year or two (and often more) between undergrad and grad.

        Of course, I know women and men who have done both and I haven’t actually run the stats on this, so it’s possible my anecdata doesn’t match the actual population data.

        1. Environmental Compliance

          Exactly! I’m really curious about it now, but want to see if there’s been a study on it or if there’s more data.

      4. Rey

        Thanks for chiming in with this. When I looked at my source for “non linear”, it was anecdotal, and all the citations were anecdotal, and none of them were STEM fields. There might be quantitative studies on this, I just don’t know them.

        1. Environmental Compliance

          Interesting. I think it would actually be quite fascinating to see some data, especially over time and by field.

    2. Hold My Cosmo

      Tis is how I feel, though I was struggling to put it into words. This seems like yet another way that outside hires tend to jump the pay of internal employees. This perpetuates the “you have to leave to earn what you deserve” narrative, and cue all the older people moaning about the youts* and their lack of loyalty.

      *not a typo, I just love My Cousin Vinnie

      1. Linda Evangelista

        Exactly my thoughts. An outside person with a graduate degree would warrant higher salary at hire, but an internal employee who finishes a degree while on the job suddenly has to base it on their work? Seems nickle-y and dime-y to me.

        For reference, I’m finishing a master’s in a few months and I asked for a raise to be considered when my degree is conferred, but it also directly relates to the work we do.

        1. Colette

          There are a lot of jobs where an outside person with a graduate degree would not warrant a higher salary at hire, though.

          1. Massmatt

            Yes, there have been several letters where Alison has made the point that people often have unrealistic expectations that an advanced degree will mean more pay, or that an applicant can skip entry level work and go straight to middle management.

          2. Ask a Manager Post author

            Right — if you work somewhere that pays more for degrees, that’s different. Many/most jobs don’t do that (at least not if they were willing to originally hire you without one).

      2. Legal Rugby

        It seems though, if you are arriving with a MS/MA, you are more likely to be arriving in a position that needs/requires one. If you are being paid more becuaase your position needs one, thats fine. If you are an admin or doing data entry, and you get a masters in history… bully for you.

        1. Mavis

          I would consider a masters in history useful for an admin position. Synthesizing info from an array of sources into a cohesive whole, writing skills, project and time management, etc.

          1. Colette

            Useful, maybe – but not something a job is likely to want to pay for. There are lots of useful things you can do outside of work that will help you do better on your job, but the reward for that is better pay because you are a high-performer, not better pay because you did a useful thing off the job.

          2. Yorick

            But in this example, getting a masters isn’t going to suddenly make you better at the job you already have.

          3. NotAnotherManager!

            Having an advanced degree that might be useful to a position isn’t, in my experience, nearly as predictive of success as their work history. My ideal candidate for administrative work is someone who’s dealt with the general public (customer service skills – retail/food service is great for this), had a part-time job/sports team/other extracurricular commitments during undergrad (time management), and experience writing/editing (attention to detail).

            Also, when hiring someone with an advanced degree for anything entry-level and not directly in their field, you run the risk that they’re probably actively looking for a position that not entry-level and in their field.

    3. AnotherAlison

      I think the point you’re argument ignores is that the company is hiring an entry level person at a higher pay level. So, you’re getting a 23 year old with an MS instead of a 21 year old with a BS, and you’re saying that person’s 2 yrs of experience getting his MS is worth a little more than nothing. Meanwhile, the person who has been working at the company 2 years post-BS is probably already above what the new grad MS hire is getting due to raises.

      I don’t think going back to get more education part-time is the same. I see the initial boost as a way of not penalizing people for getting an extra degree, that has some incremental value to the employer. Once you’re there, you likely are much more valuable by investing in OTJ training, taking on stretch assignments, and learning from colleagues than formal education. (I have an MBA, and it was helpful, but it was more indirect and over time in different roles over the past 15 years. I didn’t instantly become better at the job they had me doing, and I didn’t get a new job out of it). Of course, fields where the Master’s is part of licensing requirements are different. I’m talking about where the BS is the terminal degree for your profession.

      1. NotAnotherManager!

        I agree with this. I completed a master’s degree several years ago (for fun – I’m a nerd), and I learned far more that is useful to my employer on the job.

        If one is looking to leverage additional education into a salary increase, I would talk with one’s employer about what that would look like and what they would consider to be useful for advancement. At least that way, you know what their perspective on it is and if you will need to make a move for it to help you, salary-wise.

    4. Rey

      Thanks everyone for piping in. Hopefully this wasn’t totally off-track from the original post. If I understand comments correctly, the raise policies are mostly “X position with these responsibilities is worth $Y–$Z range”, regardless of the employee going back to school. And even new hires who have more degrees at time of hire would still be paid within $Y and $Z range. If people who go back to school want to go outside $Y and $Z, they should apply for other jobs (internal and external) that provide their desired range.

      1. Colette

        That’s substantially correct. And I think sometimes the perception is that a masters will raise you from $Y to $Z within the range, but it often doesn’t (but if the skills you gained while doing your masters help you do better at your job, the improvement in your work will get you better to $Z).

  27. Triplestep

    #4, you’ve been given a lot of advice on how to manufacture a lie to explain your injury, but I suspect that 1.) It’s only going to make people more curious (and possibly press you for the truth) and 2.) YOU will still be thinking “dog bite” and your emotional response on delivering the lie could easily be the same.

    I would take all the energy you would have spent devising and delivering a clever lie and devote it to fashioning a response that says “I got bitten by a dog and there’s no way I am telling you more because it was really traumatic.” Some people will press, but those are the ones who would press about a ladybug attack, too.

    I am sorry this happened to you. It sounds horrible.

    1. Pommette!

      You make a lot good points.

      But with dog bites in particular, there is a risk that sharing the story will attract unwanted stories and discussions. I got a very visible dog bite a few years back, and discovered that people find dog bites weirdly fascinating, and *love* to share their dog bite adventure/horror stories, and their ideas about dog training, and their ideas about policy solutions to dog attacks.

    2. Lucille2

      I think you bring up a great point. The OP is asking for advice on deflecting attention from strangers being in a public-facing role, not familiar coworkers. I might just give a vague response like, “it’s kind of a long and embarrassing story I’d rather not share, but I’m feeling better than I look. Thanks for your concern.” For reasonable people, it should end the conversation politely. Maybe have some jokes handy to lighten the mood a bit to avoid stirring up some emotions, but I don’t think it’s necessary to concoct a story.

  28. Rebecca

    #1 – I reread the letter, and noticed this: “My morning is their afternoon”. To me, this indicates serious travel time. I’m in the US, so that could mean for me, I’m in California and they’re in New York, and that’s only a 3 hour time difference, for example. How would they expect you to make a trip that far with a 1 day notice? You also advised them you were away. Certainly if you applied for the job, and they’re reaching out to you, they should know where you’re located geographically and proceed accordingly. Except – they’re not. Take Alison’s advice and take a serious look at why you would want to work for this company.

    1. Triplestep

      They were probably thinking phone or Skype, but still … their expectations were unreasonable.

    2. Falling Diphthong

      They gave a place for the interview, too–the expectation seems to be “You may have been traveling a few days ago and couldn’t make it, but who travels for more than 2 days at a time?”

      1. Christina

        Right? God forbid I leave my area and actually stay away until the time I said I would return.

    3. The Other Dawn

      “My morning is their afternoon”

      Well, OP says she’s still away (or was when she saw the email about the rescheduled interview), so she might be out of the country, which could account for the large time difference.

    4. Karen from Finance

      Another implication of “My morning is their afternoon” is that if OP says they sent the email “last night”, does that mean, from the company’s perspective, they sent an email in the morning for that same afternoon?

      From OP’s perspective: woke up to missed calls, they had scheduled this meeting last night (about 8 hours ago).
      From company’s perspective: no-show in an afternoon meeting, that they scheduled about 8 hours previously, so, that same morning.

      1. Environmental Compliance

        Still makes it a little weird though, IMO – who schedules same day interviews, doesn’t confirm that the applicant can make it, and then gets testy about people not showing up?

        1. Karen from Finance

          Yes, my point is that it’s very weird to schedule a same-day interview already, but to then get mad when it’s a no-show without having had confirmation is just crazy.

      2. Christina

        They sent me the email about 11pm eastern time, scheduling interview for the following afternoon. It’s essentially same day

    5. Christina

      Hi! I normally live very close to the company but was in a different time zone because of a trip. I did mention in my previous email to them that I was in a different time zone for my trip and when I could reschedule.
      I have since decided that this company is terrible. You all are right. As much as I love the job it isn’t worth it and I think I will take one person’s suggestion and write a review on Glassdoor.

  29. Delta Delta

    Re “thanks” emails. I think I’ve shared this before. I had a legal job for a while where it was fairly common to receive an email with certain post-case information from someone who works for the government. I would always review the information to make sure it was right (sometimes there was an error I’d have to fix, but not often). Then I’d always shoot a “thank you” email to the person who sent it. Mostly it was to let her know I got it. One day after a few years she wrote back and said I was the only lawyer IN THE WHOLE STATE who ever even acknowledged that she had done something, and she was glad she wasn’t screaming into the void.

    So, yeah. Sometimes it closes the loop but sometimes it also makes someone feel valued, which isn’t a bad thing at all.

  30. PontifexMurilegus

    @OP 4 – You have all of my sympathy here. I’ve had to go into work with similarly traumatic injuries, and have had the best luck in the “Getting people not to ask further” with a deadpan-delivery explanation that couldn’t possibly have caused the injury plus an enthusiastic subject change.
    “Drive-by-fruiting by a nanny that looked weirdly like Robin Williams. Anyway, how’s the teapot reports coming?”
    “Roomba decided to implement the machine uprising early. Oh! Did you catch the game last night?”
    “I thought I mentioned that I took up jousting? Anyway, what were your thoughts on the llama grooming changes from $meeting?”
    (In practice, this has worked because people will follow your cues on “hey, I really want to talk about this thing!” and won’t press for details on the dry humor.)

    1. M&Ms fix lots of Problems

      Yup – with people I know well in the past I’ve used “had a Buster moment – what do you think about the new changes to the transcript review process?”
      (I really miss Mythbusters, and their crash test dummy Buster…my provider doesn’t carry the re-boot either)

  31. Writerboy

    OP3: Hearing that they’re measuring how often you move your mouse made the hairs on my neck stand up. Is that really a thing? That seems incredibly invasive and distrustful. I can’t imagine even working for a company that holds its own employees in such low esteem. I understand having access to emails to or from a company email address, but measuring your output by how often you move your mouse? That’s obscene, not to mention a not very good metric. I know people who use function keys for almost everything.

    1. wittyrepartee

      It also depends on how it’s used. If they’re checking all the time, that seems bad. If they feel like there’s performance problems and only look at that time, it might make sense?

      1. Writerboy

        This seems like the default position of the company, since the OP gives no indication she is a poor performer.

  32. nnn

    For #3, a good response to the “how nice it must be” comments could be a bright and cheerful “It is! I can focus so much better and be so much more productive without the distractions of the office!” It could also be useful to mention something like “I would have had to take half a dozen sick days in the past year if I couldn’t work from home!” Emphasis always on productivity and getting work done.

    It can also be good for optics to advocate for other people to be allowed to work from home whenever they want, and for eliminating any barriers to them doing so.

    1. Frozen Ginger

      Well OP said they were a department of one. It’s entirely possible that the co-workers jobs don’t lend themselves to WFH. So responding with a chipper “Yes it is and here’s why!” might make them more bitter.

      I would suggest responding, “It has it’s pros and cons. But if you’re interested, maybe talk to X about it?”

  33. ThisColumnMakesMeGratefulForMyBoss

    #3 – I agree with Alison, talk to your boss once more and verify that you really can WFH as often as you’d like. But if they say yes, take them at their word. Appreciate the perk, and when co-workers comment “Must be nice”, say “Yes it is”, and don’t allow them to make you feel guilty.

  34. Working is Hard

    Thank you for your response to OP#5, the so many people I talk to who are working on their Master’s or just got it think they’re entitled to a pay raise. They’re usually pretty put off when I tell them that it’s not standard practice.

  35. Miss Pantalones en Fuego

    I know a guy who had surgery for thyroid cancer and had to go through months of therapy to get his voice back. He told everyone he got attacked by a wombat. Given that he’d just come back from a trip to remote Australia it was plausible enough that I had to ask someone else whether it was true.

  36. Anonymous1

    My son has multiple scars on his chest from implanted vascular ports (for chemo) being inserted and removed. At the pool once a dumbass so-called adult shrieked, Oh My God! What HAPPENED to you? My then 11-year old leaned in and said in a stage whisper, I’m an alien cyborg, don’t tell anyone or I’ll have to abort my mission.

    1. NotAnotherManager!

      That is fabulous! Your son sounds like he has a great sense of humor.

      I have a friend who had multiple surgeries as a toddler and has a couple of interesting and noticeable scars, one of which went straight down the middle of his scalp. He had a series of entirely fabricated stories about it, the best of which was that The Shining was based on his family, and his dad had cracked him in the head with an ax.

  37. LQ

    I strongly! object to the rule for #4. I think that you should come up with a series of more glamorous and more exciting stories to amuse yourself and your coworkers. I think that this should be the rule.

    “There I was, deep in the suburbs in gloaming hours, seeking, searching…hunting…my mail. When suddenly a …
    “There I was, deep in the jungle in the dead of night…
    “There I was, deep in space when I felt a presence…

    Have some fun with it!

    1. irene adler

      If my manager had a sense of humor, I might go with, “I failed to make my sales quota yesterday, ” just to see the expressions on customer’s faces.

    2. LKW

      I like the idea of starting the story then just staring off into the distance… with a snap back to present and a summary “Oh, well you know… snakes gonna bite” or “…. badgers… you know?”

    3. Bowserkitty

      I love this.

      I had surgery done on my lower leg (it was life-changing in that I suddenly felt comfortable wearing shorts again!) several years ago and the resulting scar made it look like a huge chunk was taken out of the space near my ankle. I thought the original story was boring so I started making stuff up and once told somebody I got bitten by a shark while surfing. This is hilarious because I am notoriously pale and unathletic.

      Unfortunately she believed me.

      Pro-tip: don’t tell a story you aren’t prepared to follow up on when the receiving end is your hairdresser and you’re about to be stuck there for two hours fielding questions while she works on your hair. Whoops.

  38. Seeking Second Childhood

    OP#4 Another thought is to try a Toastmaster’s trick: answer with something related and move on.
    Customer: “Oh dear what happened?”
    OP: “I was told to keep the injury open to the air until my followup visit. That’s a lovely llama you have on lead there. Does she need warranty service?”

  39. GooseEgg

    OP #4 – Just a reassurance not really any advice, but I did something 100%-my-fault-boneheaded while handling a pet a few months ago and got bit on the face. It wasn’t a huge injury but it was a wound covering several parts of my face that were very obvious. I was planning on just making joke-y hand wave-y comments so I wouldn’t have to explain what a dope I was but to my surprise even though I had several uncovered scratches and one covered wound no one asked. Also no one will care if you make up a vague cover story even if it’s not very convincing. I also once had another large visible injury (I’m not very clumsy usually so I seem to save it all up for one spectacular injury every several years!) and that time quite a few people asked and I just said a very shortened version of events. Not untrue but not the whole story either and I think pretty clear it was a much abbreviated story since it was a pretty good ding. But, everyone just nodded at that explanation and asked if I needed anything like an Advil, etc. I really only had one person who in general was never very good with social norms who pushed a little bit with a “You got that bad of a wound just from X?” and I just replied something along the lines of, “Yeah, crazy, huh? Anyways about those reports…” and it was never brought up again.

    1. Amber Rose

      Actually yeah. I got accidentally mauled by my cat last year (it was a series of unfortunate events) and the end result was huge claw marks on my cheek/around my eye, and a split eyebrow.

      Nobody really mentioned it.

  40. Fergus

    OP1 it’s obvious they don’t respect you for some reason, and it’s them not you. Do you really want to work for people who don’t respect you before you even meet them?

    1. irene adler

      Yep.
      Why don’t some companies realize the HR interaction is the first contact a potential employee has with them?

      First impressions are lasting impressions. Don’t make it a negative one for the candidate.

  41. wittyrepartee

    I had about twenty stitches closing a pretty terrible wound on my forehead in high school when I was a waitress from a pedestrian/car accident. I recommend, instead of ladybug attack, going epic. “Well, you see- I’m an errant knight on the weekends, and I misplaced my gauntlets. Wouldn’t you know that that’s the day that I have to save a fair maiden from a dragon?!” People are so charmed they’ll start asking followup questions about the reaction of the fair maiden.

    My story was either that it was a Harry Potter tribute, or a result of a knife fight with a vampire.

    1. Phony Genius

      A dragon is a good go-to excuse. It can cover bites, cuts, scratches, broken bones, and even burns.

  42. Drax

    OP #4 – make a joke of how it happened and people will rarely stop and ask what really happened. I’m a big fan of stopping what you’re doing mid-movement, stare in the distance and dramatically utter “the gremlins” pause about 2 beats, then continue on with your life like you did not just do that.

    Pretty much anything announced dramatically, then acting like it did not happen will rarely get you follow up questions. Mostly people are so taken aback and they aren’t sure that just happened.

    I’m sorry you got attacked & wish you speedy healing. Remember that you are only required to tell people what you want to. It’s okay to just ignore questions and change the subject too!

    1. Drax

      sorry – by make a joke I mean tell an outlandish story, not a joke of what actually happened. Telling people something that is so obviously fake in a cheerful manner tends to signal “not up for discussion”

    2. BethRA

      I did something similar with an injury that left me with a couple of stitches in my face. Explaining it over and over again – and dealing with other people’s feelings about it – got old PDQ. So I started responding “monkey knife fight” and changing the subject.

      Speedy recovery, OP, I’m sorry about both attacks.

    3. Amber Rose

      If the internet has taught me anything, you can use “there was a spider” as a joke excuse for pretty much everything.

      1. Drax

        …I am going to have to use that one. I am The Queen of injuring myself in the dumbest of ways (I once broke the top my foot by brain malfunction) so I am going to use that next time haha

        I also once got a black eye from my boyfriend, but not in the way people think. I’m exactly the right height for my eye level to be at most folks elbow level, it was 110% an accident but how do you tell people that and not have them be immediately concerned that your boyfriend gave you a black eye.

        1. Environmental Compliance

          I once legitimately opened a cabinet door into my face and gave myself a black eye. Absolutely no one apart from my close friends and family believed that it wasn’t a cover for my husband hitting me. Nope, I’m just truly that clumsy and forgot what spatial awareness was, lol.

      2. Lucy

        I once had to take an infant to hospital with a head injury because there was a spider. It was such a stupid reason I was embarrassed to say – but not saying how your infant got hurt is a huge red flag. When eventually I sheepishly explained, the nurse was entirely sympathetic (not to mention relieved).

        Spiders are dangerous even if not venomous!

  43. CanuckCat

    OP #4, I 100% agree with Alison. I recently gave myself a concussion that necessitated me taking time off work but felt so stupid about how it actually happened (standing on my bed to clean, mattress shifted in the frame and I fell off) that I omitted that part in my retellings because I didn’t want to come across like a complete idiot to all my co-workers. If it’s easier for you to come up with an alternate version of how you got injured, then I’d say take Alison’s advice and do it!

  44. ATX Language Learner

    #5 – worth asking but be prepared for a no. I have had multiple people work through a Master’s program where I work (Fortune 100 company), they expect a raise, receive nothing but a “just because you have an advanced degree doesn’t mean you get a raise” talk, and then they end up quitting.

    If you want a raise, I’d apply for a higher level position.

      1. ATX Language Learner

        They quit in a huff and ended up with an equivalent job at a different company or tried to do something on their own then after not succeeding, ended up in a similar position.

      2. ATX Language Learner

        This happened with 4 men that my boss has hired over the last 5 years. Some coming in with Master’s degrees, expecting to run the company or be promoted to manager after 6 months. Some getting a Master’s degree while with the company, also expecting a manger position/promotion after receiving it. I can’t speak for other companies but definitely not the way it works here.

  45. Où est la bibliothèque?

    #4–I’ve been in a similar situation, where I was instructed to keep a wound uncovered. But I checked with my doctor, and he said that a very loose, very soft covering was okay.

    I chopped up an old pair of fleece-lined tights to make a sort of loose arm-warmer that I wore when I really didn’t want the scabs visible (like if I was the one setting out food for a meeting).

    1. AnotherAlison

      Now I’m just curious when covered vs. uncovered is recommended. Anytime my family members have had a wound serious enough to go to the doctor, the instructions were to load it up with Neosporin and keep it covered.

      I got bit by a dog on the face when I was little, but I do not remember anything about it other than having some weird creme from it in my bathroom drawer for like the next 5 years (when you’re under 10, you don’t have many personal products). I have a slight scar, though.

      1. Amber Rose

        A quick google suggests that it’s an old myth that drying wounds out allows them to heal better, but it’s a solid enough myth that many people even in the medical community believe it.

        In the case of animal bites though, I wonder if it’s just to lower the odds of infection.

        1. Seeking Second Childhood

          Oh I’ve read some interesting thinigs about dry vs covered issue. (Puncture wounds including animal bites weren’t called out, so I can’t speak to those.)
          If I’m remembering correctly it was something to do with if you’re in a low-tech or high-contaminant environment (camping, animal care, etc.) it’s good to let a wound dry out frequently to make sure it *CAN* dry out. ie show that it hasn’t gotten infected & pussy.
          But if you’re in a high-tech low-contaminant environment like an indoor office job, you can keep it clean & covered & replace the bandages when needed (after washing dishes for example). This can let the skin heal with less scarring.
          But again — I do remember that puncture wounds are a special case.

    2. OP #4

      Thanks for the suggestion! I actually live in a pretty warm area so that’s part of the reason why I have to keep it uncovered (trapping sweat in there = bad).

      1. Où est la bibliothèque?

        I’m so sorry you’re dealing with this injury :(

        If you do try a loose covering, maybe a little cornstarch would also help? Not on/near the wound itself, but something absorbent on the skin around it might help keep things dry.

  46. Former Expat

    #5, I remember when I was high school and university-aged that there was heavy promotion of the idea that a hihger degree means more money. There were a lot of charts that showed that people with a bachelor’s earned $1,000,000 more over the course of their lives than high school graduates and that people with master’s degrees earned an average of $20,000 more a years… (I am just making up these numbers, but you get the idea). I think that it led a lot of people to believe that the connection between a degree and a paycheck is a lot tighter than it really is. In some ways, these campaigns did aspiring students a disservice. They made it seems like a sure thing, when it really isn’t.

    I used to hire a lot of early career folks and candidates consistently thought that their degree was the most important thing on their resume, when really all I wanted to see was evidence that they had done something similar to what they would be asked to do for the job. One of my best hires was a person who graduated from a community college and then been a semi pro athlete for a bit. I also interviewed some very unimpressive MBAs. It is the work that gets the job and the check, not the degree.

    1. irene adler

      Yep. It’s the skills one possesses.

      My take: the employer is always asking “what can you do for me?”
      Resume should answer this.

  47. Lady Phoenix

    OP4: If possible, I go for jokey options.
    “Oh, I got into a fight with Freddy Kreugar. Trust me, he looks worse for ware.”
    “I’m trying to be Spiderwoman. I noticed that this universe is lackinng one and I felt that i had to step up.”
    “Zombies.”

    I figure that making it funny will help you with your feelings on the wound.

    If that doesn’t work, then just say, “It’s hard to talk about. Just know that I am ok and this needs open air to heal.”

    As a dog owner, I am sorry for this assault on your person (and past incidents). I wish you a swift recovery.

  48. Katelyn

    OP #4 – I recently burned my forearm (similar area as you really) in a sort of embarrassing say, and while it was healing I didn’t want to talk about it either. It was covered, which is different, but still noticeable. I was so worried about this but it turned out not to be a big deal at all. Either people didn’t say anything, but if they did I could brush it off with a “small accident but its healing fine”. People are not asking to judge you or be nosy – they’re just alarmed that there was an injury. It’s a natural reaction. It’s totally possible to brush this off by saying there is nothing to worry about.

  49. Akcipitrokulo

    Another point on OP4 is you don’t actually have to answer the literal question!

    “What happened?” (= I have noticed harm to a fellow human and wish to communicate my concern)
    “Oh, it’s healing well” (= I appreciate the concern and we may now move on)

  50. voluptuousfire

    OP #1–to quote Iron Maiden, run for the hills, run for your life!

    You dodged a MASSIVE bullet here. I’ve NEVER seen that level of idiocy as someone who has been a candidate and he coordinator setting up interviews. It’s a massively awful candidate experience to schedule an interview months (!) later with no notice for the next day. All of this in the afternoon!

    Feel free to check them out to see but definitely keep your eyes wide open with one eye on the door to bolt immediately if they turn jerky again.

  51. Bunny Girl

    Ugh I feel for #4. When I was younger I was really into the “mosh” scene and went to concerts a lot which is great; except for the fact that I’m really short and apparently at everyone’s elbowing height. So I was at a concert and took an elbow to the face (total accident!) and then had to go to work as a receptionist the next day with one of my cheekbones bruised up. Hey awkward. LoL

  52. Observer

    #3 – The comment from your co-worker WAS loaded. But, really, so what? Are you getting your work done? Are you responsive? Are you as easily reachable when you are out as when you are in the office, and does it even matter? Is your new schedule in any way having a negative impact on her ability to get her job done?

    From what you say you are totally in the clear here. Your work is getting done, people who need to can reach you and no one is finding your new schedule to be a bottle neck. So, unless this person is actually someone you need to cultivate, don’t worry about the sour grapes.

  53. v-rex

    OP#4- I had visible stitches and a public facing job, what I did was a folded gauze pad lightly taped over it. Plenty of air so it was dry and healed, but covered the wound and also served as the least bit of cushion so minor bumps weren’t painful.

  54. SheWoulf

    OP 4 – I literally just had this same thing happen to me Jan 25 (except it wasn’t traumatic for me as it was my own dog and I was separating him from from fighting over a toy with my other dog. My hand was wrong place/wrong time and I know better). Did you get stitches? I had an open wound over the base of my thumb that they elected to close with 2 stitches, as in general they don’t like to close dog bites due to infection. I also had numerous puncture wounds on the back of my hand and around my wrist (120 american bully can do some damage!) Anyways, the emergency room doctor that stitched me up told me to keep it covered for the first 3-4 days while out in public to prevent infection. So I did exactly that. People definitely asked (I had it wrapped in pink & purple vetwrap) and I was honest, but I finally got tired of explaining the whole situation, so I started saying I cut it while cooking. After that people stopped caring. It’ll heal fast (I’m almost 6 weeks post bite and while I have some impressive scars and still tender to the touch, its healed enough that no one notices).

  55. foceffus

    in many fields having a master’s is basically irrelevant. i don’t give a crap what prospective employees did in college if they’ve been in the job market over a year and i still don’t give a crap what someone did in college while they’re working.

    1. elemenohp

      I think there are a lot of good graduate programs out there, and if well-chosen, can definitely help someone learn a lot of skills that can be used on the job and make them a more valuable employee.

      The problem is that there are also a lot of graduate programs out there that, IMHO, seem like vanity degrees. Folks enroll in these programs without a lot of preliminary research or introspection to determine if the program is a good fit for their long-term career goals. In those cases, yeah, the degree has little to do with the job.

    2. pinfu dora

      I think it completely depends. Even if your currently employer doesn’t give a crap, the market might. This is pretty much exactly what happened to me: my STEM MS was completed around the time I concluded my 10th year in my field and I worked full time during the process.

      My employer promoted me and thought I was worth an 8% raise. The market however was showing I was worth about 25-30% more. I had to go through the heartwrenching process of leaving a job I was quite passionate about to not shoot myself in the foot financially. I pushed oldjob on the 8% raise and they didn’t budge. I got a 22% increase over my new salary elsewhere (would have been closer to 35% more but currentjob reneged on a bonus, but that’s another issue entirely).

      Long story short, I feel the job market at large is going to value your master’s way more than your current employer that has already set the value for your role, especially when they are quite shortsighted and don’t look at the costs to replace you.

  56. nora

    I like to blame pirates for weird injuries, personally. It worked when I had wrist surgery, when I had abdominal surgery, when I had a head injury, and all the other times I’ve been visibly injured.

    That being said, last fall when I shattered my big toe, I was very candid about the real culprit: a frozen venison roast (which was delicious).

    1. AKchic

      At least you were able to exact your revenge on the venison. Delicious, delicious revenge.

  57. Fieldpoppy

    OP1, this nonsense comes from the belief that the hire-er holds all the power and everyone else is an interchangeable commodity. I encounter this occasionally as a consultant where the client will not check our availability before scheduling a meeting I am supposed to facilitate. This is especially endemic in government or big bureaucracies, IME, where all of the processes around hiring outside work fall into the same “vendor” category — where electrical installations and highly specialized outside brains are all hired through the same Byzantine process.

    My most recent version was someone at the federal government who wanted me to design and facilitate an all day forum about 3 – 4 weeks away but wouldn’t give me a date until “the really important people had confirmed” — they refused to go to the important people and offer the range of days I had told them we were available. They scheduled it for a day I was already booked, said “just send someone else from your shop.” We have two senior consultants, lol, and people hire us for our niche specialty. There’s something remarkably bullheaded that happens for some people dealing with candidates and externals, like this tiny bit of power to make people dance goes to their head.

    I exited that contract.

  58. Lilysparrow

    OP #4, sometimes it works to acknowledge the sentiment behind a question without getting into a literal answer at all.

    Them: Oh, gosh, what happened to your hand?!?!?

    You: I know, right? The doctor said not to cover it, but it looks way worse than it is.

    Then you can go right into the business reason you’re talking, “Let me pull up your case file,” or whatever.

    When it’s a close co-worker or someone you know, that would be wierd. But if it’s someone you’re going to have only a brief, surface interaction with, it’s perfectly okay to just skim right over it.

    You connected with their reaction and reassured their sympathetic concern. Unless you’re dealing with a seriously rude person, that’s enough.

  59. Beth

    I think a special exception should be made to allow LW #4 to say that she got injured sky-driving with Hugh Jackman.

  60. SusanIvanova

    Avoiding email clutter is why “Thanks in advance” became popular way back before email was anything other than plain text.

  61. Brett

    #5 I’ve seen this referenced, but not directly discussed.
    In state and local gov, it is worthwhile to pursue a raise after a degree is earned, but be prepared for the answer to be no.
    It is a frequent practice to cap your initial offer based on your education level. Basically, there is a formula (x years experience + y years working for same employer + z level degree) and that formula dictates both the minimum and maximum pay that can be offered without special approval.
    The key there is that the formula dictates the minimum as well as the maximum. If your new degree puts what would have been your minimum above your current pay, then you might be able to get a raise for it. If your current pay is still above the new minimum, then the answer will almost certainly be no. Every time I saw someone pull this off, it took their department head supporting it, a vote of the merit board, multiple votes of the governing public body, and several public hearings (including random abuse from the Citizens Against Virtually Everything). I was in the situation where I earned a degree that moved my calculated minimum above my current pay, but my department head was not at all willing to support a raise request, because he needed to retain his political capital for other purposes.

    That said, since so many government agencies now only hire at the minimum and do not give raises, so there is a good chance that earning a degree will lift your calculated minimum above your current pay.

  62. Lucille2

    #1 – I think Alison’s advice is great overall. However, I would caution against reconsidering pursuing a position with this company IF you are communicating with a recruiter. I’ve worked with recruiters in the past and they can be quite disconnected with how things are done within the company or hiring department. I do find it obnoxious that the interviewer did not wait for you to confirm the appointment which is a best practice for setting up interview times.

    However, if it was the hiring manager who was setting up the interview, then yes, I would consider it a bad sign and consider moving on.

  63. Candy Clouston

    Quiet is an advantage of working from home. Not wasting time (and money) commuting is another significant advantage–one that’s lost by coming in every day for half a day. Meetings may make this necessary, but if they don’t, I surely wouldn’t.

  64. HalloweenCat

    Oh boy I want to send letter 2 to my boss! She HATES thank you emails. Her philosophy is if we’re doing something, it’s our job to do it. Don’t thank us, pay us. But we have a lot of people in our company that can’t manage to respond to emails where an actual question was asked, yet can always manager to send a “thank you” email. It’s baffling. Tangentially related, I have a coworker who starts every. single. phone call. with pleasantries “good morning” “good morning” “how are you” etc. I was training him and he would call me with questions several times a day and we went through the hi how are yous every time. Drove me crazy.

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