I don’t want to hear about coworkers’ lavish vacations, job applicant keeps asking for another chance, and more

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

1. I don’t want to hear about my coworkers’ lavish vacations

My department primarily consists of mid 20 to late 20s young women. I am a woman in my early 30s. We all get along great.

They frequently take lavish vacations to big metropolitan cities or overseas. I think that’s great, and I’m happy for them that they are living their best life, and I hope they can do it frequently and often. I just can’t bear to listen to them talk about it longer than five minutes.

The reason is, my mind always fixates on the advantages that they had that I wasn’t afforded. They were in sororities or private schools and from an upper middle class upbringing. I come from lower middle class, the only one in my department who had a single mom, I graduated college during the recession, my husband was in the military so we couldn’t travel as a couple far from the base during his six years of service, and even if I traveled alone or with friends, it took me a long time to earn the income and a job that would allow me to take these types of vacations. Shortly after my husband was discharged, we had a very much wanted kid. I love my life. I love my family. I look forward to taking many family vacations when my kid is older.

My coworkers (including my manager) will talk as long as an hour about visiting Africa, China, New York City, Scotland, and more. After five minutes I’m impressed. After 10 minutes I’m bored. By 15 minutes I’m exhausted, and any longer I start to get resentful. What do I do?

If these are one-on-one conversations — just you and the enthusiastic traveler — you can change the subject or excuse yourself to get back to work. But if they’re group conversations that others are enjoying … they’re not really doing anything wrong and there’s no polite way to shut it down (unless it’s making it hard for you to focus on work, but that’s a different issue). You don’t need to stay in the conversation, of course; you can excuse yourself and turn back to your work. But it’s okay for people to talk about subjects that don’t interest every single person in the room.

Because you can’t shut it down, I wonder if there’s a way to reframe the way these conversations are landing with you. Can you look at them as a way to gather interesting information that you can file away for future use and get ideas for your own future trips, even if they’re only fantasy trips right now?

The other reframing you can try is — you love your life. You love your husband and your kid and you presumably wouldn’t trade them for lavish vacations. You’ve made choices you’re happy with! Your coworkers aren’t traveling at you; they’re just making their own choices that are different from yours. (And yes, it sounds like at least some of them come from more privileged backgrounds, but if they’re still being bankrolled by their families now, there are a lot of disadvantages to that that you might not choose if you had to take the entire package that comes with it.)

But if all that feels insufferably polly anna-ish, then headphones are your best bet when travel comes up.

2. Job applicant keeps asking for another chance

How would you respond to a candidate who continues to ask for an opportunity after you’ve rejected them? This candidate was screened out and we sent them a message about finding a strong group of candidates and moving in a different direction, and we did tell them that we’d keep their resume on file.

This candidate is now badgering me on social media, asking me to give them a chance and asking how they can persuade me to give them a chance. Is there a kind way to say that “We have moved on, so should you?”

Say this: “The match isn’t right for this job, but best of luck in your search.” That’s a reasonably polite way of saying, “We have already considered your application and decided no.”

After that, if person continues to message you on social media, feel free to ignore them, or even block them if the contact is annoying.

Sometimes when you say “we’re moving forward with other candidates,” some people hear “we’re talking to some other strong people” without realizing that it also can mean “you are definitely not who we’re looking for” … and so they think there could still be an opportunity to be considered along with those other candidates. (In fairness, sometimes it does just mean “you were fine but others were better.”) And that’s understandable — job searching is hard and candidates sometimes read meaning into messages that they shouldn’t.

But pushing the way this person is doing is rude (not to mention ineffective). Ultimately, it’s not your job to convince them that you really mean no; it’s fine to just respond once and leave it there.

Read an update to this letter here.

3. Email sign-offs

What is your opinion on the best professional way to sign off an email? I usually end my emails with either just my name or “best” like this:

But I have seen people use “sincerely” (which feels pretty formal), “cheers” (which seems too informal), “warmly” (which frankly I find kind of weird and creepy), etc. etc. It seems like a minor thing, but I think your choice of sign-off does communicate something to the person you’re sending a message to so I am interested in your take.

It’s just personal preference. Some people like “best” and some people hate it. The same thing goes for “sincerely,” “regards,” “cheers,” and pretty much any other sign-off option you can think of. So pick any of the standard options you want, and it shall not matter. (That said, I wouldn’t use “cheers” on something like a cover letter when you’re applying for a job. I agree it’s too informal in that context.)

4. White shirts at interviews

My mum is of the opinion that off-white shirts look unprofessional, and that if you wear a white shirt to an interview it must be crisp pure white. No exceptions. For context, we argue a lot about my clothes, especially interview wear, and I have purchased a shirt for interviews that she is very much against, partly because it is off-white. Does she have the right idea or is she old and out of touch?

I can’t speak to her degree of oldness, but she is indeed out of touch.

5. We have to use vacation time when our building closes for renovation work

The building where my office is located is currently under renovation due to being purchased by new owners who want to update everything. This has caused some frustrations and annoyances, but overall it’s not a big deal. We deal with a lot of heating/air/water issues due to our building being so old, so we’re all hoping those things will get fixed.

The problem is that, every so often, the renovators will need to do something that requires everyone to be out of the building. When this happens, they will usually email my boss something like, “We need everyone out of the building by x-o’clock on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday of next week.” Then, my boss will email all of us and say, “We will be leaving at x-o’clock three days next week. Please let me know if you would like to use your sick or vacation time for this.”

The thing is, I don’t want to use my sick or vacation time when leaving is out of my control. What if I actually get sick or want to take a vacation? I suppose I could probably take unpaid leave for that time, but I can’t do that either because I make just enough to cover my bills.

Out of my office of 50 people, only about half of us are affected this way because everyone else is senior enough that they don’t need to use leave time and can come and go as they please (including my boss). The rest of us are stuck using our personal time. I’m just so frustrated by this. Is it normal to do when this kind of thing happens? Is there anything I can say about it?

Some companies do require people to use vacation leave for things like this, although it’s a really bad practice; people should be able to choose how they use their vacation time, not be forced into using it when the company chooses to close. It’s an excellent way to demoralize people and make them resentful. (And it’s even more problematic if you have to use sick leave for it! What’s going to happen when you’re actually sick and need that time?)

By all means, band together with other coworkers who are affected, point out that it’s demoralizing to be made to use your leave time this way, and ask to have the company cover that time for you so that you’re not draining your leave balances.

{ 966 comments… read them below }

  1. Ask a Manager* Post author

    A request related to letter #4: Please keep comments focused on advice for the letter writers and not what your own personal interview outfit is (unless it’s directly relevant to the white shirt question). I’m removing a handful of those because, based on past clothing-related topics, otherwise they’ll take over the thread.

  2. Sami*

    I’ll admit, in the context of an email sign off, I don’t understand the meaning of “Best”.

    1. KarenT*

      I’ve always thought of it as a short form for things like best wishes, best regards, all the best, etc.

      1. Hold My Cosmo*

        My international colleagues abbreviate “best regards” as BR so it looks like they’re just complaining about the weather.

        1. Maggie May*

          I have a German colleague who signs emails with “brgds” lol

          speaking of which, I used to agonize over tone in emails but then started getting them from director level and above with words like “pls” in them

          1. Seeking Second Childhood*

            HA – to me that reads “brigands”. I suppose there are some corporate financiers who could use that term.

          2. Erin W*

            I hate “thx” way more than “pls.”

            Although there is also a director at my institution who always ends emails with this: “THANKS.” All-caps, period. That has always read so weird to me. Like a very clipped, pointed, curt thanks that’s barely a thanks at all.

        2. SusanDC*

          I would think they meant Banana Republic, but maybe that’s just me and my mindset.

      2. What the What*

        I understand why it’s used but the “Best” thing (unreasonably) sets my teeth on edge. It reminds me of THE WORST boss I ever had. She was scary, unhinged, and volatile. The “Best” thing totally contradicted the content and tone of her emails (as well as her demeanor). I can laugh about all of it now.

        On an unrelated note, Ask a Manager is one of my daily little pleasures. I’ve learned a lot and the advice I’ve gleaned from AAM and commenters has served me well in giving notice at my current job. It gave me the courage to set a firm departure date. Thank you!

        1. Emily K*

          I have the same knee-jerk aversion to “Best” because a former nightmare boss was the first person I encountered in my professional life who used it. I don’t really care when other people use it but I can’t bring myself to write it without feeling gross.

        2. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

          The WORST ex I ever had was the first person I’d ever seen using “Best”. I liked it, and am still using it. (We continued exchanging emails for a while after we broke up, and most of the time, “Best” was the only thing I’d like or enjoy about his email.)

          I agree, it must be an irrational preference type of thing. I cannot stand “Warm Regards” and I cannot explain why.

          1. Michaela Westen*

            I always liked “warm regards”. A stranger is sending me warm wishes! How nice! :)

          2. Airy*

            It may just be the way it strikes me this morning but I pictured the person warming up some cold regards in the microwave before sending them to you.

            1. TootsNYC*

              I had a colleague who had a rubber stamp made that said:
              “Warmest personal regards,

              He used it to “sign” birthday cards. I thought it was one the most hysterically funny things I’d ever seen.

              It was by far my favorite stamp (even better than the one I had that said “Bullshit”).

        3. ENFP*

          To What the What – I hope you are pursuing a career as a writer – I love the descriptors of “scary, unhinged and volatile”!!! You have a way with words! Please let us know when you get published!

        4. Essess*

          I detest “best” as well and I don’t have any boss horror stories about it. I just feel that it implies that they are done with their communication and are already moving on to their next task and can’t be bothered to spare me enough time to actually type out a full closing. It’s a totally visceral reaction to the ‘curt’ feeling of it.

            1. Rivakonneva*

              I’m the same way. My boss and her boss started signing their emails that way last year, and it truly irks the heck out of me. I know there is no logical reason why it should, but it really does.

      3. Elizabeth*

        Thanks – this was my question too. So it is short for “annoying.” Finally I know!!

        1. Eukomos*

          You find it annoying when people offer you their best wishes for you? Seems a little harsh.

    2. SS Express*

      It’s sort of short for best regards or best wishes. Like when you wish someone “all the best”, or ask someone to “give my best to Wakeen”.

      1. CanCan*

        “All the best” is more of a goodbye. Like if this is the last email you expect to be writing to them.

      1. 1 legged stray cat*

        I know you were joking, but I really thought that was what it meant until KarenT’s comment above. “Best” isn’t really used where I am from so the very few times I saw it, I couldn’t figure out if they were thinking they were “Best” as a person or they just thought their email needed to be pointed out as the “Best”. I figured they must be sales people where self grandizement is a business skill.

        Personally I am a “Sincerely” or “Regards” fan. They feel formal, but business letters are formal writing. If it is an internal email with someone I know or correspond with often, I just put my name.

        1. RUKiddingMe*

          I’m in the “sincerely” camp as well. I don’t think…no, I *know* I’ve never used “best” because even reading it aggravates me. It seems way too informal for a business relationship.

          I don’t know why exactly but it probably harkens back to the olden days of my youth (i.e. the dark ages) when we had classes in letter writing. One type of letter was a business letter and we were taught that almost always we were to use “sincerely” as a closing.

          That said, there are times, such as the recent flurry of email exchanges I had with the guy at the car dealer (just got a new-to-me car last week) about a couple extras that needed following up on.

          He emailed me status, I emailed info, etc. and these were generally closed with sonething like “thanks so much, ruk” or “talk to you soon, alex” type stuff but only *after* the initial couple of emails and the establishment if a pretty casual, albeit business relationship.

          I would never do that as a starter nor in a much more formal type exchange.

          1. Agnes Nutter*

            Interesting. “Sincerely” reads as weirdly formal and old-fashioned to me – I might use it if sending a job application or addressing someone MUCH higher up than me, but never for a colleague or regular contact. And I’d find it a bit off-putting to receive from someone else, I think. Like it’s intended to make things more distant and formal between us. Which I’m sure is reading too much into it, but it’s the impression I’d get.

            Whereas “Best” is so neutral to me that I wouldn’t even notice it. It doesn’t feel particularly informal to me, just bland.

            All of which shows that you really cannot predict how any individual will interpret this stuff, and it really is just personal preference as Alison says.

            1. RUKiddingMe*

              Well like I said, I learned to write letters before the dawn of time, so there’s that. don’t use “sincerely” with everything of course but at the beginning of with and/or with a more more formal(ish) business relationships I definitely do. I also use Mr/Ms./Dr./etc. whichever fits as at least an initial salutation.

              I get letters that open with “Dear Dr. RUK…” and probably nine times out of ten they turn into me saying “just call me “R’ and close with me saying “thanks for…” “thanks again…” “thank you so much…” “talk to you soon…” or some such thing and end with only my name, no actual sign off.

              It’s important to me to establish the business tone first and allow everyone to dictate the degree of “casualness” they are comfortable with. For colleagues? “Sincerely” never seems to come up. Usually it’s just “R.”

              Ok course like everything, YMMV. :-)

          2. The Other Dawn*

            “Sincerely” is what I was taught in school. I do use “thanks” quite a bit, too. “Best” annoys me for whatever reason.

            1. Quackeen*

              “Best” annoys me, too, because it feels lazy. You can’t type a few more letters to clarify best what? It’s like when people type “u” or “ur”. You’re not being that much more efficient and you look dumb. (Or, rather u look dum.)

              I used to work with a woman who would reply to emails with just “TY”. First of all, it took a minute to realize that she meant “thank you” but also, if you’re that monumentally busy that typind the extra 7 characters in “thank you” is going to throw the rest of your day off schedule, feel free to reply to my email at a more convenient time.

              Whoo. Glad I got that off my chest.

              1. Puggles*

                I always use “best” but now I’m rethinking my signature. I didn’t realize it annoys and confuses people.

                1. k*

                  I also tend to use “Best” because it’s short, simple, and not too formal. I didn’t realize it annoyed people. Maybe I’ll just start writing “From”. :-P

              2. Eukomos*

                But it’s not a lack of willingness to go to the effort of typing the word, it’s an intentional reduction in the formality level of the sign off. “Best regards” is more formal than “best” and is appropriate in very different contexts.

                I agree with you about typing out thank you, though, unless the person has some sort of vision or hand-related health problem there’s no reason to do that on an email.

            2. RPCV*

              I also use thanks, pretty much exclusively. Best also annoys me, for no good reason.

              I’ve also seen “Take care” which, ok.

              1. NotAnotherManager!*

                I am also a thanks/thank you kind of person; sincerely for more formal communications.

                Best mildly irritates me because how much effort does it really take to include the “regards” part of it? It’s not something I’d ever hold against someone, but it seems incomplete and does confuse some people.

                1. k*

                  It’s because “Best regards” sounds super formal – something you would write to a prince. “Best” is casual-sounding, like “Sendin’ y’all my best…”

                2. Marni*

                  It’s really not about saving the time and effort of typing another word. “Best“ is more casual than “best regards,“ so for me it hits just the right level of formality. If I had to give it up, I’d switch to “thanks” or “Talk soon,” or just my name alone. “Best regards” would sound stilted in my line of work.

              2. 4Sina*

                Also a thanks person for most things, although I’ll use cheers when I’m trying to convey that this email was productive and positive and I was genuinely happy to be involved and it sincerely was not any trouble, or regards when I’m cool about the situation and I wish they’d just call me instead of turning it into a long, confusing email chain. It probably makes never-no mind to anyone else, but my system keeps me sane, ha!

              3. Turquoisecow*

                I also just usually just end with

                My father-in-law signs a lot of his emails with Best, and personal emails to my husband with Best, Dad, which leads us into an amusing debate (among Husband and I) about whether or not he is, in fact, the Best Dad. So now when I see emails with (for example) Best, Tim, I wonder if the person is in fact the Best Tim.

              4. Mellow*

                Ah, “take care”:

                Parting words that suggest that the world is a sea of malevolence, and whether man made or natural, bad things are headed your way. And from our brief encounter I can see that you are vulnerable, and nothing and nobody will help you see the threats or help you once you have been struck — not even the person who invokes this horrible phrase — which underscores how little regard this person has for you – all said as though it is vaguely benevolent. (From a colum I once read and agreed with in the NYT).

                For further reading:

                1. Mr Shark*

                  Huh, I’ve only used “take care” when basically I’ve heard someone had some bad news, and it was meant in a more personal way as “take care of yourself and your family and don’t worry about anything else.” It was certainly not something that was meant as a negative.

                  But I’ve also never had a problem with “No problem” so maybe I’m missing something here.

            3. 42*

              Same here. ‘Best’ always annoyed me, and comes off as very pretentious to me, and I can’t quite pinpoint why.

              1. RUKiddingMe*

                Pretentious…yes! I never gave it that much thought, I was just annoyed but pretentious perfectly describes it.I can’t pinpoint it either, but that’s definitely how it feels.

            4. MCMonkeyBean*

              “Thanks” is my go-to, though probably too casual for something like a cover letter.

              “Sincerely” always feels kind of, well, insincere to me! Not when I read other people using it, just that I feel weird typing it out myself as I don’t feel like I’m necessarily being that sincere in all of these emails.

              We submit documents to the SEC annually and there is a letter signed by our CAO that accompanies them, and it is signed off with “Very truly yours” which honestly cracks me up. That seems like a very weird thing to say to the SEC.

              1. Southern Yankee*

                Very truly yours to the SEC also cracks me up! Although, I guess it’s better than “Very dishonestly yours” or “Fraudulently yours”.

              2. That Girl From Quinn's House*

                “Very Truly Yours,” is the traditional/old fashioned formal way to end a letter. It’s more formal than “Sincerely.” My mom was a secretary back in the Mad Men days and knows all these antiquated etiquette rules that no one follows any more.

                1. Marthooh*

                  But the reeeeally old-fashioned sign-off, for formal business correspondence, is

                  Very faithfully yours,

              3. Blue Roses*

                I have a lawyer helping me get my medical bills paid for after an accident, and I guess this is maybe the normal sign off for Lawyer Stuff, but I always laugh out loud when I get correspondence from him that ends “I remain, [line break] Most sincerely yours, [line break] Fergus McLawyer”

                1. Michaela Westen*

                  I think the only time I’ve seen that is in old-time mystery novels by Dorothy Sayers and Agatha Christie.

                2. Blue Roses*

                  He is kind of an oddball character who makes balloon animals for all his clients and everyone who works at the courthouses he goes to, so maybe this is just a quirk of his

                3. Seeking Second Childhood*

                  Aha! I just realized why I’ve had Phantom of the Opera running through my head all afternoon:
                  “Should these commands be ignored
                  A disaster beyond your imagination will occur
                  I remain, gentlemen, your obedient servant,
                  O. G.”

              4. Sloan Kittering*

                I have realized that ‘thanks” is almost universally appropriate, although I do take the time to type it out each time rather than putting it in a standard email signature in case there was a future (PO’d, presumably) email in which it might come across as sarcastic or just totally out of place.

                1. SusanDC*

                  Same-it works for every occasion, although sometimes I do the Thank You if I want to be a little more formal.

            5. Old School*

              Yes! I use Sincerely and Thanks or Thank you. Usually Sincerely is used for initial outside communication and I’ll switch after a few emails. I don’t know… at nearly 40 maybe I’m finally in the ‘old school’ lol

          3. AKchic*

            My current boss tried to mandate that I use “Respectfully Yours” as my closer because that’s what many in the military use, and he wants us to reflect the military, and he really wants to see me appear more respectful towards him (I detest him and he knows it). I currently use “Thank You”. I have for a decade with no complaints. He is the only one to make any fuss. He has no complaint about the rest of my emails, just my closer. He even tried to write me up for it. I finally had to get the union involved because there is nothing in my contract that says I have to use “respectfully yours” in my closer or signature line. He lost and he has sulked ever since. I am not mandated to like him, nor do I have to faun over him in my emails. Bootlicking is not a requirement of my job.

        2. Amber T*

          I don’t think I’ve ever used “best regards” or “best” – I usually just end with “Thanks,” or nothing (usually for internal or the emails are more chatty than business). I do, however, use “Regards” sometimes as a silent “F you, this email has annoyed me.” It’s of course an appropriate sign off, but I get the mental satisfaction of knowing what I meant. That said, when someone emails me and ends with “Regards,” my thought is “what did I do??”

          1. Mr Shark*

            Really? I always use “Regards” unless I’m specifically thanking someone for something they did. If I’m just sending the information to them, or requesting information, it’s always “Regards.” I’ve never thought of it as anything but a sort of blase formal ending to a letter.

            Thanks or Thank You would be only if I meant it in response to their original e-mail or information they provided.

            I’ve always liked “Cheers” but only among peers that know each other pretty well. I don’t think I’ve ever seen anyone just write “Best.”

        3. Octopus*

          For most of my emails I sign my name with “Best” but I use “Thanks” often too, both inside and outside my department.

          If I’m emailing coworkers I use “Best” and “- Octopus” about equally, depending on what I’m emailing about. If we go back and forth quickly in the same thread I’ll stop signing my name altogether.

          If I’m emailing someone outside my department and want to make it sound more formal but still friendly I’ll say “Best Wishes”. If I want that same level of formality but not as friendly I say “Regards” and in the rare cases where I want to sound formal I sign with “Sincerely”.

          I first heard “Best” in college where most of my professors signed off that way. It seemed like the perfect balance of formal and pleasant and I’ve been using it ever since. I also now work in academia.

          It’s amusing to me when people sign with something more formal than I feel is necessary but what really irks me is when people just sign their name or just use their email signature when it’s the first time we’re corresponding.

          1. Bizhiki*

            I was skimming too quickly, and thought you actually sign your emails with the word octopus for a minute. It was about to become my new favourite closing line.

        4. Eukomos*

          A big chunk of my work emails are to other people within my organization, but farther up the hierarchy chart and a lot of them feel strongly about it, BUT we also have a very casual culture. “Best” is great for these, because “sincerely” is officially formal and our culture prides itself in being informal, but I can’t just put my name on the end because there is this strong hierarchy difference. When I can logically put “thanks” that’s always the most comfortable option, but sometimes you’re just not thanking someone for something and you need a medium-formal closing.

      2. AnAnon*

        I worked with a guy who didn’t use a line break between the signoff and his signature, and signed off with “thanks” – effectively thanking himself for his own emails.

      3. Boobookitty*

        OMG you made me laugh so loudly! Now I really want to use this to end my emails.

    3. Lynca*

      I honestly hadn’t seen anyone use “Best” until this year. I filed it away as a personal preference but I still find it really weird since “best wishes” or “best regards” isn’t that much more to type out. The first time I saw it I spent a good 3-4 minutes thinking “Best? Best what?”

      1. NotAnotherManager!*

        Someone with whom I work in a volunteer role uses “best” or “my best”, and I had the same reaction the first time I saw it as well.

        1. battle_sloths_attack*

          My email signature is simply:

          Contact Info

          1. your favorite person*

            This is also mine. If it isn’t appropriate for the email, I’ll change it, but it works about 90% of the time.

            1. IL JimP*

              I don’t even usually see the signoff or name at the end unless I specifically go looking for it for some reason. I stop reading at the end of the message :)

            2. Matilda Jefferies*

              Yep, same. I use “Thanks” for 90% of my work emails, and switch to “Cheers” or no signoff at all if I’m sending several emails in a row to the same person. For cover letters, and the occasional formal letter that I send, I use “Sincerely.”

          2. Risha*

            This is me! Varying between the exclamation point and a comma based on how I feel about the person and/or contents of the email.

        2. MusicWithRocksInIt*

          I almost always use Thanks – even if it’s just thanking someone for their attention. But I am usually emailing to ask people for things, so I think it’s ingrained. When I really don’t want to thank them for anything I have to stop and think.

          1. 42*

            Or as in ‘thanks for your time’. That’s how I see it (this from a ‘thanks/thank you’ user too).

            1. MCMonkeyBean*

              Yep! “Thanks for taking the time to read my email.” Rarely an inappropriate sentiment IMO.

              1. MusicWithRocksInIt*

                Exactly. I only choose not to use it when I am really annoyed with someone. If you don’t get a Thanks! from me you have crossed a line.

                1. Jadelyn*

                  Same. I’m a “thanks”-er, and if I drop that off and just go with “-Jadelyn” or something like that, ooh, you’ve obviously done something really wrong and pissed me off but good.

        3. Anne Elliot*

          I use “very truly yours” for paper correspondence because I am a lawyer and that’s the lawyer-ish signature I was taught to use back when the earth cooled. It’s completely meaningless since almost never am I truly theirs, much less very truly theirs. I use “Thanks,” for emails, with just my first name.



          1. MCMonkeyBean*

            Ha, I literally just typed that our CAO uses this on correspondence that gets sent to the SEC and it seems hilarious to me. Very interesting to hear that it is an old-school formal thing. I guess at least it’s a little shorter and less odd than “I have the honor to be your obedient servant.”

            1. katrinka*

              I feel like sometimes “your obedient servant” is exactly what the higher ups want to see in correspondence.

              I also get weirded out a little by using “Dear So-and-so” in business communication. These people are not at all dear to me.

        4. shep*

          I use “thanks” pretty universally, even when I’m not requesting information or a favor, but I notice pretty much everyone in my office also uses “thanks” just built into their email signature, so it’s not out of place here.

          I have used “best” before, usually in correspondence with freelancers when I’m first inquiring about services, etc., but now I’m likewise self-conscious about having ever used “best.” I think I first began using it because someone I really admire uses it in her own correspondence, so I sort of adopted it thinking it was an acceptable business standard.

          1. Emily K*

            I think, if I’m using a valediction, 98% of the time it’s either “Thanks,” if I’ve made a request or, “Take care,” if I don’t need anything and it’s the end of the email thread. (If there’s a lot of back and forth happening I don’t use a valediction at all.)

        5. elemenohp*

          I use “thanks” indiscriminately. Sometimes, if I’ve already thanked the person in the email, I’ll use “thanks again.” I find it hilarious to see it used in weird contexts, so I leave it for my own amusement.

        1. Yvette*

          “gentle reminder” I cannot tell you how much I hate that, although where I saw it used most was at the start of an email “A gentle reminder please blah blah blah”. Mostly because it usually came from people who had asked me to do something, I had told them I would do it, and when I would do it, and the “gentle reminder” came days before the date I had told them. (And this date was usually system determined, new implementations went in on Fridays, or all new development or QA had a 3 day lead time etc.) Or worse, the delay was because I was waiting for some sort of input from them, that I had requested and they had yet to provide (and they usually cc’d those to my boss). “I will be more than happy to paint your teapot Fergus, however, despite my 3 previous requests, you have yet to tell me what color to use.” You bet that response was cc’s to their boss.

          1. RUKiddingMe*

            Oh I despise anything framed as “gentle reminder” or pretty much anything as “gentle” when referring to business. Gentle is for personal. With business, be kind, straight forward and concise. Don’t go out of your way to hurt/annoy/or aggravate people but “reminder” as a subject line would be fine…”gentle reminder” would make me want to throw my laptop out of a window (a first floor window…I’m aggravated not into throwing money away).

          1. AKchic*

            AKA: “Must I spell this out in tiny words and in crayon before it finally sinks in to that shriveled up husk you call a brain? Just how thick is your skull?”
            Alternatively: “Do you even read what I send you?”

            1. SusanDC*

              LOLOL : Jesus Christ, people. What’s wrong with you?”

              I use that phrase about people a lot, actually.

          2. Jadelyn*

            Anytime the word “per” comes out – per previous email, per [manager’s name], per your request, per voicemail received, etc. – you know Shit Is Going Down. It is the business equivalent of throwing a hand grenade at someone.

        2. NotAnotherManager!*

          Thank you! This one irritates the crap out of me. If someone is hurt or put off by, “Please do X by Y date/time, thank you!”, it’s unlikely they’re going to last long here. “Gentle reminder” always makes me feel like I’m trying to handle someone’s feelings with kid gloves when, 99% of the time, I’m asking them to either do something that is their job or do a routine task that they should have already done. (So, so many reminders on timesheets – really, people, we want to pay you. Turn them in. Without my having to ask you four times.)

          I also know more than one person who uses the phrase “gentle hugs” both in person and in email, and that one grates as well.

      1. Another Anon*

        I usually use “Respectfully” but I am also now self-conscious about it because I didn’t know people had so many feelings about email sign offs!

        1. noahwynn*

          My contacts with the military sign everything V/R. It took me months of wondering before I finally Googled and learned that it means “Very Respectfully.” I guess that’s nice.

          Also, I had to apologize to one poor confused airmen one day when he called me sir and I said “oh you don’t have to call me sir.” To which he replied, “ok….chief?” I was also confused because I had no idea what that meant since I’ve never been in the military.

          1. TootsNYC*

            I feel like sometimes it’s a kindness to folks in the military to just let them call you “sir.”

            That habit is really important in their main life, and it’s really a lot of mental work to decide whether to use it or not.

            Sort of like, I always lock my car door even in my small rural hometown.

          1. AKchic*

            I liked it up until my non-military boss decided it was mandatory that I sign my emails to him the same way. I refused. He tried to write me up. It didn’t go well for him.

      2. Catleesi*

        I use “best” as well. It seemed like a happy medium because “Sincerely” or “Best Regards” seem too formal and “thanks” doesn’t seem like it applies to most of the emails I’m sending. You’re not alone!

      3. Falling Diphthong*

        Rest assured that after this thread, everyone is feeling self-conscious about their email sign-off. (I usually use “thanks” or a hyphen before my name.)

      4. Just Employed Here*

        “Kind regards” til I die.

        I freaked out a (nitpicky) colleague when I first started my current job, because I signed an internal email with just my first name and no salutation or footer whatsoever. She thought that was how I signed emails going outside the office as well… I had several years of work experience at that point.

        1. It's Business Time*

          I am a “kind regards” as well! Unless I don’t like you, then it is only “regards”… that will teach you!

          1. AKchic*

            Until I’m really mad, then “Regard”, and I will let you interpret that one regard in which I’m giving!

        1. Storie*

          “Best” is almost industry standard in my world. It’s a happy medium—not too formal or informal. I swear I read somewhere that Thanks, isn’t good as it sounds imperious like thanks I n advance for doing what I just asked. Ive used it too, but really only when I am actually thanking someone for something that they have already done.


    4. ThisColumnMakesMeGratefulForMyBoss*

      I know it’s short for “Best Wishes” or “Best Regards”, but IMO it seems odd in a work environment.

      1. Canadian Natasha*

        I’m late, but I am your people! (Or one of them)

        Canadian Natasha ;)

    5. kittymommy*

      Am I the only one who typically doesn’t use anything in an email? When appropriate I’ll use thanks but it’s more in the body of the message, not as a sign off. Now in letters, I’ll use “Sincerely” almost exclusively.

      1. Turquoisecow*

        Same. Especially in response to someone else, it seems redundant to sign emails. Yes, I know where it’s come from, I can see the header and I knew that before I clicked to open the email!

      2. MrsBond*

        Yes, I got tired of spending ages trying to decide which sign-off would be least awkward, so now I just use my name. Saves a lot of time

        My husband is English so he can get away with using some variation of “Regards”, but I can’t.

      3. TootsNYC*

        I don’t even sign them!

        Not even if I haven’t set up an automatic signature.

        Even if I’m dealing with people outside the office, there’s no conversation I have that I believe is formal enough to require them.

    6. Mad Scientist*

      One of my managers (originally from a foreign country) signs her emails “With Best.”
      This confuses the crap out of me even after four years.

      1. Botanist*

        I’m trying so hard to turn this into something clever related to Melania’s “Be Best” campaign and it’s just not quite coming . . . (With Best, Be Best, pick a word and put it in front of “Best” . . .)

    7. The groundhog lied*

      My takeaway from this thread (and a few other past conversations on this topic), is that every standard signature sign-off annoys someone. And really, if you think too much about any of them, they’re weird. When someone emails me to say “The printer will be down tomorrow’ and signs it “Thanks,” I think, what the heck are you thanking me for? “Cheers”- are we in a bar? “Sincerely yours”- I don’t think you’re mine, ew, and vice versa. “Regards”- I don’t even know what to make of that.

      I do recommend avoiding my favorite signoff from elementary school, used to write letters to relatives and stolen from a Judy Blume book: “Love and other indoor sport.” I had no idea what it meant, and it cracked my mom up. God knows what my great-aunt thought.

      1. annakarina1*

        From Starring Sally J. Freeman as Herself! One of my favorite childhood books, and it took me a long time to figure out what that signoff meant. I’m assuming it means sex.

      2. Jane Gloriana Villanueva*

        Sorry to off-topic, but haha, Sally J. Freedman! I remember that one, and puzzling over a Murphy bed and all the other things she wondered about. I also recall that I was reading that book while my family and I were away for a weekend in a hotel room, and I looked up and called across the room, “Mom, what are t1ts?” My parents looked at each other in complete surprise and started laughing. I don’t miss being 7 years old at all. :)

  3. Ask a Manager* Post author

    Just to be clear (and so we don’t derail on what colors people wear to interviews), I don’t think the OP’s mom is saying you can only wear a white shirt. She’s saying if you do wear white, it must be a crisp, bright white — not off-white.

  4. KarenT*

    I remember in college being told not to wear a white shirt and black pants to an interview or I’d look like a server. I now find that absurd.

  5. nnn*

    I can’t even tell if something is white or off-white, unless there’s a white thing and an off-white thing right next to each other.

    Weirdly, my mother also has Very Strong Feelings about white and off-white being Completely Different. Her feelings about this don’t seem specific to job interview shirts, but in general if I mention I don’t want something in white (because it’s an unflattering colour on me, because it will get dirty fast, etc.) she’ll suggest “What about off-white?” as though that doesn’t have exactly the same set of problems.

    1. SS Express*

      A lot of people don’t look good in true white but do suit off-white shades! They’re much less harsh. Not much easier to keep clean though.

      1. RUKiddingMe*

        Someone wearing pure white would make me think either “school kid” or “navy.”

        1. valentine*

          OP4: Time to tell Mum things only when they’re done and dusted? Even if she got every job she wore off-white for and none for which she wore white, that’s nothing to do with you.

        2. Excel Slayer*

          I look quite a lot younger than I am, and I tend to find a pure white shirt reads as ‘school kid’ or ‘waitress’. Not ideal for interviews. I’ve got to say, there’s usually no reason the shirt for an interview has to be white, unless you’re interviewing somewhere with a very stringent or ‘traditionalist’ dress code.

          1. Hold My Cosmo*

            Corporette recently had this discussion (within the past week) and most of that group is in formal workplaces like Big Law. Consensus was that a white shirt under a suit reads as a fresh law grad/otherwise young or green employee.

            I look old for my age, so it just makes me look like a haggard, world-weary catering server.

          2. Luna123*

            When I was interviewing, I stayed away from white shirts because with my shoulder-length haircut, they make me look like Raoul The Fourth Hansen Brother from the Phantom of the Opera movie. But in a terrible way.

      2. lurker*

        There are people who are the opposite, too. I’m a “winter” in the ’80s color season terminology; a pure white shirt is OK on me but ivory and beige make me look ill.

        1. Bee*

          Same! Ivory & beige somehow makes me look both sallow AND flushed at the same time, but pure white is totally fine.

        2. seller of teapots*

          Omg, my grandmother had and loved that book. My husband is *such* a winter, and looks best in navy and deep reds, etc. I’m a spring, or so she always told me.

        3. Risha*

          Yes, this. I never wore white until I got married and discovered it’s actually a fantastic color on me, but almost any shade of offwhite or ivory makes my skin look ugly yellow, even with makeup. It’s too close to tan, which has the same effect on me.

        4. catwoman2965*

          Hahaha. And i am “true brilliant spring” in the 80’s color-ology, and white is less flattering on ME than off white or ivory

        5. AKchic*

          Anything light colored will get stained. I’m a klutz. I wear anything resembling white and you can guarantee that there will be something red on it before noon.
          Even my period garb has white chemises. One of them has black trim with silver embroidery, which is my nicest and most expensive chemise. I never eat anything sloppy in it. What did I do? I managed to get blood on it. I have no idea *who’s* blood, as I could not find any cuts on me, and it was in a weird spot that couldn’t get hit easily, and wouldn’t have been a place I would have used to mop up someone else (it was under my arm near my armpit). Four years later, I still cannot figure out how that blood got on my chemise.

        6. SusanDC*

          Same! Ivory and beige are way too close to my skin tone and I look awful in them. Pure white looks great.

      3. TootsNYC*

        what she said.

        If the problem is that white doesn’t look good on you, then off-white is a reasonable thing to consider as an alternative.

        And colors you think of as white can have blue or yellow undertones.

        Says the former bride who had to look hard to find a silk without much yellow.

        Now…stains, etc., yes, those concerns will be the same.

    2. My Dear Wormwood*

      There’s an extremely long-running (like several decades) joke about a particular cricket commentator who always chooses a jacket from the following colours: bone, white, off-white, ivory, or beige.

      They’re indistinguishable and it makes him a really easy character to dress up as!

      1. Not Australian*

        Certainly not Henry Blofeld, then; his choices would be aqua, cerise, primrose, violet or stripes of all four – with matching shirt. [I’m thinking Richie Benaud … ]

        Sorry, just getting carried away; been here a long time and not sure I’ve seen cricket mentioned before!

          1. Zaphod Beeblebrox*

            Somebody downthread has confirmed it was the late great Richie Benaud.

            Morning everyone.

    3. Lucy*

      My mother also appears to have strong feelings about white.

      She destroyed my last ounce of self esteem when we went wedding dress shopping for the very first time and I tried on the very first dress and she sighed and said “Oh dear. You can’t wear white. It looks dreadful.”

      (She meant something like “white looks cheap especially on someone as pale as you, look at all the elegant ivory over here” but unfortunately it was too late by the time the qualification landed.)

      1. Seeking Second Childhood*

        That’s a horrible thing to say… I hope you loved whatever you wound up choosing!

      2. MusicWithRocksInIt*

        White is so hard to pull off when you are of the super pale. I could wear it when I was young and tan, but now that I am committed to my sunscreen intensive skincare routine I have given it up entirely.

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

          Depends what it is. Pale skin and white Victorian style sundresses look fantastic together.

    4. Asenath*

      I never wear white or off white because they show the dirt too easily, and anything white ends up being off-white anyway.

      1. Free now (and forever)*

        I haven’t owned anything that pale in years. I’m the kind of person who would have to change my clothes BEFORE I left the house if I wore white because I would have already gotten it dirty. And as my job for the last 15 years before I retired was running a food pantry, my wardrobe was black, navy blue, royal blue and dark red. Nothing that would show dirt.

        1. Future Homesteader*

          That’s pretty much also my color palette, mostly because of my skin tone – pale with green undertones and a freckled face, truly a winning combo. Anything remotely light makes me look washed out or just sickly. My wedding dress was ivory – I never for a second considered an actual white dress.

          1. emmelemm*

            “pale with green undertones and a freckled face”

            My people! I cannot wear pure white; it’s simply the worst. If I have to wear something essentially non-colored, I have to find a decent ivory. I don’t look great in anything medium pastel or lighter. Dark colors only, please.

      2. NotAnotherManager!*

        If I’d like to spill a cup of coffee down the front of myself before I even make it to my desk, wearing white is the way to go.

        I look substantially better in an ivory or off-white. I am pale with unfortunate and indistinct undertones, and bright/pure white makes me look ill.

      3. Arjay*

        This is actually where I thought mom might have been coming from. Off-white shades need to look very intentionally off-white. so as not to make someone think your shirt is just a dingy white.

    5. lurker*

      In the not-too-distant past, some subcultures followed rules such as not wearing true white after the U.S. Labor Day at the beginning of September (hence off-white sometimes being called “winter white”) and considered it declasse to break those conventions. This could be where your mother’s opinions come from.

      (For all I know, some subcultures might still be following those rules, but I generally find them mentioned in articles/fashion advice columns about they don’t apply any more.)

      1. The Katie (OP 4)*

        She just thinks it looks old and faded (which was probably intentional, since the shirt in question is from a brand known for retro styled clothes).

        1. Susan*

          Oh – that element brings something different in. Does it deliberately have a faded look? If so – I would question wearing it to an interview for that reason; to me that style would seem too informal.

      2. Kathleen_A*

        The rule about not wearing white after Labor Day never involved shirts/blouses, though – it was shoes and white *outfits* – that is, outfits that are predominately white. Wearing a white shirt doesn’t make your outfit predominately white. It’s just, you know, a white shirt.

        Which is good because I for one like wearing white shirts.

        But to get back on topic, that doesn’t mean there’s anything wrong with wearing off-white to a job interview. I am probably older than the OP’s mother and even to me, her advice sounds completely out of touch. I mean, I can’t remember ever even hearing this rule, much less adhering to it.

      3. nnn*

        And all this time I thought “winter white” meant a particularly white white – like snow in winter!

      4. Just Me*

        That is the way I was raised. Not that I would ever wear white shoes now, but if I did, I still wouldn’t wear them except between Easter and Labor Day. I have a feeling my sister would say the same. Now, guess how old I am?

      5. TootsNYC*

        I have looked and looked, for professional reasons, and I have never found any written documentation of any rule about not wearing white garments after Labor Day.

        I have found lots of references to BREAKING that rule, but none about it BEING a rule.

        There are references in etiquette books (Miss Manners has one, if I’m remembering right) to not wearing white SHOES after Labor Day.

    6. this way, that way*

      I’ve always felt like off-white looks like the shirt has aged or has been washed with a color and now cant get the whiteness back. It wouldn’t be my choice for an interview.

      1. Psyche*

        I don’t mind off white unless it is next to pure white. Then it looks dirty. My rule is to make sure that I only have one shade of white in an outfit (if any).

        1. Baby Fishmouth*

          Diane Keaton always seems to pull off multiple shades of white, somehow. I need to learn her secret.

          1. Jadelyn*

            The secret is probably “be Diane Keaton”, which is understandably difficult for the rest of us to achieve.

    7. Works in IT*

      As someone who does lots of embroidery, there are a lot of shades of “true white”. Placed next to each other they are definitely all different, and I would not be able to tell you which of them is “real” white and which are off white.

      So the definition of true white isn’t even an exact science!

    8. wittyrepartee*


  6. Observer*

    #4 I agree that your mother is out of touch. But you’ll probably do better with her if you skip the “old” bit. Her issue has nothing to do with age.

    1. Aveline*

      I don’t necessarily agree with that. It’s not necessarily age, but generation and region may matter.

      There are some women, particularly those who were raised with traditional American midwestern or Southern culture, where age may be a factor. I know not an insignificant number of women, particularly from small towns in the Midwest and the South, who are baby boomer are older and were raised with the notion that color matters in certain social ways. It’s not just no white after labor day. It’s that white shirt starched to an inch of its life equals office job. Young women should not wear black. Red is reminiscent of sexy and “good women” should avoid if. Etc. it’s not just modesty on clothing. It’s color.

      These women also think things like “long hair is (insert sexist slur of choice).”

      It’s all ludicrous, but they believe it. Their daughters don’t, there has been a culture shift. But the mothers still push their views w a religious zeal.

      I have a cousin whose mother is this way. She constantly complains about the shameful colors her daughters wear. About how my husbands Zagna suit with pink shirt is “wrong” and “strange” and warns me to “do somethimg about it” before he damages his career.

      I’ve never seen any of these women’s siblings under 50 or their own children obsess in the same way.

      Heck, when I was a kid, the only acceptable church shoes for girls in the region where white Mary Janes or saddle shoes. And it was unacceptable to wear anything except a frilly pastel dress. My cool grand aunt took me to her Methodist church in a red smocked dress for vacation bible school. I was sent home to changes. Times have really changed.

      1. MatKnifeNinja*

        My lord!

        You have totally described ALL my female relatives born after 1925 to the late 1950s. All from Michigan too…

        The fights about what is appropriate color and clothing. Such good times. Not!

        1. Aveline*

          I think me,bees of the commentariat sho don’t have older, prim Midwestern relatives don’t get how they can be about these things.

          I wonder if OP’s mother has Midwestern roots. Would explain it.

          And you are correct in the years. Something about the time period between WWI and The end if WWII created this.

          The grand aunt was older, born in 1898, she thought the rules were silly.

          1. Observer*

            50 is “old”? Also, even if it is generational, it’s not about being “old” – your OLDER Grand aunt didn’t have this issue.

            Which goes back to my original point – this is NOT about being “old”.

            1. Tony*

              The OP meant older than her generation, if you are open minded you can guess that she is probably in her late twenties or thirties and her mom in her fifties/sixties.

              She may not have the same definition of old but I understand her post.

              1. Observer*


                I understood her post too. And she is STILL wrong. Your read of “older than me” doesn’t make this any better – it’s still painting with a waaaay too broad brush. It’s also still going to make it a lot harder for her to have any chance at any sort of reasonable conversation with (or about) her mother.

                I find it interesting that you find objecting to painting huge groups with a very broad brush to be a sign of closed mindedness. Also that you think that only “open minded” people who agree with you are capable of making reasonable inferences about relevant details in letters posted here.

                1. Jadelyn*

                  Okay, so, this is still just a conversation about clothes, so maybe it’s not a Terrible Slur for someone to have spoken in broad terms about their experience with relatives of a certain age? And maybe it’s not necessary to be Very Upset about it?

          1. MatKnifeNinja*

            YES! EVERYTHING MUST BE IRON! That includes tee shirts and blue jeans.

            I’m not joking. All my middle 60-ish aunts iron their clothes. Baby clothes, school clothes, work clothes, jammies…wash, tumble dry and then iron.

            I have never used an iron except to block crochet or needlepoint projects. Such a human fail. Lol..

            1. Turquoisecow*

              My mother in law irons everything. She even irons her grandkids’ T-shirts if they look wrinkled.

              My mom is the same age – actually 11 months older – and she doesn’t iron anything unless we’re going to a formal occasion and the dress was wrinkled in the suitcase. They also grew up not far from one another. I guess MIL just absorbed it from her mom and my mom didn’t? (I don’t recall my grandma’s stance on ironing, now I’m wondering.) My mom’s older sister, on the other hand, does iron her jeans.

            2. Bored but not Boring*

              I’m always 64. Don’t know where my iron is. I never iron, have always hated it. Not all “olds” iron.

          2. Pescadero*

            My grandmother is originally a Texan – but has lived in Michigan since 1944 (born in 1927)… and ALL of these fit.

            Women can wear pants… but not jeans. Certain colors are unacceptable for “good girls”., etc.

            Iron EVERYTHING. She used to iron my underwear! Creases in blue jeans, etc., etc.

            1. SusanDC*

              LOLOL-my mom was born in MI in 1927 and this is a discussion I had with her when I was 10 and we were shopping:
              Me-I like that dress
              Mom: It’s cotton
              Me:What does that mean?
              Mom: It’ll need to be ironed after it’s washed and I don’t iron
              Me: I’ll do it
              And I did, unless I took my shirts to the cleans and had them do it. Mom had a full-time job and there was no way she was going to iron as well-my sibs and I did our ironing. She do our laundry if she was doing some, but otherwise we learned early on to do laundry as well.

              1. Bored but not Boring*

                I buy no clothes that require ironing, and if something slips by, it goes to the dry cleaner.

          3. HumbleOnion*

            My friend’s mother in Cleveland did this when her kids were young. This must have been in the 90s – the 1990s!

          4. Gumby*

            I had a roommate who used to iron her scrubs! (She is a nurse.)


            She has lived all of her life in California. She was in her mid-20s at the time.

            1. Mrs. Fenris*

              I’ve had a few pairs of all-cotton scrubs that really didn’t look that great unless they were ironed.

        2. Old Biddy*

          My mother is from Michigan and was the same way when I was growing up, although she has since mellowed out.
          No white shoes after labor day, black is for widows, purple is for old women since it reminds her of her fifth grade teacher, etc. She made an exception for red since it’s her favorite color.
          As you might expect, I have been wearing mostly black and purple clothing since I was a teenager.

          1. DC Cliche*

            Purple was also for older women because of the Red Hat Society where I grew up … “”when I am an old woman I shall wear purple, with a red hat that doesn’t go ….” I still remember all those ladies marching in our small town’s Oktoberfest parade!

          2. MM55*

            My mother used to take the laces out of my saddle oxfords and wash then every night before we went back to Catholic grammar school the next day. Yes, a wee bit occupied with what she thought people might think of her. And she did this for my 3 brothers too. I did not know until I was 40+ that she did this.

        3. SusanDC*

          Wow! I am from MI and am very very grateful never to have had any conversations (or hear any conversations like this) while growing up there. Of course, if anyone had ever told my Mom what color to wear, she’d tell them to go go to hell. And I had forceful opinions about what I liked to wear as a small child, so I’m very glad to never had to deal with this.

      2. The Katie (OP 4)*

        When my mum was my age (mid 20’s), it was the early 80’s and she was living in the UK. Occasionally, she will say something without realising that some words have different connotations in Australia.

        1. Batgirl*

          So I just asked my mother about this because because she’s the same age as yours and we’re in the UK. You could have knocked me down with a feather when she agreed with yours! Apparently it’s an interview rule she’s totally heard of; you don’t want to have it mistaken for an old or a dirty shirt or have it look like “you’re not making an effort”.
          This advice was floating around in the sixties apparently when her older sisters were interviewing and she was a kid. Still prevalent in the 70s and 80s (along with wearing skirt suits and tights – she even went on a date in the 70s, in high summer, on holiday in Spain with full on hosiery!) even though people generally now had proper washing machines, no need to boil wash the whites or starch collars, and average Joe usually had more than one good shirt. Not to mention a greater availability of dyes. Paranoia of all tinted shirts being dirty shirts should be now at an end!
          I have totally interviewed in an off-white blouse and I reminded her of this. “Oh no dear, that was definitely beige”. I have however heard her making sure men have proper white shirts for funerals though. My mother hasn’t had a job since 1981 if that helps.
          However she was a seamstress who made shirts…..

      3. wittyrepartee*

        My mother, born in south america, has these feelings about underwear. She’s still shocked by my wearing black and red bras. White was the correct color for teens, whether or not it showed through all of your clothing like a beacon (which tan would not have).

        1. NotAnotherManager!*

          That would make me so sad! I’m not even sure I’ve owned a pair of white underwear (being, yes; white, no) since middle school – even in the years no one saw them but me (being both the owner and house laundress), I find wearing loud prints under the more subdued and conservative clothing required in my industry kind of satisfying.

          I don’t even think white is a thing for kids anymore. Target is full of character or pattern prints in the kids’ section.

      4. Kathleen_A*

        I am probably older than the OP’s mother, and I’ve never ever heard this rule about white shirts for interviews. Ever. It could be a regional thing, but I very much doubt it’s an age thing. It’s more probably a thing with this particular OP’s particular mother.

        1. Aveline*

          I said age, region, and culture. Not simple age and generation.

          Just because you haven’t heard it, doesn’t mean it’s not a thing in some subgroups.

          Given another poster with Midwestern family knows this as well, it’s nit just an oddity.

          1. Kathleen_A*

            I am sorry if you took my post to be a direct contradiction of yours, Aveline, because I actually did not intend it that way. (And what’s more, I don’t think it reads that way – but if it does, I do apologize.) All I was objecting to was a belief (not necessarily your belief) that “Oh, the problem here is that the OP’s mother is old and out of touch.” Age is probably not a major factor here, though out-of-touchness very well might be. :-)

            While this thing about white shirts may not be unique to the OP’s mother, it’s pretty unusual, at least in my lifetime. (And BTW, I have lived in the Midwest for decades, though I didn’t grow up here.) The point is that while she acquired the belief from somewhere, she’s the one who’s stuck with it – who’s *chosen* to stick with it – even though it’s actually not in fact all that common, so I still think it’s fair to say that this is an oddity – a quirk. But hey, YMMV.

          2. Observer*

            What you are ignoring is that there is a major difference between “old” which is what the OP said and “maybe belonging to this very specific cohort which includes an age range.”

      5. Quackeen*

        Ah, yes, you must control your husband’s wardrobe, because That’s a Woman’s Job and People Will Think He’s Gay if He Wears Pink!!

        My husband is a grown man who doesn’t need or want my permission to dress the way he pleases, but some cultural beliefs persist.

        1. Aveline*

          I roll my eyes internally. Sometimes I say “I wish I had that much control over him.”

        2. your favorite person*

          My husband dresses better than me 9/10 times. Ironically, he does get assumed as gay for being very well dressed more often than most. He doesn’t mind! He says that gay men are typically dressed better. To him, it’s a compliment.

          1. Michaela Westen*

            My social circle includes several very well-dressed men (because they love style) and one of them has had his mother tell him not to dress up because people will think he’s gay.
            None of them have ever seemed gay to me.

              1. Quackeen*

                I mean, IMO “seeming gay” would mean that I am witnessing someone in an intimate situation with someone of the same gender and that’s about it…

              2. Michaela Westen*

                It’s not about what people wear, though apparently some think any well-dressed man is gay.
                Only if it’s really obvious and deliberate – like I once saw a man wearing pants that were baby-girl pink and a blue floral top, in a well-known gay neighborhood. He was making a fashion statement that he was gay.
                When someone seems gay it’s more of a manner – an attitude, a way of speaking. You’ll recognize it if you see it. However, I’ve known at least one person with this manner who said he was hetero.
                Was he gay and closeted, or actually hetero? It can get complicated.

      6. DCGirl*

        My mother had a whole host of color rules, including things like “Blue with green must not be seen,” no brown with black, no orange with red, no purple with anything. For little girls, you dressed blondes in blue and brunettes in pink. Redheads were SOL, I guess.

        When I was six and my sister was four, we were asked to be flower girls in a wedding. The dresses, which my mother had to make (this was back in the era where the bride picked a Butterick pattern and handed out fabric), had a blue bodice and a green skirt. My mother thought it was just the height of bad taste.

        1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

          They dressed the redheads in pink too. *scowl* No matter how paint-factory-explosion it made us look.

        2. emmelemm*

          In the Laura Ingalls Wilder books, she (Laura) always had pink ribbons for her (brown) hair and her sister had blue for blonde. My mother and her sister were also subjected to this. My mom had the brown hair and she was very bitter about it.

      7. AKchic*

        You have described my grandmother and my mother. My aunt (who is older than my mother, but “lib’rul” and therefore less than in the eyes of my conservative family) is not this way. I am not this way and it drives my family up every vertical thing possible (walls, trees, polls, posts).

    2. Sara without an H*

      I don’t know about “old and out of touch.” It might be better to say that she has strong opinions about a topic on which there’s really nothing written in stone.

      For the typical office job, I don’t pay much attention to the candidate’s clothes unless they are so wrong as to indicate systemic cluelessness. Showing up in a hot pink skirt with a fluorescent orange tank top to interview for a job in a library would indicate cluelessness. An off white shirt wouldn’t even register.

      1. Elsajeni*

        Yeah, I actually wouldn’t even say “out of touch” — it’s not that this is something that would have been universally true, say, 20 years ago but OP’s mom hasn’t kept up with the times. She’s just got some kind of particular pet peeve about off-white, or some degree of magical thinking along the lines of “there is ONE perfect interview outfit and if you manage to find it then you will get every job you interview for,” or something.

        1. Observer*

          I happen to think that magical thinking is almost by definition out of touch – not with social norms per se, bit with reality. Also, insistence that there is ONE right way to X (dress for an interview, make a meal etc) is out of touch with how the real world operates in the vast majority of cases.

          Which is to say that being out of touch is not age related. Nor is it necessarily related to change – social, political or otherwise.

          So, I’m comfortable with saying that the OP’s mother seems to be out of touch with reality.

    3. GGG*

      My mother never said anything like this, but I know *her* mother was aghast when she chose a wedding dress that was — gasp — ECRU.

  7. Dan*


    First things first, I do the kind of travel OP dreads to hear about, and I can’t imagine blathering on about it for much more than 5 minutes… and that’s with people who actually want to hear about it, let alone those who don’t. Heck, when I get back, I’m so danged jet lagged, I *don’t* want to talk about it. I also come from a lower middle class background, so I totally get having to scrimp and scrap one’s way through life.

    The best advice I can offer the OP is a bit blunt, but on point: Be comfortable in your own skin. If you aren’t, there’s going to be a never ending internal battle about other people having more X than you. And it’s a battle you can’t win. I got a late start in my career — albeit one I’m quite good at — but I work with people close to a decade younger than me who are higher on the food chain — at levels many people at my company will not reach before they retire. I can sit there and compare myself to them, and grouse about advantages and breaks they’ve had that I haven’t. But to what end?

    We all have our own lives, and we would serve ourselves well if we can be happy with it. I get to travel the way I do because I don’t have a wife and kids — and there are plenty of people who would prefer the wife and kids, even if it means they can’t travel. To each their own.

    1. Meredith*

      I totally agree with your advice. At my last job, I worked with girls who clearly came from families with money, whereas my family fluctuated between working poor and middle class. These girls had nicer things than me and wore way better clothes. It messed with me for like the entire first year and I did have some feelings of resentment. Then one day I just realized, it’s no more their fault that they were born into a rich family than it is my fault that I was born into a poor family, so why should I feel such animosity towards them? There’s always going to be someone more successful, more attractive, with more money, so there’s no point driving yourself crazy comparing yourself to everyone you interact with.

      1. lammmm*

        I’m currently working on reframing my mindset to be more like this… There’s always someone who has more or who’s life situations have worked out differently than yours.

        Mine has come from people my age (late 20s) who own beautiful homes… that their parents provided the down payment for. Just because my parent couldn’t (or chose not to in my case) afford to do so, doesn’t make me any lesser than them because I’m in a less than ideal (for my preferences) living situation.

        1. EM*

          It’s a bit perspective though. I can’t have children, or at least not so far. So partner and I decided to throw ourselves into our best lives together, and we travel lots (because no kids, can afford to). When people ask what I did for holidays, I talk about Big City for the weekend and they talk about little Johnny’s potty training or school play… which I find as boring as they do my travel. They show interest in my thing and I show interest in theirs because it’s their life and they’re just sharing too.

          OP, very much wanted to have kids. This meant less travel for a little while. AAM advice seemed kind to me, and sensible. Listen a bit, then tune out when you can, like any boring topic

          1. valentine*

            OP1: I’m not sure why you feel hard done by. If it were the length of time, not the subject, or if you lacked only money and vacation time, I would understand. Even if you hadn’t chosen to parent or hadn’t chosen a husband who chose the military, even if you had a windfall, you’d still have your relationship with money. When you have the time and money, you’re still going to make different travel choices than your colleagues and you don’t seem to wish you’d been raised with money so you could be carefree about it now. If they shortened their travel-talk segments or had a wider range of topics, would that suit, or do all their conversations (Monologues? Soliloquies?) sound like, “I’m positively dripping with dollars!”?

            1. Old Biddy*

              I’m not OP1, but you can get sensitized to things and then it’s harder to ignore. I live in a rather pricy neighborhood in a low cost-of living area. Some of my neighbors talk about expensive vacations, home renovations, etc. They’re nice people, just clueless. I spent most of my life in Silicon Valley so I’m used to it, but it really bugs my husband.

              1. AntsOnMyTable*

                My feelings have always have been that you shouldn’t talk (a few minutes is fine) about that kind of stuff to people lower on the salary totem pole than you. I don’t want to hear about the things my boss, who makes twice as much as me, can really afford. Nor will I gush about it to someone making half of what I make. My colleagues making the same amount? That I don’t worry as much about. You have the nice car and I drive the 20 year old beaten up car and travel instead. We have the same money but make different choices in how to spend it. (Caveat: I realize some people have things like medical issues that affect this ‘making choices’ idea).

                1. FTW*

                  The OP doesn’t say these colleagues are lower on the totem pole, they generally seen to be peers.

                  I think of it as taking interest in your co-workers. Some of my co-workers have kids, and I’m not particularly interested in kids as a rule. But I listen to their stories and ask them questions because it is important to them.

        2. EM*

          Sorry, I nested that so it sounds like I’m disagreeing with lammmmm. I didn’t mean to :)

      2. Jasnah*

        Agreed. OP, I totally understand the resentment that comes from feeling like others got a headstart in life, and now they’re getting privileges they didn’t earn. But in addition to that, they’re making different choices than you. They chose to join a sorority. They chose a partner who was not in the military. They chose to not have children. They chose to have traveling as their main hobby. In addition to tons of other choices that you don’t see, because you are comparing your behind-the-scenes underdog story to someone’s Instagram-worthy highlight reel. Maybe they also chose to have tons of credit card debt. Maybe they also chose to travel rather than spend time with relatives from whom they are estranged. Maybe in turn, YOU have privileges that they do not, and they would be enormously jealous of you if you went on and on about it.

        I encourage you to reframe this as comparing apples and oranges, not helpless victim/spoiled bourgeoisie. That’s really unfair to both parties and not helpful.

        Maybe you can be a tourist in your own city–go to museums, lounge at cafes, go to parks and events, even serve as a local guide to tourists coming in from overseas. You’ll get to meet people from all over and really become an expert in your city. If the issue is truly that you want to travel more, then this should solve your problem. But if the issue is actually that you resent your coworkers’ privilege, you’ll have to do more to change your mindset.

        1. Gerta*

          “…you are comparing your behind-the-scenes underdog story to someone’s Instagram-worthy highlight reel.” Yes!

          Different context, but there was a point in my teenage years when I was seriously struggling socially and thought I would rather have the life of one of the more popular girls at school. She was good at all the stuff I enjoyed, and had friends, etc, which I wanted. Then I discoverd she was a drug user. At which point I realised that I am me, my circumstances and experiences are part of what make me me, and I have very little idea of the challenges others are facing.

          These days, I am in the shoes of your co-workers – single, have travelled a lot and lived abroad, love discussing those places with others. Sometimes I look at my friends who have married and become more settled, and think it would be nice to have some of that. But on the other hand, it would stop me from doing other things I enjoy, and that is the choice I have made, for now, at least. So I personally can live with not having a partner and kids, but clearly for you this was a priority. Keep reminding yourself of that.

          1. Mockingbird*

            Yep! I’m one of these people, travel is my big hobby, but I am single with no kids which is the main reason I have a flexible enough life to travel. When I meet other people who like travel or have been to the same places, I enjoy talking to them about it. This is DEFINITELY my highlight reel, though. (I mean, heck, it is relatively light/superficial/happy so it’s a nice small talk topic if a new contact and I find out we have this in common.) I try not to be obnoxious about it with people who don’t share the interest/experience because I don’t want to seem boring or braggy. The good news is most people will pick up if you aren’t interested so if people are being truly obnoxious about it, I would go with bowing out after a few minutes and anyone but the most obtuse should get it.

            1. Gerta*

              I will fully acknowledge that in some cases, even with new acquaintances, my conversations can be much longer / in-depth, because the history, culture, politics, etc of the places I spend time in are of major interest to me – ONLY IF they are interested too. Otherwise I am much more reticent because I don’t want to be that obnoxious person.

              It may be that in an office where lots of her colleagues travel, OP#1 is being exposed more detail than she wants because it’s something they have in common. But obviously, if they are subjecting her to it directly and not getting reciprocation, that’s inconsiderate of them.

              1. Danger: GUMPTION AHEAD*

                This happens at my office. About 80% of us travel now, traveled in the past, or lived overseas, so whenever anyone travels we end up on long discussions when they come back because odds are 3-5 people either have been there, know someone who lives there, or is planning a trip to the place. I’m sure the discussions are boring as crap for the 20% that don’t travel.

            2. YoungTen*

              You make a good point. Besides some people not having the financial means to travel. They are some people who just don’t find travel interesting. As I noted in one of my comments, My coworkers are well off but they don’t travel often. They like to spend on cars instead.

          2. SpiderLadyCEO*

            YES to this, so much. And something to help OP reframe: your coworkers might be jealous of you. Of course, not knowing this, I can’t say anything with certainty but:

            I travel a lot, both for work and for fun, and this is only really possible because I have no spouse, no kids, no dog- all of which I greatly desire. They’re talking about the good things in their life, but you very likely have something they want and do not have. Or maybe you don’t — no one knows these things. But they’re talking about the good parts, the highlight reel, like Jasnah suggested. They’re leaving out the harder parts.

        2. MusicWithRocksInIt*

          I love to go to musicals and plays – and whenever I talk about them I have a coworker who tells me that she can’t afford things like that because she has kids, but she goes to big name concerts with her family all the time. Going to see Taylor Swift in concert can cost just as much as Wicked or Gentlemen’s Guide to Love and Murder – she just has different priorities on spending money and different preferences on preferred experiences. There are also people who would rather have things than experiences.

          1. Lily Rowan*

            I wish more people realized that — it’s all about priorities! I mean, assuming you’re talking about people with enough money for basic expenses and then some. Even when I was broke, I bought my lunch out rather than bringing it from home, but I did that instead of going out to dinner with friends, and that was worth it to me. (Probably I should have been bringing my lunch AND not going out to dinner, but bygones.)

          2. your favorite person*

            This! absolutely- it’s all about priorities. My husband and I live in a nice house. Nicer than most, if not all, of our friends. We drive lesser cars, don’t go to concerts, don’t travel much, and don’t eat extravagantly because our priority was to live in a house we absolutely adore. People who come to our house might think we do better than we actually do because they aren’t seeing the full picture.

            1. catwoman2965*

              Agreed. I’m closer to retirement age than i am graduating from college aka old, single, and rent an apt. I would say 99% of the time I’m happy, but every now and then, i kind of feel a bit, well, like a “loser” since most of my friends, peers etc. my age are married, have kids, own houses etc.

              BUT, i travel and can do whatever i want, when i want, and i can buy that $200 purse if I choose, without needing to check if the money is earmarked for something else, and so on. I’ve had people say to me “must be NICE” well yes, yes it is, but it also must be nice to have this or that thing that I don’t.

          3. AntsOnMyTable*

            It seems like parents sometimes forget having children is a choice. And although you might not be able to afford X you also have a kid, which based on the FB and instagram posts I see, is the only time you apparently learn what true love is so that seems like a fair trade off.

          4. LV*

            I love to travel, and I had a colleague who would always say it must be nice and she wished she could afford to travel as well. The thing is, she owned a lakeside cottage! The annual mortgage and maintenance costs on her vacation property are probably a lot more than what I spend on my trips (unless her place is a real dump).

        3. RandomU...*

          Agree with this. For whatever reason my husband’s coworkers are somewhat obsessed with where we travel and give him sh*t for being a millionaire because of our vacations.

          Well that is until he starts asking them questions…
          How many kids do you have … we don’t have any
          How much did that big house and land cost?… We live in a modest ranch in the city he works
          How many snowmobiles do you have?… We’re not into toys
          How much did your entertainment room cost?… Seriously one of the people who used to be really vocal had an entertainment room for basketball that had 4 large screen tvs + the extra sports package + all sorts of other toys.
          How often is your spouse away from home for work? … I have the high travel job that at times has had me away 50-75% of the time
          How much did that new truck cost?… We drive modest vehicles that are paid for.
          Usually they stop by the 2nd or 3rd question, because he’s made the point that choices matter in the equation and they have the same opportunities, more or less, that he does. (They are union and basically after 5 years hit top pay and make the same salary).

          Yes, some have an easier go of it. But often times it does come down to the choices we’ve made. And every time that I start to feel the envy creep in I remind myself of this.

          1. AntsOnMyTable*

            Very true! And travel doesn’t have to be crazy expensive. I did a 2.5 week trip to Singapore, Thailand, and Malaysia for a thousand dollars. Buy a reliable fuel efficient car used instead of a brand new truck and right there you have enough for like 5-10 pretty decent trips. Or don’t eat out, get movies from the library instead of watching them in the theater, etc. People spend money so casually that it amazes me sometimes.

        4. Psyche*

          And honestly, some of them are likely choosing debt to finance those vacations. Many people are not as well off as they appear. You rarely know the complete story about the choices and tradeoffs that other people make. Focus on your own choices and treat the vacation conversations the same way you would any other conversation you are not interested in by either changing the subject or politely leaving the conversation.

          1. Mimsy Borogrove*

            I find this surprisingly common among my friends who heavily prioritize travel. One in particular has maxed out several credit cards to pay for trips that he really wanted to go on but couldn’t afford. There’s this idea that you have to travel while you’re young and if you don’t, you’ll miss out on the best time of your life so you should seize the day, spend the money, and figure out how to pay it off later. For my money, I’d rather take the trips I can afford, when I have the money to pay for them. This makes me seem much more boring than some of my friends and I’m frequently bored during their conversations about travel, but I’m comfortable with my priorities and how I choose to manage my finances. Remind yourself that there are reasons behind why you live your life the way you do. You made conscious, responsible decisions and in the end, it’ll pay off.

            1. catwoman2965*

              Are you my long lost twin? Sure I would love to take lavish vacations, or even semi-lavish at least once a year, but I don’t as I don’t always have the funds to do so. I travel when I can do it on my own terms, and that also means NOT nickle and diming every last thing.

              As far as traveling while you’re young. Yeah, ok. I did an overseas trip alone for my 50th. it was amazing!

              If i choose to go somewhere, i always budget way more than i know i’ll need. This way i can just do what I want, and 9 times out of 10, i come back with money left.

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

                My grandmother went solo on a cruise to Jamaica when she was in her 70s and had a blast.

        5. Anoncorporate*

          I’m single and would gladly trade some of my privileges for a happy relationship, if such a thing we’re possible!

        6. Michaela Westen*

          I grew up in a big house in a well-off neighborhood that looked pretty, with nice houses and tall trees.
          It was an unending nightmare because my parents were abusive and the fundamentalist culture was differently abusive.
          I escaped to the big city.
          Instead of working on making money, I worked on improving my life in other ways, mainly in relationships. It took a long time, longer than I expected, but I got there.
          Always when I see rich people with big houses and lots of money, etc. I don’t feel any envy because I’ve lived (and later worked) around them and don’t want what they have. Many are stressed-out basket cases from their demanding jobs and rushed lifestyle. Their children get everything physically and nothing emotionally.
          I’m not sure exactly why, but the more money people have, the more they seem to be trying to conform to social expectations – marry young, have kids, have a big career – and they often never get in touch with their real feelings and needs. They don’t have real connections with their spouse or children – it’s all acting out the role society prescribed.
          There is not enough money in the world, an army couldn’t make me, …do that.
          BTW, I hate traveling. I live in a big exciting city and there is more than enough adventure right here. I feel sorry for people who feel they have to travel whenever there’s a long weekend. They never enjoy their own city.

      3. MatKnifeNinja*

        I always figure, the Jet Hopper is STILL WORKING. Still being under some boss’s grubby thumb. Still smelling burnt popcorn or fish surprise wafting out of the microwave.

        I know a person who does charity work as a hobby, and would never ever actually have to punch a time card. Her family has wealth, and her husband has wealth. If I’m gonna waste a “must be nice thought” in my head, it might be for her. Maybe…

        OP#1, no one gets all the good from life. Little Ms Well Offs maybe have a whole bunch of ick in their closets. No one tells you about the functioning alcoholic dad, parents on divorce #3, drug addled boyfriends, or their own personal demons. I work with an RN who everyone secretly LOATHED. Married to a big deal surgeon. Trips, events, beautiful home, cute kids, private schools -insert all wonderful things here-. Meanwhile her husband was a closet rage-oholic, and almost beat her to death. Who knew? No one tells coworkers, “Guess what, damn near got choked out again.”

        I get jelly too. Remember, those people aren’t doing “wonderful” things at you, and no one gets through life sans grief and sadness. When Jet Hopper starts talking about Nepal, think, “Aren’t you as cute as a button.” For me it knocks down the jelly beast a few notches. Or put in your token 5 minutes of polite fake interest and gracefully excuse yourself.

        Being a military family is not easy. Thank you for your sacrifice.

        1. Move Over Thrawn - Florian Munteanu is BIGGER than you!*

          At my last employer (church with a school attached) there was a beautiful woman who was also an RN. Had it all… beauty, intelligence, gorgeous kids, wealth, position. A neurosurgeron husband… who was also addicted to pills and made life misery for wife and kids. She eventually had to divorce him, took the kids and sell off her very expensive purses and other possessions. She is much happier now too, even though her lifestyle changed dramatically. And the thing that I remember most about her is that she was so very nice to me – a person much lower on life’s food chain from her.

        2. RandomU...*

          I kind of hate the advice to imagine people having all sorts of problems and stuff going on that makes them miserable in private to make ourselves* feel better about their public persona.

          I mean, can’t we* just say “hmm… that vacation/fancy purse/tiffany dog collar sounds nice, I’m glad they had fun/like’s their whatever. and move on.

          It’s like we can’t just be happy or even neutral about the good fortunes of those around us.


          1. Parenthetically*

            I get this, but I think it can be, if done briefly, a good balance to what some folks are always doing anyway — imagining Sara Richington has a perfect, problem-free life where nothing sad or difficult ever dares enter the picture. The fact is, every kind of life has its positives and negatives, and some of the negatives are darn near universal. I think it can be healthy to say, “Aw hell, Miss Richington’s life might look perfect, but who knows, maybe her dad who left her all this money was a horrible cruel controlling bastard and all she can think of every time she makes a big purchase is how miserable she was while he was alive,” or whatever. As long as you move on, having reminded yourself that not all that glitters is gold, rather than entertaining yourself by cooking up weird fantasies about the Richingtons’ dark secrets or whatever.

          2. Bostonian*

            I think there’s some value in being realistic and recognizing that other people’s lives aren’t as perfect as they seem. We don’t have to be relishing in their misery to have that acknowledgement.

          3. sunny-dee*

            I completely agree with this — I think we culturally encourage envy way too much, and I don’t think that tearing someone else down to offset that envy is necessarily healthy.

            That said, I do think we can and should acknowledge that we don’t know where other people’s struggles are, as an attempt to give everyone grace. I have a very good friend who lives far away, so I don’t see him or his family much. I know, though, that they have TERRIBLE money problems. Really bad, like food bank bad. But they have five lovely children. My husband was posting pictures to FB of a trip we took to Greece, that looked really luxe — but it was because we had just had a miscarriage and were going to start fertility treatments and we were trying to do something other than sit around and be sad. I spent over three years trying to adjust to the real possibility that I would never be able to have a family. It’s just a contrast, and one that isn’t apparent in a social media world.

          4. anon for today*

            Yes. I’ve been on the other side of this and people can get really over the top about speculation. I travel a lot and I know there were people at my last company who were jealous and started the “maybe she has all these problems in her private life”. I don’t. Hearing people wonder about that was pretty upsetting. Sure, I’ve had some bad moments, but hearing people actively try and convince themselves that there were skeletons in my closet because they were jealous I was traveling made going to work awful.

            I don’t like this trend and I don’t like that we encourage it.

          5. L*

            Same. I’m single/no kids with a middle class income. I save up and take nice vacations because that’s my priority. I only have mortgage debt and my biggest vice is candy. Shrug.

          6. Mina, The Company Prom Queen*

            Agreed. I don’t see why people aren’t allowed to be able to afford to travel or have nice things. Most people talk about their travels because it’s interesting and they’re excited to share what they’ve seen. They aren’t bragging. They shouldn’t have to tiptoe around or scale back their lives so as not to upset those who have different priorities or make other choices.

          7. Clewgarnet*

            ‘Mudita’ is the Buddhist concept of taking joy in other people’s happiness. Once I started deliberately trying to practice it, it made my life so much more pleasant. Of course, I still have moments of envy because I’m only human, but it makes it easier to step aside and remind myself that x doesn’t have y to deliberately spite me.

    2. Willis*

      I agree with all of this. I travel a good bit, but generally don’t talk too much about it other than with friends or family who specifically ask. There definitely have been times, though, that I’ve casually mentioned a trip and gotten a response along the lines of “must be nice…” The thing is, while I’m certainly thankful I’m able to the things I am, in a lot of ways the reason I can travel is cause of the things in life I don’t have (a spouse, kids, a big mortgage, etc.). There’s tradeoffs in life and will always be someone who has or does something you would like to but I think like Dan said the important thing is to focus on what you have that makes you happy.

      For the OP, I agree with Alison’s advice of just politely removing yourself from the conversation and putting on some headphones if you have to. Block it out before it gets to the point where you are just listening and resenting. And think of it too that there may be things you have in your life (husband, kid, good health, close family, etc. etc.) that one or more of your coworkers don’t have but would like, even if it’s not something they come out and say.

      1. Daisy*

        I agree. I’m trying very hard not to be irritated by OP1, she seems incredibly self-centred. I’ve travelled a lot. I would like to be married with a kid, and am not. No one made her do those things, and plenty of people would like them.

        Also some of the connections she’s making don’t even make sense to me. I had a single mother, and graduated into a recession. What’s that got to do with the price of tea? That was a decade ago.

        1. matcha123*

          I was raised by a single parent and could really identify with OP1. I don’t see her as making weird connections. The thing you probably know is that a lot of people are quick to judge you. I don’t feel ashamed of my background, but the shame that OTHERS have put on me is real. And while I can logically understand that I, personally, have no control over others, it does get old explaining that you have never been to wherever. And it’s not because you don’t want to go, it’s because you can’t afford to.

          I dunno, when people are handed things all their lives they have a way of making assumptions and it’s tiring to have to deal with judgement because you either can’t or don’t talk about the vacations to places, etc.

          1. Reba*

            I also disagree that comparing oneself to others is self-centered. It’s a quick path to unhappiness, certainly, but lots of people do it especially when feeling uncertain about things.

            It also sounds like this little group of coworkers is pretty homogenous in terms of background and life experiences, which probably adds to OP’s sense of being very different from them and also to the degree of assumptions going like Matcha123 says.

            The graduating in a recession thing is relevant because, though it was a decade ago as you say, the effects can be lasting, and some studies show that recession career-starters never really catch up. Same deal with the economic support that is suggested by sororities and private schools — with the big caveat that we don’t really know what’s going on in their lives! — but OP may have more debt and has likely been self-supporting for longer. The safety net that family can provide is huge.

            1. Reba*

              Sorry, to be clearer, the “as you say” and really this comment are to Daisy! But I agree with Matcha123.

            2. That Girl From Quinn's House*

              I graduated into the recession and ended up with my career options permanently reduced after years of only being able to find part-time service sector work. Now I can be full time in that service sector…or nothing. It’s awesome.

            3. Grapey*

              I think comparing yourself to others IN FRONT OF THEM (e.g. muttering ‘must be nice’) is extremely self-centered since you’re turning the focus onto you instead of following up on what might have started as a fun travel story.

              It’s one thing to have internal doubts and feel like you can’t keep up with the Joneses’ but to put that on someone else’s shoulders is the self centered part.

            4. Viv L.*

              “It also sounds like this little group of coworkers is pretty homogenous in terms of background and life experiences, which probably adds to OP’s sense of being very different from them….”

              Yes, this! I have gone through this same exact scenario at work, and the problem for me was that my co-workers were all of a similar class background, so when one of them would start talking about their trip to Spain, another would chime in about theirs, and then the next one, etc. This made for very boring and uncomfortable team lunches because I could hardly get a word in edgewise in the conversation, and to add to it, they hardly ever showed an interest in getting to know me. After a while I felt like I did not belong at all, and I was the only one on the team who was the outsider. It was not only frustrating but the alienation I felt and lack of friendship didn’t help me like my job more.

          2. Galina*

            Assumptions and judgments go both ways. OP1 seems to be judging her coworkers a bit and I think she needs to be aware of that. Its not really fair to just assume that her coworkers are having these things handed to them without knowing all the financial details of their lives.

            1. Schuyler Seestra*

              I agree. Also why does she assume they are paying loads of money for thier trips? Budget travel is attainable. Honestly it’s not her business what people choose to spend their money on, but I’ve heard the same complaint lobbed at people who own nice clothes, shoes, purses etc… You don’t have to spend an arm and leg for the things you love.

              1. Middle School Teacher*

                Yes. 90% of the trips I take, I am also working. This summer I’m going to the Caribbean… and working with teachers everyday. Last spring I went to Europe for two weeks… with 35 teenagers. Travel does not always mean $$$$.

                1. Schuyler Seestra*

                  I’m going to Seattle for a conference and totally plan getting some touristy stuff in while I’m there. My company is paying for the trip and fine with me using my downtime however I please. My meals are included, and I’m allowed to expense the work-related travel(Uber from home to Airports and vis versa, and ride to my office.) This trip would cost me around $1000 out of pocket so I definitely want to take advantage of my time there.

            2. GS*

              And it’s also true that having something handed to you will often incur a feeling of obligation, or feeling a lack of autonomy, that can take just as much sorting out as having nothing ever given to you.

              1. Schuyler Seestra*

                agree. I’ve had some good opportunities provided for me and I felt guilty because I know others aren’t in the same boat. There is no reason to feel guilty or obligated it happens.

            3. thestik*

              This is a great point. Travel can be done even to big cities without breaking the bank on transport/accommodations so that there’s more money for souvenirs.

          3. Anon Accountant*

            Exactly!! I was raised by a single mom and we were considered working poor. In college I worked 2 jobs during most of college and worked in my field (formerly public accounting) for 11 years before finding a decently paying job.

            I think it’s normal to feel envy at hearing about others vacations when you want to travel and have the same experiences but couldn’t afford to.

          4. nonymous*

            >when people are handed things all their lives they have a way of making assumptions

            yep. I have a couple cousins who are in their 40s and have just now started to pay for their own housing (!!). Like recently was the first time one of them paid for maintenance/improvements on the unit and they didn’t pay utilities or taxes and Aunt/Uncle take them out to dinner several times per week. Meanwhile I’ve be covering my own housing for almost 20 years now. As much as I am happy for the successes and joys of my cousins’ lives, we just don’t have a lot to talk about. It’s hard to bond over sharing the satisfaction of building a successful life when the value systems are so different.

            1. catwoman2965*

              Absolutely! I dated a guy who had an uncle, who’s wife was from a family that owned a chain of regional dept. stores. Think Kmart, Walmart type. Their kids, his cousins, inherited tens of million of dollars each, upon turning 18. Enough so they’d never have to work again. At the time we were together, the cousins, who were older than us, say early 30ish, had no direction in life, and had never had to work a day, since their dad had also done pretty well for himself. None of them had ANY clue and were just drifting through life.

            2. AntsOnMyTable*

              I have a former friend who partnered up with someone whose parents earn a chain of stores similar to Whole Foods. She has never had a job since and I don’t think her partner has ever worked a day in her life either. They get private plans for any travel. Gorgeous house in California. My friend brought a daughter with her into the relationship but once they had a kid they have had a nanny from the beginning.

              I think about the pride I get when I fix something in my house myself or watch my mortgage slowly go down or the DIY things I make because it would be too much to buy. Those are amazing feelings. Don’t get me wrong, I would totally take the kind of cash they have if given the option, but there are definitely good things to be found in not having everything too.

            3. Michaela Westen*

              Paying all their housing and out to dinner several times a week – it could have been a nice close-knit family or it could have been Mom and Dad using money to control their lives.

            4. Viv L.*

              “As much as I am happy for the successes and joys of my cousins’ lives, we just don’t have a lot to talk about. It’s hard to bond over sharing the satisfaction of building a successful life when the value systems are so different.”
              Exactly! That’s what I felt about being with my immediate team for the longest time. It was very difficult to bond with them as a group, even though I could manage some good conversations with them one-on-one. But… you guessed it – I had to initiate the conversations 95% of the time.

        2. Shannon*

          The OP for LW1 does not seem happy with her life choices. I share a very similar background as her, but I made different choices in my life because I wanted to prioritize travel, as opposed to settling down.

          Buy none of the “obstacles” the OP has listed are reasons she cannot travel and she should take this time to reflect on what she can do to be happier in her own life instead of becoming embittered because other people made different choices.

          1. ket*

            I guess I don’t necessarily agree 100%. The OP might feel left out, or indeed envious, but overall happy with her choices.

            But I’m following up on your post, Shannon, because there is a seed of truth to what you’re saying. If the OP *is* envious because she really *does* want to travel, maybe that’s a sign for her: maybe she can start looking outside the box to find ways to travel that would fit her family. Maybe that means saving up for a few days at an all-inclusive resort in Cancun (not my style, but some friends love it!) or she could do a little research & fly down to Mexico City and go see the monarch butterflies nesting in the cedar trees in the mountains nearby (I did this & it was really cool — and not very expensive the way we did it). My husband & I have traveled a lot and you can do some fun things by going on the off-season ($600 round-trip to Italy once!) or staying closer by (renting a cabin in our state park for a weekend — just a 30 min drive and no need for a tent, but still a nature experience, and with a baby!). Getting plane tickets using airline miles from a credit card can be a way to take some trips more cheaply. If the whole family is too much, parents could split up & take shorter trips with one kid at a time. If the OP really feels a pull to travel, there might be things she can do.

            1. Mallory Janis Ian*

              Seconding the advice here about looking at what you (general “you”) can do to increase your satisfaction with your own situation, even if you can’t make it equal to the other person’s situation. I was similarly envious of a coworker who, in our business-casual university office, always wore “student” clothes instead of “staff” clothes (faded skinny jeans, sheer cold-shoulder blouses, very casual thong sandals, etc.). She was young, attractive, fun, smart, and witty, and I felt old and frumpy in my mandatory business-casual clothes. I felt like, “Well, I don’t want to wear these matronly outfits, either, but it’s for work!” I stewed about it for a couple of weeks, and then I went out and got myself some business casual clothes that I DO like (natural fibers instead of polyester or whatever) — things that felt less matronly and that I might choose to wear to a semi-dressy weekend event. Once I was happy with what I was wearing, I didn’t care anymore about what my coworker was doing.

            2. Viv L.*

              “I guess I don’t necessarily agree 100%. The OP might feel left out, or indeed envious, but overall happy with her choices.

              But I’m following up on your post, Shannon, because there is a seed of truth to what you’re saying. If the OP *is* envious because she really *does* want to travel, maybe that’s a sign for her: maybe she can start looking outside the box to find ways to travel that would fit her family.”

              In my experience I did feel left out and unable to relate, and I tried to take small trips with my family, but even when I did make one big international trip (to Canada) last year, my co-workers have done so many more trips that I still could not keep up with them in conversation very much. Also, the trips often strained my limited budget.

              Also, the OP’s colleagues most likely have other more upscale interests that they indulge in, such as eating out at fancy restaurants. Mine often liked to talk about the latest restaurant they had been to and the fancy dishes they ate… all adding to the sense of not having any shared experiences in common with them.

        3. Patty Mayonnaise*

          I think the OP is using those facts to explain in shorthand why she didn’t travel as a kid or young adult – I’m getting the sense that the OP hasn’t done much fun travel at all and that’s contributing to her frustration at her coworkers. But I also agree with you that it’s not relevant to her situation now – OP has had time to prioritize travel, if that’s what she really wanted to do, and she made other choices (assuming she has disposable income).

          1. Katefish*

            Some of my best childhood memories are local car vacations with my mom and grandma, and they were very small budget, with kids, on spring break, etc.

            1. AntsOnMyTable*

              When I was younger my parents had three small kids and not a lot of money. Every summer they would take a few weeks off and we would drive around the United States. We ate out once a day and the rest was food from the grocery store kept in a cooler (which is still to this day how eat when traveling). By the time I hit high school I had been to almost every state (oddly we had missed Florida) and practically every national park. It was amazing, not crazy expensive, and I got to see more of my country than most people. Travel doesn’t have to be international.

          2. Traffic_Spiral*

            Yeah, are military air discounts not a thing? She could have taken a few trips (even if she had to do them without hubby) before the kids if she wanted. Everyone makes their own choices.

        4. Observer*

          I had a single mother, and graduated into a recession. What’s that got to do with the price of tea? That was a decade ago.

          You apparently have not been paying much attention. When you start your career in an economy where it’s harder tog get a job, and where the jobs you an get pay lower than they did a few years prior, that has effects that can, and most definitely DO often last decades. Things like how much debt you took on vs how much you can actually pay off, and the trajectory of you pay scale are the two most obvious.

          Marketplace did a series which I think they called Divided Decade in which they talk about the ongoing effects of the recession. A lot of it is stories of how those events still affect people today.

          1. Viv L.*

            Thank you for this! Unlike some of my current co-workers who started their careers at the top of the available salaries for newly graduated college students, I started out at the low end of the salary scale thinking that I could get by on it. This affected my salary progression and what I could afford.

        5. Anna Held*

          Self-centered is boring your coworker for an hour (!) talking about your latest travel adventure. No one wants to hear it, especially at work, and especially someone who does not share that interest. Anyone would be irritated. And yes, constantly hearing people go on and on about these things would make you feel sensitive to your very different circumstances and point out constantly how you’re an outsider. Not a great feeling.

          1. medium of ballpoint*

            The shared interest can be an important piece of it. I have a coworker who can afford to take 6-8 weeks of LWOP to travel every year. She loves it, that’s great, but I’m not a traveller. I don’t enjoy it myself and I enjoy it even less so when it’s second hand. If I wanted to know what the Eiffel Tower looks like, I’d google it rather than sit through 25 amateur photos of it. And round about photo 10, I’m starting to think about all the work I had to cover while she was out travelling, and it leaves a bad taste in my mouth even though I think she’s generally a great coworker.

          2. CmdrShepard4ever*

            I think it depends on if OP1’s coworkers are talking directly to her and they go on and on for an hour that is understandable for OP to feel that way. But it seemed to me that the issue is a group of coworkers who have a mutual interest in travel and will talk and exchange stories/tips etc… with each other. That does not seem unreasonable as long as coworkers do not “pick” on OP when OP decides to disengage from the conversation or wear headphones.

            I think this is no different than if a group of coworkers were all into a different hobby (work appropriate) and talked about it at work, such as movies or cars. If 5 coworkers are really into cars but OP is not, it would not be reasonable for OP to request that they stop talking about cars just because they don’t like cars.

          3. Viv L.*

            Yes, and it is so difficult to be able to articulate what it feels like to have to sit through a team lunch listening to everyone chime in except for yourself because you have no travel experiences to share. I could try to change the subject, but then it would feel forced and feel like I was disrupting the natural conversational flow.

    3. Ego Chamber*

      “We all have our own lives, and we would serve ourselves well if we can be happy with it.”

      Failing this, at least don’t expect other people to validate your life choices by making the same choices as you. If that’s your baseline, you need to see a therapist and work on some things. (No snark, therapy is good and useful.)

      1. Anonym*

        I would just love to highlight this point that you make so well! People making different choices doesn’t invalidate yours. I think it’s an impulse many of us feel, to be a bit threatened or defensive, or to want to judge others for living differently (not saying OP1 is doing this specifically), as a way to defend ourselves against feeling less than. But there are so many good ways to live.

    4. Jl*

      Yeah… Op 1 says she is happy but her letter implies she isn’t.

      There are more imporant things for her to worry about. Plus, shutting down happy and excited people isn’t cool and people will take notice of her behavior. It’s unkind and petty. She should just politely excuse herself to work and put earphones on.

      These vacations don’t really seem extrvagant and can be done for a reasonable price if you save your pennies. From the way you explain it it seems they are going to Bali or something on a private jet and exploring the oceans on a luxury yacht, which I doubt is the case. They shouldn’t be shamed for exploring the world and enjoying themselves. You chose your path.

      In a few years they may be in your position so give them a break.

      1. MK*

        Hmm, I don’t think the issue is that the OP is dissatisfied with her life now, more that she wishes her road there was different. Her co-workers may well be in her situation in a few years, but they will have had a carefree ’20s experience, while for the OP that period of her life was a time of struggle.

        That being said, changing her perspective is the only thing to do here. These people are being excited for their lives and they are not doing anything wrong. Yes, they are luckier than the OP, but the OP was probably luckier than a lot of other people. If they are boring her, try to treat them the same she would someone who was droning on about a TV show or gardening, instead of turning into a class war issue.

        1. Lynn Whitehat*

          15 years from now, she will be a footloose and fancy-free empty-nester, while her co-workers are still mired in dealing with algebra, lunch detention, and puberty!

            1. SpiderLadyCEO*

              This this this!!!!! Maybe they can’t have them and want them, maybe they don’t want them at all! But don’t assume!

          1. thestik*

            I feel like the algebra and puberty parts will apply to me when I go back to school in my mid 30s to retrain (but will still be battling zits). Now to find a lunch detention equivalent….

      2. Jenny*

        I don’t travel right now because I have a young kid and it was a choice. I will note that travel is way, way cheaper than my kid. I don’t regret it for a second, though.

        I will say people often have a mental barrier to travel or the cost. My mom would spend money on a set of dishes or a couch and then say she couldn’t travel. It took my sister dragging her on one of those not super pricey (less than the couch) London/Paris trips for her to get over the hump and now mom has seen a lot of the places she always wanted. Sometimes you just have to go.

        1. Baby Fishmouth*

          Yupp, I’ve travelled a lot. Part of it is luck, but most of it is because I’ve made some major tradeoffs in my life. I don’t have a house/mortgage, I don’t have a kid, etc. One day that will change and I’ll travel less. But for now, I love to travel so why not do it? It’s not nearly as expensive as people think. My husband and I once did a trip to Europe (from Canada), hit up 3 countries, and it cost about $2000 Canadian for both of us combined. We did a camping road trip a few years ago – 10 days, $800 combined. Most people just have a mental block in what they think it must cost, and won’t take the plunge.
          Obviously this is not true for most people, and it may not be true for OP, but she needs to frame it in terms of different choices and priorities, rather than haves vs. have-nots.

        2. pentamom*

          Well, I don’t know, I spent the years when my kids were growing up buying neither furniture nor traveling, nor updating the house, nor anything that cost significant cash outlays that weren’t directly related to necessities. I don’t know if that’s OP1’s situation, but there really are people who can’t afford to travel merely by shifting around priorities.

          That said, the only way she is going to deal with this is to learn that other people are not taking vacations AT her. She needs to appreciate the good in her life, and let go of comparisons, because comparisons of that sort really never get you anywhere.

        3. Mockingbird*

          Oh I agree for sure there’s a mental block with some people. The idea of leaving home and organising things can be really intimidating if you have never done that before. And organised tours are often more expensive than DIY. I know that I personally feel way more comfortable travelling than some friends, because I have lived abroad so it is a more natural thing for me, and I also have more experience in how to do things cheaply. Sometimes I offer to help plan for friends who have a repeat “must be nice” snarky attitude and this usually leads to a convo about our different priorities rather than passive aggressiveness.

          However even my $300 RT to Europe ticket last year could be too expensive for some people (especially if you’re paying for your whole family to go), so I don’t deny that’s a factor at all.

        4. Audenc*

          100%. I have a friend who will casually drop $500 at the mall on clothes for no particular need, but then complain that she’s too broke to take even a domestic vacation. Obviously some people just don’t have the money, but for many, it’s all about priorities.

          1. Michaela Westen*

            I wonder if some of these actually don’t want to travel, but are afraid to say so? There’s a lot of pressure in our culture. Must travel! Must be fun-filled trips to warm sunny places! It’s very romanticized.
            They may be too intimidated to just say, “I’d rather spend on clothes (or whatever) than travel”.

      3. SarahTheEntwife*

        Please bear in mind that a “reasonable price” means very different things to different people. Something can be far out of the OP’s budget while still not being particularly extravagant.

        1. Emily K*

          Yep, and for all but the very wealthy, budgeting is always a trade-off game. You may be able to afford $500-this and still be truthful when you say, “I can’t afford $500 that,” because you can’t afford both of them, so you get one and can’t afford the other. It’s true that it’s not the same as not being able to afford $500-anything, but even middle-class and reasonably comfortable people hit a limit in their budget where they can’t afford additional items, regardless of what they may have spent on other things before exhausting their budget. They prioritized other purchases and ran out of money before getting to this other thing far down their priority list.

        2. Genny*

          But right now she’s framing these trips as lavish. Whether or not she can afford a $900 ticket to Delhi doesn’t mean that someone else going to Delhi is taking a lavish trip (which I think a lot of people would classify as some mixture of flying business class, staying in 4 and 5 star hotels, dining in expensive restaurants, all-inclusive high end resorts, designer shopping, etc.). It might help her to move away from the “lavish” frame and choose something more reasonable like “international travel” or ” big yearly vacation” or whatever more accurately reflects the kinds of trips these coworkers are taking.

      4. minty*

        It also seems like value judgements come into play here. There some subtext there when people say things like OH it must be so nice to be able to have disposable income you can use to travel, meanwhile I am over here RAISING CHILDREN. It is not inherently better to decide to marry someone in the military or decide to have a kid. It is not inherently wasteful or vapid to spend time and money on travel.

    5. Colette*

      And she doesn’t know who is travelling because they’d dearly love kids, but can’t have them, or who is travelling because their family history indicates that they are at risk for serious illness, or who has already been diagnosed with an illness that is only going to get worse, or who is travelling because they hate the rest of their life, or ….

      I agree it’s odd that they’re talking about it for so long (assuming it doesn’t just feel long because the OP hates it), but … if the OP wants to do that kind of travel, then perhaps she should start a travel fund (even if her contributions to it are low right now). And the reframing Alison suggested is great – the OP made different choices, and choosing something always means choosing not to do something else.

      1. BottleBlonde*

        This is a great point. I was terribly jealous of a good friend in high school who went on several exciting, overseas trips our senior year of high school. She even got to take two weeks off of school to visit Spain at one point. Then I found out her mother had terminal cancer and decided not to tell anyone and instead live out her dream of traveling the world with her family while she could. Not suggesting that everyone who travels is up against such circumstances, but really you never know.

      2. AntsOnMyTable*

        I love traveling and I love hearing about people’s travel and I honestly think most conversations top out at about 10 minutes. Usually people have already posted updates on social media and it is just really hard to tell someone about a lived experience. I am super surprised she is talking about an hour conversation – partially because I could never find an hour uninterrupted time at my job to talk! If it is multiple people talking about their different trips than it really should be easy for her to step back and stop listening. I think most people who travel recognize that lots of people aren’t interested in hearing about the trip.

    6. Washi*

      I think your first paragraph is key! My husband and I make pretty good money, don’t have kids, and the main thing we spend it on is travel. I do sometimes mention it at work, but as you said, for 5-15 minutes, not a whole hour! I wonder if what’s rubbing the OP the wrong way is not the travel itself, but the sort of performative nature of the travel talk. I find it annoying when people talk about food like this – for some reason I find long, self-consciously hip conversations about various ways to prepare polenta or the best sous vide machines to be unbearably irritating.

      I agree with Dan – cultivate comfort in your own skin, and also just accept that you find these coworkers annoying sometimes, and that’s ok! I find that when I fight against my inclinations and try to convince myself that I shouldn’t find something annoying, I just get more annoyed.

      1. RandomU...*

        Honestly I’m not even that put out by the length of the conversations. It’s something the majority have in common… it could just as easily be silly tv shows, sports, or any other hobby.

      2. nonymous*

        Yeah, the analogy that I would make is if the coworkers spent the same amount of time talking about dog training techniques or sourcing yarn for knitting or exactly how they’ve got their greenhouse set up for show-quality heirloom tomato seedlings – any number of hobbies that people can geek out on and would be pretty boring to listen to if you’re not interested. I mean, I like a good tomato but the extent of my contribution to that kind of convo is that the produce stand on Central owns their own farms and the one on W. Valley is bringing them in from 3hrs away!

        And I think there is the rub, if everyone in the office is bonding by geeking out over travel – an activity that OP is not engaging in, for whatever reasons – how can she bond too? Personally, I would try to steer the conversation to food if possible, because that can be way more accessible. So if coworker went to Morocco, how exactly do they use preserved lemons locally? Is there a restaurant locally that is more authentic than other?

      3. Kj*

        The performative nature of travel talk among my friend group bothers me too. Also “travel” for people roughly my age (25-35) seems to be competition and people use to to prove they are interesting. I haven’t traveled much, partially by choice, in part because when I have have planned trips, they always fall through for various reasons. I do find it frustrating that people my age have been to England multiple times, but still don’t seem to know what the War of the Roses was or that England had a civil war that was different than the US’s civil war. But that is me being snarky and unkind- but I wish some of my friends would stop being horrified I haven’t traveled much. I read widely and that is my travel for right now. Maybe someday it will be different.

        1. Dan*

          I agree with this a lot. I ran into a girl at a social event who had traveled to like 40 countries. She was acting like she was on top of the world because of it. I found it peculiar — I travel like I do for myself, not to brag about it. I don’t do Facebook or Instagram, so I don’t even post stuff just for the likes.

        2. PlainJane*

          “Performative nature of travel talk” – yes! There’s a big difference between spending a few minutes talking about a recent trip and droning on and on about it in a tone that can sound really superior . Even people who are quite content with their lives are going to be bored out of their minds after about 5 minutes, just like the OP is.

        3. Schuyler Seestra*

          This is definitely a thing. Smugness around travel adventures and looking down their noses at those who don’t. I just recently got to a point where I can afford to travel frequently. I got my passport for the first time last year. This kind of attitude is usually lobbed at those who don’t travel internationally. There are some people who think that traveling makes them more cultured. Or judge those of those with different priorities, especially the ones who value “stuff” over “experiences”. My personal favorite complaint from these people is “well if you didn’t spend money on iPhones and Jordans you could travel more”. My iPhone didn’t cost me anything and even if it did it’s more important than going to Europe. I spend more expendable money on clothes, dining out and household stuff. Why? I spend more time at home, I express myself through my dress, and love trying new restaurants. That doesn’t make me less cultured than someone who travels the world all the time. Just what makes me happy.

      4. NotAnotherManager!*

        The hour struck me as well – is it normal to sit around and talk about non-work-related items for an hour at a time (outside of a lunch break)? I think we max out between 5-15 minutes, mostly because people have things to do.

    7. ThisColumnMakesMeGratefulForMyBoss*

      This, and a much nicer way of saying “get over it” which is honestly what I was thinking. People need to stop comparing their own lives to the perception of what others have and have the ability to do. Sure they may get to travel extensively, but that doesn’t make their lives perfect. It’s like the social media perception – most people aren’t going to share the crappy things in their life, they’re only going to show you the good stuff. If OP is truly happy with her life, then let others be happy with theirs. If they’re bragging about how much money they have that’s one thing, but they’re excited about their travels and want to share it with others.

    8. Antilles*

      I do the kind of travel OP dreads to hear about, and I can’t imagine blathering on about it for much more than 5 minutes.
      Agreed. Every couple years, the wife and I take vacations to nice/expensive places and I can’t imagine talking for more than 5-10 minutes about it with someone unless they really really show tons of interest. We actually visited Scotland last year ourselves and the absolute longest conversation I had about it with friends or co-workers was about 20 minutes…and that was only because the guy had actually lived there and kept asking questions about how things had changed since he moved across the pond. With basically everybody else, the discussions were typically 5 minutes or so – we talk a bit about the trip, mention a couple cool stories, show our favorite 2-3 photos, and then the subject changes to something else. It was an awesome trip, I loved it, I would strongly recommend it to anybody without hesitation…but there’s only so much you can talk about it without losing people.

      1. henrietta*

        Not too long ago, I happened to be in earshot of a couple of women discussing their recent travels. ‘Oh, did you like that new boulangerie in the 7th arrondissement?’ ‘Yes! My son and I stopped in there just before he went sailing to Madagascar — he’s finishing his book, you know.’ I felt like an anthropologist, eavesdropping in on discoveries of an unfamiliar tribe. Maybe that’s another attitude the OP could adopt.

      2. BadWolf*

        Me too — I’ve been doing a big trip ayear the last handful of years. I really only talk about it if someone asks and I only continue talking about it if they continue to respond. An hour? That’s a lot unless the person is a great and entertaining story teller.

        1. RandomU...*

          Not necessarily, it sounds like it’s more than one person talking about the vacations. So it’s easy to keep on the subject if a lot of people have stories.

          CW1: Oh wow, we went kayaking for the first time on our vacation last week -Funny Story-
          CW2: That reminds me of when we were paddle boarding down the amazon -Funny story-
          CW3: How was that? We found a tour company that does Mark Twain style rafting down the Panama Canal -Describes trip details-
          CW1: I think I’d rather do a snorkel down the nile trip, the alligators are much more approachable there and I’ve heard they have the lint museum on the itinerary.
          CW3: We thought about the lint museum, but found the largest twine ball memorial to be better that time of year. -Funny Story-
          CW1: OMG, we stopped at the Twine ball memorial -Funny Story-

    9. Competent Commenter*

      OP, I’m going to go against most of the other comments here and say sometimes we just have feelings of envy because we’re human. In a sociology class we learned how a person living in a neighborhood where everyone has about the same education, income and homes will feel fine about themselves, whereas a person in a neighborhood where everyone else is doing much better than them will start to feel less than. You can do your best to reframe things, but feelings are feelings and sometimes it takes a while to get over them or sometimes we don’t get over them and we just need to take evasive action, so that speak.

      I remember living next door to someone who moved into a nearly $2 million house, got pregnant before I did while I was trying, had a second multi million dollar house standing empty, and started up a business that required a ton of money upfront. She was also objectively awful as a person. I was a struggling self-employed person renting a flat next door that I’d been able to get into when rents dipped briefly and the neighborhood was becoming incredibly more expensive around me. Things were really tight for us for a variety of reasons and I worked many long hours in my home office where I had an excellent view of her pulling up in her fancy car.

      Oh the envy I experienced! I knew it wasn’t useful but feelings are feelings sometimes and acknowledging them is a step towards moving past them.

      Also the OP’s coworkers sound boring and irritating.

      1. Good luck!*

        I don’t think we need to insult other people in order to help OP… we have no way of knowing that they’re boring or irritating.

        1. Competent Commenter*

          My apologies. I wasn’t actually trying to insult them. I really did mean that going on about one topic all the time is boring and irritating, not that they are overall boring or irritating people.

      2. Traffic_Spiral*

        They’re not boring just because they all like to talk to each other about their shared interest. That’s what most people do.

        1. Competent Commenter*

          Eh, I agree, but at least one person in that workplace does not share that interest and it’s kind of exclusionary to not recognize that and try to talk about more than one thing. The OP said they would talk about it for an hour. That’s a lot!

          I say this is someone with a lot of intense interests that I have to rein in. I recognize that I can get really boring and irritating if I don’t check myself and change the topic or ask someone about their interests. So it’s a standard I hold myself to as well.

          1. Viv L.*

            “Eh, I agree, but at least one person in that workplace does not share that interest and it’s kind of exclusionary to not recognize that and try to talk about more than one thing.”

            Yes! My co-workers didn’t seem to recognize that there were others that did not have the opportunities they had to go travel, and it was very difficult for them to switch to another topic where I could easily join in as well. After a while even my boss noticed that they were all trying to one-up each other and brag about their vacations. I’m not sure mere reframing on the part of the OP is enough in this situation.

      3. Gazebo Slayer*

        Thank you. Feelings are feelings and you are not wrong to have them.

        With people like your next door neighbor – the wealthy and awful person – I honestly deal with my feelings by hoping bad things happen to Successful Awful Person. Like her awfulness becoming public knowledge in a way that tanks her business, wrecks her marriage, or costs her tons of money. Depending on the precise variety of awfulness and what exactly you know about it… you may even be able to help that along.

        1. Competent Commenter*

          Haha! A very feeling-centered reply. Whatever works, I say.

          This will sound contrary to my other opinion, but I do sometimes have success in moving past envy by thinking “I don’t really know what’s going on in their life and they could actually be miserably unhappy.” This seems like a logic-based approach, not a feelings approach, but because I learned it in a feelings way, it works for me: I used to chat with another mom at my daughter’s school bus stop. During that period I was married to an emotionally abusive, controlling man, we were deeply in debt, I had very low self-esteem and body image, and my life was agony (I had PTSD symptoms post-divorce, things were so bad). When this other mom heard we were breaking up, she was stunned. She said, “But it all seemed so wonderful! You had your cute little house and you seemed happy together and (utterly flabbergasting to me) you’re so pretty!” It made real for me on a very deep emotional level that we never know what someone else’s life is like. Just being told that wasn’t enough. I had to feel it.

    10. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

      I’ve been more or less on both ends of the middle-class spectrum, and I agree with Dan. But it took me years to arrive at the mindset where other people’s conspicuous wealth does not feel like a personal attack on myself, for lack of a better term. BG, I grew up in Eastern Europe. My parents were engineers. Here in the US, it means good money. Back there, it meant decent social status, low pay, and no connections (which was something everyone needed there to get access to things as basic as good food, decent apartment, home phone etc. My parents were on the waitlist to get a phone for 20 years and were still at the same place in the list when they left for the US. I shared a room in a studio-type apartment with them for the 17 years I lived with them. And so on.) I got married and had two kids there, the husband and I were both software developers. Again, here this means good money, back there, we were broke. Came to the US at 30 and we both had to start working at entry level because of “no American experience”. We quickly made our way up to a nice house on an upper-middle-class street, nice vacations and so on. Then I left my husband and took the kids and the dog. The kids started college a year later. The dog became ill with an expensive terminal disease another three years later. I went through a year or two of barely making it paycheck to paycheck. I’ve had to decline social invites and walk out of events because I could not afford to continue staying there. I had an SO at the time who had just started a new business, and was as broke as I was. We were happily broke together, both in our 40s with grown children. Now both kids are done with college and things are looking up again. I’m starting to travel again, around the country for now. What this experience taught me is that honestly there’s no shame in having a low disposable income and not being able to afford things. I am pretty damn proud of the fact that I was able, as a divorced woman, to keep the kids in the same school district, put them both through college, and give my ill dog a good quality of life for the 1.5 years until he died. Even though travel was utterly off the table during that time. Would not have had it any other way. It was one of the happiest times of my life, too.

      Now, if OP has gotten this far in my comment, I have three things to say to them:

      1) OP, you are in your early 30s. The night is still young. You’ll be able to travel yet.

      2) A lot of the people I know who like to travel, have developed ways to do it on the cheap. It sounds to me like you would like to someday travel. You can ask them for money-saving tips they’d like to share (since they seem to want to talk about traveling anyway, might as well steer them towards saying something useful). Then when you are in a place to consider traveling yourself, you could use their advice to cut costs.

      3) One caveat, at least for me, is that when a person starts talking like theirs is the only way to live, and for example putting others down because they cannot travel, that’s where I draw the line. I’ve had casual friends say things like “I don’t understand how people don’t travel overseas every year, how limiting” and I had no problem explaining to them that not everyone is at their station in life. If they don’t understand, I’m more than happy to help them develop the understanding they say they seek ;)

      1. Michaela Westen*

        Also if OP is interested in a particular area or language, she could attend meetings of her local club for that language or culture and pick up many travel tips. It also might help her feel more connected to the culture.
        I went to Spanish club because I like the language and culture and there were many there who had traveled to Mexico and Latin America and talked about how it’s done, where they went, etc. Many of them loved to travel and had been to other places too – Europe, Africa, Asia… I don’t know if this talk would make OP feel better or worse, but she could learn a lot about how to travel conveniently without spending a fortune.

    11. Anne Elliot*

      “I can’t imagine blathering on about [travel] for much more than 5 minutes.”

      I think it’s worth underscoring that a LOT of people find these types of travelogue monologues to be really boring. There’s a reason nobody wants to come over to look at anyone else’s vacation slides. You weren’t there, you don’t actually care where they found the cutest little bistro in Rome where Gianni the waiter brought them free lemoncello. A LOT of people are not engaged in this sort of descriptive narrative of someplace they’ve never been, just like a lot of people aren’t interested in a descriptive narrative of a movie they haven’t seen.

      So I think it’s possible to decide, and to politely admit, that you just really don’t enjoy those conversations without attributing it to jealousy or a lack of emotional generosity. I mean, it could be that TOO, but these conversations are not fun ANYWAY, so I don’t think you should feel you have to do the deep emotional work to make yourself like them when it’s perfectly possible — probable, even — that you wouldn’t like these conversations in any case. I mean, good for those who do, but as you’ve probably guessed, I’m not one of them either.

      1. hamstergirl7*

        I wonder if it is actually a monologue though – OP just states that it’s talked about for an hour. If I’m in a room full of people who enjoy travelling we can easily have a conversation about the various places we’ve been and things we’ve seen and done that lasts an hour or more.

        1. Traffic_Spiral*

          This is what I think is going on – they all travel, so they talk to each other about it.

      2. New commenter*

        “You weren’t there, you don’t actually care where they found the cutest little bistro in Rome where Gianni the waiter brought them free lemoncello.”
        Funny and true!

      3. PlainJane*

        I came here to say something like this. I think some of the commenters here have been unfairly hard on the OP. There’s a reason that, “person droning on and on about their trip to Europe” is almost a cliche. It’s boring as heck to most people. It can also come off as really pretentious, especially coupled with the idea that everyone should travel, and if you don’t, you’re hopelessly provincial. I’m happy with my life, even though my circumstances haven’t allowed me to do much major traveling, but I still don’t want to sit through 30 minutes of how wonderful ___ city was and how you must go there and try this cute little bistro and… blah blah blah. As the OP says, 5 minutes is interesting. Much more than that is painful. And honestly, the same goes for long monologues on potty training, cute things the dog did, or any other topic that’s likely not nearly as interesting as the storyteller thinks it is.

        My advice to the OP is to politely excuse yourself from the conversation after about 5 minutes. “I’m sorry, I need to run to a meeting/get this teapot glaze report done/whatever.” You aren’t obligated to listen to long monologues about something you have no interest in.

    12. Quackeen*

      You sound like a very grounded person. It’s so tempting to compare our insides to other people’s outsides and get stuck in “it’s not fair!!”, but that’s really a pointless exercise. Sometimes a little bit of venting helps, but it’s important to know when to move on. It’s also true that we can see the trappings of what others have in their lives, but we’re generally not privy to whatever struggles come along with those.

      There are so, so many ways to travel through life, and once I stopped nurturing and feeding my resentment of those who had more than I do, I freed up a lot of energy to put towards getting more of what I want.

      1. Dan*

        Thanks. I think I learned the grounding from two parts of the travel spectrum:

        1) The first part has to do with a job I used to have out of college: I worked at airports providing ground handling services for private jets. I made $10/hr, but was working for multi-millionaires and billionaires with more bling than I can ever imagine in my life. There’s no such thing as “modesty” in that line of work — a private jet is a private jet, no ifs and or butts. I could run around going “woe is me” all I wanted, but it would have been futile, I’m sure.

        2) I’ve had the fortune to travel to some of the furthest corners of the earth, some of which have generally low standards of living. These people will likely never have the ability to say travel to the US. Yet, many seemed genuinely happy. Is it my place in life to tell them they shouldn’t be happy because they don’t have the opportunities that I’ve had? Of course not. Likewise, I’m not a failure just because I don’t have my own jet.

    13. Falling Diphthong*

      This is a good point–I can’t picture this being a topic of more than 5 to 10 minutes, unless one person is pumping the other for details as part of planning their own trip to this locale.

    14. sparty07*

      I’m in a travel/credit card point focused facebook group. There is a wide spectrum of people in it, but one focus is the love of travelling (domestically and internationally). We have guys who travel for pleasure 4-6 months a year who run their own business and stay in villas over the water in the maldives (using points) on one end of the spectrum to the main moderator who lives and travels extremely modestly, but is able to travel a similar amount of time as the millionaire but using economy flights, eating cheap food bought in grocery stores, staying in hostels when it makes sense, etc. If you do your homework/planning, anyone can travel for a reasonable price but it does take some work. We just took our kids on a week-long trip to NOLA that was primarily paid via points.

      1. Dan*

        That’s actually how I do most of my travel. Job gives me (and everybody) a generous amount of leave. Asia tends to be quite cheap — I can go for a month and only drop $3-$4k for the whole time. And it isn’t “quite” as expensive, because back in the US, I would have spent a good chunk of that on day-to-day activities anyway.

      2. Observer*

        If you do your homework/planning, anyone can travel for a reasonable price but it does take some work.

        As others have pointed out, that’s not necessarily true for a number of reasons.

        It’s also not relevant. The issue here is not whether the OP should be able to manage to do some traveling, but how she deals with what sounds like a LOT of discussion of what sounds like luxury travel.

        1. Pescadero*

          Generally it’s true.

          In fact – my friend who just got back from India/Nepal traveled and spent a year there for the reasonable price of $0.

          Now… she had to quit her job, then spend a year in India/Nepal living in remote villages with no running water or toilets in basically a hut, while teaching English and helping the villages with farming – which largely amounted to collecting HUMAN feces from the bottom of the hill where the privies were and hauling it for fertilizer to the fields.

    15. seller of teapots*

      I have a very dear friend (who grew up lower class like myself fwiw) who’s recently stated going on pretty lavish vacations with her husband. The reason? They are struggling mightily with infertility, and trying to find ways to celebrate what they have in their lives, and they can afford those trips.

      In other words, my friend would trade the fancy vacas in a heartbeat for what the OP has, but just as these people aren’t vacationing *at* OP, people with children aren’t doing so *at* those with infertility.

    16. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      This is a great comment.

      I grew up in a very lower middle class family but we were afforded pretty cool vacations but they were all within driving distances. Granted driving distances included a few days to get there, we saw just about all the surrounding areas that we could comfortably get to and enjoy while my dad had a two week mandatory paid vacation for fiscal year end each summer. I never even left the US until I was in my 30s and I never flew with my family, I took my first flight at 22, by myself to visit friends.

      I have friends with much different circumstances and we understand the differences between us.

      This reminds me of when I was younger and dating a girl who got mad at me for talking about work…she finally just told me it upset her because I had a job and she was struggling with her own road blocks with agoraphobia. We were ripped apart due to the inability to feel good about her own life for the things she did have access to.

      But I also don’t identify with jealousy at all. I have what I have, you have what you have, it’s okay to be different and have different experiences. By releasing the control that has over you, you find much more inner peace. I never had designer clothes or nice shoes in school, while others were excitedly telling others about their big shopping trips to fancy stores with their parents and showing off their new apparel. I on the other had parents who didn’t shower me with things, they showered me with much more love and attention and journeys! I’m much closer to my parents than many others grew to be I’ve learned. So I now know I traded Northface jackets for my dad teaching me how to pan for gold or catch crawdads, etc. I’m cool with it. I was never cold, never hungry just got heat a different way than others and had a budget for clothes, etc.

      Just embrace who you are and where you came from in the end. You never know where the path will take you. If you know about what the world has to hold, you may still find a way to get there. I haven’t gone to Europe, instead of that, I blew up pictures my dad took years ago when he was stationed there in the military. So I get to see what he saw and enjoy in a different way.

    17. Linda*

      Yes! I also do the kind of travel OP does not want to hear about and there is always someone in my office who tries to guilt me for taking trips. It is usually people wh0 are married with children. We are all entitled to spend our time and money in ways that make us happy. I’m not married and I don’t have kids. If i can sit there and listen to you talk about your husband/wife/kids all day, then I’m not going to be made to feel bad because I took a trip out of the country. I would love to be married with kids but that is not the path my life took so I have to forge a different path.
      I would be extremely annoyed if OP asked me not to discuss my travel plans, especially if the OP ever talks about her husband or kid in the office.

      1. Viv L.*

        I’m glad that you do reciprocate and listen to others talk about their own lives and interests. My problem is that my co-workers virtually never do – at least not in a group setting. Many of them also use their travel to compete with each other (in a subtle way, of course). That’s why I found it difficult to not feel like an outsider. I don’t mind hearing about people’s trips. I just wish they would reciprocate by asking me about my life as well.

    18. Rick T*

      You don’t know how deep in debt they are after their fabulous vacations….

      A few years ago I was rear-ended with significant damage to my car. While I was waiting at the body shop for a ride to the car rental I overheard the receptionist compliment another customer on her shoes.. Think Sex in the City high end pumps. I didn’t think much about it until we both got to the rental agency. They wanted to place a $500 (as I recall) hold on a credit card to secure the rental while they arranged things with the auto insurance company.

      Shoe woman said she didn’t have a card with that much free credit, they were all maxed out…

  8. Edith*

    #4: I think one of the more fascinating aspects of adulthood is slowly figuring out which of the things your parents taught you were genuine and sage parental wisdom and which were just their personal preferences and quirks.

    My dad’s thing was to never hang pictures on your walls because you’ll just have to fill in all the holes when you move. Your mom’s thing is white shirts.

    1. Forrest*

      My parents had green ink and handwriting that slopes backwards. If I remember correctly, the former is vulgar and the latter is a sign of a weak character.

      The handwriting thing baffles me: they weren’t even “this is a silly prejudice but I can’t help it”: they straight up believe it’s a sign of a poor character and used to tell me off if I wrote sloping backwards!

      1. Gerta*

        So which comes first? The poor character, or the hand-writing? Did they worry about your declining morals if they caught you writing sloping backwards? Or did they think your character would be upheld if you wrote ‘correctly’?

        1. Old Biddy*

          Ugh, my mom would get on my case when my handwriting sloped backwards and claimed it was a sign of depression. I’m somewhat ambidextrous and prefer to do some things left handed, and now wonder if I was pushed to write right handed, even though my dad and younger brother are left handed.

      2. lurker*

        I had a high school teacher say “Only nerds use green ink” (in a scathing tone and long before “nerds” became “cool”). It was delivered pre-emptively as part of a speech whose point was “I only accept papers in dark blue or black ink,” but which included lots of digressions about her specific objections to other colors.

        Handwriting that slopes backward is correlated with left-handedness, so that opinion may be related to unfortunate past practices of trying to force left-handed children to write right-handed (my mom, born in 1950, experienced this). I’ve also read in popular-level “handwriting analysis” books and articles that back-sloped handwriting in righties is a sign of introversion, but have no idea if there’s any studies backing that up.

        1. Hold My Cosmo*

          Only accepting blue or black ink in education is common and sensible. Grading a giant stack of work at night is hard on the eyes. Moral judgements about other colors, however, is nutty.

          A relative of mine who teaches got pushback for demanding only black ink. It escalated to administration because a helicopter mom had an axe to grind, but he stuck to his guns because he is colorblind.

          1. Thursday Next*

            That’s a strange axe to grind! Especially when the reason underlying the black ink rule is to accommodate visual impairment. Some parents are…implacable.

            1. Hold My Cosmo*

              The ink was just a symptom; I may have worded that unclearly. Mom was a known problem from previous years, so the axe was more “why doesn’t my kid get special treatment because the rules shouldn’t apply to her” than “I will die on the hill of pink pens”.

              1. sheworkshardforthemoney*

                “I will die on the hell of pink pens” sounds better because I spent too much time recently looking for working pens.

        2. Kali*

          That’s quite interesting, because I am a right-handed introvert with back-sloping handwriting. Ofc, one example isn’t indicative of anything, but I like that people are thinking about me.

        3. Seeking Second Childhood*

          I got criticized for making documentation markups in green ink (“green ink is tacky”) by someone who had previously criticized me for not making my documentation markups different from those made by others in the department. That doc already had red, blue, and black… and I was NOT going to use pink or pencil.

          1. NotAnotherManager!*

            You really cannot make some people happy. I have been criticized for using red pen for markups because “it makes people feel like they’re being corrected”. They… are being corrected? Because that’s my job? It’s not a moral judgment, it just means you need to stick a comma here and make this a new paragraph!

            I tried marking in blue for a while, but then small edits were being missed because the color didn’t pop as well.

            1. Quackeen*

              They… are being corrected? Because that’s my job?

              Ha. Maybe you were supposed to soften your corrections with a participation trophy or something.

            2. Falling Diphthong*

              I use red ink when proof reading my children’s essays. (Printed black ink on white paper.) Because: It shows up well so they can see where I pointed out that they switched verb tense in the middle of the sentence.

              If you always used electric green for mark-ups the person would soon hate electric green. Like the people who hate “best” as a sign off because their Terrible Old Boss used it.

            3. Rusty Shackelford*

              Obviously red says “fix this,” but green says “hey, I love your creative use of a comma here, but as it turns out, it breaks an old fuddy-duddy rule that some people really care about, so let’s thank it for its service and send it on its way, and in the meanwhile, you keep being you, okay?”

            4. Environmental Compliance*

              When I was a TA I got scolded by one professor for not using red ink. I used blue, green, purple… because that’s what our supplies office had that day when I ran out, they didn’t have any red pens in stock. Then with the next professor I got chided for using a red pen.

              I did have to chuckle a little at my students, who (after I gave up and used whatever the hell pen I wanted) would get excited that I didn’t often use red pens because the “edits weren’t as angry feeling”. Then after about 3 labs worth of grading they’d sadly comment that they didn’t like purple (or whatever color I designated for that class) anymore.

            5. curly sue*

              This is why I mark in purple or green. Red apparently ‘triggers anxiety in students,’ except now I find they sigh at me when I hand back a paper with “too much green!” There’s really no winning.

              1. pope suburban*

                One of the English teachers at my high school used purple because she felt red was too angry or discouraging. It was one of those things that seemed a little silly even at the time, but won us all over anyway. Everyone I know has very fond memories of her. :)

              2. Grapey*

                Should “winning” really be defined by how well we manage to coddle students like that though?

                If I were a teacher and a kid (seriously) complained “too much green”, I’d say “too many mistakes!” right back.

          2. Observer*

            It sounds like the ink color wasn’t the problem. The problem clearly was someone who was looking to find something to criticize.

            Was this person perhaps gunning for your job? Maybe your work was somehow making them look bad?

            1. Seeking Second Childhood*

              No, this was someone near retirement age who was training me. I do suspect he was baffled finding himself a minority in a department now only 40% male and only 30% military background.

        4. Paulina*

          Once the office ordered a box of green pens, and I marked in green for the next couple of years. Turned out the students liked it, possibly because it looks a lot friendlier than the red that they were used to cringing over getting. Unfortunately it was just a one-off order and eventually we ran out of the green. I’ve occasionally been tempted to buy my own. It would be an issue if a student handed their work in done in green, though. It’s too light for bulk reading and marking.

          1. Muriel Heslop*

            Middle school English teacher who grades in green! Definitely kids find it friendlier. I can’t wait to tell them how vulgar I am! (Vocabulary word of the day: vulgar!)

        5. seller of teapots*

          My mom is a lefty, born in ’67, and even then she got a lot of cruelty from teachers (mostly in elementary school) about writing with her left hand! And her handwriting definitely slopes backwards, now that I think of it. She may be complicated, but she certainly is far from “weak character.”

        6. AKchic*

          Ah… yes, the left-handed/right-handed issue.

          Left-handed is sinistra (in Latin), right-handed is dextera (in Latin), so left-handed is sinister and we do not want anyone to think we are sinister people, do we?

      3. Cassandra*

        Interesting. My grandfather always used green ink in his gorgeous fountain pens.

        Now I’m wondering if it was a subtle form of rebellion. I wouldn’t put that past him. He was a character.

        1. henrietta*

          Was your grandfather ever the head of the British Secret Intelligence Service (MI6)? They always use a green fountain pen to sign documents, and always only with the letter C (for ‘chief’). Not rebellion, then. Tradition!

          1. lurker*

            Is it a special green ink formula that can’t be replicated by spies from other countries ;-) ?

          2. Cassandra*

            That would be awesome, but no. He spent almost all his working life as a county treasurer.

            (I’m sure that would be how he’d have attributed the green ink… but I still wonder.)

      4. Phx Acct, now with dragons*

        **whips out her giant pack of rainbow gel pens**

        The sloping thing is probably left-handedness. That and the ink color smacks of my grandparents and my mother => toss in some patent leather shoes and heavy tights in the desert and you’d have a family who went to Catholic school.

        1. NotAnotherManager!*

          Yes to the left-handedness. Both the people in our family who are left-handed have a reverse slope to their cursive. My grandmother also had to throw a big fit (which was not common for her at all) re the teacher trying to force my aunt to be right-handed because her teacher felt that being left-handed was a sign of weak or immoral character.

          1. Seeking Second Childhood*

            That was still a thing in the 70s… my 2nd grade teacher apparently forced me to pick my right hand to learn cursive. I figured this out decades later when I took sports lessons where handedness was a bit less obvious…the coach declared me ambidextrous.

      5. Zoe Karvounopsina*

        My recollection of the problem with green ink is that it was the sure sign of a ‘nutter letter’.

      6. xarcady*

        My mom, born in 1926, was a leftie who was made to write right-handed by the nuns at her school. When she was in school, she won penmanship awards. By the time I was old enough to read handwriting, she wrote in a series of loops that took a lot of decoding.

        And she always used green Flair pens, because green was her favorite color.

        I’m a leftie. I think I wrote with a forward slant until one day I sat at a left-handed desk and my writing just naturally took a backwards slant. And I grade papers in green ink, because it is not red and Mom was a teacher and she graded papers in green ink.

    2. History Chick*

      OMG – my dad had the exact same thing about the nail holes!!! I STILL hear about all the holes in my bedroom walls from when I went to college. His life has been entirely changed with the advent of command strips.

    3. Antilles*

      My dad’s thing was to never hang pictures on your walls because you’ll just have to fill in all the holes when you move.
      That’s pretty odd, yeah. Taking an extra 10 minutes to use some spackle and a putty knife is basically a rounding error in the overall context of everything relating to moving out – sorting your stuff, packing boxes, loading moving trucks, cleaning the entire apartment, etc. Heck, you could even just fill the holes in the walls as part of your process of taking the paintings off the wall.

      1. henrietta*

        Or leave the nails where they are, so the next occupants are saved the work of having to re-nail their own stuff!

        1. RandomU...*

          I never really understood why landlords don’t just install permanent hooks in walls. Seems that it would cut down on the random holes and dodgy patch jobs.

          1. Antilles*

            I assume it’s some combination of the following:
            1.) Everybody’s decorations are differently sized, so even if you did install hooks, it might not actually stop tenants from hanging their own stuff anyways.
            2.) People who didn’t have that many decorations might find it really tacky or irritating to have just random hooks in the wall.
            3.) You know you’re going to repaint the apartment anyways, which covers up the small nail holes and crummy patch jobs.
            4.) You’re secretly happy if they don’t patch the holes, because it allows you to justify keeping more of the security deposit for “wall repair”.
            5.) If you install hooks and the tenant decides to hang some 100 pound monstrosity of a painting, now they blame you for your pre-installed hooks; if they hang it themselves, they have nobody to blame but themselves.

    4. pentamom*

      I was about 45 years old when I realized that I didn’t have to not like a certain type of shoes because my mother didn’t like them. Truth. I still catch myself doing similar things, in my 50s.

      1. seller of teapots*

        My mom has a funny story about how she spent her whole life not liking cheez-its because her mother spoke of them disparagingly. When my mom was in her 20s, she saw my Nana go to town on a box of cheez-its and felt utterly betrayed! But now everyone gets to enjoy cheez-its, so win-win.

    5. Competent Commenter*

      My mother’s thing was that kids shouldn’t wear black, and even adults had to be very cautious about when they’d wear black. She was not happy with my style choices when I started buying my own clothes. It took a few years for me to really get that out of my system and not feel funny about it when I bought my children black shirts or dresses. But I did eventually get over it—I’d totally forgotten about it until this post.

  9. Kitty*

    Our office closes between Christmas and New Year and requires us to use annual leave for those days, and it’s annoying. I try to look on the positive side though and think about how good value it is; with all the public holidays I can use 3 annual leave days and have almost two full weeks off.

    1. Dan*

      I was with you for the first part — I travel extensively for personal reasons, and I have tons of flexibility in how I take my leave. I also get a good chunk of it. Your post made me think, “yeah, I’d hate to be told when to take my leave, that would kind of suck,”

      And then I read your last part and immediately decided I’d kill for that much time off for the cost of three PTO days.

      1. valentine*

        OP5: Can you work more hours the days the office is open or go in over the weekend? Can your employer ask for more warning or a weekly construction schedule, so you can try anticipating closures?

    2. TooOldForThisNonsense*

      That’s a quite civilised arrangement, though, because you can plan for it. The unfortunate OP and colleagies are having their leave and sick benefits used for someone else’s convenience, and no-one seems to be compensating them for this, let alone acknowledging the cost. Grrr.

      1. Elizabeth the Ginger*

        This is an extra good point. If you told me right now I’d have to take September 16 as a vacation day I might be a bit annoyed, but I could plan to do something fun for it, maybe even go out of town for a long weekend. But if I found out today that I’d have to take three hours of vacation on Monday, I’d probably just go grocery shopping when it wasn’t so crowded… bits and pieces of time, on short notice, are useless as proper vacation.

        1. Lucy*

          A few short days are nowhere near as useful as the same hours condensed into a whole day off (or more than one day off, by the sounds of things).

          I’d be frustrated by this not least because my commuting costs are the same whether my workday is ten hours or ten minutes long. Part of the benefit of having a day off is to save on transit costs, making a lunch, getting dressed (ahem) and so on – LW loses all of that. If you had even a few days’ notice you could decide to take the entire day off, for example.

          I can see that it’s legal where LW is (though wouldn’t be everywhere) but I think it’s unkind of the bosses to insist on this given the very short notice they’re getting and giving, and the frequency, but also in particular because it affects employees differently depending on status (which would definitely be illegal where I am).

        2. Half-Caf Latte*

          I used to rail (to no avail) about the way staffing was handled at a former hospital.

          Nurses were non-exempt, and staffing was calculated based on patient census. If you had a low census, staff were “canceled,” i.e. called at home that morning and told not to come in at 7am, and told that they’d be called at 10am to be informed if they’d be needed in at 11. If not needed at 11am, you were canceled until 3pm, and told to expect a call around 2pm.

          So in effect, you were on-call with no on-call pay, but couldn’t actually treat it as a day off until after 2pm. And if you wanted to be paid for the day, you needed to burn 12 hours of PTO.

          It was fine if it happened to you like once a year, but this was a regular thing.

          1. Gazebo Slayer*

            Oh, I used to work at a hospital where nurses would have their shifts canceled – and they were REQUIRED to use PTO to make up the time.

            I wasn’t a nurse, but I can only assume no one ever accumulated much PTO.

        3. Yvette*

          “…bits and pieces of time, on short notice, are useless…” Someone probably would not even be able to schedule a Dr. appointment or in this case a job interview!

    3. Aggretsuko*

      Same with my office, though you have the option to work… with no heat, nobody there, no work coming in. A few of my coworkers have done it (such as the one who’d earned NO vacation time to be able to take the time off) and it seems pretty useless to me to have anyone come in for that. That said, if 90% of the business is closed, I think everyone should get those for free.

      We closed down for the Paradise fire a few months ago and I was flabbergasted that everyone got paid leave and didn’t have to use vacation time for it.

      1. Yvette*

        “We closed down for the Paradise fire a few months ago and I was flabbergasted that everyone got paid leave and didn’t have to use vacation time for it.” There is a very good chance that their insurance had a contingency for disasters and covered it.

        1. NotAnotherManager!*

          Yes, we were closed a few years ago due to a week-long power outage (oh, god, office buildings smell terrible after about two days with no A/C in the summer), and managers had to submit hours worked/off for our teams for submission to the insurance provider for reimbursement. It’s not the employees’ fault that a transformer caught fire in a fairly spectacular way and took out two city blocks.

    4. AcademiaNut*

      I think that’s much more reasonable than the OP’s case – not optimal, but you know well in advance that part of you time off needs to be taken at a particular time and can plan. With the OP they don’t know how much time they’re going to need for this, so they can’t use their sick or vacation time for its normal purposes (ie, being sick and taking vacation), because they might need it to cover construction.

      I wonder what will happen when someone has no PTO left, but the office closes.

      1. RUKiddingMe*

        I am always reminded that I come from a “worker” background when I read stuff like this and want to organize a union for the OP.

        When we went into business and started hiring people we chose, deliberately to set things up in such a way as how we would want to be treated as employees…having had decades of being treated less than optimally. We couldn’t implement everything day one of course, but twenty years on we’re doing ok and people are relatively happy here.

        OP’s situation is that the business is doing something for its own benefit and basically charging the employees to do it. PTO (in all forms) is part of the employees’ overall compensation. They are having to spend part of their compensation to benefit the company. It may be legal, but it’s wrong.

      2. RUKiddingMe*

        “I wonder what will happen when someone has no PTO left, but the office closes.”

        $20.00 says they will have time off with no pay.

        1. irene adler*

          Thinking you are right.
          For a time at my work, they actually let you use more than your allotted PTO. Which worked out fine until one gal used way more than a full paycheck’s worth. Then she put in her two week’s notice. So they couldn’t square things up by taking the unearned hours from her final pay check. Nor did they ask her to pay back those unearned PTO hours. End of policy.

        2. Cheesecake2.0*

          At my previous job we could choose to take the week between Xmas and NY as either unpaid time off or use our vacation days. It was actually pretty nice, I picked unpaid time off one year because I was saving my days for a big 2 week vacation later in the spring.

        3. Jerry Vandesic*

          If they are exempt and work at least part of the week, then the employer has to pay for the entire week, even if there is no PTO left.

      3. Slartibartfast*

        In my situation, unpaid time off. I just started a new job in October and I am trying to save up leave for a vacation in July. If I choose to have the day off I have to take leave, if management decides to close or send me home (doctor’s office, if the dr. isn’t in there’s no need for all of the staff to be there) then I can choose to use PTO or unpaid “staffing” time. The staffing time counts towards my weekly total time for keeping full time status. It’s annoying but it’s not unusual.

    5. WS*

      A lot of offices do this in Australia – it’s summer holidays, too! My brother and his wife are both in that situation, and it works well for them with two school-aged kids. Meanwhile, that period is the busiest of the year for me!

    6. Asenath*

      We have a voluntary version – we CAN come in and work for pay between Christmas and New Years, although almost nothing is going on – but with (usually) a single annual leave day, we can have the whole period off. It’s a very popular option – almost no one who has the option turns it down. I’d be really annoyed, though, to be forced to use my vacation or sick time for something outside my control, like the entire office being closed due to renovations. It’s a terrible policy and the managers should give extra leave with pay in such exceptional circumstances. And what happens if, as is so common, renovations drag on, and someone’s used all their sick/vacation pay? They go on unpaid leave while the construction workers are in?

    7. K*

      I work for a Big 3 car company. Every summer we are required to take the week of July 4th off for “Shutdown”. The company is closed that week but we are still required to use our vacation days for it.
      We do get off the whole week of Christmas without having to use vacation days though, so I’m ok with it. 2 guaranteed vacations every year!

    8. Forestdweller*

      OP5, is it possible that they are giving you the option of either taking the time unpaid OR using sick or vacation time, rather than saying ‘Please pick which one you’ll be using’? The reason I’m asking is because I’m HR for a company that would most likely categorize this time as no work, no pay (so, unpaid time that doesn’t count against attendance or leave balances) UNLESS someone indicated that they wanted to use paid leave for pay purposes to cover the time so their paycheck didn’t take a hit. They may totally be mandating that you use one of the two, but based on the way it was worded above, I’d still ask to be sure. Even if they did intend to make you use it, bringing the option of just having it be unpaid time to their attention may be something they’ll consider.

      1. Galina*

        The option of taking unpaid time off isn’t really any better than being required to take sick or vacation time though.

        1. Alianora*

          I would say it’s slightly better to have the option, if you can afford to take it. I would rather do that and save my PTO for a time of my choosing.

          It’s still not a good long-term solution for the company though. They should really be paying employees for this time. If the closures are so frequent, I wonder if working from home could be an option in this job role?

      2. Forestdweller*

        I think it is obvious that nothing is as preferable as just getting paid for the time they would have worked, but there are many people who would prefer to take the time unpaid rather than lose vacation time. It’s just a fact that few employers will pay an hourly employee for time when they weren’t doing work, regardless of why they weren’t able to do so.

      3. Seeking Second Childhood*

        The letter says she could probably take it unpaid but can’t afford to.

    9. RPCV*

      Did you know that when they hired you? For regular, planned things like that I can understand it, particularly if they tell you about it, and give you enough vacation to compensate. Do you have “almost” two full weeks in addition to the week of annual leave required for that period, or does that week leave you with, like, 3 days of vacation for the rest of the year?

      If it’s the latter, that sucks. To not even give 2 weeks of vacation time and make you use half of it for that week sucks.

      But for the LW, I feel like sudden situations like this fall into “cost of doing business” territory and the company should suck it up and not make their employees pay for something a) they didn’t know about and b) have no control over.

    10. DB*

      In the state of Washington, if my work is going to be shut down on a calendar week, and I do not have the ability to go to work, I would claim a week of unemployment.

      More than a couple companies I’m aware of actually encourage this for their two week shut downs.

      1. lammmm*

        Eggshell is my favorite.

        (Um… No. Eggs are either white or brown depending on what kind you buy)

            1. lammmm*

              Me too! I didn’t get to read the off-topic egg conversation, but I didn’t realize egg colors were interesting enough to warrant an off topic thread.

              Personally, I hate eggs. But get a kick out of “eggshell” vs “white” vs “cream”.

          1. RUKiddingMe*

            And I was so looking forward to it devolving into a discussion about the best way to prepare eggs…

          2. Seeking Second Childhood*

            Sorry! That tangent makes no sense to me either now that I’m not InsomniaGirl. I’m on Day 5 of a nasty cold…so can I blame the NyQuil?

    1. Cherith Ponsonby*

      As an Australian cricket fan of a certain age, my mind goes to Richie Benaud’s blazers – the cream, the bone, the white, the off-white, the ivory and the beige…

      I’d say the colour is less important than making sure it’s clean and pressed/ironed (or at least not rumpled). Plus different whites work better with different outfit colours; I could wear a pure white shirt with my black blazer, but my dark brown one would look more put together with off-white or cream.

      1. My Dear Wormwood*

        Drat, I should have scrolled down further…of course somebody else here immediately thought of Richie!

    2. Nana*

      In the 60’s, Edward Albee wrote a play in which the two characters have an argument about the color of one’s new hat. “My hat is wheat” “No, it’s tan” “No, I would never buy a tan hat. It’s wheat” and on and on

  10. nutella fitzgerald*

    #3 – I thought I was the only one who found “warmly” weird and off-putting!

    1. Maggie*

      My therapist is the only person who I’ve ever seen sign off with warmly, and it seems really appropriate. This is especially true when she’s asked me for an update about how I’m doing and I’ve answered something along the lines of ‘not very well’ or if I’ve requested an appointment time and she can’t meet. It makes me feel less anxious/rejected/whatever. So in some contexts, it works. But if I ever got a “Warmly,” from my boss? I would think that was some passive aggressive BS that would make me roll my eyes so hard I might sprain them.

    2. Unexpected Dragon*

      I’m a regular “Warmly” person. I always read it as a slightly less formal “sincerely”. Please tell me how I’m betting creepy so I can stop!

      1. Email curiosity*

        I love “warmly”! I recently started a new position where I had to be introduced over email to a few dozen different community partners within a pretty short period, which was kind of overwhelming. One of the women at a partner organization we collaborate with signs her emails warmly, and right from the start this made me feel so welcome and unintimidated, even before we met. Warmth is a difficult characteristic or feeling to convey in an email, and I think this sign-off can shift the tone of any email into one of kindness and collaboration. I mean, I myself use it only selectively, but I think think it’s just lovely, and I always feel good when others use it emails to me.
        In general though, there are no sign-offs that bother, or no sign-off at all is fine if it’s people I communicate with regularly.

    3. Perfectly Particular*

      Noooo – someone at old job used to sign off “with warmest regards” and it made me gag a bit every time I got one of his emails.

      1. OP 3*

        Something about “Warmly” makes me feel as if I’m being given an electronic hug I didn’t ask for. I don’t know, it feels similar to me as how some people feel about the word “moist” (sorry if I’ve just scarred anyone by bringing THAT up!).

        1. Miss Pantalones en Fuego*

          I was just thinking moist, too! Warmly makes me think of bodily fluids somehow. Yuck.

        2. Persiphony*

          Years ago, on personal correspondence to close family and friends, I started using:
          I am a little worried I might accidently sign off like that in a work email. Eeeek!
          At work I use:

      2. Coffee Bean*

        This is so interesting!

        I am one of those people that tend to sign off emails with “Regards” or “Warm Regards” based on how formal I am being. Now I am worried I am creeping people out.

        My last job was my first out of college, the company was based out of Mexico and everyone there used the “Warm Regards”. So I just thought it was a totally normal sign off. Maybe it is cultural?

        1. Rezia*

          I know someone who signs off “delightfully” and it always makes my shoulders go up. Way too saccharine.

        2. Ask a Manager* Post author

          It’s fine. It’s a perfectly standard sign-off (unlike “delightfully”!). People have strong individual preferences on this stuff and as you can see from this thread, nothing will please everyone. I strongly hope no one changes their sign-off based on this post.

        3. Someone Else*

          “Warm regards” (or alternately “Warmly”) doesn’t creep me out. However, I do find it’s a hard one to pull off. Not judging you. Not saying change anything. But I think for me it falls into one of those “show don’t tell” buckets? Obviously in email you do kind of have to “tell” since tone doesn’t come across, but I think the cases when I bristle at something signed “warm” etc is if I either don’t know them well and nothing in our interactions to date has ever been especially warm, or when I absolutely know them well and it feels disingenuous. So it can make people’s noses wrinkle, I think, if it feels at odds with your personality otherwise. Not to say you (or anyone) is cold, but it takes a certain sort of person to announce one’s warm intentions and have it land.
          I know two people who’ve used warm and it worked and it’s because when I think of those people, I would genuinely use “warm” to describe them. And again, it’s not about other people being cold, per se, but most people are neither.

      3. Email curiosity*

        Okay, now THAT would bug me. Ew. Even I, who loves “Warmly,” and “Warm Regards” could not abide “Warmest Regards.” No. Just no.

    4. Narise*

      There is one person in our office who ends most emails with ‘awaiting your reply.’ I want to point out to her how email works and people know the sender is waiting on their reply. Or be on the phone with her and after every question state awaiting your reply.

      1. Muriel Heslop*

        I had a colleague who used to include “awaiting your reply” and I told him it made me feel like he was standing outside my office, literally waiting to pounce on me for my reply. Thankfully, he stopped using it!

      2. Alianora*

        As an admin trying to schedule meetings, I often format emails like this:

        Hi all,

        Would one of the following times work for you for a 30-minute meeting at place to discuss topic?


        Let me know,

        If I don’t include the “let me know” or state “please reply back” somewhere, it’s way that everyone will respond. This probably is also affected by the fact that I work with academics, doctors, and lawyers — people in those roles tend to be more unresponsive to admin requests.

        But it would certainly be excessive in other contexts, like what your coworker is doing.

      3. Email curiosity*

        Oh my. Is this co-worker young and without much professional experience? Regardless, it would be a kindness to let her know that this email sign-off comes off with an impatient and unprofessional tone. I’m sure she doesn’t realize how she’s coming off.

    5. Victoria, Please*

      I might have to apologize to about 120 people, then — just sent an informative logistical email to group coming for a workshop. The whole tone was friendly and informal, just this side of chirrupy (I hope), so I signed off “Warmly.”

      I think that “Best” is terse, like the person is too, too busy but, sigh, realizes that *other people* are needy and expect some sociability.

      My whole team, though, has a habit the habit of beginning without any salutation and ending with just their name:

      Blah blah blah.

      I find it a tiiiiiny bit rude. But not enough to try to nudge them out of it when they are lovely in every other way.

      1. Quackeen*

        Yeah, I’ve worked with a few people who don’t even use names as an opener, but just write:

        It has come to my attention that .”

        That makes me feel like a faceless drone, personally.

      2. ket*

        Hahahaha. Your comment on ‘best’ describes me perfectly :P and that’s what I use. Hahahah!

      3. Alianora*

        I think I tend to fall on your side. I don’t like “best” or starting emails with just Name. (Ending with just Name reads as neutral to me, if the email starts with “Dear Name” or “Hi Name”.)

        But I’ve worked with many friendly, warm people who just come across as a little cold in their writing style, so it’s something I can get over. I’m sure some of them find my writing style too personal or casual.

      4. nutella fitzgerald*

        Omg I also hate emails that open with just my name! I always feel like there is an implied frustration with me or I am being yelled at. It actually irritates me even more than “Warmly” does!

        1. nutella fitzgerald*

          Conversely, when I’m really annoyed with someone, I go super effusive in my emails.

          Good afternoon, Jane!

          Thank you so much for your kind reminders that the monthly teapot report is due next week. I will certainly be sure to submit it by then.

          Have a wonderful day!

        2. Persephone*

          So, starting the email like this will irritate you?
          Here is the information I promised…..

          I almost always start with the first name.

          1. Restiva*

            Yes! I’m the same – I feel like whenever I get an email with my name alone there is an implied frustration or just lack of respect. Sometimes it might be a style thing, but I notice that many people start with “Hi Name” then revert to “Name” if you are not in agreement. It hate it. Feels so rude.

    6. Elaine*

      I think this is one of those areas where you simply can’t please everyone. I personally loathe “warmly” as a sign off, but many other people like it or think it is friendly. I try to avoid letting my feelings about certain sign offs take up real estate in my brain.

    7. socrescentfresh*

      I’m here for the anti-warmly crowd. It always strikes me as too intimate for business, and/or an attempt to soften bad news or rule enforcements. It’s just distracting.

      1. Seeking Second Childhood*

        Two others that I’ve seen…
        An academic who signs social emails “Be well.”
        And an engineering manager whose work emails were signed “Have a spark long day.”

  11. Antti*

    My go-to, for some reason, is “thanks” (or “thank you” for more formal occasions). I don’t know whether that comes off weird, but it seems like something a lot of folks at my company will do also. But I’m not sure if that’s one of our idiosyncracies or if that’s something lots of people actually do?

      1. Hiring Mgr*

        Really? I wouldn’t think twice if someone wrote “thanks” in a cover letter..it seems pretty neutral

          1. MusicWithRocksInIt*

            I’m a ‘Thanks!’ or a ‘Thank you for your help!’ person almost across the board – but for a cover letter or formal letter I was always taught to use ‘Regards’. I was told that it was the only possible option, but now I am just realizing is not true and there is a whole world of confusing options.

    1. lammmm*

      My go to is also “Thanks”. For a cover letter, I would probably expand that to “Thank you for your time.” However, I haven’t had to write a cover letter in quite a while – my past three jobs have been a submit your application and don’t f-up the interview and the job is yours type.

      1. Elizabeth the Ginger*

        I’d close a cover letter with a thank-you sentence, but I feel like it still needs a sign off after that – a letter needs a sign-off of a one- or two-word phrase, followed by a comma. (I’ll end short emails with just my name but that feels appropriate for notes but not formal writing. If it’a more formal or involved that what I’d leave on a colleague’s post-it pad on her desk, I’ll give it a “Thanks,” or a “Best wishes,”.)

        1. lammmm*

          Now that you mentioned it, I probably ended the cover letter/email with a

          “Thank you for your time.


          “Sincerely” is a word I struggle with spelling wise, which is probably why I had forgotten about it.

    2. Tin Cormorant*

      I pretty much always end emails with Thanks. If I wanted to be more formal (like a cover letter), I’d go with Sincerely.

    3. Zombeyonce*

      I have used “much obliged” as an email sign-off for years and it always (to me, at least) hit the right note between too formal and too casual, without adding the emotional or insincere feeling that things like “warmly” and “sincerely” do to me. It’s basically saying “thanks” but in a slightly more interesting way. (And I always feel a little like British when I use it, which I find fun.)

      1. Cherith Ponsonby*

        Ooh, I like that one! I tend to come across as at least vaguely British anyway so it’s even on-brand :)

        I generally go with “Cheers” or “Thanks” informally and “Best regards” formally (it took me literal years to find a signoff that didn’t make me feel cringey).

        1. Seeking Second Childhood*

          “Cheers” is an interesting one — in the US it’s linked to a drinking toast. But my friends in the UK use it as a hello/goodbye, almost like the Hawaiian “Aloha.”
          I know someone who got w job in Hawaii a coupke of years ago and the lucky soul has signed emails ‘Aloha’ ever since.

          1. londonedit*

            Yep, we use ‘cheers’ as a drinking toast but also to mean ‘thank you’. So in the same way as we might say goodbye to someone by saying ‘Bye, thanks, see you later!’ we’d say ‘Cheers, bye!’ I don’t think we use it for ‘hello’ as much, really, but definitely as part of a goodbye.

          2. L. S. Cooper*

            I get emails from various retail stores, and all the Hawaii ones sign on and off with “Mahalo” and “Aloha”, which is fun. (And gives me a moment to daydream about being somewhere a bit less cold than where *I’m* located…)

      2. Lucy*

        This question is so cultural I’m fascinated.

        Where I am in the UK “much obliged” is only ever used jokingly or ironically, certainly among people of working age. I wouldn’t dream of putting it on an email to a client or supplier, ever, but I might use it very informally in an internal mail (“your cake tin is back in the kitchen” “much obliged”).

        Conversely, US use of “Sincerely”, “Warmly” etc sounds odd to British ears as we would always use “Yours” first (“Yours sincerely”, etc). It’s become common here to use “Best wishes” rather than the previously popular “Kind regards” because the latter is so very easy to typo and the typo is considered a slur.

        By the way, if a British person sends you an email and signs off simply “Regards” then it’s very likely they hate your guts and wish your next movement a hedgehog. It’s a Thing. Yes, we are very passive aggressive.

        1. PX*

          I really want to do an open thread discussion on this because I’m in the UK (although not British) and my default signature has always been ‘Regards’ which to me is a perfectly neutral sign off.

          Depending on whether I hate your guts or we are very close, I will drop the signature and just sign my name. If you’ve been really nice/helpful, I’ll escalate to a ‘Kind Regards’, if its more informal – you’ll get a ‘Thanks’.

          So my point is, the cultural element of signatures is super personal/occupation/region dependent I think! One persons – “I’m making a scathing statement with this!” might be completely missed by the recipient (hence why I never read too much into them to be honest).

          Also, whats the slur from Kind Regards? I cant tell!

          1. London Engineer*

            I’m pretty sure they are referring to the r-slur that is directed at people with intellectual or developmental impairments

            1. PX*

              Saw it in the comments below. Guess I’ve been lucky to have never made that typo! (Fingers crossed. Watch me now proceed to make it forever…)

          2. londonedit*

            Yep, there’s a Very British Problems joke about how you can tell when a British person hates you because of their use of ‘Kind regards’ or ‘Regards’ on an email sign-off!

            I agree that ‘much obliged’ sounds like a joke – it sounds like you’re intentionally going ‘Much obliged, kind sir! Good day to you! Toodle pip!!’ to have a laugh. Personally I usually sign off with ‘Best wishes’, ‘Many thanks’ or with people I’m more familiar with, ‘Thanks!’ (exclamation mark there because it feels pass-agg/too brusque without it), ‘All the best’ or just ‘Best’.

          3. Kali*

            I – also British – would probably just assume it was a quirk if your emails began with regards (and your first email wasn’t a complaint about something). I think it’s the change from ‘kind regards’ to ‘regards’ which signals a rapid drop in metaphorical temperature.

        2. London Engineer*

          I mean I tend to use Regards as my default (and thanks when I am actually thanking someone) and it doesn’t indicate any hostility whatsoever

        3. PhyllisB*

          Now to me, “much obliged” is a Southern Thing. Not as a sign off on a letter just in place of “thank you.” Ex: “Will you please get the Jones file?” “I already did. It’s right here.” “Much obliged.” I don’t hear it used much anymore. I got my business training when dinosaurs roamed the earth, but I always used Sincerely for business correspondence.

          1. OP 3*

            This thread is so interesting; it hadn’t occurred to me that were cultural and regional differences attached to this. Huh.

            1. Lucy*

              Gosh yes – we’re saving the detail for the weekend but briefly:

              I work in an international field where I’m frequently dealing with Americans on the one hand, and Japanese/Chinese/Korean on the other. There’s a huge divide in formality and convention and you find yourself code switching constantly.

              Early in my career I once had someone speak to my boss about how I addressed her – she was mildly upset that I hadn’t immediately used her first name, but stuck with Dr Smith. She was a stranger to me and significantly senior, so to British me writing in a formal (discoverable) context it simply hadn’t occurred to me to be at all familiar. When writing the Far East on the other hand I have never seen anything but Title Surname in any context.

              I’m sure there’s more nuance than that but that’s the major lesson I learned that year and still apply.

        4. Akcipitrokulo*

          Also on the sincerely/yours sincerely… I tend to use that sign off for two purposes.

          – a formal letter (eg cover letter)
          – when I am *really* upset with you…

    4. HeyNonny*

      I had a manager that always signed off with “Thanx” which I found just odd. He saved a key stroke? Most other people there used normal “thanks”

    5. Aggretsuko*

      I only say “thanks” because everything else sounds so FAKE and nobody would say “Best!” to you IRL. Even if I am thanking them for literally nothing, it’s still better than that.

      1. lammmm*

        This is why ‘Thanks!’ is my go-to. Exclamation point depending on if I need their help and/or how appreciative I am for their response. For internal emails at least.

      2. Akcipitrokulo*

        “Thanks,” or “Thanks!” is my usual. A longer version internally may be (or include) a summary of what I want next “Let me know if there are any issues!” or “If no objections, will do X” (latter probably followed by thanks, former probably not.

        “Cheers” sounds too much like slang for me to use in a business setting :)

    6. Zaphod Beeblebrox*

      The vast majority of my e-mails are signed:


      I agree that I would use something more formal for a cover letter though.

    7. Indisch blau*

      I sometimes use “Sunny greetings from (my city)” or “Sunny greetings – in spite of the rain”. Obviously not for a formal email or a first contact with someone.

    8. Asenath*

      I use “Thanks” (for a request) or, actually, nothing for regular emails. If I were writing something more formal, I’d go back to my early training, and write “Yours sincerely, ”

      I’ve sometimes gotten “Kind regards” which seems a bit formal to me. I wondered if it were a European phrase or merely a personal preference – the person who uses it most is Canadian, but spent a number of years in Ireland.

    9. Aspiring Chicken Lady*

      For ordinary emails, if I haven’t asked for a favor or whatever (at which point I use “Thanks” for a closing), I typically close it off with something like “Have a great day,” and my name.

      And for emails to folks I am in fairly frequent email contact, I’ll often use “Happy Thursday! (or the appropriate day, of course). Many of the standard greetings/closings are just a bit too personal to me.

    10. Forget T-Bone Steak, Let's Eat T-Rex Steak*

      Regards is my go-to for emails. I figure, I regard everyone, but it’s not necessarily kindly or warmly.

      A coworker told me once that while signing off emails with “Thank You” is polite correspondence, “Thanks” is code for “F*** off.”

      1. bookends*

        That’s interesting, I’m the opposite! I definitely use “Thank you” as an angrier polite sign off vs. “Thanks”. If I’m making requests, the first email is always “Thanks,” followed by “Thank you,” and then “Thank you.” if I’m not getting a response.

    11. KayEss*

      I think I used “thank you” (as the more formal “thanks”) on all of my cover letters in my last job search and never felt weird about it. I’m kind of surprised that it’s considered not formal enough, but my field is admittedly on the less formal end of things. I guess I see it as an expression of polite deference but others could interpret it as “thanks in advance”-style presumptive arrogance? No idea.

      I did use the formal “dear” for the opening salutations though, which I otherwise hate and don’t use ANYWHERE else.

    12. hm*

      Someone in my organization signs all of his emails with “Solidarity,” which amuses me every time.

    13. CanCan*

      My formal letter sign-off:
      – “Yours truly” or “Yours very truly”
      – “Sincerely” if I’m writing a mean lawyer letter (“pay up now or else!”)
      – “Best regards” in formal(ish) emails (i.e. to people outside my organization)

      Emails to colleagues:
      – “Thanks” (if appropriate – it isn’t always, like when I’m responding to their request)
      – “Cheers”
      – just my name
      – just plain nothing. No need to sign every email in the exchange. Don’t even have to sign the first email, as there’s usually a signature block.
      – something more personalized, like “Hope this helps!” or “Have a great weekend!”

  12. Jolie*

    My interview /formal business occasions /meet with some sort of bigwig interview outfit is : red lace blouse (no collar, just closing at the base of the neck) , red A-line wool skirt with a black trim and blach/grey crochet flowers, classic black suit jacket, sheer black pantyhose, black heels, chignon with red bow in my hair.

    (Granted, I work in small charities, so not the formal kind).

  13. Not A Manager*

    LW 4, this might be a good time to consider more generally what information you want to share with your mother, and what information you don’t want to share with your mother.

    Relatedly, just because your mother wants to argue with you about your clothes doesn’t mean that you need to argue back.

    1. Elizabeth the Ginger*

      Yes – if you aren’t living with your mom (where she thus would actually see your interview clothing in person), then I recommend just not talking about interview clothing with her anymore. “Hey, I’m interviewing for a llama wrangler job on Tuesday!” “What are you wearing? Not that awful off-white top, I hope?” “Oh Mom, you know we have different opinions about this and I don’t want to argue! Let me tell you about the llamas at this ranch. They are SO fluffy! By the way, how’s your book club?”

        1. Liane*

          And then when she gets the job, Mom will say, “Great news! I told you that wearing unprofessional off-white clothing was holding you back,” to which OP should reply “Oh yes, indeed!” Without mentioning that (1) she was agreeing with only the “Great news!” & ( 2) she wore the off-white top to the interview to her interview.

    2. Kimmybear*

      Yup. All that matters to me for interview clothes is clean, appropriate for the position, professional, and your comfort. Mom’s opinion isnt on the list.

    3. NotAnotherManager!*

      I tried for years to teach one of my younger siblings the smile-and-nod method of dealing with Mom. Listen, smile, nod, do what you thing is best. It didn’t take. They like arguing, I like doing what I want to do. My way worked better.

      1. Hope*

        I tried to get my sibling to understand that as well. You don’t have to tell her everything. If you don’t want the advice, don’t ask for it by bringing it up. It’s made my life so much better, but sibling either doesn’t get it or secretly enjoys the arguing.

  14. chersy*

    LW1: I like Alison’s advice of reframing things because everyone’s challenges and lives are very different. I have people my age (including my best friend) in higher ranked, higher earning roles than I do in the office (took many detours to get where I am now), and I used to feel resentful because I always think, “that could be me if I didn’t choose this, etc.” It took a while for me to reframe my mind set that I have different priorities, different goals, and a different path.

    On a practical POV, when my privileged teammates do the same in our open space office (and I sit in the middle), I usually smile politely, tune them out with my earphones and concentrate on doing something like writing in my planner or laptop. If it’s in a social setting, like during lunch, logical breaks or team dinners, I just listen in, ask some questions and carefully steer the conversation elsewhere.

      1. chersy*

        Oh—sorry, we use that term at work for coffee breaks, or other breaks that allow us to step out for a moment.

    1. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd*

      I’ve been pulled up by a manager in the past for creating a “bullying” environment on the grounds that they’d noticed me mentioning things like vacations and that wasn’t good for the people in the team who couldn’t afford them – not working as a team!

      Joke’s on them as I just stopped taking time off and now they have a demoralised and burned out employee who’s actively searching.

      1. We all scream for ice cream*

        I agree that it’s not “bullying” to talk about vacations. But isn’t there a middle ground? You couldn’t have just continued to take vacations and not talk about them?

        1. AMT27*

          But that can get well out of hand very quickly – anything can be upsetting for anyone, so following that logic to its end means you’d never be able to mention anything personal. You can’t mention your mom because Tom’s mother is ill, you can’t mention your kids because Jane wants kids but wasn’t able to conceive, etc etc. It gets ridiculous – and the point is that everyone has things others dont have. I have kids and I travel overseas with them somewhat regularly now – many people can’t do that (we mostly visit friends so there’s no lodging expenses and no eating out, which makes it doable). But I don’t spend money on ‘things’ that others do, and have no family or friends where I live, so traveling to see my friends is basically a necessity for my sanity levels. But to be told that I couldn’t even mention the one thing that gets me from one day to the next the other 50 weeks of the year would make me re-evaluate the people I’m working with.

        2. Quackeen*

          I overall agree with you that there’s a logical middle ground that doesn’t involve martyring oneself, but we don’t actually know how much talking about vacation, etc., Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd was doing. If it was within normal conversational limits, I think it’s pretty ridiculous of the manager to sanction them for this. It’s like the letter from that woman whose transgender coworker complained that the LW’s maxi pads, which were in a bag in the LW’s car were somehow creating a bullying environment. Like, people need to take some responsibility for managing their feelings. Life doesn’t come with “Trigger Warnings” for everything.

      2. ThisColumnMakesMeGratefulForMyBoss*

        That is THE most ridiculous thing I’ve ever heard. Making fun of others because they can’t afford to travel – that’s bullying. Mentioning a vacation you took is socializing. Wow, just wow.

      3. Muriel Heslop*

        If they don’t want their employees to feel bad about not being able to afford vacations, maybe they should pay them more?!

    2. Viv L.*

      “If it’s in a social setting, like during lunch, logical breaks or team dinners, I just listen in, ask some questions and carefully steer the conversation elsewhere.”

      I’ve done this too, but it’s difficult when you want to feel like you want to belong and be accepted by them. As for steering the conversation elsewhere… as a soft spoken person I often feel like I would have to act like a forceful personality just to steer the conversation. It probably also doesn’t help that I am also the lowest-ranked member of the team…

  15. My Dear Wormwood*

    OP3: if you do go with “regards”, just be aware that g is really, really close to t on the keyboard. Guess how I know.

    1. MP*

      It is *not* funny, but I have been laughing for a full minute at your comment. Thank you :-). Best comment in a while.
      Regards, MP

    2. Camellia*

      Which is why I set up my email signature and then it is automatically added to every email – no risky typing involved!

    3. Slow Gin Lizz*

      This reminds me of all the emails I used to send for my old boss. I never made an error in spelling “Bobby” but boy, was I ever careful about that one.

      1. Quackeen*

        What’s wrong with me that I can’t figure out what word you were afraid you would mistakenly type?

      2. darsynia*

        I feel like the absolute worst typo-prone word in both a relationship and a work setting is ‘np.’ If you have internal messaging at work the mistake in either saying ‘no’ or ‘np’ is so vast that it’s stress-inducing! The meanings are diametrically opposed!

        I also love how we don’t always think about the ways we can misspell something until we’re up against the possibilities of doing so, especially getting, like, a new work colleague whose name is an insult if you misspell it, etc. The OP of this thread with the T near the G pretty much takes the cake, though. I can’t think of what might happen to Bobby though! Nobby? Boggy? Voggy? Oh, the possibilities!

        1. Lierre*

          Substitute the second “b” with an “o.” (I never thought my dirty mind would pay off on THIS site. :-) )

  16. chersy*

    LW3: For work (internal) emails, I always find it awkward to sign off with “Sincerely,” so I always sign off with “Regards, Chersy” or sometimes I don’t put ‘thank you’ anywhere in the email and sign off with “Thanks, Chersy.” (Hahaha so paranoid of over thanking people!) “Best,” is also common where I work. Even “BR.”

    For emails we send to clients as a reply to their complaints, we sign off with “Sincerely yours, Chersy.” I also use that for cover letters.

    1. Ego Chamber*

      If I’ve already put “thank you” in the email, I sign it “Thanks again.” I am not at all paranoid about overthanking people but it bothers me when emails sound repetitive, since I’ve always been encouraged to make them short.

    2. Millennial Lizard Person*

      “BR” makes me laugh so much. I have a coworker who’s former military, and he signs everything as “V/R” for …. very respectfully, I guess? For when you need an acronym for your politeness??

      1. Nerdling*

        Yep, “Very Respectfully.” One of my coworkers does the same, and it took me longer than I’d care to admit to figure out what it meant. :P

      2. Chip Hackman*

        I do consulting for the Navy and everyone uses “V/r” (very respectfully) to sign off emails. I thought it was weird at first but literally everybody does it so now I do too. Its the military, its all acronyms, all the time

      3. chersy*

        Right? It’s also fashioned as, “Br, ” (as in lowercase R) so when I was new to the org, I read it as, “burr.” But anyway.

    3. Flash Bristow*

      I know people who say “Cheersy!” Or “Cheery-byes!”

      Which is what I misread your username to be.

      So you could sign “Cheersy, Chersy”!

      (I’m not gonna recommend it tho!

      1. chersy*

        Wow, “cheersy” is a whole new level of… cheerfulness (which I am decidedly not, even after two cups of coffee)! :D

    1. Mels*

      Agreed, and this is where I tend to land for work and personal emails. It never looks weird, and tends to project more authority, a conclusion I came to after realizing my male coworkers never use a sign off phrase. They just write “Bob” or whatever.

      1. Ego Chamber*

        Do they have an email signature with their full name/title/contact/etc or is it just their name? When it’s just the name it always looks kind of abrupt to me (and just the first name seems either familiar or rushed) but if it’s a full signature block I barely even notice whether there’s a proper closing above it.

        (I overthink things.)

        1. OP 3*

          Ego Chamber, that’s how I feel about it – just a name feels really abrupt. I’m going to pay more attention now to the male/female differences in this though. I’ve never taken note, but I suspect if I start watching Mels might be right that men do that more frequently.

        2. kittymommy*

          My email signature is first name (in a different color and font) , then full name title & contact info under that. That’s it.

    2. M. Albertine*

      I was reading through this thread, thinking “Am I the only one who just signs her name?” and that, only if I’m trying to be warm. Otherwise, I just have my email signature, with full name/contact info. I thought that’s what it was for????

      1. JustaCPA*

        Ditto. Unless I’m expecting a specific reply, I just use my standard signature which is name, contact info and GDPR disclaimer.

    3. Environmental Compliance*

      That’s what I do.

      EC’s Title
      Facility Name
      Facility Location
      EC’s Variety of Phones
      EC’s Email (though you’re emailing me or I’m emailing you, so how you don’t have it already is an excellent question)
      Giant Logos Because I’m Required To

    4. ThursdaysGeek*

      I’m even more casual, even at work. I often sign just my name, all lowercase, and sometimes just my first initial, still lowercase. My email address tells you who I am, why is more needed?


  17. Sir Freelancelot*

    Op1, enjoy what you have (it’s a lot!!) not what you could have had if only…
    These types of feelings are unfair towards your colleagues (you can’t never really know what is going on in other people’s lives) and they risk to make you focus on what you didn’t have instead of what you have the immense fortune to have in your life right now. You will always meet people who have more than you have, but as long as they are decent people, just enjoy their company. Focus on the person, not the wallett.

  18. HannahS*

    OP1, here’s what I think.
    1) Talking for more than 10 minutes about travel sounds boring to me, too.

    2) Some people who talk about expensive stuff fall more on the side of “this was great because it was luxurious and expensive” vs “this was great because it was a new experience/exciting/restful/educational.” That’s tough to listen to, I find.

    3) Envy is normal. It’s also easier to deal with if you take the other person out of it. “I’m sad because I wish I could take my partner and kid on really cool vacations,” and can be addressed by telling yourself things like, “But I love our life,” and “Maybe one day, we’ll be able to do stuff like that, but not right now because I married a man in the military, and we chose have a child. Also, some things outside of my control played in, and that’s unfortunate…but I like my life, and I wouldn’t trade it for someone else’s.” It sounds like you already do that, and you speak with real warmth about your family.

    4) It’s unfair that these women had economic advantages that you didn’t. However, I get the feeling that you’ve gotten into a habit of seeing this as a story in which you are the lower middle class underdog who fought her way up through adversity and they swanned through life with advantages you dreamt of and are rewarded with nice things that you wish you had. It’s not fair! They don’t deserve those things more than you do! And you’re right, they don’t. Or rather, we done, as I’m a woman in her mid-20s from an upper-middle class background woman who travels. I’ve also been in tears almost daily the last two weeks and am currently awake at 1:30 am due to pain from an illness that I’ve had for nearly a decade and is unlikely to get better, so believe me when I say that economic privilege isn’t the only kind worth having. I’d trade every trip I’ll ever take for a healthy body. There are many wonderful things in my life, though, so I’ll focus on those, and you focus on yours while putting on putting on headphones and leaving the room when I talk about how I can’t decide whether I should go to Hawaii next year or the year after.

    1. YoYo*

      Huh – i’m a longtime lurker but had to say to your points:
      Envy is normal? I mean, while I may have thought (at times in my life) wow, so and so got to do X? I never found myself envious or jealous, I would always think How can I do that, too? Those things have in fact helped me to see more of what I could do with my life/myself/my skills.
      And people having economic advantages being “unfair”? I mean, everyone is different and we all have/get different things. It’s a difference. Now I guess I might say, well it’s unfortunate that…X or I wish I…X but I really feel that painting things as fair or unfair is so limiting and also, it’s like says who?
      Now of course no one “deserves” more than another person, I mean we’re all human.
      It interesting to me that these comments come from someone who states that she’s well advantaged – I came from a very poor household, but again have never gone around screaming about what so and so has that I don’t or yammering about things being unfair.

      1. Frozen Ginger*

        Envy is absolutely normal. Maybe not everyone experiences it, but plenty of people do. I’d argue most people do.
        And it is unfair, but that might not necessarily mean “bad” or “wrong”. It is by definition “unfair” that person A could work just as hard as person B but still ends up with less. It’s up to personal opinion whether that unfairness is natural or whether something actually needs to be done about it.

      2. darsynia*

        I think it’s perfectly okay to say that feeling envy is normal, because it helps the person work through the results of feeling envious without being caught up in the moral dilemma of why they feel that way in the first place.

        I also think that some people are more emotional than others, some feel relationship jealousy more than others (both regarding to others’ relationships and their significant other), some people get angry more easily, etc. These are products of our personalities and our upbringing. My husband has a very level temper, and I could put Zeus to shame. We’re all different, and it’s not really a judgment call on someone else whether they do or do not feel envious of opportunities they don’t have. It can be hard to avoid those feelings if you have the same job as someone else and must save your money in order to live, and they don’t have to, though.

  19. JamieS*

    OP #1: stop comparing what you don’t have to what others do have because that is only going to make you miserable in the long run. Yes your coworkers may have things you don’t but you have things others don’t and you don’t know what your coworkers feel is missing from their lives. Maybe a single coworker would like to be married but hasn’t found anyone while you have, maybe a childless coworker is dealing with infertility while you have a bouncing baby, maybe a coworker had financial advantages growing up but received no emotional support, maybe someone isn’t as good at their job as you are and would like to be, maybe a coworker wishes they had your sense of fashion, or your personality, or your intelligence. The list goes on but you get the point. Nobody has all the advantages or disadvantages. Try to focus on what you do have.

    1. quirkypants*

      OP #1: I was coming here to say something like this.

      While I’m not personally resentful when my colleagues talk about their kids, I’m normally pretty bored after the first 10 minutes unless it’s especially entertaining and when an old colleague talked about church, I was also pretty bored and found it exhausting (I’m not religious and had negative experiences at church).

      An old boss who became a friend found it really emotionally taxing every time someone talked about their kids/families. She struggled with infertility for years (and a few traumatic experiences going along with it) before giving up and would literally cry in the bathroom some days. She wished people would stop talking about their children but she KNEW that wasn’t fair (not to mention, would never happen). She eventually got therapy which helped a lot. I’m not saying you need therapy but in some cases, you just need to learn to reframe what’s going on. You can’t expect people to stop talking about their vacations any more than my old boss could expect people to stop talking about little league, dance classes, or that funny thing their kid did that morning. She had to take responsibility for her own feelings and reactions to fairly normal conversations happening around her… I think re-framing is your best option, but also trying to understand where your feelings are coming from. I’ve spent time being resentful in the past and it’s exhausting… ultimately, I had to get past it because I was only hurting myself.

  20. Chantelle*

    LW1 – I can relate. I grew up incredibly poor and am now making more money than my family ever did. I still love finding a bargain, thrifting and I’m overly cautious about spending money on experiences or things. I struggle to understand why anyone making the same or less than me would buy a designer purse and then brag about it or show it off. When I reach a point where “fairness” or comparison is entering my mind I definitely reframe it as Alison suggests. I also try (try being the operative word) to remind myself that everyone has different value systems but one is not better or worse than the other. I also take the idea of fairness to a more extreme place. I’m an existentialist and I remind myself that the idea of fairness is absurd. “Bad” people win the lottery and “good” people get cancer. This may not help you, but it helps me from ruminating or spinning my wheels on something I really have no control over.

    1. Rainy days*

      LW 1–I am not badly off but I live in a very expensive city so my family has to spend almost all of our money on our living expenses. A lot of my friends have more money and go on fabulous trips multiple times a year. I do try to remind myself that I had a lot of agency in ending up where I am: I chose to work in a low-paying field because I found it meaningful, I chose to live in this city, I chose to spend money on a mortgage to make sure I have a stable place to raise a family rather than go on vacation, and I am lucky to be able to do that. The more I recognize the role I played in bringing myself to this point, rather than outside forces, the better I feel about it.

  21. Fried Eggs*

    If you think the higher ups wouldn’t at all be open to just giving people the time off, maybe you can arrange to work from home during this time?

    I also might mention that you find vacation time to regenerate your energy and focus best when you take at least a few days at a time (sounds like these are just afternoons off) to subtly remind them that it’s also no good for the company if you don’t get any real vacation.

  22. West Coast Reader*

    #1 – When I went to university, I hardly travelled because I moved away from home. My friends living at home went on trips every year. I decided that being independent was worth it for me. I ended up finishing university first and got my first professional job before my friends. Fast forward a few years, I moved abroad and achieved my dream of travelling, while my friends finished their degrees and got their first jobs. I realized that we just did things in different order, and that’s OK! You will travel when the time is right for you. Enjoy your life as it is, you’ll achieve everything you want to in due time. :)

  23. TechWorker*

    I was all ready to say #5 is illegal in europe (I was told it was) but on googling the law is vaguer than that. There is a minimum amount of notice the company has to give if they want to make you take PTO though, which im guessing there might not be in the US

    1. Bagpuss*

      Europe is a bog place,and rules are not the same everywhere.

      In the UK it is perfectly legal for employers to tell employees when to use PTO (Sick leave is different, as of course you can’t tell someone when to be ill!)
      In England, the rule is that you have to give notice of twice as long as the time to be taken – i.e. if you want your employee to take 1 day PTO, then you have to give a minimum of 2 days notice, if you want them to take a week you would have to give at least 2 weeks notice, and so on.
      It is quite common to require people to save some holiday for periods when a business may be closed, for instance , if the business closes between christmas and new year.
      That said, a full time worker here has a legal right to a minimum of 5.6 weeks paid time off per year, so being required to take some of that on specific dates is perhaps less onerous than if you have less time off in the first place

        1. An Elephant Never Baguettes*

          Why did ‘Europe is a bog place’ make perfect sense to me? I didn’t even question it.

      1. TechWorker*

        Yep but that rule you refer to is an European Union rule.

        (I know europe is a big place, I live there :) I also know EU=/= Europe but I was being lazy)