open thread – March 8-9, 2019

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

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

{ 1,965 comments… read them below }

  1. Eh

    Is moving too fast in the hiring process a red flag?

    I’m currently interviewing for what sounds like a great job with a company that’s a household name and has a good reputation as a brand and an employer. In my experience, hiring in corporate roles tends to be a bit of a drawn-out process, but they are just rocketing me through this experience. I’ve had some great interviews, and, ultimately, I think I’d take the role if offered at this point, but I’m wary that they’re trying to fill this position just a little too quickly.

    Am I overthinking this? Is this the norm for companies that have a quality, functional HR department (unlike my current company…)?

    1. JokeyJules

      how fast are we talking? We need a timeline to better asses, can you map out the timeline?

        1. JokeyJules

          They might just feel very confidently about you! Or have the time to really focus on getting the position filled. I wouldn’t be too concerned if everything else seems to work.

        2. peachie

          I don’t think that’s too worrying. Do you mean “initial contact” as in first interview or when you applied? I’m not involved in hiring, but it doesn’t seem like a red flag to me (in the absence of any other red flags).

          1. Eh

            Since recruiter contact.

            I’m used to a hiring process that drags on for months because HR can’t get it together and candidates take other jobs before we can move them through the process. My last interview process a few years back wasn’t slow, but it wasn’t this accelerated.

            1. Brett

              Internal or external recruiter?
              Is this a contractor position or a full-time direct employee?

                1. Brett

                  Seems fast then, but I bet they have multiple open positions, so they don’t have to worry about interviewing others.

            2. AL

              For reference, I work for a global company, in one of the country level head offices in Europe.

              About 1 week makes sense if they’re focused and organised. Week 1 is screening and 1st interview, week 2 or 3 is second round interview. Then senior interiew, then job offer…
              When I’ve been involved in hiring I prefer to spend 1-3 days interviewing and testing candidates in week 1, rather than having the interviews all spread out…

            3. quirkypants

              Not a red flag for me. I’ve worked in tech and it can can quite fast. It’s even faster for a position that is difficult to hire for once they find a great candidate.

              I once got a phone screen on a Friday, interviewed the following Wednesday with my boss, called back in to meet the C-level my boss reported to on Friday and had an offer Monday end of day.

              I found it later the position had been very difficult to hire for.

            4. JulieCanCan

              I’d be so glad not having to deal with that drawn out b.s., unless there are glaring red flags you should be thrilled!

        3. stitchinthyme

          That doesn’t sound completely out of the norm, although in my experience the larger the company the more protracted the hiring process tends to be.

          What I would consider a red flag would be them making an offer on the spot and asking you to start really soon. That happened to my husband once: first and only interview on a Thursday, offer on the spot, and they asked him to start the very next day. Should have been a huge red flag but we had just relocated and my husband was unemployed, so he didn’t need to give notice or anything, so he accepted. Turned out that the nice guy who’d interviewed him and who he was looking forward to working with was leaving; Ray was his replacement, that Friday was his last day, and he had ONE DAY to learn the entire job and environment (it was a web developer position).

          Yeah, that one was the job from hell. He was only there a few months before he found something better.

          1. twig

            I was going to chime in about same-day offers. My husband (who has had ridiculously bad luck with employers) has had a few same-day offers (as in same day as the interview) — one of them even called him as he was pulling out of the parking lot after the interview.

            All of his same-day offers have resulted in weird/messed up work situations.

            1. TechWorker

              I had a same day offer (they called me as I was walking home and got me to turn around to sign the contract) and it was actually fine, I worked there quite happily for 8 months (and they always knew that’s all the time I had as I was going back to uni). It was a receptionists position and compared to all the stories on here, a pretty functional workplace ;)

          2. Lonely Aussie

            Only for white collar work though, my last blue collar Ag job, I dropped off my resume and had an offer within about two hours of doing so.
            Started about four business days later.

        4. Brett

          I work in IT for a household name company, and 1 week from initial contact to second interview is perfectly normally.
          Because we do each hiring individually (rather than people competing for the same position), we often can go from first contact to offer in under two weeks.

          1. Brett

            I should add that most of our IT hires are contractor positions through consulting companies. That is what makes the hiring so fast. Direct hire full time takes longer than that. In our organization, contractors and direct full time employees are treated equally on a day to day basis; it is pay (much higher for contractors) and benefits (much better for full time, though contractors have some through their company) that are the main differentiation.

      1. Spencer Hastings

        “Timeline to Better Asses” — that’s the name of my new fitness program!

    2. irene adler

      Time frame for all this -week, less?
      As long as there’s been adequate time for YOU to ask all the questions, are satisfied with all the answers, and they’ve asked plenty of questions themselves, I wouldn’t worry. Some places have things together.

      I’m at a small company and we’ve lengthened our hiring process from 3-4 days to about two weeks-which in some places is considered lightening fast.
      I’m interviewing at a place where’s it’s been over six weeks now. Have had two interviews and I understand they are still ‘pondering’ things.

      1. Eh

        Around a week from contact to first interview. I’m satisfied with their questions and my opportunities to ask my own.

    3. ThatGirl

      Speaking as someone who works at a household name brand, sometimes the job has actually been open or needed for awhile and they just want to get someone in – if you don’t see any other red flags, I wouldn’t count that as one. But I would be curious about how fast we’re talking.

        1. ThatGirl

          That’s a little fast, but not outrageously so – do you feel like you’ve had all of your questions answered? If you do get an offer feel free to take a few days to consider.

        2. Anonymous Educator

          I don’t think that’s unreasonable. It may be unusual, but it’s not unreasonable. Now if it were around a week from initial contact to an offer, that would be even more unusual. Red flags come in only when they start pressuring you to take the job and not take time to think about it once an offer is made.

      1. Nessun

        I work for a major entity with offices around the globe, and my initial contact-to-offer timing was 4 days. Normally it’s a LOT longer, but they needed someone in that chair ASAP. So it can happen. I think it’s often a function of need/urgency when it comes to large name entities.

    4. Just Me

      Unless there are other red flags, you are probably overthinking it. It could be they have shorter notice for filling a position. It could be this particular role can’t just stay open for an extended period. There maybe some internal deadline, like they need someone trained up by a particular date. I work in a sector that can be notorious for moving slow in hiring, but my organization moves quickly with hiring because we need to be fully staffed.

      1. Eh

        I’m inclined to think a shorter period is part of it. Sounds like the person who held the position last was a poor fit, so I’d assume that’s insipiring a little urgency, which is totally understandable. My company just doesn’t do anything urgently even when they should be – we routinely have positions that desperately need to be filled sitting vacant for months – so I guess I’m just too used to that.

        1. Super Dee Duper Anon

          Do you have any idea if they’ve been searching for awhile. If they’ve been searching for awhile or just have already interviewed a decent amount of people they might have a pretty good idea of what they’re looking for, and you happen to be it.

          Or another option – maybe the key decision maker’s schedules all just happen to line up. That’s really what the hiring timeline was based on at my last pretty large firm. Timeline could be 2 weeks or timeline could be 2 months – it all just depended how quickly I could find time for the candidate to meet with all interviewers (without having them come back for a zillion different individual interviews) and then how quickly those interviewers could find time to touch base with one another.

          It does sound a bit fast, but I wouldn’t consider it a huge red flag on its own. Just keep an eye out for other signs of rush or short term thinking at the expense of the long term.

    5. BlueWolf

      I don’t think a fast timeline is a red flag in itself. As long as everything else seems good I wouldn’t worry about it. For my current position (entry-level role so that is a factor), I think it was basically 1 week from when I applied to having a offer. In fact, the internal recruiter actually called me in the evening about 30 minutes after I applied and asked to schedule a phone interview for the next day. I think they were just in a hurry to fill the position.

    6. Beth Jacobs

      I got one of my past jobs in an interview process that took two weeks from application to offer (granted, it was an entry level job) and it was a good company to work for. If anything, it shows the company isn’t tied in bureaucracy.
      I’d only consider it a red flag if they insisted on you starting immediately. Expecting employees to quit without notice on their former employer is weird.

      1. Forkeater

        Agreed – moving quickly through the interview process isn’t necessarily bad but wanting you to start next week is.

      2. Yabba

        Same happened with my current job. The department had been short-staffed for a while and they had new work on the horizon so it was 2 weeks from initial contact to the offer. They were just in a rush to get a new person started before work picked up.

    7. Peachkins

      My husband worked at one point for the well-known company that I’ve been with for some time. It took several weeks for me to be hired after my initial interview. He was hired literally two days after his. The thing is, we were hiring for multiple positions in the department he ended up working in as we’d had a number of people leave in a relatively short amount of time (for a variety of reasons). Even though he eventually left, we both consider the company to be a good one with a great office culture, reasonable work expectations, and quality HR, so I wouldn’t necessarily see a quick hiring as a red flag.

    8. CupcakeCounter

      That’s was my experience with CurrentJob and I’ve been here over 6 years. It probably is a sign of competent HR and a hiring manager who has a clear vision of what they want.

    9. MissDisplaced

      No necessarily a red flag.
      It could be they have an urgent need, or are trying to get it in for the new fiscal year or something. And while you’re right that with larger companies it can be a slow process, some departments are able to accomplish hiring more quickly if they’ve got all their ducks in a row before posting the job. Some managers may also have more hiring authority, and can simply make up their minds and move faster when it’s not by committee.
      I mean, I’d be wary if they offer you the job immediately, but 1-3 weeks seems ok and not red flag territory.

    10. Anon Anon Anon

      If the company is doing well, they might need to fill the role asap and they might have limited time to spend on the hiring process. In other words, it could be a positive sign – that the company is growing and thriving. Of course it could be a red flag too. They could be having a hard time filling that role for a reason, or they could be sloppy about hiring (meaning that you’d have to work with other people who weren’t well vetted). Just look at the big picture and go by your overall impression of things, taking everything into account.

      1. Formerly Arlington

        I think that sounds fine. Two of the jobs I’ve been hired for had even faster timelines–and I was at one of those roles for more than 4 years. The jobs I have had at larger corporations took much longer, but did not end up being “better.”

    11. SciDiver

      It’d be a red flag for me if they made an offer after very little time talking with me, rather than if their process was really speedy. As a few people mentioned, they might be trying to fill the position quickly or just be really excited to move you forward before you get another offer! Consider more how much time they spend interviewing you and the overall contact you’ve had with them–I’d be hesitant to take a position that didn’t do their due diligence to get to know the candidate they plan to hire.

    12. The Man, Becky Lynch

      It depends on your role with the company. If they’re hiring a high ranking individual after an interview and a couple nights to sleep on it, probably not a great sign. But if you’re just a middle rung somewhere, if they know their selection pool and their need to fill the spot, why would they drag it out unnecessarily?

      I think you’re looking for flags where there isn’t any! And it sounds like they have a good HR department, so that means things move faster than when you have a dysfunctional one.

    13. LadyByTheLake

      It is not at all unusual to have some of the initial steps go very fast. The red flag to watch out for (and the one I wished I’d paid more attention to the two times it happened) is for an offer to be almost immediate or before there has really been time to meet more than one person (unless it is a small place). Both times that I was essentially offered a job on the spot turned out to be disasters.

      1. De Minimis

        Yeah my current job has kinda been that way. Only had one interview with a project manager who basically said he was going to offer me the job after we had finished.

        It’s hard too when the person who interviews you isn’t someone that you’d be working with [and so can’t really tell you a lot about what you’ll be doing.] I know sometimes that can’t be avoided [I work as a federal contractor and the person designated in charge of all of the contract employees works in a different department] but I think it’s a cause for concern if you don’t get to meet or ask questions of any of your future managers/supervisors.

      2. Eh

        I’ll get to meet with at least 4 people once this is all said and done, and I have a very firm understanding of what the job entails and what they’re looking for, so I don’t think that’s an issue, either.

        1. Escapee from Corporate Management

          In that case, this pace is probably a benefit, not a problem. Most letters here are around processes that take too slow. If this company can have you move through the process both quickly and effectively, take that as a sign that this organization is highly functional.

    14. TooTiredToThink

      This happened to me – for a *government* job. I had a job offer within a week of *initial contact*. Since it was through a recruiting agency I started thinking it was a scam. No, it did eventually turn out to be a government *contractor* position and it did end up legit (I had to move cross country, so I didn’t actually start until about 6 weeks after the offer). But it freaked me out how quickly everything moved. Because I. Do. Not. Like. Sudden. Change (I can accept change, but its gonna freak me out big time if its sudden). It was only later that I found out that they had found my resume and went through the recruiting agency – yes they were desperate but they already had known they wanted me from my resume.

      I can see why its worrying; but absent other red flags; I don’t think its a bad thing at all. But maybe just ask how much longer the person that you are taking the role from will be there (or how long it has been since they left).

      1. slow down

        I had a position that went from my application to an offer in about 2 weeks. I accepted and after that it was one red flag after another. I ended up withdrawing from the position because they started throwing curve balls literally the day before I was supposed to start.

        (Curve balls like telling me that I had to comply with additional requirements beyond what was outlined in previous documents and policies. To be honest, once I began dealing with HR after accepting the position it was all a nightmare.)

    15. Bostonian

      It may slow down! For my current job, I applied online, and someone emailed me the next day to set up a phone screen. The phone screen was within a week, and then they quickly set up an in-person interview.

      From that point on, it was about a month before I had an offer in writing and accepted. Maybe in your case they’re moving quickly now because they can, and the HR/offer/background check stuff is going to take longer.

      As long as you don’t get any other indicators that they’re making hasty decisions or not being thorough about finding the best fit, I don’t think it’s anything to worry about.

      1. ThatGirl

        Yeah, with my current job I got the initial screen and interview pretty quickly, but then time stood still for a few weeks while they dealt with a corporate move and some reorganization of the department – which made me think the position wouldn’t be around after all. But it was, and after I got an offer from another company, that motivated these guys to move on me.

    16. Sled dog mama

      At current job I went from submitting my application to accepting an offer in 3 weeks. It didn’t throw up red flags for me because at initial contact they told me that they were looking to move quickly because of the toll the increased workload was having on my future coworkers.

    17. H.J.G.

      I work for a household name company, and we essentially have a first-past-the-post approach to hiring, so we don’t interview a pool for a role, then pick. People just get scheduled for interviews and moved from step to step as they pass those interviews, so someone could very conceivably get hired in a week (assuming a confluence of events, like the candidate’s schedule lined up well with the interviewers, etc).

    18. Thrown into the fire new manager

      We are not a big household name or a large corporation. We had a job listed for quite a while but when the perfect candidate came around, we moved really fast. Are you a really strong candidate? It could have been open for a while and someone really liked you and said that they needed you.

      1. Eh

        I believe I’m a really good candidate for this position, so that may be part of it. I applied to this role very intentionally; it wasn’t one of those “oh, maybe we’ll see…” kind of applications.

      2. catwoman2965

        This is how I was hired in my current job. I went through an external recruiter, had an interview, got feedback that same day, and also that they wanted to set me up with a second interview with the big boss. But, for whatever reason, that never happened, and they simply made me an offer within a couple of days! I found out later, the person I interviewed with, who i would be reporting to, told her boss “you NEED to hire her”

    19. Annoyed

      I’m hoping for some advice on an extremely petty problem. I get jealous and resentful when coworkers get assigned plum projects. I’m considered a high performer at work and I enjoy the projects assigned to me, most of which are high-profile (and I know I realistically can’t do ALL of the best projects), but I still find myself getting irritated when a coworker gets a cool project. It’s not every coworker I feel this way about – mostly the coworkers who are fairly lazy, but are assigned exciting projects anyway.

      How can I avoid feeling this way and/or be more supportive of my coworkers?

      1. thankful for AAM.

        Hi annoyed, I get frustrated by this too. But for me it is because there is seldom any conversation about the big picture and all the projects. I am the only one with teaching experience, why was someone else put in charge of training and teaching without even a conversation about the department plans and how I might fit in?

        I find the best solution is to focus on yourself and what you are doing and doing it well. You have your work, they have theirs.

    20. Not So Super-visor

      You might be overthinking it. In the best job that I ever had, I went from application, 1st interview, 2nd interview, and an offer all within the span of the week. It helped that I was unemployed due to a recent move for my spouse, so I could fit in their first available interview times. The only reason that I ever left that job was because we moved again for my husband’s job.

    21. Clawfoot

      I’ve been in my current position for almost 11 months now, and I’m very glad I took this offer. I mention this because I had the same reservations you did about how quickly things were moving. Here’s what my timeline looked like:

      Thursday: send in initial application.
      Friday: contacted to schedule a phone interview for Monday
      Monday: phone interview. Was told to expect a call regarding next steps by Wednesday. ONE HOUR LATER was contacted to schedule an in-person interview on Wednesday.
      Wednesday: in-person interview. Was asked to return later that SAME DAY for a second interview. Had the second interview.
      Thursday: was conditionally offered the position (upon satisfactory completion of references).

      It took just over a week and a half for them to complete checking my references (because one of my former managers was being difficult about it — NO END OF STRESS), but then I had a signed and accepted job offer.

      After the fact, I learned that things moved so quickly because the the department’s director (the one who conducted the second interview) was about to go on medical leave for a month or so and they wanted to get someone approved before that happened.

      So it worked out for me, if anecdata is useful to you. :)

    22. The Other Dawn

      I don’t really see that as a red flag. As others have mentioned, there could be lots of legitimate reasons for that.

      I’m starting a new job Monday and my process was very fast. I was contacted by the company’s HR person on a Wednesday (a former colleague gave them my name), had my first interview the following Monday (I was going to be out of town, otherwise they would have had me in the very next day), second interview that Wednesday, and offer Thursday. So slightly more than a week. I felt it was extremely fast and it made my head spin, but knowing now what they were looking for in this particular position, it’s not a red flag to me at all.

    23. Hazelthyme

      Some companies just make it a priority to move through the process quickly for strong candidates; it’s part of their strategy to attract the best talent. The time frame for the interview/hiring process for my current job was as follows:
      -1st interview (phone) 2 days after my initial contact with recruiter
      -2nd interview (phone) 10 days after the 1st
      -Final interview (in person) 1 month after the 2nd
      -Verbal offer 3 days (1 business day) after the interview, written offer the day after that

      Not quite as quick as the OP’s 1 week till the 2nd interview, but fairly impressive given that we were working across multiple time zones and around my interviewers’ and my own current client work, AND the in-person interview meant getting the interviewers and me to HQ on a Friday from home/work locations across the US. And yes, given that I hadn’t actively been looking and my industry is rife with recruiters laying it on thick at first and then disappearing, the prompt communication and speedy offer did make a difference in my willingness to accept and my enthusiasm for the job.

      I don’t think this is a red flag as long as you’re given the time and information you need to make a reasonable decision. I’d be much more concerned with a company that pressured you to 1) interview only at X or Y time, with no willlingness to accommodate your schedule; and/or 2) pushed you to accept an offer without having key answers about salary or other aspects of the job, or without a day or 2 to think it over.

    24. Database Developer Dude

      I had an interview where they offered me the job as I was walking out to the Metro station after the interview was over. Any slower than that and I think you’re fine.

    25. M2

      I would be careful. My partner was fast tracked for a senior role at such a company and was told by the President that he would be fast tracked and was the final choice. This was after he told them he had another offer in hand and they told him that he was their pick so he said no to the other organization. They wouldn’t give him salary and forced his hand and then suddenly needed more time. They also called his references who all told him the questions asked were pro forma (which made no sense for such a senior role). The female President told him he was still her first choice but the EVP of HR, another female, didn’t want to hire a man (yep we also have this in writing) and that she’s up for CEO when the current one retired and didn’t want to rock the boat with HR. It ended up being for the best because after doing more digging the organization, a household name, seemed very disfunctional (my partner was actually warned by someone who works there and who he went to school with). I think it could be a good thing or a bad thing but my advice don’t let them contact your references unless they give you an offer (contingent on references and background check). My partners references don’t have the time to do a reference call unless the person is the finalist. It’s a waste of time to do otherwise. Good luck!

    26. Qwerty

      Do you have any other red flags or is this a case of looking for something bad because it seems too good to be true?

      Most of my experience is things moving quickly between initial contact and final interview. Sometimes there’s a longer waiting period after the final interview (especially if you are the first candidate to get that far). You might be a great fit so you are sailing through, or they might have already interviewed a bunch of candidates and need you to get to final interview so they can make a decision, or maybe there are multiple openings in this type of position so they don’t need to compare you to anyone. There’s many non-red flag scenerios that I could list.

      I’d say there’s an equal distribution of good and bad companies in my fast and slow experiences, so on its own I don’t see a problem. I’ve walked out of multiple interviews with unofficial offers (getting the paperwork together takes longer). If you feel like everything is moving too fast, feel free to ask! Maybe they need someone to start soon because of an important project or maybe they are just always this fast so candidates don’t lose interest.

    27. TootsNYC

      there might be a big lag AFTER the second interview.

      I’m thinking you may be a great candidate, and so they’re enthusiastic and want to get you into the process quickly. But they may slow down later, or have one of those “waiting on the executive above to sign off finally” delays that often happen.

      Also, in my experience w/ a decent large-ish company, HR will be fast, and HR to first interview will be fast, because HR is pushing it. But it can slow down later, when the hiring manager gets more involved, bcs hiring managers are often pulled in different directions, and HR, esp. an internal recruiter who can specialize, is often very organized and proactive.

    28. Blue Eagle

      This happened to me once. It was a situation where the final candidate refused the offer and the second-choice candidate had already taken another offer so they were back to square one.

      I was sent to them by a recruiter (just started my search), they interviewed me, another interview, and three weeks later I was working at a great job with a great company.

      So, it doesn’t necessarily mean it is problematic, but during the interview process you should ask the manager that you will be working for (and not necessarily HR) why the process is progressing so quickly.

    29. CL

      Depending on the level, it doesn’t seem too fast. They’re probably in a time crunch because either the position is currently unstaffed or the person who is leaving is leaving soon and the training window is closing.

    30. Ella Vader

      My boss’ daughter just graduated with a masters degree in computer science. She interviewed with a company on a Wednesday, had a job offer by the next Wednesday, and started working there two weeks after the job offer came through.

      So, maybe some companies don’t want to waste time when they know they’ve found a strong candidate?

    31. Seeking Second Childhood

      I’ve had it happen once where it was NOT
      a debacle. I was moving home after giving up on recession era Silicon Valley. I applied on a prep visit home and was called for an interview the same week. The 1hour interview was extended to 3 because it was going well and some key people happened to be in the office. The next day I was due to fly back and had a call for a follow-up interview. I had to explain I’d be back in 2 weeks but I could do a call. I had an offer phone call waiting on my Silicon Valley voicemail.
      I was there for 4 years and if they could have let me TC fulltime after i married & moved out of state, I might still be there.
      (I married someone who doesn’t like crowds, and there’s not much more crowded than NYC, so I moved to him.)

  2. Are we the baddies?

    Does anyone else have a job where they’re seen as the bad guys? How did you get into it? Are you trying to get out?

    I do foreclosure work, which can be difficult. However, I strongly believe that the firm I work for tries to do right. I’m not sure if I want to stay here forever, but it’s been several years and I have no current plans to leave.

    1. Pompom

      I used to fire people for a living. They were in deep and “deserved it” most of the time, but the karmic weight of it was not sustainable for me.

      I’m now in an opposite line of work: I am a career coach at a professional school. Happy face at the beginning of your career, rather than the grim reaper at the end.

      1. Not Me

        I currently fire people for a living. The reason I do it is to ensure it’s necessary, it’s the only option, all other avenues for improvement have been exhausted, and it’s done with respect.

        If you’re doing it for the right reasons and doing it properly there shouldn’t be a negative karmic reaction to worry about.

        1. Sloan Kittering

          I still think there can by a psychic burden related to always meeting people on one of the worst days of their lives and always being the bearer of bad news. I’ve heard this from friends who are cops – almost nobody is happy to be either having to call the cops or to having cops called on them – even if they feel what they are doing is the Right Thing or Justice. It’s still just emotionally hard.

          1. Not Me

            Maybe it all comes down to the way you view things (glass half empty/half full). Most people who aren’t performing up to expectations at their job are not happy. I have seen relief on people’s faces more often than you would expect. 100% of the time, if one side of an employment relationship is not happy, the other side isn’t either.

            Now, laying people off who have done nothing to “deserve” it and are just the victim of a failing company, industry, or economy; that keeps me up at night. Luckily, I don’t have to do that very often, if at all anymore.

            1. handknit socks

              I’ll be the exception. I was fired from a job, that I thought I was doing ok at, if not knocking it out of the park. I thought there was a slow ramp up of my knowledge, but I was really shocked to be fired.

              1. Gerald

                I think Not Me’s point was that they made a big effort to ensure that the firings were well done, and if you do it right then the person will have many opportunities to improve, they will not be shocked, and hopefully there may be some understanding.

          2. Joielle

            I felt this a lot when I briefly did public defense work – all of your clients are having one of the worst days of their lives. Even if the pay and case load were sustainable, it’s just hard to do it day after day. You have to compartmentalize and I couldn’t do it without becoming really cynical.

            1. Future Homesteader

              I used to work with public defenders, and they’re my heroes. I hope that you now have a lovely job with good pay, interesting work, and good hours.

          3. Lissa

            I think that’s different, though. Of course it’s an emotional weight for anyone in a job where they are likely seeing someone on the worst day of their life, but that seems different from “karmic” weight which implies that the person is doing something wrong by working the job in a sense that is different.

            1. Sloan Kittering

              That is a good point, although if everybody is angry with you every day you can start to internalize that and feel bad / like you *must* be doing something wrong.

              1. CL

                And even if you don’t feel that way, just having to ramp yourself up emotionally to deal with that is draining.

            2. Not Me

              I agree, and I guess that’s why I kinda bristled at the “karmic weight” comment.

        1. Quake Johnson

          Yeah this confuses me a little too. I’m just picturing “This is Jim, He’s our fire-er.”

    2. JokeyJules

      Part of my responsibilities is reminding and following up with technical staff on their administrative duties. It’s a lot of emails following up or asking people if they entered in this small amount of data into the database.

      i love it. I know that it’s annoying sometimes for them because in their bigger picture the details are extremely minute and not necessary to get their work done, but it matters a lot to the bigger picture for the organization. I’ve established my good intentions and attempts to be helpful, and there isn’t too much friction anymore.

      That being said, i know that a solid 80% of the time, when my coworkers see an email from me, there is a deep sigh involved.

      1. Grapey

        Same (similar role with compliance) – I always try to acknowledge that entering stuff in forms isn’t what people want to be doing.

        The plus side is that I actually develop the software that they use, so part of my job is to be responsive if my “customers” (coworkers) complain about a feature and want it fixed.

        1. JokeyJules

          my favorite plus side is sharing everyones good stats with them! I think that’s the only time they enjoy what i do because it relates to how big their bonuses will be

    3. Kristin

      I’m an insurance broker, so I sell an invisible product. People think insurance cover their laziness/cheapness (not replacing their 25y/o roof and asking us to have their insurance pay for it. Hello, not a maintenance policy! And sometimes claims are declined because the client chose not to purchase a product (sewer backup coverage for example.)

      I love it though, and the best way for me to deal with it is to joke about it with my co-workers. Maybe not the best strategy?

      1. LsmithSD

        Also an insurance agent here- but on the Commercial side. I did Personal lines for about half of my 20 years in the biz, and it made me so much more cynical than I realized. Commercial lines has some of the same claims, but not nearly as many. It sort of saved me a little. My coworkers and I still joke about the really stupid ones or the nightmare clients. I figure its better to do that than take it out on customers. It’s also why I’ve noticed our industry seems to drink more than others.

        I specialize in HOA coverage- and let me tell you- I know that HOA’s get a bad rap- but some of the crap residents/owners pull- it’s definitely a two way badly functioning street-

        1. Kristin

          I had a client trip on a buckled floor… and she swallowed her bridge! It was covered though – mysterious disappearance lol

          1. LsmithSD

            My favorite from Personal Lines days was when someone’s car was attacked by a flock of wild chickens while stopped for lunch on a country drive. Thank goodness for Comp.

            As for Commercial- we have one now where someone “tripped” over a box left in an aisle. Video Surveillance showed that this claimants spouse put the box there to stage it. Even after that discovery, claimant is still not accepting the settlement the carrier tried to give them to make them go away. Caused the poor clients one hell of an increase while the insurance company defends them.

            I’m sort of known as the “strong armed” one on my team, because I don’t let clients walk all over me. It’s funny, because I’m actually very nice, I just have a low tolerance for nonsense/lies/bullsnot.

      2. Coverage Associate

        Sometimes I tell stories where insurers are the good guys. Like in the 19th century when they denied claims on overloaded slave ships. And today they’re denying claims on illegal fishing voyages.

        And by denying coverage for uncovered claims, we keep premiums down for everyone.

      3. Jack Russell Terrier

        I think most people don’t know that sewer back-up is a thing. My Realtor told me about it twenty years ago. Everyone I tell has no idea it exists. They all say they’ll add it – but who knows … . Do you mention it to people? I think it would be helpful for it to be offered routinely.

    4. Lucy

      I work in pharmaceutical patents, so …

      It’s fine. I know the good that’s being done. I have nothing to do with licensing or pricing.

    5. There's Always Money in the Banana Stand

      I worked as a collections representative for six months. I am soft, and six months was about all I could take. The financial institution I worked for was always fair, and my manager tried to make sure that people were being done right and that we were helping people as much as we could before we got to repossession or foreclosure status…but it was still just emotionally hard work.

      I went back into lending, and oddly enough, my collections knowledge has actually proved to be extremely helpful in a lending position.

    6. nonnynon

      I work for politicians, so I’m gonna say yes. The other day I was called a Nazi (well Gestapo) because I needed more information from a caller.

      I do actually like my job, I just think people have a large misunderstanding about politics and/or government.

    7. LawLady

      I think to do these kinds of jobs you have to pretty deeply believe in the system. I have several friends who are public defenders, which is generally thought of as a “good guy” job, but they spend a lot of their time advocating on behalf of really terrible people (rapists, violent criminals). But they truly, deeply believe that everyone deserves a lawyer, so they see themselves as contributing to an overall just system, rather than as helping a rapist.

      Likewise, secured lending is an innovation which allows millions of people to buy homes and achieve stability. It only works if the collateral can be repossessed. If no one did foreclosures, banks would either charge much higher interest rates or not lend at all to anyone who wasn’t already rich. The system itself is good and welfare-enhancing and you are contributing to that!

      1. anonagain

        “I think to do these kinds of jobs you have to pretty deeply believe in the system.”

        This is such a valuable insight.
        I think it should be part of more discussions about job/career fit.

      2. Book Badger, Attorney-at-Claw

        I’m a lawyer. My firm mostly does family law, which means we often represent people in really complicated situations, especially involving custody. I tend to think of myself on the side of the good guys, but sometimes it’s more complex than that (ex: an abuse victim self-medicates with drugs, then has to deal with potentially losing kids to CPS because of the drugs). Usually the solution for this is thinking about it as “making the system work” rather than “only representing the nicest, best people.”

      3. TootsNYC

        “they see themselves as contributing to an overall just system”

        Tell them that there are citizens out here who see them and value what they do for precisely that reason!

    8. Amber Rose

      I’m a safety officer. I literally exist to ruin everyone’s fun and lecture them, and everyone sees me as a huge pain. I got into it by accident and I would love to get out. That said, I’m well paid with reasonable benefits and not too badly treated and I have a lot of inertia, so I’m probably here for a while longer.

      1. anna green

        Me too! I actually really like it, in concept, but oh boy is it difficult. I used to work for a 3rd party firm so we could commiserate together, but now I am onsite safety, and I am alone. It’s so hard to not have any friends at work for all the reasons you mention.

        1. Amber Rose

          I like the parts of my job that are paperwork. Like you say, I dislike the way it isolates me from everyone else at work, and the times I have to go lecture people for being unsafe.

      2. Isotopes

        I think what you do is great. Because it’s easy for people to see it as “ruining everyone’s fun,” where really you actually exist to “ensure everyone makes it home at the end of the day with all their parts in the same condition in which they arrived at work.” I do a lot of safety stuff in my job because I enjoy it. I think that if an organization really values safety and isn’t just about ticking boxes, it gets into the culture and at that point, people better understand the reasons behind it.

        1. Amber Rose

          It would be nice if people here valued safety. But since they don’t, all I can make are “paper hardhats,” so the government doesn’t shut us down.

          I don’t hate the work, I just hate trying to balance the requirements with people’s annoyance. Shoot the messenger is very much a thing.

        2. Not So NewReader

          That was how I framed it when I was supervising. “It’s part of my job to see to it that you go home with all your body parts that you had when you walked in this morning.”

          I think letting them participate and have say in safety matters also helped. They knew they could point something out to me and I would probably do something about it. There were times they alerted me to serious malfunctions. It wasn’t long and they had a culture of thinking about safety going on.
          It worked out well, the typical injury would be a small cut requiring first aid cream and a bandaid. We never had any major events. This was remarkable because it was an extremely fast paced environment.

      3. The Other Dawn

        “I literally exist to ruin everyone’s fun and lecture them, and everyone sees me as a huge pain.”

        I’m in banking, and this right here is why I never applied for a compliance officer position! I’m in a compliance-related area now, but it’s more about looking for suspicious activity. Employees still don’t like when I have to call them, since that usually means the report they submitted to me isn’t detailed enough or they’ve filled out something incorrectly, but it’s not as bad as when I was doing actual consumer compliance. A lot of that requires so much paper work these days, even more so than when I was doing it six or seven years ago.

      4. Sloan Kittering

        I used to feel that way just as a lifeguard! (this was in high school). My job was to try to stop excited little kids from running around the pool deck and to try to stop parents from bringing cute floaties into the water … I was basically the fun police. I felt bad every time I blew the whistle, bringing all the joy to a stop – even though there were good safety reasons for the rules. Also I was soft though haha.

      5. NLMC

        My husband was in QA for a long time and part of that time was in a USDA plant. He was always the bad guy but he didn’t care. He knew if he wasn’t and something got through people could be seriously harmed.

      6. noahwynn

        I work in an airline safety department. Generally I love my job, especially the investigation piece.

        However, I hate the idea that I’m there to ruin fun or make jobs harder. I specifically work in ground operations safety now, so the people at the airport checking you in, loading the bags onto the aircraft, etc. It is a good fit for my background and I’ve done the work before so I can commiserate with them. However, with a large number of airports, I can’t personally know everyone and unless they know me they do tense up when the safety guy is around.

        Also, I hate when there is a disagreement on the risk level between safety and the operational departments. It is never fun to keep escalating it up finally concurrence can be reached. I don’t hate confrontation but I understand why people avoid it because it can be exhausting after awhile.

        1. Amber Rose

          That disagreement is the problem. Upper management sees me as a nuisance. You know what I have locked in my desk? A can of what is basically mustard gas. Pretty close, chemical composition wise. It was brought in without my knowledge and we have no way of using it safely. But when I met with management, I got a “we’ll cobble something together.” The documents on what this stuff does to living creatures made me physically ill and will haunt my nightmares for the rest of my life. You really wanna half ass this? How about no.

          Super frustrating. I like inspections and investigations and I like being an auditor but the cavalier attitude towards not killing people or people not hurting themselves is disheartening as hell.

    9. RabbitRabbit

      I work with research regulatory issues at my institution. A lot of researchers seem to think of my division as basically being the paperwork/no fun/roadblock part and hate dealing with us. I keep explaining it as ‘we’re trying to protect our patients, as well as let you keep doing research, and prevent our institution from showing up on the evening news.’ Generally that tends to bring them back to reality.

      1. Masquerade

        That’s what I’m hoping to go into after my degree (maybe 1-1.5 years from now)! My career advisor mentioned that you have to get used to being “the bad guy” and my research advisor keeps making jokes about me liking red tape…anyway if you have a piece of advice or a tip on getting into that industry, day to day life, how to deal with unhappy scientists, or anything I’d be really curious!

        1. RabbitRabbit

          Starting as a research coordinator or getting involved with an IRB as a reviewer (community, non-scientist, whatever it takes) are good ways to get direct experience. If you’re having trouble with those routes, see if local research hospitals have low-level research assistant or even volunteer positions open. (Or just for a foot in the door, some hospitals like mine even have temp pools for office-type work, which can help at least get experience and get you established at an institution.)

          Check hospitals’ job boards directly, or look on Indeed. And see if you can get a discounted student membership now for an appropriate professional organization, like PRIM&R, ACRP, SOCRA, etc. That will at least give you an idea of the industry and let you get a better feel for how things are done, some pointers, etc.

          Day-to-day is dependent on your exact role, the size of your institution, etc., but I do have a lot of regulations to keep in mind, so the red-tape-juggling isn’t too far off. I frequently find success in just letting the researcher rant and vent, lending a sympathetic ear, and then present it as an “OK, we need to make sure we’re all following fed regs or the FDA will not be impressed” situation. Frequently they’re fine after just blowing off steam, but sometimes need the “if we don’t do the small things right the feds will think we’re hiding something major”/”we’re all in this together” sort of sympathy/rapport-building to come around. And worst case scenario, I know my bosses absolutely back me up.

    10. WomanOfMystery

      I handled a mortgage company’s interests in homeowner insurance claims—lots of telling people that their insurance money couldn’t be used until they jumped through a lot of hoops. Sometimes I genuinely felt like a bad guy, but mostly . . . it just felt like being part of a bureaucracy. I tried to be a good, efficient cog that moved people through quickly. I did it for 3 years and got out because I moved.

    11. epi

      I was the contact person for an internal review board for researchers. It wasn’t an IRB, but we controlled a shared resource and so we had to review the safety and appropriateness of any research plans that called for it, as well as just whether we could support the plan and do our other stuff. The reputation of the process was that it was a bottleneck, maybe even a step where a research plan could fall apart if we were unhelpful enough. I inherited the role from someone who was proud that research coordinators in other departments didn’t like us.

      It turned out there was a lot of room to take that job in a direction where people actually felt we did them a service. I fixed our forms, updated them myself if someone submitted a mistake that was easy for me to fix (often they just didn’t understand our work well enough to fill it out right), kept in touch with researchers so we could actually help them set up that part of their study with us when it was time, and did a ton of outreach to help people understand the point of the process. We started issuing fewer rejections, and more requests for revisions or offers to meet to work out an appropriate level of support.

      It will depend on your role, particularly if there are specific interests you must represent or if you have power relative to the people you’re being a “bad guy” to, but offering information alongside your other interactions can make a big difference. I’ve had good responses in other contexts, as well, taking the stance that “I want you to understand what happens next, ask me anything”. Often people need the information– even if they’ve heard it before– and it sends the message that you do care about them and not just about getting something from them, or saying no.

      This was just one part of my job and I left for other reasons, but I found that part of the work fulfilling once I turned it around.

      1. RabbitRabbit

        My board is partially judged on turnaround time – for better or for worse. It’s not always fair but we’ve smoothed out processes and are no longer the sticking point in the workflow. And we have various outreach meetings monthly to try to educate and inform our research community.

    12. Baby Fishmouth

      In university I used to give parking tickets. The thing I really liked about my job was that the customer was rarely (i.e. never) right, and management knew it, so I didn’t really have to be nice to people who were being rude to me. I was totally allowed to just walk away from anyone who was being horrible. But I knew I wouldn’t be in that job forever, so that helped.

      1. De Minimis

        I remember at my college they usually liked to hire non-traditional students [older] for the parking enforcement type jobs. The concern was traditional college age students might be more likely to make exceptions for their friends, etc.

        Can’t imagine doing that job anywhere, though.

      2. JokeyJules

        you have my sympathies! I answered the non-emergency police line at my university – usually kids complaining about parking tickets. They’d call saying it wasnt their fault they parked in front of the fire hydrant and then their parents would call and complain
        the ticketing officers would be absolutely berated but always handled it really well and had the best comebacks.

        1. Judge Fudge

          I served on my school’s traffic court solely for the reason of being able to overturn my own tickets on the rare occasion I got them (and to do my friends favors of course). I had no quarrel with the traffic enforcement folks as they were always very kind and professional. I did have a problem with the exorbitant dollar figure the tickets were. $75 seemed ludicrous to me especially when my schools parking situation was a complete disaster.

          1. Not So NewReader

            Wow, you are lucky you did not get called on the carpet for that one. phew…..

    13. Free Meerkats

      I’m an Industrial Waste Inspector (Sewer Cop) and have been for 37 years in 4 different programs in 3 states.

      I can be the bad guy when I have to be. I’ve had to shut down a business in the past, I’ve imposed fines that wiped out any profits a business made that year, I regularly tell businesses they have to spend 7 figures or I’ll plug their sewer.

      That said, if you feel your company is trying to do right, you’re ahead of the curve. One of the programs I worked for relied heavily on the hammer – we were The Enforcer and they Would Respect Our Authority! (insert photo of cop Cartman) Fines imposed for every minor problem, heavy-handed enforcement. The program I’m in now, for 28 years, relies very much on collaboration and building good relationships with the companies we regulate. I’m much happier here.

      If you’re reasonably happy in your job, enjoy it.

    14. Sophie before she was cool

      I had a summer job in college that was supposed to be mostly filing and general admin duties, but they also asked me to call people who were behind on their mortgages and try to work out a payment plan. The organization worked exclusively with low-income households and seniors. It was 2008. It was not the job for me.

      I did feel strongly that the organization was doing good work, and I might have lasted longer in a different financial climate.

    15. Pinky Pie

      I had a job where I gave special needs students and their parents the reality check that their school wasn’t giving them about their potential vocational choices. It was tough at times -I had a parent with terminal cancer and a kid who wasn’t going to be able to work independently that still gets to me. I saw my job as being on the side of truth…

      I’m currently giving truth about vocational options. I know I’m not thought of kindly by some.

      1. JokeyJules

        sometimes parents need honesty with their children. “Success” is very relative. You are doing good, important work for these kids lives!

      2. Caterpie

        This is SO important. I grew up with a girl who’s parents refused to take her out of mainstream school and to this day (we’re mid 20s now) I can see that she didn’t reach her full potential because of it. She would have been great in a culinary setting (she was passionate about making desserts) and my school had an awesome partnership with a vocational school but they just refused to allow her to go. Since then she’s been taken advantage of by at least one MLM and hasn’t really built any marketable skills. I’ve moved but think of her often.

        She didn’t thrive in a mainstream setting and I think the hours taken away from the rest of the students because of extra attention and time that was spent on her (not her fault, but I can remember several instances where the class had to pause so the teacher could give her 1 on 1 attention -parents didn’t want an aid either) are probably countless. Thank you for your time in this important career!

      3. anon for now

        Thank you for doing a hard job. As a parent of a preschooler with autism, I don’t know if our future is college or not but I’m being realistic about the situation. I do know other parents that aren’t.

      4. Anonymoss

        It’s also a shame that vocational schools have such a stigma in this society. My husband is an incredibly bright, creative, and artistic guy with ADD. He admits he was not the academic type and wish his parents had put him in a vocational school where he could have worked with his hands. But they couldn’t get passed the notion it was for the “special” kids.

        Thank you for the important and difficult work you do.

    16. CatCat

      When I was a litigator, you’re inevitably cast as the “bad guy” to someone else. I was generally fine with being the “bad guy.” There were certainly some unfortunate/sad situations where I would have preferred not to be the bad guy, but it’s just sort of part of the job. You learn to not take these things personally.

    17. Triplestep

      Until a month ago, I worked in Facilities Planning and I got tired of being the bad guy when it seemed like things were conspiring against me.

      – Everyone’s a designer. You watch HGTV? That’s as good as my two architecture degrees!
      -Everyone’s a construction project manager. HGTV also teaches people what can get done in a weekend.
      -Your leadership decided you were moving to open space – not me. And while they first listened to my advice about how many meeting rooms, collaboration spaces, focus rooms etc you would need, they’ve opted to make those private offices for some lucky few, and now you’ll have nowhere to go to talk to each other or on the phone. But I still have to put a positive spin on this. Open space does not inherently suck – leaders who don’t listen to the experts they hired suck.
      – It’s six months after I moved you into your new space; stop calling me. If there’s a building issue, put in a work order just like you always did before you met me. I’m not your concierge, I have actually started working with another group who will go through all of the steps above, too.

      Its gets tiring having your expertise questioned, your work chipped away at by everyone at all levels, and ending up with an end product they don’t like. (Even the leaders who approved it and now want to point a finger at you.) About 30% of the time I did have people say “This is a lot better than I thought it would be” or “I could never go back to my old workspace” but mostly leadership value-engineers the hell out of it until it’s nothing like what you all agreed to in the initial phases, and guess what, predictably people hate it.

      Now I am working from home strictly on the front end of planning , and the only thing I design and build are spreadsheets and PowerPoints. I actually sought out and pursued this job (or rather jobs just like this one) to reduce stress, work from home, have fewer complaints to deal with, and be able to focus on a more narrow breadth of work. I also want to build skills so that I can be an older gig worker instead of retiring flat out in 10 years when I’m 65. I took a pay cut to do this and have no regrets except for the very long hours, which should subside. I hope to be able to make up some of the income by freelancing in residential design, which I did in a previous life and enjoy.

      1. AnotherAlison

        My office is moving to a new campus this year. It’s half existing/remodel, half new construction. We are a division of one of the largest contractors in the US. I imagine we were a huge PITA to work with for the architects. Bless you!

        (I personally do a lot of work in front-end engineering development, but it sounds like it’s more collaborative, and while clients may question aspects of our design, there is a mutual respect of knowledge. No one thinks they know where to put a boiler feed pump because they watched Flip or Flop.)

        1. Triplestep

          The best design and adoption outcomes I’ve had were when I’ve been allowed to hold workshops with the people for whom I’m creating the space. I was afraid to do this at first, thinking they’d ask for unreasonable things and then be pissed off when they did not get them. But it actually had the opposite effect – they felt someone was listening. And of course I learned a lot about the way they do business, which is so important. It was a two-way education process, and those weren’t the times I got the HGTV-worthy suggestions because they had a better idea of the process and all that goes into it.

          Instead when I worked only with the higher ups, those were the times I’d hear later that I don’t consider other peoples ideas. Because execs don’t like to be told that something is not possible due to code or ADA. I learned to say some form of “great idea!” to anything, and then come back later to say “aw shucks, won’t work due to those pesky building codes *pout*”. Otherwise I’d get pinged at review time; I couldn’t react quickly even if I already knew 10 functional and life safety reasons why an exec’s idea would not work.

    18. delta cat

      Not officially my job, but as the most senior person in the satellite office where I work, it often falls to me to remind people of the rules and report them to their actual supervisors if they aren’t following them. A lot of the staff think the rules are inconvenient and shouldn’t apply to them… and in practice, the supervisors in question never impose any consequences for breaking them.

      We work in health care; the rules are in place for our clients’ privacy and safety.

      This morning I *again* had to remind one of the staff that she can’t send her clients into restricted areas unsupervised. I already know how this will go. I will tell her supervisor, her supervisor (who works offsite) will remind her of the rule, she’ll follow it for a week or two, and then go back to breaking it with no consequences whatsoever. Meanwhile, she’ll know it was me who “tattled” on her, and our professional relationship will deteriorate further. Eventually, there will be a consequence when somebody gets hurt, and it will be ugly.

      I’m so tired.

    19. Bluebell

      As a fundraiser for decades, I’m used to being seen as a “necessary evil” by program staff, or being told “you’re so genuine and nice, for a fundraiser.” I’m totally used to it by now.

      1. Midwest

        I work in annual giving at a college and no one really understands what it is. A great majority of the time when I explain to faculty or staff what I do (write mass fundraising letters or run the student phonathon, etc), they complain at me that their alma mater is “always” calling them or how they throw out any mail they get right away because it’s “just asking for money.” I get it. No one likes giving up money to get nothing tangible in return, but we’re asking for money because our students need an affordable education and safe places to live and learn. It’s a real struggle for me sometimes.

        1. all about eevee

          I am also a Director of Annual Giving. Worse yet, I am Director of Annual Giving at the school I graduated from. Most people under the age of 60 think what I do is obnoxious. But sorry, asking for money for the annual fund is my job, and I am proud of my job. Without me doing my job, way less first generation college students would get an education. So, I don’t really feel bad.

    20. Agent Van Alden

      I am THE BAD GUY (lady actually) that most everyone fears (IRS agent – audit, not collection). I went to school to get a degree in accounting and I love my job and have no plans to leave. The compliance work that I do is completely necessary and the only thing that keeps many people honest when filing their tax returns. While the results of my work are sometimes financially devastating to the taxpayer, most of the time that is a situation of their own making. My advice to anyone with a small business/self-employed……a good CPA is invaluable. And don’t choose one based solely on a friend’s recommendation (unless you know their tax situation intimately) or what they say they can save you in taxes or how little (or how much) they charge. Like jobs, interview several, really get to know them and then make a decision.

      1. Anon for this

        My job is the opposite, but even we have to give bad news to folks. Hint, always make sure your direct deposit information is up to date (don’t close your account a week before you file and expect us to know that maybe you should get a paper check instead -yes this happens). And don’t wait more than a year to ask about your refund. We get letters about checks from the 90’s(!). Um, Treasury only keeps those records for six years and there’s other fun stuff.
        Then there’s the people who give all their info to a friend of a friend over the phone and then claim identity theft… Just. No.

      2. Another Auditor

        State tax auditor here.

        Your work is more than necessary. States appreciate it and value your work.

        To the general public – We should want compliance. If everyone cheats, no one wins.

    21. OfficeGrinch

      I work in the judicial part of the criminal justice system. Every person I interact with is not there voluntarily. I get a lot of comments about “the broken system”. I started working in a legal setting and made the transition to courts easily. I actually love my work, the department I am in works very hard at addressing how different demographics are influenced by policies. It’s difficult work in many ways and not for everyone but I find it very fulfilling.

    22. Sally O'Malley

      I’m a teacher, so yeah–to legislators, parents, the public in general–I’m the bad guy.

      1. Triplestep

        Not to me! I always tried to let my kids’ teachers know how much they were valued. A few in middle and high school showed they did not deserve to be highly regarded, but to me the teacher was always the education expert. Two kids graduated high school and I think I can count on one hand the time I questioned a teacher. (And it was for things like this: Teacher gives kids an extra assignment over a “four-day weekend”, two days of which were Rosh Hashanah which we, in fact, celebrate. I had to e-mail the teacher and say my kid will only have two of four days to devote to this, so please grade accordingly. I got a very defensive response strongly implying that I had called her anti-Semitic. If you don’t do stuff like that, you’re not the bad guy!)

    23. Scourge of the evildoer

      I work in law enforcement. All the “clientele” hate us and I have no contact with the people who directly benefit from my work. My kind are regularly accused of egregious prejudice and we are all lumped in with that judgement. The taxpayer both resents the money they indirectly pay me and think I don’t do enough/am useless, in a lovely [/s] display of doublethink. In a previous role I regularly gave evidence in court and was cross examined which is basically spending hours faced with someone calling me a liar and implying to a jury that I am incompetent and corrupt (someone who is paid a lot more than me). In my first role, apparently the high tax on tobacco was my fault. In my current role the things I find out will be devastating for the families and friends of the person that did those things, and they’d probably rather not know.

      But (capital)I know what I do (capital) is valuable and important. As I believe the kids say, haters will insist upon hating.

    24. Long Time Fed

      I used to work in the office that investigated claims of employee misconduct. I truly believe that we provided a necessary service and our investigations were unbiased and fair in every way.

      Unfortunately, it was clear that punishments (determined by HR) weren’t fair. High level people got away with figurative murder while lower level people were punished for the most minor transgressions. It weighed on me and I’m glad I”m not a witness to it anymore.

    25. A person

      I have had several compliance-focused jobs because I am very organized and good at interpreting rules, and the experience keeps building. I’m used to walking into a room and watching it go quiet and I’m okay with not having a ton of friends at work. Some people find that really hard.

      If I don’t believe in what I am doing or if what I’m doing hurts people more than it helps I move on. There’s nothing I hate more though than doing something without a good reason.

    26. Wrench Turner

      HVAC contractor here, and yes, frequently.
      Many people don’t understand the nature of my work so suspect me of lying to them when I say their dangerous, broken old equipment is dangerous and broken and it needs to be entirely replaced because “it was working yesterday and I’ve had it for years just fine.” If I don’t warn you and you die, that’s on me. If I warn you and you keep it anyway, that’s on you. I do my job and sleep well at night.

      People hover over my shoulder because they think I’m going to sabotage their equipment or lie about whats broken. I get followed around as I chase wires because they think I’m going steal something. I don’t get paid enough to lie to my customers and get paid enough I don’t need to steal.

      People often think I’m personally pocketing all the money when they get my expensive bill. They don’t realize I get $25/hr, don’t get paid for the drive to/from their place, don’t get any of the dispatch fee, and only get 3% commission on the very infrequent upper end of sales. A lot of stuff like that.

      Also sometimes their “Oh he’s real friendly” dogs attack and bite me. And I love all dogs. :(

      1. Sloan Kittering

        It is *so* hard when you are part of a very expensive service but you yourself are not well paid!! This is the employer’s fault, not you or the customer. I can’t believe it when I get asked for tips after paying top dollar for a budget-busting service – (example: my cousin’s super expensive private school is always begging for donations / teacher’s gifts .. where the heck did that $40K a year go??) – but I know it’s not the employee’s fault.

    27. JGray

      I work in HR and part of my job description actually says that I need to help mitigate risk in the HR department. Well the director that created my job retired and the new director doesn’t really understand my job (at least this is how I feel). I work in the public sector and my new boss is from the private sector where compared to public you can basically do what you want. My former director worked in public sector for 40 years and had seen lots of things that can go wrong so she rightly taught me by using those examples. My current director has worked a year in public sector so has seen very minimal employment things that could happen. In the private sector an employer can ignore things if they want which doesn’t happen in the public sector. I feel like when I talk about the bad things that could happen I am just painted as a debbie downer who is resistant to change. I am at the point where I actually want something to happen so that I can actually be like told you so! Anyway, I have decided to try and find another job by in my area the pay and benefits can’t be beat so not sure what I am going to do.

    28. Tax Person

      I’m currently a CSR for the IRS. We take your money like robbers. We have a lousy phone system that drops calls and slow computers. Before we can help you we have to ask a whole bunch of personal questions to verify your identity so that we are not giving your personal information to someone who shouldn’t have access to it. We’re not allowed to give you legal advice and can only refer you to specific examples of tax law that should be able to to let you figure it out for yourself (although many of those examples are, indeed, badly written and confusing). Often times we’ll have to transfer you to another department.

      OTOH, it is kind of mildly surprising to me that so many people don’t keep better track of their personal information and their finances. Not totally surprising, but still kind of. Anyway, most of us really do the best we can.

    29. Brett

      I worked (in a non-law enforcement role) for a police department that was involved in a very notorious protest.
      I got into it because I was recruited for specialty tech skills that I have, and it was pretty pleasant, though very low paid and no raises, for the first few years.
      When the protests came, the death threats amped up (including threats against me personally). We had people try to carry out those threats, including attempted bombings.
      It definitely had an effect. I was already wanting out, but I switched from “I want a new opportunity” to “I will take any way out and fix my career later.” Fortunately, I stayed sane in my job hunt, followed the advice here, and found something very good. That said, my old department was trying to do right, and was strongly vindicated by a federal investigation (other departments in the area were slammed by the feds). There was a lot of attrition for a while, but I think that turned around after the DoJ cleared the department and police officers got a significant one time raise.

      I left for a Fortune 500 company that is very polarizing. Some people (especially our customers) love us. Some people (definitely not customers) hate us. The offered work, pay, and benefits were all amazing and the internal culture is probably the best I will ever work for. Accepting the offer was easy (especially given the circumstances I was leaving). I have no intention of getting out. The “bad guy” image is more annoying than anything. Having our customers feel so strongly positive is a big help to ignore the bad public reputation.

    30. Jadelyn

      HR. How many times have we seen people here insisting that “HR is there to help the company, not you”? But you don’t see all the conversations happening behind closed doors where we may well be (and probably are) fighting like hell on your behalf, only the part where the CEO said “too bad, we’re doing it my way” and then sent us back to deliver the news. And unfortunately the type of work where if things are going right, you don’t notice; but as soon as something is going wrong, we’re in there, and so people associate us with the bad moments (layoffs, disciplinary action, etc.) like that’s all we do.

      I don’t mind it too much, mostly because at my current org HR has enough visibility in non-traumatic moments that our employees do trust us and there isn’t the kind of adversarial relationship that too often is allowed to build. I also have a great team of people I like working with, so there’s support and socialization where I don’t have to be “on duty” the way I have to be, at least nominally, around non-HR staff. I’m not sure how well I’d do at being an HR department of one, like you often see at smaller companies.

      1. JGray

        I work in HR too and HR is the fall guy for everything. When a manager, CEO, whomever doesn’t want to fess up that they made the decision it becomes well HR said. & then HR has to do paperwork with this person after HR has been blamed for a very bad day in the persons life. It can make it really awkward. I agree with you on everything else you said because it’s so true.

    31. Madame Secretary

      My husband works in an industry that is considered predatory in nature (but not illegal), even though his particular company is not like that. They don’t market themselves, but their services are sought out. He himself will sit with a client and thoroughly explain what they are getting, what they are paying, making sure they know their obligation. If people are coming to him, it is their worst day, and they are desperate. His clients have long burned through all the more savory options that were available to them before they come to him. He keeps that in mind and is always respectful. His thought is that if he didn’t provide his service, then these people would lose their job, their transportation, their utilities, etc. His conscience is clear.

      1. JokeyJules

        is he a bail bonds guy? Short-term loan service?

        I’m very curious if you want to share!

        1. Former Retail Manager

          I thought payday lender. While I agree that the industry is predatory, when I was young and broke, I was very glad they existed and, without them, I would not have been able to pay for a car repair or buy books for school one semester. They definitely have a place in the market, although using them responsibly is key and probably difficult for many of their clientele.

    32. Mimmy

      I’ve been a volunteer grant proposal reviewer since 2012 on two separate committees. I sometimes have the perception that proposal reviewers are the “bad guy” because funding depends on how well the proposal is written and whether your proposed program meets the funding agency’s criteria. My experience tells me that it does not have to be that way! One of my committees meets with agencies during the review committee meetings so that the representatives can expand on their program(s) and clarify anything that wasn’t clear in the proposal. So, rather than feeling like we’re penalizing an agency for discrepancies or poor program design, we are offering suggestions for making the proposal better next year (both of my committees fund the same programs year after year). Maybe it’s because we are volunteers that it’s less harsh??

    33. That Girl From Quinn's House

      This is in no way a comparison, but I spent a lot of time as a lifeguard and pool supervisor. I spend a lot of time telling kids they can’t go swimming. It’s often for a sensible reason- they showed up to swim lessons without registering and there’s no room in the class, or they’re too little to swim without a parent in the water, or they’re in their underpants instead of a swimsuit.

      It’s always for their safety, but disappointing excited children is hard.

    34. Anonny For Now

      I’m compliance in a specific type of finance firm where we’re required to collect and track a lot of personal, financial information on all of our employees. Employees need to tell us their holdings (their own and of their spouses/children/immediate family members in the household), the brokerage accounts, what securities they have, and seek pre-approval (through an online portal) to do any sort of trading (which can be denied, though that’s rare and only for very specific reasons). We also need pre-approval for political donations over a (pretty low) threshold. This is all required by law, and the firm can get in some pretty hot water if we don’t have this information (as can the employee).

      This type of interaction takes up a fairly small amount of my time in total. The vast majority of the people in our office understand that this is a requirement in our industry, yes it sucks and it’s weird, but it’s a requirement for working in this industry. There have been instances where… employee’s haven’t. Then more people get involved and it’s awkward for everyone.

      I accidentally fell into this to be honest. Compliance was just becoming a “big deal” in our industry and they needed more help. I was a temp admin who had good attention to detail and was a quick learner, so I jumped on board. For the most part I like it. It’s way more than seeming nosy to coworkers (I honestly do not care how many accounts you do or do not have, how much money you do or do not invest, or who you donate to, as long as it doesn’t jeopardize the firm).

      1. Queen of Alpha

        Sounds like ELF :p My biggest complaint is that regulations require spouses to be tracked too.

      1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy

        You really are my nemesis, hah. (I’m denials-adjacent for the largest hospital in my state.)

      2. Anon for this

        I also work for a health insurer. I write the denial letters that go to our patient when we won’t cover a bill.

      3. Jenny

        On the other hand, I just had a baby and got letters about how my insurance totally covered some very expensive surgery bills. I felt good about that.

    35. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy

      I’m a medical coder. I take your doc’s (usually absolutely terrible) documentation and turn it into your medical bill. In the US. Everybody hates me, because not only is our system and all its … quirks and foibles, let’s say … my fault, but something I’ve discovered over the years: you can make a mistake. Your mom can make a mistake. Your kids, your spouse, your cousin, your friend, everyone you know can make a mistake. Your cable company can make a mistake, your power company can mis-read your meter, EVERYBODY can make mistakes. But if *I* make a mistake, it’s not a mistake. It’s never a mistake. I’m out to deliberately overcharge all our patients so I can scam as much money as possible out of the insurance companies, because all my doctors need Lamborghinis, and I LOVE sending patients to collections who don’t pay their bill, it’s the highlight of my day. :P

      1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy

        Reality: My docs are so terrible at their documentation that I spend a large portion of my day removing things from patient bills because I can’t find justification for the charges anywhere in their charts. I’m the good guy!

        (PSA: Don’t go to an ED unless you really really legitimately have an emergency though. I can’t do anything about the fact that ED visits are expensive, and please to GOD don’t yell at me about it here, or otherwise start ranting about the US medical system, because I CAN’T DO ANYTHING ABOUT IT AND WE ALL KNOW THAT YOU HATE IT AND EVERYONE ELSE DOES IT BETTER.)

    36. JenRN

      Nurse here. We have the horrible combo of having the vocational/saintly/servile/sexy crap foisted upon us to set people up. This is then followed by the nurse Ratchet style fliparoo when reality strikes and the patient/client/family/supports discover that they actually have to participate in their own/their loved one’s care. That convalescing or recovering actually is uncomfortable and effortful and there is no medical miracle pill but hard work.
      So, time for your walk!

    37. NoNameToday

      I am in the foreclosure world too and you are right, it’s really tough. When I tell people what I do I look for their reactions to see if they think I’m the bad guy or not.
      When asked about it I tell them I know it’s not glamorous but it’s unfortunately a necessity.
      I love the company I work for and have been here most of my career after college. I’ve often wondered about going into another field but I’m not ready to leave this company just yet.

    38. cookies

      Oh man. I’ve been exactly where you are. I used to work for an attorney, basically doing all the foreclosure paperwork and taking all the calls and dealing with all the extremely unhappy people. It was pretty rough, especially since it was at the very start of my career and my employer at the time wasn’t fantastic about providing training on how to handle the people calling just to yell at us for *personally* ruining their lives. It’s been years, and I can still recall several calls with perfect clarity – they stick with me. The ones that killed me the most were the calls where, through no fault of their own, the person simply couldn’t pay their mortgage – due to medical issues, mostly. It was heartbreaking to tell people there was nothing I could do that hadn’t already been tried.

      I was eventually able to transition over to more of the title side, and now I only work on post-foreclosure title issues, which has been a great change. I’m still involved in the overall work of foreclosures and property ownership, which I find fascinating, but I don’t have to deal with the soul-crushing weight of active foreclosures.

      There are so many different paths when it comes to real estate/property. I hope that you can find a tangential career, if you eventually need to get out, that you still enjoy and feel is important!

    39. Farm Girl

      I used to be a meteorologist. Even the good ones (which I wasn’t) take a lot of flack. I used to say it was 1/3 science, 1/3 experience and 1/3 skill. I lasted a year, so didn’t have the last 2/3. It was hard being wrong so often!

    40. Environmental Compliance

      I used to be the county health department staff member that condemned homes.

      It was pretty rough emotionally on me. After about 1 1/2 years, I got out. I had a really bad case involving 3 sheds, black mold, no plumbing or electric or heat, and nearly 20 children. I couldn’t take the emotional toll any longer.

      I’m still somewhat a ‘bad guy’ in that I do environmental compliance, but I do feel that at my current facility the people I work with (including those out in the facility) still value what I do though I tell them no all the time. I may be the person who doesn’t let them get away with anything, but there’s a mutual respect, and I really do enjoy going out there and just sitting and talking with them.

      FWIW – I never received any training, support, counseling, etc on how to handle the emotional/human side of condemning houses. I may have done a lot better with that type of network of support, but it was apparently ‘not available’ for people in my position. (I asked.)

    41. Anon for this

      I work for the president. I am a career government employee- he didn’t hire me- but I work directly with him and I haven’t slept well for the last 2.5 years due to the moral struggle. I deal with it by donating time and money to causes I believe in.

      1. Not So NewReader

        Stay strong. If all the fair minded people quit, then all is lost.
        Thank you for what you do.

    42. Green Goose

      I work in a finance adjacent department that controls grant funding for education for low-income individuals. I have to say no a lot and it can be draining. People will “try to reason” with me, but they don’t realize that it’s not my personal choice, I’m following government regulations. I’ve had people tell me about terrible situations that they are in, which I sympathize with deeply, but I can’t bend the rules.

      I’ve had people get angry with me on the phone before and twice I’ve had people file false complaints against me after I had to deny their request. Both times it was quickly discovered that I had not done anything wrong, but it was super jarring and freaked me out a bit. I took things more personally when I was newer, but it’s easier now.

    43. only acting normal

      Love the username reference. Haven’t seen anyone else notice it so I will suggest everyone search for Mitchell and Webb baddies. :)

    44. Inventory Menace

      I used to work in inventory control for a 24/7 manufacturing plant (for context). It was a constantly moving system with material handlers moving material in and out of the plant, staging trucks for shipment, doing all of their paperwork, and having to scan barcodes to transact material to new locations every time anything was moved. As you can imagine in a fast paced environment, that last step was frequently skipped. There were several other transactions in the system that would cause errors that we were responsible for investigating. Nobody was ever happy to see us, because it almost always meant that we were there investigating a problem. And then errors discovered during cycle counts of each location frequently got people written up. You can imagine how well that went over.
      I really loved how detail-oriented the work was and felt a lot of satisfaction in solving the ‘puzzle’, but it was a lot of drama when issues were found. I moved on to a production scheduling position that has a lot of the good aspects without needing to be the “bad guy” anymore (plus better pay and schedule flexibility). Due to my history, I try really hard to triple-check all of my work so I’m not creating more headache for them. Now that I’m out of there, I hear near constant trash-talking about my old department and have to hold my tongue. It really is a necessary ‘evil’, but unless something goes missing, nobody ever acknowledges that.

  3. MechanicalPencil

    Did anyone see that story about the German worker who was poisoning his coworkers lunches? It made me think of the spicy lunch story, but in actuality.

      1. peachie

        Wait, twenty one ADDITIONAL coworkers. Sorry for the double response but can you imagine TWENTY TWO of your coworkers dying in fewer than that many years??

      2. T3k

        What?! The article I read didn’t even mention that, just 3 victims (coma and 2 chronic kidney damage). That makes it so, so much worse knowing this.

          1. MechanicalPencil

            Uh, I didn’t see that. I only knew about the 1 in a coma and the 2 with severe kidney damage. This is a horse of a totally different color.

            I’ll be keeping my lunch at my own desk now, kthx.

    1. Iris Eyes

      The murder mystery trained side of me has long acknowledged that this is the way to more effectively commit workplace violence. Why bring a gun when you could just provide free food?

      1. Elizabeth West

        I actually took copious notes on this for a story a while back. I know more about what toxic substances could hide innocuously in foodstuffs than I ever wanted to, and guess what? I don’t want your free workplace cookies anymore, Karen.

    2. Emi.

      I heard on the radio yesterday about a gardener who’s been leaving IEDs for people who’ve crossed him…. What’s up with Germany right now?

      1. MechanicalPencil

        Ok, I kept seeing that story, but I never actually read it. I assumed he was planting like nightshade or poison ivy or mountain cedar something. I didn’t know he was planting IEDs. Good heavens.

      2. Mr. Tyzik

        The weirdest thing about that story is that the gardener is dead. The IEDs are exploding from beyond the grave! Police have no idea how many devices he may have planted and where.

      3. StellaBella

        In the 90s on ‘Love Lines’ radio show they had a segment called, ‘Florida or Germany?” for nutty things and wow. Just wow.

    3. Decima Dewey

      Not everyone can have sandwiches. And if this guy has been lurking about, nobody should be eating them.

  4. An Amazing Detective-Slash-Genius

    Anybody have a good response for a well-meaning “Happy International Women’s Day!”? I have not yet received one but I’m bracing myself.

          1. JokeyJules

            agreed! still works! I want everyone to have a great holiday – whether they celebrate it or not. A happy day is a happy day

            1. Anastasia

              It’s not a holiday though. Or a happy day. It’s to raise awareness that women are treated poorly throughout the world.

              1. Jemima Bond

                I take your point, but then, Hallowe’en isn’t a holiday/celebration either, it’s a night to beware of/try to ward off evil spirits the night before All Saints Day, if you believe in that sort of thing, yet “Happy Hallowe’en” seems to be widely accepted.

                Fwiw my only issue with IWD is having to yell “19th of November so hush your row” at men who think they are being clever by asking THAT question. Follow U.K. comedian Richard Herring on Twitter if you’d like to see him respond to ALL those tweets, it’s ace.

                1. Jadelyn

                  Thank you for that, btw – I literally just had a male coworker ask that (in jest – he literally said “let me preface this so I don’t get beat up in my own office, I know the answer is “the other 364″, but…when’s international men’s day?”) and thanks to you I was able to IMMEDIATELY shoot back “November 19th, actually.”

                  That felt really damn satisfying lmao.

              2. JokeyJules

                I mean in the sense that I accept all well-meant “happy-whatever-day” wishings. A coworker wished me a happy Hannukah, I’m not jewish, but i appreciate the sentiment. If it is coming from a genuine place of well-wishing, i accept all of it. Happy monday, have national donut day, happy whatever… “Thanks, you too!”

        1. OhGeez

          Thanks! You too!

          I’m kidding a little bit, but not really. You could also suggest they pay you off with coffee or chocolate (as a joke). Or print out a bunch of articles about trans erasure and hand one out to every dude who says something (not as a joke).

    1. RandomU...

      Apparently my company has decided to observe this. I’m less than impressed by the idea. Quite frankly it’s insulting and it really pisses me off.

      So, I guess that would be my response if anyone was foolish enough to mention it to me. Although according to several coworkers I lost ‘girl status’ at my company years ago. So I don’t think it will be an issue.

        1. Anonish

          Because the talents and contributions of women to society are acknowledged on this one day a year which is supposed to make up for being ignored and discriminated against the other 364.

          1. An Amazing Detective-Slash-Genius

            I agree with this! I also think that it’s weird to call attention to it in particular – like, sure have the day but don’t wish me a happy one? It’s like if I wished my boss “happy international Male Pattern Baldness day!”

          2. Shiny

            I think that its historical roots as a socialist holiday have been kind of lost, and it has become like a more generic mothers’ day in the US, but since I work internationally, it’s a good day to focus on gender-related issues. I totally see your point, but I think the holiday originated in a very different context than from how it is “celebrated” in the US, and I have a ton of affection for its history.

          3. Kramerica Industries

            This. One of my male coworkers emailed a bunch of us today that “it’s so wonderful and inspiring working with a group of strong ladies”. Meanwhile, he’s reputably bad at treating us like assistants rather than equals.

            I feel like this day makes me feel more angry about the inequality because it’s people putting on a fake face for the day.

            1. Midlife Tattoos

              This. I’ve twice brought up to our executive leadership that there is a dearth of women at the top, and yet today we all received messages from executives talking about Women’s Day and how women are so important to diversity.

              BTW, the first time I brought it up, I earned a wink and a “thank you for your bravery” from the male executive. The second time I was punted to someone else and just got a non-answer. Both times I asked in front of large audiences. On the upside, the first time around I was applauded. :)

          4. Mr. Tyzik

            I agree with you! We should get more than one day to be recognized for our efforts against the patriarchy. We should be recognized every day.

          5. anon today and tomorrow

            Honestly, this is how I feel about any day or month recognizing marginalized groups. I always get really annoyed in June when suddenly all these companies want to be LGBT friendly, but ignore us the other 11 months of the year.

            If you want marginalized groups to feel acknowledged, make an effort to do that year round, not on the one day or month dedicated to recognizing them.

          6. Colette

            I see it differently – I see it as a reminder to stop, take stock, and figure out what steps we need to take.

        2. RandomU...

          I know this is an unpopular opinion, but it’s mine and I’m not up for a debate on it.

          I think that less time and effort should be spent on ‘celebrating woman’ because to me it intones that there needs to be a reason for women to need special accolades, appreciation, or acknowledgement for doing nothing more than existing or doing their job.

          I’ve worked damn hard in my career to not have the fact that I’m a woman come into play and it’s a real kick in my teeth for suddenly the need by some to accentuate the fact that I am a woman in the workplace.

          In other words, the fact that this celebration or acknowledgement puts a spot light on something I’d rather not have spotlighted at all, because by doing so… someone is saying that, as a woman, I need special treatment, which I don’t.

          1. Karen from Finance

            That’s not actually an unpopular opinion.

            The (original) spirit of International Women’s Day is not “Oh, women are so SPESHUL! Flowers! Discounts on handbags and salons! Thank you, women, for being wonderful delicate creatures!”

            It’s quite the opposite – it’s a day of rememberance of the feminists who were murdered in a factory fire, for demanding their fair rights. It’s a day meant to fight for equal rights, because you are right, we ARE equal.

            Patriarchy and capitalism have co-opted and misrepresented the date, but don’t let this misguide you. It is absolutely about equality and not being special creatures who need different treatment.

            1. An Amazing Detective-Slash-Genius

              I’d bet money that if there were a survey between men and women on what the day means, the majority of women would say “it’s a reminder of how far we have yet to go” while most men would say “it’s a celebration of how far we’ve come”

              1. Cascadian

                Until we have non-males in 50.9% of leadership (government, education, business) roles, globally, we still have a long long way to go.

              2. anon today and tomorrow

                Honestly, I think you can apply this logic to any minority and majority group viewing a day/month/event.

      1. General Ginger

        It’s historically a socialist and protest holiday. The March 8 date specifically is commemorating a protest march by women (textile) workers in Russia, and is in Soviet/Russian history considered part of the February revolution. I find the idea of any capitalist institution celebrating it is pretty disingenuous.

        However, I did also grow up with it essentially being like Soviet Valentine’s but with more ideology attached, so.

      2. Face Palm

        My company also observes this…by giving all the women in the organization chocolate and a pink rose. Yes, I’m serious. I’m not based in the US, so I can attribute it to different cultural norms and expectations, but to say I was floored last year when I experienced it for the first time is an understatement.

    2. AnonEMoose

      I’d probably have to not giggle. Because I would be picturing the scene in the movie “Deadpool.”

    3. Beth Jacobs

      I’m with you on this one! I think International Women’s Day is important, but it’s a political commemoration of not only the history of the struggle for women’s rights, but also that there’s still a long way to go, even in western democracies. But I don’t think a discussion about policies to close the wage gap or protect women from sexual assault really belongs in the workplace.

      1. An Amazing Detective-Slash-Genius

        Oh yeah, it’s absolutely an important day in the political sense. But it does make me uncomfortable when people “celebrate” it by instead calling attention to the remaining otherness of women in a flippant way. Especially in the workplace where it’s already so loaded (can you tell I work in a male-dominated office?)

        1. Beth Jacobs

          Exactly! “Happy International Women’s Day!” from a male in the break room has a slightly “Happy National Donut Day” vibe, which doesn’t do it justice. It’s not a day about flowers and discounted eyeliner!

      2. Doc in a Box

        You don’t think a discussion of the wage gap is appropriate in the workplace? Where is it appropriate? Girls night out over cosmos?

        1. Can I retire yet?

          my colleague and I put on a lunchtime event for IWD – we had a speaker who talked about representation of disabled women, we had cakes and we asked people to give us their thoughts on some of the issues underlying the gender pay gap in our organisation. This will contribute to our mandatory annual report on the GPG and an action plan. The senior manager who opened the event for us worked here for 25 years and told us when she started women were not allowed to wear trousers to work and there were girlie calendars in offices. So we started with how things have changed and went on to what still needs changing.
          We put notice of the event on our intranet and got a message of support from our Mayor (we are in local government).

          1. Doc in a Box

            That sounds like a good way to observe the day, especially the action plan. My workplace didn’t really acknowledge it at all, which is at least better than chocolate and flowers (ugh). But we have an unofficial “women in Neurology” (WIN!) dinner next week, and hopefully we’ll talk about these issues then…

    4. Fake Old Converse Shoes (not in the US)

      I said “there’s nothing to celebrate” with a monotone voice. And in some cases, with an additional deathstare.
      The bad option would be telling them to Google it, but it had really negative side effects.

      1. Glomarization, Esq.

        Serious question, why would you respond to a co-worker in that way, with a monotone voice and a “deathstare”? Because I could not imagine that doing something like that would promote a collegial environment among people that I have to spend 8+ hours a day with.

        1. Lissa

          Yeah, I’d think even telling them to Google it would be better than that! Though probably still sort of confusing, considering the many different interpretations of IWD makes it unlikely that the coworker would come to the same exact one that Fake Converse Shoes has even via googling.

        2. LawBee

          Or that it would have any effect other than coworker thinking “welp okay then” and moving on with their life.

      2. Alianora

        If I saw you respond to a coworker that way, it would
        a) make me really uncomfortable
        b) lead me to avoid talking to you about anything non work-related in the future (which might be what you’re going for, idk)
        and c) I would be very confused about what your objections to the day were. Are you anti-feminist? Do you not like its socialist roots? Support it but don’t believe celebration is the appropriate response?

        1. Alianora

          (Not saying those are the only reasons someone might respond with a death stare, but that’s what immediately comes to mind.)

    5. Karen from Finance

      My company gave me chocolates in a flowery box. I’m conflicted because I hate hate this type of thing for International Women’s Day. It misses the point so completely. But on the other hand…. free chocolate.

      My default response is a curt but polite nod, barely-there smile and quiet “thanks”. If I’m close enough to the person and the setting allows, I’ll expand more to a “I know what you mean and I appreciate that, but to me this day is about commemorating the people we lost in the fight for equal rights, and for remembering how much we still have to go”. If I say it calmly and in a “not offended” tone, I’ve managed to make quite a few people reflect on that. A lot of people don’t know about the origin of the day and most are just trhying to be nice, so I try to be patient.

      1. Fake Old Converse Shoes (not in the US)

        I got chocolates too. What’s makes it worse is that we haven’t been paid yet, so you can imagine my face when I found the cutesy bag with a smiley face sticker on it. There’s definitely nothing to celebrate, in any sense.

      2. Fake Old Converse Shoes (not in the US)

        I got chocolates too. What’s makes it worse is that we haven’t been paid yet, so you can imagine my face when I found the cutesy bag with a smiley face sticker on it. There’s definitely nothing to celebrate.

      3. LaDeeDa

        WHAT? They gave all the women chocolates? Uggg, so condescending.

        At my company the Diversity & Inclusion group and our women’s employee resource group co-hosted an event. They had a guest speaker, who is a well known female CEO who has made great strides in the STEM community and her company is well known for their recruitment and support of women in tech. They also highlighted the efforts of our company to support and develop women in STEM and how our company has increased the number of women in the company and in leadership roles over the last few years by putting into place some blind-resume selection techniques and increasing our performance management efforts to eliminate unconscious bias through unconscious bias training for all employees.

        It seemed to be received well and there was good turnout. But my company has been making a big effort and has been vocal about the initiatives for the last few years. It wasn’t a one day “YAY women!” kind of thing. Words are empty without action.

    6. designbot

      oh gawd. My company’s trying to be all women’s-day-y, but the catch is we just had a glassdoor review that said the company was a bunch of awful sexists (and uh, had a point). So right now, I’m tempted to be like, “yeah, about that…”
      Sorry that’s no help, but my sympathies are with all who feel pandered to on this day.

    7. Bluebell

      Inside, I’d love to say “yup, smash the patriarchy!” But I can’t envision too many places where that would work, especially as a reply to a man. So I’ll agree with Thanks, you too!

    8. Justin

      I want to thank all of you for educating me on this. I genuinely thought it was just sort of meant as, like, the peak of Womens’ History Month, and as a black guy who, like many of us, finds Black History Month to have good intent but horrible execution, I thought it was that sort of eyerolly thing. Genuinely didn’t know it commemorated a specific tragedy.

      (Not that I was ever going to walk around wishing someone a happy IWD though…)

    9. ursula

      The only acceptable way for men to celebrate International Women’s Day in the workplace is by leaking their salary information to all the women in the office at their level.

      (A modern twist, which is growing in acceptance, is to just literally give every woman you see $20. You may bump it up to $30 of $40 for women of colour, trans/NB folks, and any woman who works in a service role.)

    10. Anon for this one

      This whole discussion is interesting because it just made realize that something quietly subversive is going on today.
      We are having a huge international women’s day celebration today. Four hours long with lots of equity and justice related activities.
      We have not normally had something like this in the past.

      But… we were bought out by a company with virtually no women in the top several tiers of leadership. We went from ~40% women in major leadership roles to <5% overnight. This has been a significant source of friction between the two companies and no clear resolution is in sight.
      Now I think I see why our IWD celebration is so big this year.
      Thank you for the insight.

      1. designbot

        ^^^These are the conversations that will truly celebrate the day. Don’t post something cute on instagram, talk about the actual effing issues happening in your workplace!

    11. ***

      My response this year had been “The 19th of November”.

      Last year, several men in my workplace who seem to see me as Feminism’s Representative On Earth™ (i.e. a woman they know whose job is to tell them when they’re wrong) repeatedly asked me “yeah, but when’s International Men’s Day? Hurr hurr equality hurr hurr unfair hurr hurr what do you have to say to that?”

      So this year I am prepared to pre-empt it.

      1. LaDeeDa

        Every damn day is International Men’s day. Ugg “not all men” You have my permission to junk punch them.

    12. DataGirl

      F off, Pollyanna. Only because people in my office are being disgustingly happy about it, as if this kind of thing makes all the crap going on at our employer all better.

    13. Violet Fox

      “Thanks for the head-pats for us existing as women. Maybe celebrate by doing something about it, like hiring more women.”

      I didn’t actually say this, but I really wanted to and I think I’m just bitter from working as a sysadmin for too long. My department is okay, but our central IT is 86% male.

    14. Anon-er regular

      No but I wanted to share: a very senior person in my work started her IWD article wondering if the day was necessary and sharing how she laughed off sexism. She did end with it being necessary but with no acknowledgement of her privilege or that intersectionality exists. I was fuming.

    15. Clawfoot

      A male co-worker came into our (predominantly female) section of the office and yelled, “Happy International Women’s Day!”

      A female co-worker shouted back, “Thanks! That’s exactly what women want! To be shouted at by a man!”

      We laughed a lot. :)

        1. Clawfoot

          He graciously laughed with us and acknowledged his mistake. :) He pretty much nodded, laughed at himself, and said, “Good point!”

      1. ello mate

        I’d just say “Thanks! Anyway about Document X”. Unless you want to get into political conversations about gender at work….Which I wouldn’t and I work for an incredibly progressive company

    16. Caterpie

      I got a private message on LinkedIn from someone (male) who I’ve never interfaced with other than to accept their request to add me. The person seems to be from outside of the US, is this normal?

      1. Doc in a Box

        Whenever I’ve gotten random private messages from men I don’t know, it’s an attempt at flirtation. Sometimes they seem innocuous at first, but when you respond, they get weird really fast. I no longer approve LinkedIn requests from people I don’t know, and I always report them to LinkedIn (you are not supposed to add people you haven’t met). But Meetup, LinkedIn, Facebook group activities… a lot of men seem to think any social networking platform is OKCupid in disguise.

    17. Lazy Susan

      Yes. Ask them
      (1) how they plan on celebrating the day; or
      (2) why do we celebrate “international women’s day?” and when they say they don’t know (or if they give the wrong answer, ie “celebrating women” — say “well I’m sure you are going to look up the real reason, let me know what it is!”

  5. DaniCalifornia

    A former coworker just sent me this link as she thought of me while reading it: https://www.forbes.com/sites/lizryan/2016/12/20/ten-ways-productive-employees-get-punished/#3c64b5ae47b9

    It makes me furious because it 150% applies my current situation. Seeking to get out of a toxic job that I’ve been stuck in for over a year (been here almost 8) It also oddly made me feel a bit justified to be leaving.

    The urge to print this out and hand it directly to my boss and my supervisor when I leave will be great. Or just leave it laying on my desk. I probably wouldn’t…but the urge is there. Former coworker said I should print it out now and hang it on the fridge.

    1. Ingray

      Ah, I have a friend in such a similar situation. She is a really hard worker, works 4 days a week and probably does more than 40 hours including doing some work from home, but every once in awhile her boss starts making noise about how they might need her to work Fridays. I think they start dreaming about how much more they imagine she could get done if she was in the office another day, without realizing that the main reason she can work so hard Mon-Thurs is that she knows she’s got Friday off.

    2. CatCat

      Oooh, 2-5 really resonate with me at an ExJob. I burned out HARD. Boss eventually half-heartedly tried to salvage the situation, but it wasn’t until I put in my notice that now panicked boss started talking about actually doing fixes… but it was too late. Next boss was very attentive to asking about and listening to employees’ work capacity rather than just assigning stuff to the most productive people. I was so much happier.

    3. Aggretsuko

      Yeah…. Jake is just going to have to suck it up and work on Fridays, obviously. I don’t know how you’d fix that situation with a supervisor.

      I’ve kind of given up on this issue for myself. It is what it is.

      1. elemenohp

        But Jake is getting *paid* only to work 4 days. Unless his boss is going to start paying him for 5 days, I don’t think that’s a reasonable request for the boss to be making.

        1. fposte

          That’s not how exempt employment works, though. You’re not getting paid to work 4 days or 5 days or x number of hours. You’re paid to do the job you’re asked to do. Jake was able to negotiate a schedule that worked for him at the same salary; he wasn’t paid as part-time.

          1. Autumnheart

            It said in the article that Jake’s salary was adjusted to reflect the 4-day schedule.

            1. fposte

              Ah, I missed the 4/5ths of a salary thing. In that case, then that’s an open discussion to be had, because it’s certainly not reasonable for Jake to work the same schedule as everybody else for less money. However, he may not be able to keep his Fridays, either.

          2. MissDisplaced

            No, you’re getting paid to work a pretty standard 40 hour work week.
            You just don’t get paid overtime to work more than 40 hours, but a 40 hour week is standard in the US.

            1. fposte

              Setting aside where I missed the Jake thing specifically–no, you’re not paid to work a 40 hour week if you’re exempt; you’re paid to work the time the job expects you. Lots of exempt jobs do have a 40-hour a week expectation, which is fine, and the average exempt worker reportedly works about 44 hours per week, but this will vary wildly from field to field. But there is no tying of pay to 40 hours for exempt status unless it comes from your field or specific job.

      2. DaniCalifornia

        For me it’s not even about the Fridays. I work Fridays. And Saturdays. And Sundays. Yet they keep expecting more and more and more. I’m so done because all of those points in the article above.

    4. Bitter old owl

      I literally just wrote a rant about something like this happening to me (albeit I do customer service). But when I’m repeatedly told I’m a top performer but then they screw me over with my schedule so badly, it doesn’t make me feel appreciated and instead want to jump ship.

    5. Lena Clare

      I had to stop reading about the other ways that good employees are ‘punished’. It’s too accurate for my situation you made me feel really depressed.

    6. knitter

      My counterpart at work is incompetent and has tried to manipulate my boss into transferring her work responsibilities onto me. She also tries to rope me into things by saying “we should think about…” meaning I should think about it and figure it out myself.

      I have been very upfront with my boss and my boss’ boss that I would not do her job. Luckily, they understand that solving a problem in the short term by giving me the work won’t solve the problem long term and will significantly impact my morale.

      Good luck finding a reasonable and reflective manager.

    7. Kitty

      +1000. Did a full time role for 11 years in a 4 day/schedule at 80% pay because I was desperate for more time home with my kids. Don’t regret it but missed out on raises and promotions. Last new manager (after full time for 5+ years), declares that way the situation had shaken out was “crap” and squared up the financial situation. Part that stunned me was that he was a 65+ year old male that owed me nothing. Made me ashamed that I had lumped everyone in that demographic together.

    8. AnonEMoose

      This resonates with me. I like my job, and my boss, but one thing I don’t like is that I feel like the team I’m on is being treated like the back-up plan for another department that’s consistently behind. The other department does a lot of processing-type stuff. Which is important and needs to be done.

      But…it’s work I find highly repetitive and not engaging or challenging. It’s work I worked hard to get away from, and I kind of don’t like being dragged back into it, even temporarily.

    9. Utoh!

      That list has put into words exactly how I am treated because I am a high-performing self-starter working on a team of those who aren’t at my level. So the expectations and assumptions that I will not only hold up my end, but everyone else’s is a constant. It’s exhausting. I’m starting to push back by putting blinders on to what everyone else is *not* doing, no more follow up with them, no more taking it on myself. It REALLY grinds my gears when I’m lumped in with the rest to make sure I am putting the customer first and my projects second…I’m the *ONLY* one who does that…! Only a few more years before I can leave this place permanently…. I’ll have to save that make sure to leave it in a very special place (manager’s inbox!)

      1. DaniCalifornia

        I feel you. 100%. Lumped in with the bad when something goes wrong and asked to fix it, or attempt to fix it BY MYSELF most times. Yet when stuff goes right no acknowledgement. And I’m constantly asked to fix my coworkers mistakes. My team is not on my level, not even close. So every senior person reaches out to me to fix things, contact clients, work on special projects. Including stuff my coworkers should know how to do. And yet I’m getting emails from my supervisor about how behind “WE” are. Nope, I’m not behind.

        I had to do what you did. Finally stop worrying/caring and stop being proactive about putting blinders on. And pushing back.

        1. Mr. Tyzik

          I worked with a woman in your shoes – she was responsible for a process that usually ran smoothly, but every once in a while, another team would skip the process and cause an issue, provide bad input, or other issue. She was always dinged for the mistakes outside her control but never praised for the times when the process ran without error. And every team that broke the system got off scot-free; she was continually asked to tweak the process to prevent the unavoidable error and got dinged for that too.

          She eventually retired. If I were her, I’d have left with middle fingers raised.

    10. xarcady

      This was me at my last job. I enjoyed getting some of the tough projects–it was a challenge to figure out how to handle things. But that didn’t mean I wanted only the really hard jobs–it would have been nice to get a few of the simpler jobs so I could get a break sometimes.

      And I ended up training not just new people in my department, but doing some of the basic training (phones, network, various in-house procedures) for the entire company. While the tight deadlines on those tough projects did not change.

      My breaking point came when I was given a large, difficult project with a deadline that was physically impossible. Based on our usual timelines, I needed three weeks to finish it. I was given one week. When I asked for additional resources, I was given one person for two hours. Not two hours a day. Two hours. By not sleeping for a couple of days and working 12 hour days for two weekends, I did it. I have no idea what the quality was like. And I irritated my boss by refusing to train two new employees that week.

      And then I started looking for a new job. And when I gave notice, my boss was completely shocked. But I knew, based on past experience, that having done that huge job in a third of the usual time, they would now expect me to be able to pull off that kind of thing on a regular basis. And I did not want to do that.

      1. AnonEMoose

        I so feel you on that last. It’s like they see “Oh, this got done in a week, so all of these projects can be done in that time frame. Because Lean. Because Efficient.” Never mind that doing that means you have no life and collapse from the stress/pressure. People just can not sustain that kind of effort long term, because we’re people.

        1. SarahKay

          This is so true! I can run about 200 metres, going flat out. Or I can walk 10 miles, comfortably at a steady pace. I can not, however, run 10 miles. No way, nohow, contrariwise.

    11. JGray

      I did so good at my job that I actually got promoted within my department. Now with my new director I am getting punished for being so good. I am basically expected to back up everyone even if my job is a higher level than their job. I also think that my knowledge isn’t be recognized at all. I know so much but yet am made to feel like the bad guy if I say something. All I am trying to do is prevent a lawsuit.

      1. Up Hill-Yes, both ways!

        I hear you, JGray. You do your job, and do it well, and know the intricacies of it that they don’t hesitate to rely on you for it all…and yet when you say “Nope, you really can’t do that because X”, they want to buck the system and act like you’re pissing on their parade. But of COURSE, if they do it their way and don’t listen, then it’s right back in your face as a problem you should’ve known about/caught/prevented.

        Or at least, that’s what I got from your comment. And I feel you. Any and all that you choose: fist bump/hug/prayers/happy thoughts/good vibes to you. We keep the ship from sinking, which they pay us to do…but then don’t want to listen when we’re trying to do exactly that. People do stupid things.

    12. spaghetti and meatballs

      9. Productive employees may be blocked in their efforts to get promoted in the company because their boss knows how difficult it would be to replace them.

      10. Finally, very productive people get punished by their managers for taking normal vacation time or any time off when things get busy.

      *cries*

      Excellent article, thanks for linking, I’m keeping this in my back pocket.

      1. DaniCalifornia

        I cried at #6 especially, since that’s the reason my former coworker sent it to me. Everyone complains that our processes have mistakes and are slow or old. I constantly try to bring them up to speed/make them more efficient/less error prone.

        Yeah no. They don’t want to learn a new (better) way that is harder to make errors. *Sigh*

      2. Nessun

        I *almost* found myself in #9 – didn’t even know about it until after I was promoted! A new colleague said to me, “we wanted you in this role from the beginning, but your boss was really possessive – you do really good work and he didn’t want to lose you!” Luckily for me and her, he thought it over after the initial few asks, and came back to her and said Yes. He realized I could do well in the new role, and he knew I’d appreciate the opportunity. And of course I value him more as a contact/boss now, because I know he’s not a totally self-absorbed jerk. If I’d heard that info and hadn’t been promoted…I’d be FURIOUS.

    13. Jadelyn

      Holy shit, a Liz Ryan article that didn’t immediately put me in “flames…flames on the side of my face” mode!!! I wasn’t aware such a thing existed! I actually didn’t even realize that was hers until I got to her bio at the bottom of the page. It sounded so…sane! And normal! Non-gimmicky!

      I guess the broken clock has reached that special time of the day again.

      (for anyone who’s wondering why I’m being Like That about her, go find some of her articles about job search advice. They’re awful.)

      1. JeanB in NC

        I didn’t realize it was her either. I stopped reading her “advice” a long time ago. She has no idea.

      2. Sloan Kittering

        I was trying to appreciate the ideas despite the terrible writing … waaay too many exclamation points, and what was up with item #7, it was out of synch with the rest. The voice also felt too personally victimized somehow. It really reminded me how much I appreciate Alison’s calm, balanced, matter of fact tone!!

    14. That Girl From Quinn's House

      Print it out and leave it in the copier tray. If you don’t want them to trace the job to your workstation bring it in from home and swap it with something you’ve sent to print.

    15. StillWorkingOnACleverName

      I had a boss who once told me that if you want something done, ask a busy person to do it. At the time, that made sense to me. However, once I became the “busy” person who was running the school yearbook, newspaper, coaching basketball, and teaching after school classes I realized I needed to learn to say no.

      I had to understand that it was okay to value my time off and allow someone else to step up and do stuff for once. I still take on more than I need to, but I’m finally finding a work/life balance, and I’m much happier for it.

      1. spaghetti and meatballs

        I heard “ask a busy person to do it” and also read it in highly regarded books. It seemed to present itself as words of wisdom. My own personal take is: if you give it to a busy person, the busy person will not do it, she will put it to the side. Because she is busy with other things.

        If you want something done, give it to someone who has time to do it.

        1. min

          I used to think that way too until, like CleverName above, I became the busy person at my workplace.

          Busy people are busy because they’re the ones getting shit done. That’s what the axiom is referring to.

    16. anony-Nora

      ugh, seriously. My coworkers come and go whatever times they please, more than half can ‘work from home’ (which seems to mean going shopping, taking their kids to amusement parks, not answering work emails until late afternoon) but since I’m a hard worker I have to do a full eight hours in the office, I get all the crap projects dumped on me when I’m already swamped, and if my boss ever happens by my desk when I’m standing to stretch for a bit she comments on my not working.

      Our building has a mold problem that’s been making me sick for a long time. On rainy or humid days I have to wear a respirator mask at my desk to try to avoid the headaches/fatigue/brain fog that make me unable to focus on my work, so I would LOVE the sort of shorter hours, work from home arrangement half the office has, but nope. Somebody’s got to be the workhorse.

      Best of luck getting out of there, and into somewhere that treats you better!

      1. Dwight

        Yikes, health and safety? Get that reported to the authorities. And it sounds like your coworkers are abusing it, but working from home should be a good thing. My next job I’m going to try negotiating to work-from-home once a week.

    17. Hamburke

      I’m so lucky to be in the job I’m in right now! I’m a productive worker. I work 3 days/week and like my schedule to be able to do things that aren’t work (like grocery shop and clean bathrooms). My boss knows this and when we picked up additional clients, she hired another person to come in 2 days/week rather than adding hours to me (we don’t meet any of the requirements to provide benefits).

      I’ve been on other sides of this as well – I’ve been so productive that things keep getting added to my plate until I burned out and I’ve been in places where there wasn’t enough work for me because I was so productive. I only stayed at each of these places for a year bc there was nowhere to grow into.

    18. JediSquirrel

      Wow! This describes my job to a tee, and also perfectly explains why my goal is to be out of here by the end of June. This is exactly it.

    19. Alice

      Yeah… I had to stop being so efficient because otherwise my boss would just keep piling things on my plate. I’d tell her “I’m almost done with Task A” and she’d ask me to do Report B instead which was due today, so I’d get to work on that, then a few hours later she’d be like “I really need you to fix File C now” so I’d switch to that, only for her to call me after a few hours demanding why I hadn’t finished Task A yet. Madness. Now whenever she asks for updates I tell her “I’m still working on Task A, it’s proving more difficult than expected, I still need half a day or so.” Overestimate how long everything will take me to finish. Otherwise it’s just impossible to get anything done and keep my sanity.

      1. Sloan Kittering

        The slow walk is real. I have zero incentive to work faster / harder since all it will get me is more work and the theoretical longer term benefits for my career haven’t materialized in the past.

    20. TootsNYC

      wow!

      I had a friend who worked damned hard to meet her own deadlines. She took work home with her, stayed up late, etc. And turned her stuff in on time.

      Then someone in her group got sick, and it turned out they were behind on all five of their projects for that month. So the boss surveyed everyone to see where they were–all of them behind too. Everyone got one project to take over, except my friend–who got two, since she was already done w/ her projects for that month (though, she was starting next month’s).

      She powered through, stayed up late, etc.–and then handed her two projects in. “Oh, since you’re done with those, other people are still behind, so you can do a couple more.”

      She told her boss, “I feel like I’m being punished for doing my work well and being on time,” and her boss got mad at her.

    21. 653-CXK

      Each and every one of those points described ExJob to a T…and it almost always happens with bad managers who have “pet” employees they want to protect.

      If you do far better than the “pets,” you’re immediately seen as a threat to the status quo and these bad managers are forced to do two things – overload you with work so you don’t disturb their malignant ecosystem, or try to slur you so they can kick you out or make you quit. In the end, a new management system comes in, sees the rank incompetence of the manager and their “pets,” and by then the good employees have moved on to better, more respected places…meanwhile, the malignant ecosystem decays to such a point that the only thing to do is to fire everyone and start fresh.

      Good managers never punish good workers – good workers are gold and no one is a pet.

    22. Anoncorporate

      I was nodding to all of these. I work in a job where there is no real differentiation between lower and higher titles. As I became more experienced in my job, I kept getting work from the more difficult clients. I honestly didn’t mind the work, but what really got on my nerves was the total lack of recognition. I’m not saying people have to be constantly singing my praises, but I’m talking about compensation and growth opportunities. I got no raise in my performance review (though eventually negotiated one 6 months later), and I didn’t get any projects in other areas (that I asked for) because they wanted me to continue doing the same thing rather than learn new things.

      I’m currently job hunting.

      1. Sprechen Sie Talk?

        Yeah – *solidarity fist bump*

        Same exact boat here – oh, you have something that needs to get shoveled through a super heavy governance process, in a third of the usual time, with multiple fail points, managing a huge team, and heavy politics? Sprechen will do it! In fact, lets give her TWO at the same time – she’s got plenty of time, right? (thankfully a switched on director saved me from that disaster)

        Meanwhile the bulk of my team is sitting around faffing around with “thoughts” or “thinking about” “things”. They get tapped for promotions and management awards for delivering some thought piece after six months and yet I moved heaven and earth to land a major paper or win money and I get a “well, a promotion would be a stretch” or no one thanks me and then others appropriate my success for their own. I don’t get to do projects where I learn stuff either.

        So over this and its happened at every job Ive ever had. Starting to wonder why Im wasting my precious energy making other people money.

    23. only acting normal

      Been there. Not any more. After burning out big time I just scaled everything back to the level of appreciation I was being given. I got promoted within the year after being blocked for the previous 3 years… just sayin’.

  6. Pink Post-its

    I went to law school with the plan that I never wanted to step foot in a courtroom. I had no desire to litigate. My hope/plan was to do some kind of transactional practice and eventually go in-house with a corporation. My home town is a fairly large city with tons of headquarters here and I thought I’d eventually have an opportunity with one of them.

    I graduated law school in 2007 when there was a huge legal market crash (to go along with the economic downturn and mortgage crisis). Most of the transactional jobs in my city dried up and so I took the only job that was offered to me — a litigation job (honestly, I was lucky to have a job at all). And not just litigation, but litigation in a very specialized area of the law that a typical business does not deal with.

    By the time the local legal market recovered and the types of work I wanted became more available, I was entrenched in my job and making enough money that transitioning to a different type of law practice, and likely starting from scratch seniority and salary wise, just didn’t make sense.

    Now I’ve been in my role for over 11 years. I still get anxiety attacks whenever I have to go to court. Additionally, my area of practice is not particularly complex, and I am bored to tears. I just don’t want to do this anymore. I guess I’m having a bit of a mid-career crisis. I still think I want to be an in-house attorney.

    However, when I look at in-house job descriptions, I don’t know that I really qualify for any of them. Companies want attorneys to have real estate experience, or employment law experience, or securities experience, etc. I just don’t have that. I can draft legal papers and briefs, work solo or part as a team, research, negotiate, counsel, outline risks on an issue, etc., but the only actual law I know is the one I practice in.

    Would companies even consider an attorney like me that can do the broad things they want (write contacts, manage outside counsel, give advice to employees) but would need to learn the applicable law on the job? If not, would they consider an attorney who has no hands on experience, but attended continuing legal education courses on the law that relevant?

    At this point, I just don’t know what to do but I really don’t want to do what I’m doing forever. There’s really no more room for growth in my particular firm or subject area. I’m stagnating. I feel like I’m stuck but I don’t know how to get unstuck.

    Any thoughts would be very much appreciated.

    1. Victoria Nonprofit (USA)

      I don’t know anything about the legal field, so I can’t offer any advice there.

      But as someone who took a career… lane switch? Not a change, but a shift… what it made it possible for me was taking a (substantial) pay and title cut.

      It makes sense. I was treated and paid as an expert, which I was. When I shifted to my new role, I was no longer an expert. I had some learning to do.

      So: Is it possible for you to take a cut?

      1. Hooray College Football

        I switched directions in my legal career, but I had taken a job in legal research sales/marketing out of law school. 9 years later, bored out of my skull, I jumped into practicing law for the first time. Fortunately, I have a science background, so I took/passed the patent bar on my own, then hit the market (1999-2000) when the IP market was up. So I was 38 and starting over. I did take a substantial pay cut and a loss of vacation time, but it has been worth it.

        1. Pink Post-its

          Jealous of your science background! I’d love to do IP but by the time I realized that, I was almost done with college and it was too late to change from my humanities major.

          In my heart of hearts I’m hoping someone will give me a chance to work, even just a little, with trademarks and copyright issues.

          1. Hooray College Football

            If you are in the DC area, you can check jobs at the USPTO. They are advertising for a senior TM attorney right now but it is in quality control. You could start in the examining corps and work your way up. Once you have enough seniority, they allow work from home. Just check USA jobs (although again, you’ll take a pay cut at least initially, but the quality of life increases greatly.) One thing to consider – I work for the Navy (civilians – check Navy OGC). If you find a job in one of the litigation shops (mostly gov’t contracts, some federal court, GAO appeals, ASBCA), you can later move to other organizations within the Navy doing non-litigation work. You’ll gain Gov’t contracts experience doing the litigation, which you can transfer to other commands doing advice/counseling. DON OGC jobs are posted on that site, USPTO jobs are on USAjobs.

    2. MsM

      Are there organizations you can get involved with that might give you a chance to do some pro bono work and gain some experience in different areas that way?

      1. Pink Post-its

        I’ll have to do more research on this. Most of the pro bono stuff I know about is still litigation work that would not really open corporate opportunities.

        1. Jules the 3rd

          You might get some real estate experience with pro-bono foreclosure defense. A legal aid society near you may have a list of lawyers that they give people, that you could get on.

        2. INeedANap

          I use to work as general admin staff in a law school – the law school ran a ton of clinics on things like estate planning, real estate, employment law, etc and was ALWAYS looking for lawyers that could help out/be a part of a clinic. There were way more students who were interested – and a huge number of local people in the community who needed the help – than there were lawyers to supervise them. Just a thought!

        3. NotAnotherManager!

          I have someone on staff whose pro bono contributions are largely nonprofit formation, incorporation, and maintenance. Another handled lease negotiations and transfer of a property unexpectedly donated in someone’s will. I don’t know if that helps or if you’re allowed to bring your own pro bono opportunities to your current job, but I work with a number of people who do transaction work on a pro bono basis. Is there a nonprofit that could use your help?

    3. Lazy Susan

      My company (large) has a few lawyers on staff whose entire jobs are to review contracts. Big companies usually have large departments for procurement, contracting, and lawyers to work with both groups.

      1. Pink Post-its

        I’ve seen opportunities like that pop up here and the job postings usually say stuff like “Experience in advising Corporations/supply chain/negotiating commercial contracts required.”
        I don’t know if they would consider someone like me.

        1. Up Hill-Yes, both ways!

          Pink Post-its, I don’t know where you are, of course, but I work in the Virginia, and most all of our state jobs here will list a set of skills/education as requirements, but they almost always include language similar to “or equivalent experience”. I’ve worked in state jobs for most of my career (12 years now), and I see people get hired all the time who don’t have exactly what the posting says, but they have the ability to do the job. This seems to generally be determined by the combination of education and experience that a candidate has, and determining whether s/he is able to learn the job at hand.

          Also, while you may not wish to do so, you could also look for other jobs that pertain to your area of interest in some way. I don’t know law at all, but I’m a procurement officer. As Lazy Susan says, we often need advice on various commodities and the appropriate terms and conditions applied thereto. So maybe (if you haven’t already), you could try expanding your search from a “lawyer” job to one that you could use your skills and knowledge at, and of course, ideally without a pay cut :)

      2. Ama

        Not only for profit, this is in great demand at both academic institutions and nonprofits — reviewing and/or negotiating contracts for partnerships with industry or research grants. They probably don’t pay as well, but because of that they tend to be more willing to work with someone who has general contract law experience but needs to learn the specific nuances of contracts for research institutions on the job.

    4. Lurker

      Don’t lose hope!! I was a litigator for over ten years in an insanely nitch field (child abuse neglect/family law) and I moved to a risk and compliance role in a huge international company. And I’m ridiculously happy with my midcareer about face, even though I loved litigating. Lean into your network outside of work (my recommendation came from a friend that I made via a mutual hobby outside of work) and don’t give up!

      1. Pink Post-its

        Thank you, it’s good to know it can be done!

        Now I just need to develop network outside of my practice…… :)

        1. Auntie Social

          Have you thought about attending continuing ed classes about human resources, so your CV can state what classes you’ve taken and you’re working towards certification in X?? I know larger HR departments are always happy to have a lawyer on board.

          1. Pink Post-its

            It is one of the things I’ve thought about. I need to look more into what certifications I could pursue.

    5. No Longer Elle

      Hi! I did this! I graduated law school in 2014 and vowed never to enter a courtroom. Of course I ended up taking a family law gig and was in court at least 3 days a week for 3 years. I was miserable dealing with other people’s drama all day and applied for anything and everything to get out of there. It was tough to convince people in other fields that I didn’t want to be a “real lawyer” and had transferable skills. My title now is a version of Contract Manager and I negotiate commercial contracts for a huge company. My original boss hired me because I focused on my negotiating skills and made it clear I was looking for a change. He had also been through a nasty divorce and could understand why I wanted out.

      I second everyone’s advice to look at jobs relating to contracts, procurement and compliance – not just in house counsel. Good luck!

      1. Pink Post-its

        Thank you! I am looking into trying to improve some areas I may need to hone. I’m looking into some CLEs on negotiation (I have a lot of experience negotiating settlements but it can’t hurt to continue to learn to improve these skills, right?), commercial leases, compliance issues, etc. I just wasn’t sure if prospective employers would be impressed that “I took a class.”

        1. No Longer Elle

          CLEs are a good way to start, but honestly, you are probably not giving yourself enough credit for what you already do now. I went from family law to telecom, not knowing anything about the industry or types of agreements I would be working. I know the all the other top contenders for my job were telecom experts but didn’t have the experience issue spotting and document drafting that I did. They decided it would be easier to teach the industry norms than the negotiating skill. Don’t be afraid to start applying now.

          1. Considered Secularist

            I would strongly echo what No Longer Elle says about valuing your negotiation and drafting skills. I am a very long-time in-house lawyer. I would far rather hire a candidate with those strong skills who needed to learn my industry — I can teach that easily — negotiation, drafting and people skills are far harder to teach. And your cover letter can make that case for you.

        2. Dagny

          I think you’re better off just applying to a lot of places, while showcasing your drafting and negotiation skills, than you are taking CLEs to try to impress employers (who won’t care).

          You do not need “employers,” generally, to think that you are making a good choice, or that you would be good in a different role; you need exactly one to think that way and to extend you an offer.

    6. CatCat

      I have made several shifts in my legal career including going from litigation to house counsel You can definitely do it!

      Can you start taking litigation cases that are sort of adjacent to the types of transactional work you’d be interested in? I think that would make it smoother.

      Do you have legal aid in your area that has volunteer attorneys do certain types of pro bono work in the areas where you are interested?

      1. Pink Post-its

        Thank you! The firm I’m with is niche so there’s not really any way to take on other work here but I’ll look into the local legal aid.

    7. Adele

      If you are near a university or large hospital/medical center, look to see what they may have. We have legal departments, sure, but we also have people with law degrees in purchasing contracts and procurement, in grants oversight, even in athletics to make sure we comply with conference rules (or to see how far we can bend them, per my cousin who does this work).

    8. LadyByTheLake

      A common in-house position is litigation management. So you wouldn’t go to court, but you would manage outside counsel who do.

    9. Coverage Associate

      Lots of corporations and every insurance company has in house counsel who manages outside litigation. Your skills will transfer but you yourself won’t have to deal with opposing counsel and judges.

    10. The Man, Becky Lynch

      I think you need to have more faith in yourself. It’s good that you’re cautious and know it’s an uphill battle, in terms of experience they’re looking for but you don’t necessarily have this time. But don’t let that stop you from trying your hardest to get them to give you a chance. Worse case, you hear no a lot but it only takes one yes to get your foot in that door and fly in.

      Stay focused on your goal and fight for it. Don’t do anything outrageous [like quit your job and say that you’ll never work again until you get ‘that job’ or something like that!] but go hard, apply and throw your hat in the ring where you see yourself. Use your cover letters to tell them why you’re going to be able to overcome the learning curve.

      You’re never ever stuck anywhere until you’re dead and stuck in the ground. Xoxo

    11. The Rain In Spain

      Like you I have no desire to ever litigate! My experience post law school was clerking for a county attorney (not barred at the time), and then I moved to another state. I took a lower-level role in HR (but handling employment law matters) and sat for the bar. After I passed, I started my search! I specifically enjoy contracts and after a VERY LONG, very specific search, was able to find (and land) a role handling contracts in an industry that’s much better suited for me.

      You have years of valuable experience. The thing is, you’re capable of picking up other areas of law. I do think companies would consider you- my recommendation would be to look for smaller companies to start with. Some of them use outside counsel extensively even if they have in-house counsel, so that’s something to keep in mind. Also, consider if you’re willing to be flexible on the in-house title. My current role does NOT give me a general counsel title, but I was specifically hired because of my degree/barred status and it’s helpful in negotiations. I feel I am paid appropriately given my education and experience, so I was willing to be flexible on the title. But consider what industries you’re willing to work in- I found one that was a good fit for my background and interests and that’s made a huge difference.

      I would suggest you take some relevant CLEs just to feel more prepared. Also can you join a business law section of the bar and start networking that way? I second the idea to start doing some relevant pro bono work (or even any if you have the capacity- as someone who’s not great at networking for its own sake it was a nice way to meet some fellow-minded attorneys).

    12. Lily Rowan

      Other people had more specific advice about the law, but one way to see if companies would consider an attorney like you is just to apply for stuff! Maybe they will, maybe they won’t, but they definitely won’t if you aren’t in front of them.

      Good luck.

    13. LaDeeDa

      I am good friends with the senior counsel at my company. I have sent her your question. I believe she is off today, but as soon as I hear back from her I will post a response, so check back over the weekend and Monday!

    14. Glomarization, Esq.

      Now that you’re about a dozen years into your law career, you’re at an excellent place to switch your focus. You’re under-selling yourself, seriously. Everyone I know who has gone into in-house counsel, started out in some area of practice that was different in one way or another from their current in-house gig. “I’ve spent a dozen years litigating” says to a prospective employer that you will very zealously defend their interests if they take you on.

      Do some self-directed CLE for a refresher on contract basics, make sure that your jurisdiction doesn’t have some oddball rule here and there (I’m looking at you, Pennsylvania’s “and agreeing to be legally bound thereby”), brush up your resume, and apply away. You’ve got this.

    15. ArtK

      You have a lot of sympathy from me. I’m in the process of trying to switch career focus in a similar way. It’s been a long and frustrating process and I’m only now seeing some results. See my comment below and the previous one last week. I work in an industry (software) where everyone is a specialist so if you lack experience in another area, it’s hard to overcome that.

      One of the things that seems to be helping me is showing a strong interest in the new field. I’ve taken courses and even put some personal projects on my resume that were directly related. As in building a specialized computer of the type that this new field uses.

      Can you do some CLE in the area you want to change to? How about taking on some pro bono work?

      I recently had a conversation with one of my mentors about my struggle — he’s one who helped me with my “2nd chance” letter — and he pointed out some areas where I had transferable experience. I had listed some general stuff, but this was specific to the job listing. Look for those kinds of things. See if you can find a mentor in the field who could point you in the right direction.

      BTW, I’m late career so I’m also dealing with age discrimination issues. I’m aware that I’m going to have to take a cut in pay/title/seniority to do this, but I believe that the rewards will be there. Plus, I can build up a good reputation fairly quickly — I’ve done it before, I can do it again.

      Above all, good luck!

    16. swingbattabatta

      I’m not sure if this is an option, but could you look at switching to a larger firm that has a litigation and a transactional practice? Once there, you could start picking up more transactional work (and slowing down on the litigation side), and maybe spend a couple of years familiarizing yourself with that type of work before aggressively looking for an in-house role.

    17. AnonymEsq.

      I would connect with a recruiter. Some larger in-house legal depts do look for litigators to handle matters and manage litigation. You might also try to reach out to your network – former colleagues, fellow alums from your law school, even former opposing counsel – who have moved in-house to hear about how they got into that role and what that role looks like.

    18. user679

      I don’t know about law, but I’ve switched careers and the way to go is

      – to network and use contacts to get a new job; you want to talk with decision-makers and explain your situation, not with HR
      – to search for jobs related to both what you are doing now and what you want to do in the future – be creative
      – to learn in your free time and possibly invest in courses/ trainings/ degrees related to your new career.

      You shouldn’t need to start from scratch. For people like you special solutions are designed. You can start as a junior but with a promise you will move up quickly after you picked up a new job for example.

    19. JR

      Do you think you would have an easier time switching from your specialized area of litigation to general civil litigation, and then from there to something in-house?

    20. Weak Trees

      This is both very late and extremely specific, but google “ISDA”. I fell into a job in the financial industry straight after law school doing nothing but negotiating derivatives contracts. It’s such a small and specific field that firms basically expect to hire people with negotiation skills, but absolutely zero knowledge of the industry, and the general expectation is that you will learn 100% on the job and will take a minimum of six months to a year to even begin to feel knowledgeable and comfortable with the job. Because it’s so niche, it pays pretty well and firms go to great lengths to keep their people happy and engaged. Contract negotiators are needed at banks, asset management companies, and private law firms, just off the top of my head.

  7. Aggretsuko

    So birthday cakes have been taken away at my office because the new boss doesn’t approve of cake. Now we all have to have birthday cards signed
    by everyone in the office. However:

    (a) A few people in the office absolutely despise me and lord knows I am not fond of them either. I won’t get into all the ugly details.
    (b) I am 100% positive they don’t want me to sign their birthday cards. I don’t particularly want them to sign mine either but it’s not under my control. They already hate me so I don’t particularly want to make that worse by ruining their birthday cards with my cooties. They are happier if they can forget I exist so I suspect they’d just like, set a card on fire if I’m involved.
    (c) Both they and I have birthdays in the same month coming up (joy) so I don’t have a way to find out ahead of time how to handle this, like if they would just not sign it on their own or what.

    They pass around cards and a signature list signing off that you’ve signed it that goes out to everyone. I am considering just signing the signoff sheet saying that I got the card but not actually physically signing them, and hoping nobody notices that I didn’t physically sign theirs. Or alternately, just quietly requesting that I NOT get a birthday card so I can avoid the issue of them and my card. About half of the office is aware of their hatred towards me and the other half is not.

    How should I handle this situation?

    1. Ali G

      I think you should pretend it’s no big deal and just sign the cards. When you get a card, say thank you and move on. No need to feed the pettiness of others.

        1. TootsNYC

          this is pretty smart!

          Then you’ve signed, but if they really don’t like you, they don’t have to look at your signature when they open the card.

    2. booksnbooks

      I think you should just jot down “Happy Birthday!” and sign your name. It will go a long way to smoothing any tensions that exist, I would think. By skipping signing you’d just be making existing tensions worse, because if it’s as bad as you think it is, they definitely will notice that you didn’t sign — especially if you initial that you saw the folder.

    3. sunshyne84

      I’d just sign the sheet saying I did and don’t. The sign in sheet is so ridiculous btw.

        1. StressedButOkay

          That’s exactly why we have a sheet, so we know who not to hunt down. Or sometimes we use it to figure out who still has the card when it sometimes goes AWOL during signing.

      1. Lucy

        Our sign sheet was mainly to indicate “this person doesn’t need to be passed the card to sign” as it’s tricky to keep track in a big office. It would absolutely have been possible to tick one’s name off without signing the card.

    4. Drew

      If it were me, I’d sign the card and not give it more thought. I don’t think people who detest you will consider a mandatory signature on a greeting card to be anything more than what it is: “I’ll sign this because it’s way easier than explaining why I don’t want to sign it.”

    5. Lazy Susan

      You should sign the cards. It is not up to you to try to predict weather your mild “Congrats Judy! or “Happy Returns Tobias” will be received. How other people think of you is not your business. Your business is to be courteous and kind when opportunity presents itself.
      Signing a card is polite. Be polite.

    6. DaniCalifornia

      I’d sign ‘Happy Birthday’ – Aggretsuko and leave it at that. They probably aren’t keeping the cards and if these people who hate you are petty, imagine what they might say if they see everyone but you signed the card. “Aggretsuko didn’t sign my caaaaarrrdd.” At least if you sign it, you’re following “orders” at work even if they gave you a hard time.

          1. Jen in Oregon

            Be one of the last ones to sign so there isn’t much room left.. Flip it over and sign the back.

        1. Lazy Susan

          Aggretsuko, being disagreeable and thinking about others is a lot of work. Let your coworkers carry that workload — you stay ‘work neutral’ – ie have no opinion of them as people, just acknowledge them as humans you work with. This takes no work whatsoever. You simply do not think of them any more than you would the office furniture. You leave the office and they are out of your thoughts. You say hello to them with a courteous voice, you sign their birthday cards, you acknowledge them when you walk into a room, etc etc. but you don’t sit around wondering how the couch feels about your greetings or if the couch is irritated by your voice. Let them do the work of hating, or the work of being irritated over you, whatever. If there is awkwardness in the interactions, let it be theirs, as you are always courteous and ‘work neutral’ – consistent and constant. Your actions will reflect the type of person you are, just as their actions will reflect the type of person they are.

          1. Not So NewReader

            This is great– we don’t worry about how the couch feels about us….. I love this.

            Yes, OP, sign the card. Sign it off to one side, in small print and consider yourself the bigger person.
            They are probably squirming just like you. Take the lead and show them how to handle it.

            I have worked with people who I adored professionally, but we could not even have coffee together because we are so opposite. I have worked with people who were the opposite, I’d enjoy a coffee with them but don’t make me work with them.

            And then there are situations with people where nothing, absolutely nothing is salvageable. My go-to here is not to let the external conflict become MY internal conflict. This means, I must be professionally courteous at all times. If I can’t then I need to take a few minutes to collect my thoughts. On the inside, I stay with my own personal rules and they can do as they wish.

            Typically what happens is these people unravel themselves. Why. Well, in part because they do not have a private plan of how they will conduct themselves. In this case here, I can tell myself that I am following boss’ orders and sign the darn card.
            Use this example to teach yourself how you can best handle future incidents with these people when your paths cross.

            These types of things let me to the overall approach that says, “We don’t have to like each other but we do have to work together and maintain a professional working relationship. Everyone has a right to earn a paycheck. Everyone needs to eat. We have this in common.”

            Side bonus: Anger/animosity/ill will erode our mental and physical well-being over time. Are these people worth throwing away our future health for? This brings us back to “let them unravel their own selves.”

    7. Rhiiiiiiannnnnnnon

      Honestly, I would just sign the card. “Happy birthday, X — hope you have a good day.” Even if you don’t like someone you can still wish them well. And its just a card, something they’ll probably throw away or file away in a drawer moments after reading through it. Its not like you’re being asked to attend a birthday party for them!

      Caveat: The only time I don’t advocate for kindness in the face of meanness is when someone is harassing you. If this is just a bit of dislike, then sign the card and move on. If they sign yours, no big deal either.

    8. plant lady

      I think your plan is a fine one (initial that you got the card, but not actually signing the birthday card), but MAN am I curious about the situation here. And so sorry that you have to deal with this at work! Is this a bullying situation? Is there any way for you to get out of it?

      1. Aggretsuko

        It actually has been a bullying situation. I got moved out of that work group eventually.

    9. CJ

      Sign the card, even if it’s just your name without a message. Consider it the high road or just a professional courtesy. The card will end up in the trash eventually anyway!

    10. StressedButOkay

      I would sign it and forget it – I’m not sure about others, but I generally don’t pour over the cards that I get from coworkers to see who did/didn’t sign it.

    11. General Ginger

      I’d just sign the card. Your coworkers thinking you have cooties is their problem.

    12. Half-Caf Latte

      It sounds like there’s more going on here than what you’ve shared. I note the “cakes have been taken away” and “have to have birthday cards signed by everyone.

      With the wording you’ve used, I suspect the best course of action is to just sign the card. Opting out of signing, or of your own card, is going to make it a “thing” and risks reflecting poorly on you.

      If you had never been big on celebrating, you might have been able to say, oh, no card for me, please, but asking for no card after having gone along with cake in the past seems weird. If I didn’t know about the beef, I’d think it was a passive aggressive reaction to having cake taken away, and think it petty.

      Unless there were extremely messed up dynamics between you and the others that I was aware of, I’d think you were allowing these people outsized power over your emotions.

      1. Aggretsuko

        Yes, there are “extremely messed up dynamics.” Bullying has gone on. But I think everyone else is right and I need to suck it up. I need to be impeccable here and not show that I am uncomfortable.

        1. Not So NewReader

          I have been where you are.
          I would like to point out that there is a surprise here, at least for me. I found parts of myself I never knew I had. I grew and I was proud of my growth. In that growing, their power diminished. I had taken back my own power.

          Bullies work on the basis of robbing us of our power. Decide that you have a lot of power and you are going to use it. I don’t mean you have the clout to make their day miserable. It’s not that kind of power. You have the power to rise above them and their crap and excel anyway.

          Unfairly, we have to let go of parts of ourselves (such as signing that card) in order to find new and bigger parts of ourselves. It feels like jumping the Grand Canyon, initially. But once you see what this is, it won’t be as daunting in the future. Decide now is the time to take your power back. And what an ideal situation, the boss has ordered you to sign this card. It’s their meltdown, not yours.

    13. PicoSignal

      Sign the cards of all co-workers. In this case, your signature on a group birthday card doesn’t indicate personal fondness; it indicates a minimum level of professionalism. I’m sorry you’re in such an uncomfortable position at work!

    14. LGC

      First of all, find a new job because your boss is a MONSTER for banning cake. /s

      Anyway. So to be serious: can you push back on it being required to sign a card? That’s the biggest issue here – your boss is making this mandatory, and I feel like you’ve expressed a decent reason why this is a bad idea. (Also, you are an adult (and possibly also a death metal singing red panda), and the card thing sounds like something you’d make grade schoolers do.)

      It’s better if you can push back as a group, so I’m hoping you have friends that agree with you. (I’m guessing your enemies feel similarly, but I’m not going to suggest that for obvious reasons.)

      If your boss is still continuing with this horrible idea (the birthday cards you HAVE to sign), I’d just say that you should sign the card. It’s from the group, not you personally. If they want to burn it because (horrors!) you were forced into signing it, that’s their problem.

    15. Catleesi

      I would just sign the card without a message and put it out of your mind. It’s not so much “sucking it up” as showing that you can be professional if anyone else is paying attention to this stuff. Some people, regardless of what is going on with a situation (you mentioned harassment in a post), are going to look at stuff like this to judge your behavior. Not signing the card could be viewed as petty (I’m not saying it is, but it could be framed that way.)

    16. LaDeeDa

      Don’t make it a big deal. I sign most cards with something like “I hope your day is as cool as you. (my name)” Generic, non-committal.

      1. Drew

        For really annoying coworkers, this is the same as “I hope you rot in Hell,” so bonus metamessage!

    17. Mr. Tyzik

      If you’ve been harassed and bullied by these people, I think you’re within your rights to not sign the cards. There’s no need to be the “bigger person” in this situation. You’ve been removed from the situation, why continue it with a meaningless tradition?

      Don’t sign the cards.

    18. It's the little things

      Just sign your name, I often see that on work cards where people either don’t know the person well or are being ‘forced’ to sign the card

    19. Up Hill-Yes, both ways!

      Could you just write a brief note (i.e. “Happy Birthday”) and just…not include your name in the card?

    20. Samwise

      Not signing the cards is going to look passive-aggressive. Sign the card, initial the list, pass it on.
      If you get a card with their names on it, don’t make A Thing about it. Leave the card displayed on your desk for one day. Throw it away, shred it, burn it…whatever — at home, not at the office.

      Do NOT say anything about not getting a card, not signing cards, etc. You do not need to die on this hill.

    21. Autumnheart

      I’d just sign the card and leave it at that. The whole situation seems overly political (what happens if you don’t sign a card? Someone tells on you and you get in trouble?) and it would suck if such a petty detail blew up into a ding on your reputation. I can’t tell from here whether your boss has their head on straight about these things, or not.

    22. Armchair Analyst

      I love the pettiness of even thinking of this as a situation.
      Good luck, let us know how it goes!

    23. Wouldn't be funny if...

      This is not a serious suggestion, but… Sign it John Hancock style, AS BIG AS POSSIBLE.

      (I actually think you should just sign it like you would for any other acquaintance at work.)

    24. TootsNYC

      If you feel you have to sign, just use your initials.

      And you might get a friend to snag the routing list early and cross their names off the list.

    25. ello mate

      I would just write “Happy Birthday!” on the card and consider this a non-issue and deal with the larger issue of what is seemingly a very stressful/toxic workplace?

  8. Peaches

    I recently took over a new role at my company. My replacement for my old role started two days ago, and she’s already rubbing me the wrong way, but I’m not sure whether my feelings are reasonable. There are two things that she does that really irk me.

    1.) Nearly every time I’m talking and telling her about a process, she interrupts me and tries to finish my sentence with what she, I guess thinks, I’m going to say. 99% of the time, it’s not what I was going to say. I don’t know if she’s trying to come across as intuitive, but it’s really irritating to me, especially when she’s inserting incorrect information. For example—

    Me: So next, we’re going to want to go into the order status area…
    Her: ….so that we can make sure the customer received the item?
    Me: No, so that we can make sure the delivery ticket was sent to our warehouse

    2.) She has called me “hun” a handful of times now. The first time, I thought I misheard her. The second time, I was taken aback, but failed to correct her. For context, I am a 25 year old woman. I’m not sure how old she is, but I would guess between 32-35. I do feel as though she wouldn’t use this terminology if I were a man training her. It seems pretty demeaning to me.

    Now, she does seem competent and has the experience to excel in this position. However, I just get “know it all” vibes from her, and it’s only been two days. How do I nip this in the bud?

    1. Artemesia

      Lots of people learn better through interaction rather than through passive listening. By trying to make sense of it, she is cementing her knowledge. Of course it would be better if she wasn’t getting it wrong but can you change the way you train her to have her do more application e.g. you describe X procedure and then ask her ‘so if Fergus brings in the TPS draft, you would. . .?’ Try to see this as a clue to help you train her better.

      The hon thing is sometimes regional. I am not a fan either. If it really bothers you ask her to call you by your name because endearments in the workplace squick you out.

      This stuff all seems like the usual trivial of interpersonal annoyance, I’d try to ignore it.

      1. Peaches

        I suppose I should have mentioned this in my post since a lot of people are commenting the same thing, but I’m having her do tasks/processes herself in addition to me teaching her. So, plenty of hands on training!

        She’s actually originally from the same state (Missouri) a few hours away, and I’ve never heard anyone else use ‘hun’ so frequently. Maybe it’s just a quirk!

    2. OtterB

      Will you be working with her ongoing, or just for a short transition while you’re training her?

      Re the incorrect finishing your sentences, she may be trying to show that she’s engaged and proactive (rather than just listening silently and fearing she comes across as bored). It’s still annoying, but perhaps less so if you reframe it that way. I also think you could continue after her interruption with “Let me finish. It’s so we can make sure the delivery ticket was sent to our warehouse” and see if that reduces it.

      Re “hun” there have been some previous discussions about this. I’d probably just repeat, “It’s Peaches,” whenever she calls you hun.

      If you think she’s genuinely trying a power play to position herself as more knowledgeable/more experienced than you, then you may want to be more outspoken. But I wouldn’t jump to that assumption based on your description.

      1. Peaches

        Once she is trained, I won’t work a great deal with her, but still some. Our office is small, so we’ll still have some work that overlaps.

        I’m not certain it’s a power play, but that I’d say that’s my initial impression after the couple of days I’ve spent with her. She’s also made offhanded comments about how our website doesn’t function exactly the way she would like, and said she “could easily fix some of the quirks if IT would ever be willing to give her access.” So, comments like that have also made me think she may be trying to assert her intelligence.

        1. SMH RN

          I can’t speak directly to your trainee but I know that trying to finish other people’s sentences is something I have to watch myself on. I don’t really even do it consciously-just trying to see if I really grasp what they’re explaining by running it through my head and spitting out my conclusions to see if I’m right. Also it’s just a quirk of my family communicates…lots of us have word finding difficulties are easily distracted so it’s helpful in a private setting. More a habit to break at work, not a power play on my part

    3. JediSquirrel

      1) “I’m sorry, but our time is very limited. Please allow me to finish my sentences and if you have a question afterward, I’ll be happy to answer.”

      2) is she from Baltimore? Because this is a Baltimore thing. OTOH, she may not remember your name.

      1. MissDisplaced

        I’m not from Baltimore… but I tend to do that when learning and/or being shown something. I think it’s a weird subconscious thing that helps me remember and learn new tasks. Plus, I’m the type that always wants to know the WHY of something and I can unfortunately get ahead of myself because my brain is moving miles a minute.

      2. Peaches

        She is not from Baltimore…I live in the midwest (Missouri) and she is from a smaller, but still fairly well known city also in Missouri a few hours away. I hope she remembers my name though, haha. Our office only has about 8 employees here regularly, and I’m the one primarily training her.

        1. Elizabeth West

          That might be my city. I don’t know anyone who says “hun” all the time, so it’s probably just her. It’s perfectly fine to say “I prefer Peaches, thanks,” and then continue with your instructions.

          1. Peaches

            She’s from Springfield, MO. I know quite a few other people from there, and have never heard any of them say “hun”. Haha.

    4. Triplestep

      1.) This would drive me bonkers. Hopefully she is just nervous and trying to show the person who used to have her role how knowledgeable she is. If you have the patience, I think I would not acknowledge the interruption and just finish your sentence as if she had not spoken. I’m not suggesting you talk over her – just start and finish your sentence. She might eventually stop. If you’re not going to have to keep working with her after the knowledge transfer, there’s really no point in addressing the problem.

      2.) This always takes me aback, but then I realize for a lot of people it’s just a verbal tick and not meant to be overly familiar or condescending. I’m in my fifties for context. If she reported to you, you’d probably want to coach her to stop, but I’d just try to power through.

      1. Peaches

        1.) I am hoping the same, that it’s perhaps just her nerves. I will try to carry on and see if she stops talking. I will have to work with her a little bit after the transition (we’re a small office where all of the roles have at least a bit of overlap), but hopefully it won’t become a huge problem.

        2.) Interesting. I’ll try to just power through!

    5. Jules the 3rd

      I feel ya. My new team lead is a ‘hon’ addict (me: late 40s, her: 50s?), and it just feels so infantilizing. The forced teaming through complaining about people and touching really don’t help, and my talking style probably doesn’t either.

      1) Maybe a brief, matter of fact statement, next time she does it, with lots of softening (you have power over her, ergo softening): ‘I appreciate that you’re trying to be proactive, but I teach better if I can get full sentences out. Please hold comments / write down questions until we finish the screen.’ Then make sure every screen or so, you pause and ask her for feedback. Knowing she’ll have a chance to speak / interact may help cut down on interruptions.

      2) She does at least do ‘hon’ to everyone who is equal or below her in rank (male or female), and some people a level above. That helps me deal with it, but it’s ‘take a deep breath and move on’ even so.

    6. Argh!

      You don’t nip something like that in the bud. She’ll settle into things and get along just fine.

    7. Moonbeam Malone

      For the first one, it might help to actually pause a few seconds when she does this, so that she becomes more conscious of what’s happened. It’s good to correct her, and you can also say, “Actually, Jane, if you can hold onto your question until I’ve finished my thought I think you’ll find I’m already answering it. In this case, no, that is not correct. As I was about to tell you, the procedure is X.”

      For the second one, you can treat it like it’s no big deal. “I prefer Peaches, thanks!” If she gets flustered or defensive, stick with the casual tone. “Oh, sure. I just prefer to be called by name. Thanks for understanding!”

      1. Peaches

        Thanks! I think tone is important. My hesitation to speak up often comes from my fearing that I’ll come across overly harsh.

        1. Moonbeam Malone

          Yeah, it’s super tricky to walk that line! At least with the first issue I think you can frame it as wanting to keep the training on track and get through everything in a timely fashion. You don’t have to shut down questions totally, just help her to do things in order. Right now she’s jumping the gun and getting too far ahead of the conversation and it’s just going to slow things down.

        2. Not So NewReader

          Practice at home or practice in the car on the way to work.
          Ask yourself “what do I want her to know and act on?”

          I would start by saying, “We need to go over a couple small and easy to fix things. First, it’s really not a good idea to call people “hon” in the workplace. It can be construed as other things that I know you do not mean, such as condescension. Second thing is you have to let people finish their sentences, I think you are excited about doing a good job and don’t realize that you are jumping in too often. I really debated about mentioning these things to you because they are small and perhaps as you get used to the job they would just fall by the wayside. But as your trainer it would be wrong of me not to tell you what you need to do to succeed here. Now is no big deal, it’s just new job jitters. If I let this go on for months and months without saying anything then I am, in a way, setting you up to fail. And that would be wrong of me.”

          Notice here how I down played how these habits appear to others over the long haul. You can go in on a second conversation and put more emphasis on how these habits effect workplaces and effect an employee’s job performance. On your first try talking to her you want to assume she will just fix it as quickly as possible. This assumption makes it easier for you and easier for her.

          1. Not So NewReader

            PS. I have trained a lot of people. I can tell you it’s the ones who are NOT nervous who are the most concerning. Consistently they were the ones who did not last. Nervous people are nervous because they want so hard to do a good job. You can smile and tell her, “I can see you really want to do a good job here. I will help you do that.”

    8. Jessica

      I know someone who does that finishing a sentence thing all the time. It’s just one of her conversational quirks. I’m not in a position to correct her, but while it can be annoying, it doesn’t have much more meaning than somebody saying “um” all the time. I mean, she could be trying to demonstrate her knowledge, but it might just be the way she is in conversations.

      1. Peaches

        That’s true. I just don’t want her to miss something important because she’s just waiting to jump in and say what she thinks is right.

    9. CatCat

      1) “I’ve noticed that you sometimes inject what you think I’m going to say when I am speaking. Please let me finish what I am saying and then let me know if you have a question about it.” If she interrupts again, call it out. “Please don’t interrupt. As I was saying…”

      2) “Actually, I go by Peaches.” or “Please don’t call me ‘hun,’ I go by Peaches.”

    10. just trying to help

      Time to let baby bird fly on her own. You said she seems competent, so let her crash or soar all by herself. I have also run into the “hun” type of stuff too and mostly I chalked it up to cultural or generational differences and let it slide.

    11. LaDeeDa

      I friggin hate it when people interrupt me to complete a sentence, they are always wrong!!! I usually dead stare and say “No, please let me finish my sentence.”

    12. JGray

      I know that you commented that she is getting lots of hands on training which is good but has she been writing things down? I had this happen last year at my job. I got promoted and the first person we hired just had the attitude that she knew it all and this was just a secretary job. That is so far from the truth. But anyway she never wrote anything down and then after I left her alone I would hear her flat out lie to people when asked if she has been trained on something. She would say no but yet I had trained her she just never wrote anything down. She also told someone my new job was just writing letters and scheduling class which she could do. I was thinking you don’t even know how to do the job that is four levels under mine so no way you can do my job. So I would say train her as best you can and then leave her alone. If a question comes up about something make sure you send an email. That is what I did once I left the person alone- send an email providing clarification on things.

    13. TootsNYC

      With the interrupting, you might start stating observations: “That’s the third time your guess has been wrong.”
      And I think since youa re training her, it’s absolutely OK for you to say:
      “I’ve noticed that several times you have interrupted me to try to guess what I’m going to say–but most of the time you have been wrong. I think this would be more efficient if you would let me finish my sentences, since you haven’t worked here long enough to know what the next part is going to be. I worry that you will get distracted from the actual information.”

      And you can stop in the moment, wait for her to stop, and then say, “You’ve guess wrong again, please don’t interrupt. I need you to listen first, and not interrupt with your guesses.” Don’t be mean, but you ARE in charge of the training, and this is a waste of your energy.

      With the “hun,” I think you can say, “I’m sorry; please don’t call me ‘hun.’ Call me Peaches.” And then you may need to let it go.

      Both of these sound a bit like dominance patterns; maybe once she’s been there a while it’ll settle down.

    14. Hired Wrist

      I’m shocked and disappointed that no one so far has suggested you to tell her “Don’t call me hun, I prefer Attila, thankyouverymuch.” in a deadpan manner just to see if she catches on that you’re not cool with the term.

      Seriously though, I hope all this is because she’s new and not because she’s truly annoying!

    15. NotAnotherManager!

      My 10-year-old is a totally incorrect sentence-finisher, and it is driving me insane. I cannot imagine how enraging that would be from another adult. Hopefully, with an adult, you can point it out and ask her not to do it, but , yeah, that grates, particularly on top of “hun”.

  9. ArtK

    Update on my “2nd chance” letter from last week. Summary: I was rejected for a job, but the recruiter gave me some great feedback and said that I could submit a cover letter addressing the issues.

    I sent the letter, after getting help from several people who know me — including one of my references and someone else who has worked at the company in a similar job — and the recruiter wrote back saying that we’re going to schedule a phone interview with the hiring manager for some time next week!

    1. The Man, Becky Lynch

      This is great news! Good luck with your phone interview, that’s great progress and this has all been a learning experience for you.

  10. Applesauced

    Has anyone else been seeing “Hire me!” banner ads on this site? (a young man’s face and buzzwords, it kind of looks like a local real estate ad)

    I’ve seen them for a few days, and finally clicked one just to see what it was – it’s exactly what you’d expect, the ad leads to this guy’s personally website where he’s trying to get hired.
    At first I thought, “Ugh, how much GUMPTION does this guy have”, but then I looked at his website….. and it’s chock full of bad advice (very sales-y, includes lots of personal info, has a he’s got reviews from previous employers) he’s a recent grad and I feel bad for him – a) he’s clearly gotten clearly terrible advice about placing ads to find a job, and b) given everything Alison has said about gimmicks, he’s targeting the wrong website.

  11. KatieKat

    Please share your networking tips! I’m attending a conference alone for the first time and hoping to make some new contacts (thinking I’ll be looking for a job in 6-12 months). I’m nervous and could use any and all advice!

    1. S

      Just try to connect, on a human level. Ask questions. Talk to people. “Hey, love your blouse.” “So, what brings you here?” “Have you been in [industry] long?” “Read any good books lately?” Don’t worry too much about “can this connection lead to a job…? ” Just connect.

    2. OtterB

      It depends on your field, but look for sessions that specifically include interactions (roundtables, poster sessions, etc.) rather than just large talks or panel discussions.

      If there’s a “first time conferencer” session near the beginning or a sticker/ribbon for your badge saying that, take advantage. It will make other people more likely to open discussion.

      While sitting next to someone before a session starts, or standing in line for something, or joining a partially-full table at a meal, I start conversations with, “Hi, I’m OtterB from [state/region] and I’m interested in [specialty area or topic]. How about you?” Or, in your case, “I’m finishing my degree in [area] this year.”

      1. KatieKat

        These are really helpful, thank you! I tend to do better with more structured social interactions so the idea of choosing things like roundtables whenever I can is an especially good one (especially since there will then hopefully be a familiar face or two at the more social events). Thanks!

    3. epi

      In my field there are poster presentations. It sounds like a research thing but people will highlight projects from their practice as well. It’s the absolute best– people standing around whose only job is to talk to anyone who walks by and asks them a question, in front of a poster that acts as a giant icebreaker. And they aren’t sales reps, they’re your peers.

      I personally found it way easier to meet people that way, than to force myself to go to the more social events alone.

      1. KatieKat

        That would be cool! Unfortunately this is a more corporate conference so the expo is all vendor booths :/

    4. AnotherLibrarian

      Years ago I was given this advice and it has proved true: You can skip every panel and presentation, but don’t skip a single social event. The reality is that those social events are where you meet people and meeting people is how you network. So, approach folks you don’t know who are sitting alone at tables or tables of people you don’t know and just chat. Be friendly.

      And lest you think I’m super social and skilled that this, I am so bad at it and I actually wrote down a list of questions to ask new people I didn’t know when I started. So, just practice, practice and practice some more.

        1. WomanOfMystery

          Different person, but I like to ask what about projects that people are working on. What’s been your favorite part of the con so far/ what are you looking forward to? Is there new regulations/research that affects your industry?

        2. AnotherLibrarian

          Hmmm… Here’s a few I think I’ve used regularly:
          (To a presenter) I really enjoyed your talk on X, can you tell me a little more about Y?
          (To another person after a talk) What did you think of the panel?
          (At receptions (these are all library focused, so bare that in mind) Where are you from? What does your library do? How was your travel? What panels did you go to today? I went to X and I really thought Y about it.

          I’d also second everyone who said get a “first timer” for your badge if they have them. I always try to strike up conversations with those folks. So, help those of us who want to be friendly be friendly. I didn’t get one my first time and it was a huge mistake. Also, admit to people you’re new/nervous. I did that at the first conference I presented at and some super nice folks came to my talk and gave me big thumbs up right before I started. It was so kind!

    5. Moonbeam Malone

      This might sound obvious, but please make sure you have business cards with you! I met people at a major networking event who didn’t bring anything like that because they were just…testing the waters I guess? There to observe? But it’s a huge missed opportunity. I kept all the business cards I got there, bookmarked websites and followed some folks on social media later. They get to stay on my radar, years later. The folks who had nothing to give me? Nope.

      1. KatieKat

        Thanks! I just had new ones delivered and a schmancy little case so I’m all set on that front…as long as they make it into my suitcase lol! I have spoken at conferences my company hosted so at least have that habit, but haven’t ever had to go in cold/not knowing anyone.

        1. Moonbeam Malone

          Nice! I really need to get a case for mine! I sometimes put them in a little wallet but I’m finding that a bit inconvenient.

        2. Policy wonk

          Put some in your wallet now. That way if you forget or misplace the case you will still have some business cards with you.

        3. a good mouse

          Remember that at the beginning of your career, the value of having a business card is really in getting one back. Don’t expect them to remember you or reach out to you – take the opportunity afterwards to reach out to them.

          I found value in having a google spreadsheet where I put people’s name, company, and a note about what they do and how I met them, so that I wasn’t sifting through business cards when I wanted to find some info.

      2. Christine

        For business cards – whenever someone hands me a business card I jot down a quick note on the back of it. This is just anything that will job my memory about who they are or what we talked about. When I don’t do that the pile of business cards I bring back with me doesn’t mean anything because I can’t remember who is who!

    6. Kathenus

      Great to be thinking about this in advance, because networking is frequently the most beneficial and long-lasting result of conferences in my experience. Three techniques that have worked for me. Try to seek out people who have given talks or presentations when you see them later in the event, because commenting on their talk is an easy conversation starter. Look for people who are by themselves at breaks or social events, and go up and introduce yourself and say hello. These can sometimes also be newer or shyer people who will likely welcome the interaction. And at social events, take a deep breath, go up to a group or table and ask if you can join them. It’s hard to do the first few times but a great way to meet people. If you’re nervous about doing so, reverse the roles in your mind and think how you’d react if you were with a group and someone came up and asked this – you’d probably welcome them and be happy they came over. They’ll likely feel the same about you. Good luck!

    7. LaDeeDa

      Conferences can be soooooo overwhelming! What I do is scan all the talks/seminars/classes and I pick a theme based on what are some goals I have for the new year, and I focus on attending talks aimed at that. Usually, people go to a conference and they try to pick multiple topics/themes… but what that does is give you a little bit of everything, instead of a wide view of one or two things. I find focusing on one or two themes/topics much more effective. With that my connecting becomes much more focused.
      So then when I am networking with people associated with that one topic I have a much more focused narrative to discuss. Then you can say something like (to an attendee of the same topic) “Is this something you have done, or about to do in your role? What are your outcomes objectives for doing (this)?” If speaking to an expert who spoke: “I am going to be planing this, what are some barries I might encounter?”

    8. Hamburke

      I’m naturally chatty and friendly so I make a lot of contacts at conferences and training classes easily. I introduce myself to whoever I sit next to or sits next to me. I ask questions about their jobs and companies. I ask what other sessions/trainings they are going to. In small group/workshops, I state what drew me to the sessions or what problems I’m having (“I’m Hamburke and the reason I’m taking this class is… Has anyone worked through a similar issue?”). I have business cards b/c it takes too much time to write my info down for each person I exchange info with (for my volunteer job, I have home-printer cards but my paying job has VistaPrint cards). I follow up with everyone when I get home – “Hi Thomasina – it was great meeting you today at xyz training! Thanks for your story about y – it really helped me understand the ramifications of z. Hope to see you at the next training for abc that we talked about. – hamburke” My boss laughs – I’m not in sales at all but often come back to the office with new clients.

      1. KatieKat

        Thank you! I am so jealous of people for whom that comes naturally. Thanks for sharing some detail on how you do it!

  12. jack

    I dyed my hair purple and was a little worried about backlash, but it’s been 2 weeks and only positive comments! So glad I took the plunge. Anyone else make another less orthodox change to their physical appearance?

    1. Amber Rose

      I dyed my hair purple in 2017 for a wedding, and nobody cared one way or the other. =P
      I was a little disappointed actually. It was such a bright violet, I was proud of it.

    2. Aleta

      I have a Warrior’s Wolf Tail-ish hairstyle that I let grow out to more ATLA season 3 levels sometimes, and I shaved it down to a #1 recently. I was worried it was a bit Too Extreme for my office (that I’m leaving anyway so it wouldn’t have been THAT big a deal), but the next day my boss complimented me on it so I was definitely in the clear.

    3. Murphy

      I have fire engine red hair. I had it before I started working here 3 years ago. I went to a more conservative red when I interviewed, because I really needed to get out of my old job and I wasn’t sure what they would think here. After 6 months or so I went back, because I figured no one would care, and nobody did! I get a few comments from older male professors every now and then, but it also helps me get recognized at events by the many people with whom I usually correspond via email. So overall, well received!

    4. peachie

      I have done that! I noticed that if you don’t make a big deal about it, no one else did either.

    5. Middle Manager

      Yes, I went purple last year. I was worried about it. It’s highlights, so if I have it up in a ponytail it’s not super obvious. I think that has helped. I’ve only gotten positive comments. I do still worry sometimes though that some folks don’t really approve and just aren’t saying it? But I know myself to be a worrier so I try to put it in that context.

    6. Free Meerkats

      62 year old male here with long pink hair and beard. It started out for a costume, but I’ve maintained it this way for over a year now. I have an appointment with my hair professional to strip it to stark white. I looked the last full dye job after the color strip and liked the pure white.

    7. Karen from Finance

      I went Sinead-O’Connor-style buzz cut for a while. Granted, I was recovering from lymphoma, but I made the decision to stop wearing the wig before it had grown back.

      People who didn’t know the reason assumed I’d just gone punk and I got nothing but compliments.

    8. Aggretsuko

      I had washout purple hair for a bit. I loved it but wouldn’t be able to do it now. I also got called for a job interview at the police department when I still had some purple in, so I pulled my hair back as tight as possible and hoped they didn’t notice. They didn’t hire me, but I think it was for other reasons.

    9. Chuck

      I got an industrial piercing about two months after I started an admin assistant job. And of course I have very short hair, so it was very visible. No one said anything about it though!

    10. Long Time Fed

      Not really unconventional, but I’m a mid-level manager in a public facing role and I’m 50. I’ve wanted a tattoo for years and decided to either go big or go home, so I now have a large tattoo on my left forearm. I can’t hide it and don’t want to.

      I’ve gotten a few second glances and I’m sure some whispers, but most people love it at least to my face and I don’t care one way or the other!

      1. jack

        I have a few tattoos but none visible. The next one will be on my forearm though! But in manufacturing, tattoos are not all that uncommon so I don’t think it’ll stick out much.

      2. SignalLost

        I have had wrist tattoos since … 2008? They cannot be covered even if I wanted to; I’ve only ever had one mildly-negative comment (from a stranger). I also have a purple mohawk and my manager likes my style.

    11. Joielle

      I have purple hair and a very queer haircut! Nothing but compliments. Although I imagine if anyone didn’t like it, they would probably keep that opinion to themselves.

      1. jack

        lol I did the queer cut last year and the dye job this year. Though I’ve always dyed my hair to just short of natural colors, so it wasn’t a huge leap. I also wear a hairnet about 50% of the time.

    12. Sleepless

      My teenage daughter colored her dark brown hair turquoise blue a few months ago. She got nothing but compliments, even from a few people who I thought would really disapprove.

    13. CL

      I’m in an upper management professional position in State government and while the dress is business casual for most staff, upper level management is more conservative/professional. I have several hidden tattoos – some quite large – but took the plunge recently and started working on a large arm tattoo that’s very visible. I surprised quite a few people but several were [kindly] inquisitive, especially since it gave them a peek into my personality that many didn’t expect. I am more cognizant of when/where it’s appropriate to have my tattoo showing.

      1. DataGirl

        When I’m in full business gear none of my tattoos show, but if I wear anything with a 3/4 sleeve one wrist tattoo shows, and in summer with open shoes my feet tattoos show. Most people are only aware of the wrist and are shocked to find out I have 9 more hidden under all those clothes.

    14. Elizabeth West

      I changed my hair from auburn to blonde while at Exjob and my coworkers were a little surprised since it was such a drastic change. When I realized colored streaks would show up better on blonde hair, I went a little nuts with the pink (all temporary). Nobody cared about that, however.

      I’d love to find a great-paying job where I could wear various hair chalks and no one would bat an eye, but alas, it will probably only be on the weekends.

    15. DataGirl

      I had rose gold highlights put in my hair but they were super subtle so not many people noticed. On the other hand I am a tattoo junkie and just got my 10th. Most of them are covered all the time but in the summer the ones on my feet and wrist show, and since my latest two are on my upper chest those will probably peek out once I’m not so bundled up. Most people don’t say anything, or say something stupid like ‘does it hurt’. My boss once asked me why I do it. My response was because I want to.

    16. Sam Sepiol

      My hair has been blue since October. It was supposed to just be until Christmas but I love it so much it’s staying.

      I also have a nose piercing and a rook piercing, and three holes in one ear lobe.

    17. Janet Snakehole

      I’m dying my hair pink this weekend!

      I went back to a “found in nature” hair color when I was job hunting about a year ago. I’ve been testing the waters at New Job to see how it would go over, and I’m pretty confident that I won’t make any serious waves. And if I do, I’ve already checked with my boss and gotten the go-ahead.

    18. just a reporter

      I have a nose piercing, decently sized wrist tattoo, and dyed my hair blue once even though I work in a conservative area. These changes never impacted how people interacted with me in a professional setting, and in fact put some at ease!

      I was a bit worried, specifically about my tattoo, but it’s of my cat who passed a few years ago and meant a lot to me. Most old ladies turn out to be cat lovers, so when I show them my tattoo they absolutely gush and ask me what his name was :)

    19. redbug34

      I just took the purple plunge too! I’ve gotten nothing but positive feedback from coworkers & friends alike. (TBH I work in a very liberal setting – my boss currently has blue highlights).

      I did worry some because I’ve actively job-hunting and haven’t done a purple-haired interview yet, but it’s good to know it’s not so heavily stigmatized.

    20. Ms.Vader

      I have had hot pink hair and shaved half my head. I also have 6 tattoos where 5 are visible and 2 are Star Wars characters. Nobody even blinks an eye (which I’m a bit sad at as I love to talk about my tattoos lol).

    21. Dasein9

      My hair has been bright blue or purple since June and I wear a black t-shirt to work every day. No biggie, but there is still one upper-management person who still doesn’t know who I am.
      (Not the same black t-shirt; there’s a stack of identical ones in my drawer.)

    22. Ey-not-Cy

      I’m 53, a high school librarian, and dark purple. I’d grown out all my “natural” dye but am only about 1/3 gray. (Just enough to age me another 10 years, but not enough to make a statement.) The kids either love it, or don’t notice it. One student did say “Ey-not-Cy, your hair color is a bold choice.” My colleagues either love it, or just don’t care. My principal has not said a word. I love it, my husband–eh, not so much, but I think it’s the smell at first that bothers him the most.

  13. Anonish

    Anyone have tips for surviving your first trimester at work, especially when a few people at work know you’re pregnant but not everyone? I am about eight weeks and find I’m exhausted and out of it by about 3 PM. Luckily I haven’t suffered much with nausea but I am so incredibly tired (and kind of distracted – this is my first pregnancy) all the time.

    1. MissMaple

      A small thing that helped me was having a piece of hard candy or something I was drinking almost all the time. Basically, just the tiniest bit of planned distraction to keep me from getting bogged down in tiredness and bigger distractions. I’m still doing it now a month back from maternity leave :) A plus is that if you drink an herbal tea, it’s great for keeping hydrated too!

    2. Artemesia

      I found that it was important to snack regularly to keep blood sugar even — I would really slump around 3 or so. I always had grapes. I would also save a stack of routine non-demanding work to do during that slump. Use your morning hours to get important stuff that requires your brain done and then do the potato peeling at 3-5 — filing paperwork, filling out routine forms, sending routine emails, — whatever in your job is the least demanding least error prone work.

      The good news is that the fatigue of the first trimester does tend to go away. I was full of energy the last 6 mos of my pregnancies and worked literally up to the day of delivery. The first 3 mos were when all I wanted to do was sleep.

      Also see if you can change your evening routine at home to get more rest. Can you simplify meal prep or postpone housework till the weekend and can your partner take over things that exhaust you. Being able to go home and put your feet up and watch TV or read a book or do yoga may help you regroup.

    3. knitter

      I hear you–during my second pregnancy, I was so exhausted all the time I could barely keep my head off my desk for the first 20 weeks. I would come home and lay on the sofa while my toddler crawled all over me.

      I was worried about my performance, so I told my supervisor sooner rather than later. As a person who sets overambitious personal expectations, I reset how I thought about my daily to-dos and made a list of only the top 2-3 priorities. This would help me focus. Mostly, I just reminded myself how much work my body was doing building a baby and cut myself some slack. Since you know you’re done by 3pm, don’t try to fight it and plan to do your least difficult work at the end of the day.

    4. Frankie

      Yeah, that happened to me. Lots and lots of fatigue. It didn’t help the tired feeling, but when I felt guilty about being a little less productive/energetic than normal, it helped to hear that other pregnant women felt the same way–it’s a health condition that takes a lot out of most people, and it’s pretty weird that there’s a tacit idea that we should be able to keep performing 150% while, you know, creating another human for 9+ months. I slept for like 10 hours every night for the first time in my life since I was a baby, and there were still times I felt like I might fall asleep at my desk.

      I don’t know if this is helpful, but you can’t control what others think of you and your work habits. I would try to just accept your energy level where it’s at, do your best with what you have, and try not to hold yourself to an impossible standard. Pregnancy is long but temporary.

    5. Joy

      I told my supervisor at 8 weeks because my start time ended up being closer to 10 than my usual 9 (flexible hours but I was pushing it and feeling guilty) because of morning sickness and also had NO energy by 3pm. She was great and I just let go of the stress of underperforming for a few weeks. Not much to be done about it except muscle on through! I’m 12.5 weeks now and while the nausea is still here, my energy levels have been better since about 10 weeks.

    6. CupcakeCounter

      Power naps in my car were lifesavers at the beginning and the end. I snacked a lot so could rest at that time. I also drank a peppermint hot chocolate since I was trying to minimize caffeine.

    7. SpringIsForPlanting!

      Second all of the comments to snack and hydrate. Also seriously if you can pull it off, sleep 10 hours a night. I was already set up for partial telecommuting and ended up sometimes napping over lunch, which was awesome. I commented about it in an earlier thread as well, but I found a lot of benefit brain-wise to keeping my choline levels up (respectable scientific research indicates both that pregnancy depletes choline and that choline depletion causes issues with short-term memory, and also the best dietary source of it is chocolate pudding, so.)

      1. AnitaJ

        Um, what? Did you just give me permission to eat a lot of chocolate pudding? (33 weeks here)

    8. Bend & Snap

      Get alllll the sleep. In the first trimester I would get home from work and crawl into bed with all my clothes on, wake up when my husband had dinner ready and go back to bed for the night.

      You’re growing a human! Don’t fight the tiredness.

      A little bit of caffeine and a lot of protein also help during the workday.

      1. Anonish

        Yes! I have been eating dinner, sleeping from about 7 – 8:30, waking up and watching 20 minutes of YouTube with my husband as our evening entertainment, and then back in bed by 9. For awhile I was trying to be “good” and drink decaf in the morning but my doctor is fine with a cup of regular coffee so I don’t know why I was torturing myself. Having coffee in the morning has helped get me at least to mid-afternoon.

    9. AnonChemist

      Just passed the end of the first trimester here, and I’d echo what people are saying about hydration and food. For me, I get hungry out of nowhere, so having snack food at my desk helps. My sweet tooth has vanished into the ether, so I’m stockpiling whatever does appeal.

      I’d like to say ‘be easy on yourself, don’t push past what you can do,’ but I know that doesn’t always work. (we temporarily lost one person right at my four week mark and didn’t get him back until week ten or so, from a 2.5 member team, no choice but to fill in) My boss and remaining team member were in the loop due to immediate working-with-chemical concerns, which helped. I tried to triage the work that was piling up, and I guess it worked out. I’ve also let my house descend into utter chaos, but there’s only so much I can do, even with husband help.

      I’d also like to say that entering the second trimester will flip a switch, but ha. Not so much for me. Still tired, increasingly nauseated, and waiting for the promised glow. Maybe month five? Hang in there, and know that feeling this way is par for the course. Solidarity?

    10. Parenthetically

      Very specific tip, but it was a lifesaver for me: there was something about an icy cold, sweet, fizzy, (moderately) caffeinated can of Coke at lunch that let me get through to the end of the day — just that little kick of sugar and caffeine were exactly the ticket for my mild nausea and exhaustion.

      But also, give yourself a break! You’re growing a person and your body is doing SO MUCH WORK. Rest as much as you can, try to streamline your routines, give yourself some grace. And maybe power-nap in your car at lunch if you can sneak off? :)

      Good luck!

  14. Lucy

    Happy Friday!

    Spinning off from yesterday’s discussion of email signoffs, let’s talk about “lost in translation” cultural features we’ve encountered when working with people from different regions/ countries/ native languages.

    My first noticeable experience of this type was moving from an office in the Home Counties of England to an office in the same firm but in the northwest of England. Fairly soon after I moved, someone at work asked what I was having for dinner. As it was like 11am I was slightly thrown by the question, and said it would depend how bad the /public transit/ was that day.

    She looked blankly at me. I looked blankly at her. Then the penny dropped.

    “Oh, you mean lunch!”

    1. PX

      Oooh, I had an actual survey ready for email signoffs but am apparently too late for it :’D In case anyone is interested, these were going to be my questions. In a meeting now, but will come back later to actually give my input :D

      What part of the world are you in?
      What is your field/occupation?
      What is your default email sign off?
      What is your email sign off when you’re trying to make some kind of point (good or bad)?!

      Bonus points: best email sign off typo?
      Bonus points: irrational email sign off hate?

      1. Lucy

        Ha ha I thought I would widen it out where we are allowed tangents!

        What part of the world are you in? – NW England

        What is your field/occupation? – legal

        What is your default email sign off? – “Best wishes, Lucy” except to JP/KR/IN/ID etc which tend to expect/ appreciate more formality, in which case “Yours sincerely, Lucy Whompengloop (Mrs)”

        What is your email sign off when you’re trying to make some kind of point (good or bad)?! – the cold British pass-agg switch to “Regards” has prevented more open sarcasm elsewhere in an email /blush/

        Bonus points: best email sign off typo? – I read that someone managed the disablist r-slur typo on an email concerning children with special educational needs. That put the Fear into me and that’s why I use “Best wishes” now.

        Bonus points: irrational email sign off hate?
        (1) not using conventional sentence caps. It’s “Best wishes” or “Yours sincerely” or “With warmest and fondest remembrances” and only the first word needs a capital letter.

        (2) abbreviations. Informal or long threaded emails don’t need anything, so putting “KR” is neither observing more formal conventions nor putting them aside completely. Choose a side!

        (I have learned that some environments default to this, including US military “v/r” … but I’m not in that kind of environment so I reserve the right to dislike receiving it.)

      2. Jules the 3rd

        What part of the world are you in? US South
        What is your field/occupation? Procurement
        What is your default email sign off? Thank you for your time
        What is your email sign off when you’re trying to make some kind of point (good or bad)?! Sincerely (for good). I would never use my sig for shade, it’s way too ambiguous. Text does not convey subtlety well, so I avoid that.

        Bonus points: best email sign off typo? I always use a .sig, so no typos in the last couple of decades
        Bonus points: irrational email sign off hate?

      3. Jemima Bond

        What part of the world are you in? UK (London)
        What is your field/occupation? Civil service
        What is your default email sign off? Many thanks if I’m asking for something, rgds if I’m giving info within my own agency, and kind regards if I hate you (#british)
        What is your email sign off when you’re trying to make some kind of point (good or bad)?! See above. Or if I want to imply you are being dim or not paying attention; “do feel free to contact me if I can clarify matters any further”

        Bonus points: best email sign off typo? I caught it before I pressed send but I have definitely accidentally typed a t instead of a g in Regards.
        Bonus points: irrational email sign off hate? Someone at work signs all messages “warm regards” which is weird. Or awards – Percival Warbleworth MBE, or Tangerina McTavish QPM. Probably jealousy lol.

        1. AL

          “warm regards” just reading that made me shudder a little. That definitely would not be OK in my company culture…

          If I’m annoyed with someone I might add a “Do let me know if…..” if it makes sense to.

      4. Salyan

        What part of the world are you in? Western Canada
        What is your field/occupation? Housing (quasi government)
        What is your default email sign off? ‘Regards’. ‘Thanks’ if applicable; ‘sincerely’ if trying to be fancy’
        What is your email sign off when you’re trying to make some kind of point (good or bad)?! Probably ‘I appreciate your consideration’ if I’m trying to get them to pay attention to information given!
        Bonus points: irrational email sign off hate? ‘Best’ (best what?), or anything with incorrect capitalization.

        My family uses lunch & dinner interchangeably for the mid-day meal (probably leaning a bit more toward dinner), and supper for the evening meal. I tend to use lunch & supper, just to avoid any confusion.

        REPLY

      5. Blue Roses

        What part of the world are you in? Midwestern United States
        What is your field/occupation? Customer service in the medical manufacturing industry
        What is your default email sign off? Thank you
        What is your email sign off when you’re trying to make some kind of point (good or bad)?! Still probably thank you, honestly

      6. Clawfoot

        Best email sign-off typo: My real name is Sarah. When I got a new phone, it autocorrected my name to Satan.

      7. Nessun

        Part of the world: Western Canada
        Occupation: Operations Manager
        Default sign off: Cheers (my family is British, I’ve always understood/used it as a “Thanks!”)
        Email sign off when I’m making a point: With Regards (to be very formal), or none, if I’m PO’d and it’s internal
        Best typo: I double & triple check to avoid typos! …I despise it when people get my name wrong, because it’s IN MY EMAIL ADDRESS and IN MY SIGNATURE.
        Irrational hate: well, maybe the whole name thing? IDK, I get pretty riled. Anything with “warm” in the signoff always seems fake or overly friendly to me; not a fan.

      8. Canadian Natasha

        What part of the world are you in? Canada

        What is your field/occupation? Legal adjacent

        What is your default email sign off? “Thanks,” or “Thank you,” if making a request. “Yours,” in any other case.

        What is your email sign off when you’re trying to make some kind of point (good or bad)?! Hmm, I might write something like “Have a great week(or weekend)!” if I want to sound especially congenial. If there is no sign off other than my name, I either want to sound stern, unfriendly, or discouraging or else the exact opposite- we are close enough to write casual emails without formal to/from language.

        Bonus points: best email sign off typo? Got nothing, sorry.

        Bonus points: irrational email sign off hate? Tx. If you are going to use text speech can you at least put the h in there?

      9. a good mouse

        What part of the world are you in? LA
        What is your field/occupation? Show Programming (for Themed Entertainment)
        What is your default email sign off? Thanks!
        What is your email sign off when you’re trying to make some kind of point (good or bad)?! Thank you,

        My friend always signs his emails “Exuberantly,”

      10. user679

        What part of the world are you in? Germany
        What is your field/occupation? Marketing
        What is your default email sign off? I always try to come across as communicative so I write something like: Please feel free to contact me for more details if you need them. Best regards, kind regards.
        What is your email sign off when you’re trying to make some kind of point (good or bad)?! I would never do that. If anything I’m more polite when I write an escalation email. The escalation is in the facts I bring up in the email, not in the signoff.

        Bonus points: irrational email sign off hate? The long ones. Some cultures tend to write a several-sentence signoff. I have so much to do that I’m not able to do the same and I get crazy when I feel pressed to devote too much time to pleasantries (“I hope you’re doing great and had a superb weekend. I wish you a great holiday”, etc.)

      1. Lucy

        They have breakfast, dinner and tea. Amomalously, a meal in a restaurant in the evening is a dinner, and a sandwich you made at home and brought to work is a packed lunch.

        The correct answer to “what are you doing for dinner?” would therefore have been “Oh, I’ve got a packed lunch.”

        I gather in certain parts of the English industrial heartlands a packed lunch is called a “snap”. In Scotland it’s a “piece”.

        There weren’t many translation errors except one that hurtles to mind where many people would type non and none (as in none-disclosure for non-disclosure) because locally they’re homophones, and the error is entirely logical.

        1. Jemima Bond

          Don’t forget in northern England sandwiches are often called butties. So that plastic container with the fashionable cartoon character of the day would be ones butty box. Iirc mine had a picture of Holly Hobby on.

      2. londonedit

        Tea!

        In some regions of Britain you’ll have breakfast/dinner/tea, in others breakfast/lunch/dinner, and in others breakfast/lunch/supper. Otherwise supper is a small snack-meal that you have later in the evening. And because this is Britain, there are also class implications to all of these.

        1. ElspethGC

          And then I’m East Yorkshire, and have breakfast/lunch/tea, which seems to be a fairly unique combo.

          Tea is sometimes changed to dinner if we’re being fancy (going out to dinner) and lunch is dinner under certain circumstances (school dinners).

          1. Jemima Bond

            We used that combo when I was growing up in Cheshire (NW, south of Manchester, for the non-Brits. I hope that isn’t patronising, lovely transatlantic cousins, but I couldn’t point out, say, Wisconsin, on a blank map of the USA so…)

          2. Parenthetically

            In Australia it can be breakfast/lunch/tea or breakfast/lunch/dinner — according to my Aussie husband, calling dinner “tea” is more characteristic of working-class Aussies, unless you’re talking about throwing together a quick early dinner for the kids. “I’ve got to get the kids’ tea on, Patrick and I are going to dinner with the Abletts’ later.”

            1. WS

              Yes, there’s a rural/city divide as well. I’m middle-class but rural Australian and I say “breakfast, lunch and tea” but my partner is middle-class but raised urban and says “breakfast, lunch and dinner”.

      3. Punk Ass Book Jockey

        Supper. My mom and her family (American, from the middle of Pennsylvania) calls lunch dinner and dinner supper as well. They’re ancestrally Irish, and reading this post makes me think that might be a hangover from the old country. I always thought it was a rural Pennsylvania thing.

        1. Undine

          My family used to call lunch lunch and dinner supper. My mother’s ancestrally Polish, from upstate NY.

        2. Jules the 3rd

          Same for my grandparents – Iowa / Missouri, German ancestry, but with ties to the Pennsylvania Dutch. If there’s a class aspect, they are farmers multiple generations including back in Europe.

          1. ExceptionToTheRule

            Dinner is the primary meal of the day for US Midwestern farm families. In my experience, what time that meal happens is irrelevant.

        3. kbeers0su

          OHMYGOD. This makes so much sense. I married someone from PA and his family uses this version of dinner/supper for lunch/dinner and it confused me so much the first few years. I thought it was just them!

        4. Reba

          In my family of origin (KY) “Dinner” means the main meal of the day. Therefore, “dinner” and “supper” are usually interchangeable, but the big holiday meal is “Thanksgiving dinner” even when it happens at 1 pm.

        5. Parenthetically

          My gran’s nursing home had breakfast/dinner/supper, but that’s because the biggest meal of the day was at midday, and supper was a lighter affair. I grew up with “lunch” as the midday meal, “supper” being a normal evening meal, but “dinner” meaning any large meal, regardless of when it was served. “Sunday dinner” was usually midday, Thanksgiving dinner was probably at 2 pm.

          1. Punk Ass Book Jockey

            I didn’t even realize we do this, too. I just confirmed with my mom that I would be at Sunday Dinner promptly at 1pm :)

      4. Undine

        Tea. You see it in TV shows sometimes. It took me a long time to figure out what it meant.

        1. Artemesia

          And at dinner time it is ‘high tea’ — the fancy thing in the afternoon is just ‘tea’ or ‘afternoon tea’.

          1. Lucy

            It may once have been “high tea” but nowadays it’s just “tea”.

            In fact, I must drag myself away from AAM to make my children’s tea very soon (pasta; it’s after 5pm here).

      5. Catleesi

        My mom’s family (Wisconsin) has breakfast, dinner, and supper – the noon dinner being the largest of the day. They’re farmers so I always attributed that to getting an extra boost of energy in the middle of the day, but also Irish heritage so many that plays in as well.

        1. NotAnotherManager!

          I had assumed breakfast, dinner, and supper were southern, but maybe it’s an agrarian thing? This is also how my mom’s and spouse’s family name the meals, and both grew up on farms and had the big meal in the middle of the day. No distinct heritage on either side.

    2. Grapey

      Speaking of penny dropping, “then the penny dropped” is not US slang (but I managed to figure it out from context!)

        1. Artemesia

          me too — it is sort of an anachronism from coin machines we don’t use much anymore, but it was definitely a not uncommon US phrase.

        2. Elaine

          Me too. I’ve both heard and used it. But then my mother was Canadian raised by her Scottish grandparents, so perhaps I’m not to be trusted on what is US usage and what is British usage.

      1. Lucy

        I think it derives from old public telephones where you would put in a coin but it would only be accepted once the call was connected (and if it wasn’t, you’d push the button to reclaim it).

        1. Adele

          Actually, it is from the old penny-in-the-slot machines: “The phrase was coined in the 1930s in the British publication of The Daily Mirror. The allusion was made to machines that required a penny to operate. Sometimes the coin would be stuck and someone would wait for the penny to drop for the machine to work. When the coin did drop, the phone or toy dispenser or other mechanism would come to life.”

          But, “to drop a dime” (to snitch) on someone does come from using a dime (10 cent coin) to call the police from a pay phone to rat someone out.

          1. Emily S.

            Oh, thanks, that’s very interesting. And it reminds me of a totally different expression, waiting for the shoe to drop… but I don’t hear that one much anymore.

            1. Marthooh

              Waiting for the other shoe to drop – I love that expression! It’s so descriptive of a certain kind of uncertainty.

              According to Wictionary: “A common experience of tenement living…with the bedrooms located directly above and underneath one another. Thus, it was normal to hear a neighbor removing their shoes in the apartment above. As one shoe made a sound hitting the floor, the expectation for the other shoe to make a similar disturbance was created.”

          2. Ingeborg

            The penny dropped Also exists in Danish. Since we do not have pennies our own currency “ører” is named in the saying

    3. Karen from Finance

      English is actually my second language, as I’m in Latin America, but I’ve worked remotely with people all over the world, mainly US UK and India. I’ve had a lot of situations come up.

      The one where I always cringe at myself when I remember, was once when an executive in the US was asking me about someone who works in my location. I had forgotten the verb “met” as in “to have met someone”.
      Executive: I was talking to “Juan Gonzalez”, do you know him?
      Me: … I’m aware of him, but I haven’t met him.
      Executive: …. You’re AWARE of him?!?!
      Me: I meant to say, I know who he is.

      I think it was common that they’d forget that English wasn’t our first language.

      I know I have to have more examples, I’ll post more as I remember.

      1. Lucy

        English is my first language and I wouldn’t find that remarkable at all – I think you were fine and the exec was being weird.

        That said, if I said I was “aware of him” there might be an implication that I hadn’t heard good things about him, or that he had a really bad reputation.

      2. Jemima Bond

        If you want to express that another time, although I too would understand you saying “aware”; a good idiomatic phrase is “I know of him but we haven’t met” making the “of” the stressed word. If the things you’ve heard about the person are notably good or bad, like you’ve heard his name because he was in the weekly newsletter as top salesman of the year or because he nearly got the sack over the dick club affair, you could also say “I know him by reputation”.

          1. Jemima Bond

            Oh lord I’ve just twigged* – is that why it was called that do you think??
            *i.e. the penny has dropped!

            1. Karen from Finance

              I think it was the first letter you need to replace instead. Instead of DUCK club, [another letter]-UCK club.

              But your comments gave me a good laugh. Thank you.

              1. Jemima Bond

                If the said rhyming slang were to be in the true Cockney style, the word used is one associated to the word that rhymes with the word itself. Hence “me old china” = friend, because china plate – mate. Thus I propose the notorious club be called the Crispy club. Or the Gressingham club. Which sounds like it should be based in St James’s, and serve a lot of port and cigars.

                1. fposte

                  Sometimes it truncates (and, IMHO, it’s the most fun when it does), but plenty of uses don’t–people say the full “brown bread” for “dead,” for instance. But yeah, I was being broad in my use, and you’re right that it’s generally not a single-syllable rhyming replacement.

      3. Spencer Hastings

        It’s sometimes hard to know what someone is getting at when they ask if you “know” someone! The other day, I had an exchange something like this:

        Other person: “Do you know Danielle?”
        Me: “Well, I know who she is, but we haven’t ‘officially’ met.”

        (His next suggestion was that I should introduce myself to her and ask for her thoughts on a particular thing she’s an expert on.)

        Long story short: “I’m aware of so-and-so” sounds like a fairly ordinary way of expressing this slightly awkward state of affairs, nothing to cringe over.

    4. Yup, this happened

      I replied to an email from a Chinese customer who had addressed me as Mrs. by asking to be referred to as Ms. rather than Mrs., and Outlook auto-corrected after Ms. making it Ms. Rather than Mrs. The next email from her was addressed to Ms. Rather.

      Yes, this happened!

    5. Sleepytime Tea

      I worked with someone from Poland and we talked on the phone daily. One day he mentioned to me that he would frequently google things I said because I was using American idioms that he had never heard before. I had no idea! My favorite was one time when I said I would kill two birds with one stone.
      “You’ll… what?”
      “Oh! Kill two birds with one stone. It’s a saying. It means I’ll do one thing and it will solve two problems.”
      “But… why would you kill a bird with a stone?”
      “I dunno… I guess I don’t really know where the saying came from.”
      “I mean, unless it’s a really big stone then killing one bird with a stone would be practically impossible but two birds… it just doesn’t make any sense…”

      I loved working with him.

      1. Parenthetically

        Yesssss! I love conversations like that. Idioms across languages are just an endless supply of delightful conversation fodder.

      2. JeanB in NC

        I had to try to explain feeling “sick to my stomach” to a guy with basically perfect English but who hadn’t really heard any of the colloquialisms. Also “slap upside the head”.

        1. Sleepytime Tea

          Yeah the person I worked with in Poland had perfect English, better than a lot of native born Americans actually, but American slang and colloquialisms were just something he didn’t experience very often. He was an awesome person and when he first told me he would google some of the things I said I just wished he would ask me in the moment so that we could have these fun conversations more often lol.

            1. Kuododi

              I tutored ESL students when I was in undergraduate. One of my students who turned out to be a dear friend had an assignment on American idioms. “Raining cats and dogs”was the first example on the homework sheet. We had some delightful conversations on that subject.

              1. Sleepytime Tea

                In college I helped ESL students at the local high school with their homework. This one girl was studying the bill of rights. Try explaining “the right to bear arms.”

                These words do not mean what you think they mean.

                When I explained it she understood, but just thought it was ridiculous that a word spelled the same way could have two wildly unrelated definitions. She was from… I want to say Uganda. I asked if there were similar situations in her language, where a single word could have different meanings based only on context. She said nothing nearly so distinctly different.

                It was really cool working with those kids.

      3. Penny Hartz

        My husband’s aunt and uncle live in Switzerland–he’s from the United States, she’s born and raised Swiss. She speaks really good English, but yeah, American idioms and slang confuse and amuse her.
        We were visiting them in Switzerland once, and one night, while we were playing a card game I sarcastically said to my husband,” Really going out on a limb there!”
        She was so confused! “Penny, what are you talking about? What limb? Pat is not on a tree!”

      4. NotAnotherManager!

        One of my kids is autistic and very literal, and we got a book that has an explanation of common idioms with an illustration of the literal interpretation. He thinks the pictures are hilarious, and it’s been helpful for him in deciphering them.

      5. user679

        “Oh! Kill two birds with one stone. It’s a saying. It means I’ll do one thing and it will solve two problems.”

        Actually, it’s strange he didn’t get that. There’s a similar saying in Poland – about baking two meals on the same fire.

        1. Sleepytime Tea

          Well baking two meals on the same fire makes perfect sense. I think his sticking point was that killing a bird with a stone didn’t make sense, and therefore killing two birds with a single stone made even less sense. People cook two things on a single fire (or in a single oven) all the time. He understood it when I explained it, just didn’t understand how the… situation made sense? It was a “you Americans…” kind of moment.

    6. My Brain is Exploding

      Answer to something before which I can’t find. I have lived in England and different regions in the US. The way I see it: lunch is the noon meal, supper is the evening meal, dinner is the BIG meal (could be at noon or evening); then there’s tea and high tea…

      1. TootsNYC

        In my family (midwest), we had the same distinctions between lunch, supper, and dinner.

        Sometimes dinner was evening, but that was because it was the big meal. Sunday dinner was midday; there was no Sunday lunch.

    7. Miss Pantalones en Fuego

      I’m American. I was really confused about meal times and terms when I moved to the UK. My friends and family come from various regions of the country so I get tea, dinner, bait, and lunch depending on who’s talking. I’m still never quite sure what meal is being referenced!

    8. Ingeborg

      In Danish the Word that used to mean Breakfast now mean lunch. In swedish the same word still mean Breakfast. So danes and swedes have to specify when they arrange meatings. Also in Danish the Word that used to mean lunch now is used for dinner Even though the word means “middle of the day”

    9. M

      Most countries that speak languages that are also spoken elsewhere have a small set of words that are just standard vocabulary – not even slang, just assumed features of the language – which are often so obviously *wildly* necessary that when you discover they’re just unique words to your country, it’s genuinely mindblowing.

      My favourite Australian ones are:

      furphy – an erroneous or improbable story that is claimed to be factual (I genuinely spent a lot of time wondering why anyone had bothered to neologism “fake news” rather than just calling furphies furphies before I realised it was “our” word)
      spruik – speak in public, especially to advertise a show, with a growing meaning of “aggressive promotional tactics” generally
      rort – a fraudulent or dishonest act or practice – generally with connotations of taking advantage, rather than out-and-out theft

      1. M

        (So, to put all those in a sentence: “I’m not here to spruik Australianisms to you, I just think it’s a rort that we’ve somehow monopolised all these crucial words – and I promise you, none of them are furphies.”)

        1. Lucy

          They’re fab – and I know exactly what you mean. “How can /word/ be particular to us?! How on earth does everyone else express that exact concept otherwise?”

          Moving north I learned the word “nesh” which means “prone to feeling cold” in a slightly derogatory way.

  15. Amber Rose

    Next week marks the return of The Box of Shame. I’m sorry, I know it’s passive aggressive as hell. But there’s no way around it, this is the only way I’ve found to not end up in the center of everyone’s annoyances. I’ll just air them myself, anonymously, by reading complaints thrown in a box.

    Everyone here seemed to like it last time, at least.

    My annoyance: We have to elect our safety committee. I used to just tell people to be on it, but the government doesn’t let me anymore. So I went through the whole painful process of getting everyone in a meeting to agree on some people… and then afterwards my boss was like, “Kick off Wakeen. Almost everyone in our office is on the committee and we have nobody left in case something happens.” Which, I’m not sure what’s supposed to happen. The phone rings? We can answer from elsewhere.

    I can’t do it anyway. I’d have to do the whole friggin’ meeting thing again. So i’m just gonna leave him on, but have him switch attendance days back and forth with someone else so one of them is in the office.

    I don’t know what else to do. And I’m annoyed she didn’t speak up DURING the meeting, when I said specifically that if anyone had complaints they should speak up, and instead waited to after. Everyone here is so passive, it’s so frustrating.

  16. What’s with Today, today?

    I just read the article about the Facebook moderators. Oh, holy shit, that’s crazy.

    1. KTemGee

      Right? That article was genuinely hard to read. Illuminated a different type of job in the “lousy job but someone’s gotta do it” category for me for sure.

    2. Lucy

      Some years ago I read an article in which a moderator reported having to wade through so many “I’m tagged in this photo but my butt looks big” that they got to reports of child abuse an hour or so too late. I’m sure that kind of thing is why you now have to navigate flow chart menus to report anything.

    3. ElspethGC

      Something that’s always struck me about moderation is on YT, the channel owner can highlight certain words on certain videos that mean those comments immediately go into moderation. Someone who’s gay might have all the variations on homophobic slurs flagged, for example. I’ve heard of a couple of creators in particular who have that enabled, and I always think “If these are the ones you’ve allowed through moderation because they’re insulting but not too bad, what the hell have you got locked in moderation that’s *worse*?!”

    4. Elizabeth West

      Oh, I read that too. The call-center atmosphere is the worst part. That’s the kind of thing you just can’t farm out to low-wage workers. If Facebook is going to use humans for this, they should be decently paid employees, not contractors, and be given time / help to process secondary trauma.

    5. Sleepytime Tea

      I read it to. Just them talking about the types of things that they have to see… It made me start to get sick to my stomach. I don’t consider myself very sensitive. I can watch surgeries or a replay of someone breaking their leg in football or something and I don’t get queazy. But the thought of seeing a single act of child sexual abuse, much less having to see it regularly… I feel gross just thinking about it.

      The company is wildly irresponsible for not taking care of it’s people better. It’s an important job, but just like any dangerous job, and I would definitely call it dangerous to these worker’s health, there needs to be proper support in place.

  17. Relly

    I moved into a new role at work and I’m starting to have to put up boundaries really hard, since I was the go-to person for a lot of things but now I have to focus on a specific project and someone else has now taken my place. People still have been coming to me though. My new boss has been pretty absolute about shutting down outside requests, which I love since I was always swamped with a million little things before. But it’s so hard for me to tell people no because I love being helpful! Hopefully it will feel easier soon.

    1. Artemesia

      You aren’t telling them ‘no’ you are directing them to Bobbins who now is in charge of that role. To do anything else would be to usurp his role. ‘Oh, I have changed jobs, Bobbins is now in charge of travel forms.’ EVERY time. Matter of factly as if you are being helpful with the information. EVERY time.

    2. Coffee Bean

      It gets easier!

      Just think saying yes to one thing means saying no to another – and you don’t want to say no to anything (even small) on your project, you want that project to be your focus and what you truly excel in. If you are in a new role does that mean your old one was back filled? Can you say no and at the same time direct them to the replacement person? That may also help.

    3. Bend & Snap

      As someone who is taking over for someone else, it’s REALLY annoying when the person who used to handle things continues to do them. It’s not helpful for letting people know I’m the go-to person, it undermines my ability to establish myself as a resource and it means someone else is doing my job.

      Perhaps reframing it as actually *not* being helpful to do things that you’ve been transitioned off of will assist with the urge to just do the thing.

    4. LaDeeDa

      This has been happening to me non-stop for 2 years! So I reply with “Hi (name), (area) no longer is part of my role/team. I have copied (person) on this email and they will be able to help you.”

    5. TootsNYC

      it *IS* helpful to tell them no!

      Think of it like my mom did–or my kindergarten teacher: My kindergarten teacher refused to help me tie my shoes. Refused. I was sobbing, begging, and she said “no, do it yourself.” Well, I did. And ever after, I could tie my shoes by myself.
      Not only did I learn to tie my shoes by myself, but I learned that I COULD learn something difficult.

      You are teaching them either self-reliance, or you are helping them build the new habit of turning to the proper other person.

      And you are helping that proper other person get better at their job, and become established as the new go-to person in other people’s brains.

      Sometimes the best way to be helpful is to say no.

  18. Enescudoh

    Thanks to all who gave me hope on this thread when I lost my job a month or so. I was so scared that after being fired no one would employ me again. I start the new job on Monday – one of four offers I had to choose between!!

  19. Murphy

    My boss doesn’t tell me anything, sometimes to an absurd degree. Before the holidays, the #1 in our office retired and the #2 (grandboss) was promoted to #1. The #2 spot has been empty since then. Boss once aluded to “structural changes” and implied that my reporting line might change. I’m a team of one, so I’ve been shuffled around some, so they could really do anything with me. I’ve asked him about it twice, but he said nothing is official so he can’t tell me. I’ve stopped asking.

    I really dislike my job, in no small part due to my boss, so I’d actually be OK with a change. I’ve been looking at internal jobs, and this week I saw one that was an EA for [general unit I work in]. It’s listed as being an assistant to the [#2 vacant position]/[boss’s position]. The job description makes it sound like it would be supporting one person, so it’s confusing. I wouldn’t be surprised if my boss got promoted, and it’s honestly what I expect, but I don’t know what if anything they would do with me, or if someone would replace my boss or what. A few days after I saw this, boss emailed and said that he was “thinking about” hiring an EA to help with some stuff that we do. Another reason I’m unhappy with my job is that I don’t have enough work to do, so I’m somewhat baffled.

    Is there any good way to talk to him about any of these structural changes, etc. (I’ve tried talking to him about my frustrations with the job in general and those conversations have not been fruitful.)

    1. Junior Dev

      I think you should ask whoever is in charge of hiring for the internal job who you’d be working for, if you think there’s a chance it would be current boss, and ask if that person is likely to change in the near future.

      1. Murphy

        Oh, I think in my attempt to be brief I didn’t explain it right. I have no interest in the EA job. It just raises even more confusion for me about what’s happening with my boss and my unit.

        And also I can’t ask about that directly, since I can’t explain how I saw the job posting. (My boss’s email about possibly hiring did not make it sound like a posting was already out there, just that he was mulling over the idea.)

        1. Murphy

          I would like to get out of my current job (ideally) or if my boss changed, my job might improve.

    2. Master Bean Counter

      Well one day I had to ask my boss why his job showed up in my personal email from a recruiting site…
      He finally admitted that he got promoted and instead of hiring a replacement for a lower level, they hired a replacement for him and duties got shuffled around. This is all fine and good, but I was in the middle of doing the budget and this is stuff I actually need to know.
      I point blank asked him why I saw his job in my email box. Things have gotten a bit better overall–but he’s still weird about his stuff. like I’m not going to notice the nice raise he got while pro-rating me on mine.

      1. Murphy

        I expect that when/if he’s promoted, I’ll receive the email that everybody gets about promotions like these and he won’t actually tell me.

  20. Vickie

    Can there be a rule to never have meetings on Friday afternoons? Ugh. Hate heading into the weekend on a sour note.

    1. jack

      A guy at my office scheduled a meeting at 3:00p on the Friday before Christmas, which was exactly when I was planning to leave

        1. jack

          I did but ONLY because I knew it would be a 15-20 min affair. And I got him to push it up from 4pm when he originally wanted to do it.

    2. peachie

      Seconded. I’d be okay with a blanket “no meetings before 10 or after 3” rule, to be honest.

      1. Jemima Bond

        I concur.
        I was once invited to a meeting between twelve and two. When are people supposed to have lunch? Savages.

        1. jack

          I commonly have that problem because I’m at the only location in my division on the west coast. So meeting are either way too early or at lunch :/

      2. Mr Shark

        And no meetings between 12 and 1:30, so people can grab lunch!

        So just less meetings altogether would be good.

    3. Elizabeth Proctor

      My husband’s office does this all the time. They have biweekly meetings on Friday from 2:30-4:30 or something. Ugh. And it’s the kind of office where people typically have flexibility to come and go as their work is complete as many people have off-site responsibilities, so he otherwise could leave around 4 or so. He takes a commuter train home, so is bound to that schedule–a 4:30 end time really means a 5:00 train.

    4. Middle Manager

      Some of our higher ups are so overscheduled the only time you can get with them is Friday at 3, 4, etc. It’s super frustrating. It’s not really any one persons fault, we need a good culture revamp around meetings I think.

    5. Beth Jacobs

      I think it’s also super annoying because I can’t immediately act on what was said in the meeting. I like to get started on whatever instructions arise from the meeting ASAP while it’s still fresh in my mind and at least make an outline, type up my notes and kinda generally figure out a plan for getting the assignment done. If I don’t have time to that after the meeting, I come in on Monday no longer remembering the details and it takes me much more time to get back into the project.

      1. JustaTech

        Exactly this. My lab group used to meet Friday mornings (so marginally better) but there still wasn’t time to actually act on anything, and if you didn’t take good notes the chances of remembering what we’d talked about over the whole weekend were slim.

    6. Ann Furthermore

      I was in Tokyo last year doing some software testing and training. My company had an office in Australia, so the plan was to do a training session while we were there, since the time zones were more aligned.

      I went to schedule the meeting, and the only time everyone was available was on Friday. I was intending to schedule it for 2 PM in Sydney. But I was using a loaner laptop, set to a time zone one hour behind where I live, and Tokyo is 15 hours ahead of us. Plus, Sydney is one hour ahead of Tokyo. So between all of that, I ended up scheduling the training session at 4:00 on Friday afternoon. I didn’t realize what I’d done until the training coordinator there asked something about the Webex meeting in an email, saying that a group of them were planning to dial into the session from a pub so they could have a beer while I went through the training. LOL!! At that point I realized what I’d done, and told her I’d reschedule, and to please let everyone in the office know that I’m really not the person who schedules meetings at 4:00 on Friday.

    7. Ms. Meow

      There’s one person I work with who always schedules meetings for Friday afternoons because “that’s when everyone is free.” Yeah, no duh our calendars are open at that time. But that doesn’t mean you should fill our Friday afternoon with a meeting that ALWAYS runs over.

    8. Thing1

      Ugh, yeah. We’re about to go on spring break (so close!) and someone scheduled a staff meeting that’s going to be really awkward and uncomfortable for this afternoon. Nobody is pleased.

    9. That Girl From Quinn's House

      I worked somewhere that had a mandatory team meeting on Fridays at 5:45 pm. The last express commuter train left around 6:45, and then trains ran local once an hour after that. So everyone who missed their train would have to wait until 7:30 and their commute would take twice as long. A few people just got PO’d and started walking out in time to catch their train.

      They went out of business a few months later.

    10. Elaine

      Some companies do that. My company has a client that doesn’t permit any Friday meetings. So if we need to meet with anyone from there, it has to be another day.

  21. Junior Dev

    I’m on my first day of medical leave. I am having both mental and physical health problems and dealing with them both while working was becoming impossible. I’m relieved to have been able to take time for my health–this is the first job I’ve been at long enough–but also kinda nervous about all the logistics and the fact that some bureaucract is going to judge whether my illness is real or not.

    Any positive stories of going on leave and having things work out for you?

    1. peachie

      Yes! I went on medical leave for mental health reasons that also became physical health reasons, and I’m so, so glad I did. It was only two weeks for me, and it didn’t fix everything, but it was enough of a reset to be able to rest and get my doctor stuff/life stuff in order and come up with a plan on how to handle work when I had to go back. I think I would have lost my job if I hadn’t done it.

      1. Rezia

        I took FMLA leave due to physical health problems (that were caused by mental health problems). I had been trying to stick it out at work while going through a ton of testing and doctor’s appointments and also having my entire diet rearranged. I finally talked to a mentor who told me that I sounded like I really needed a break, and to take advantage of FMLA.

        I did it in two parts – a week off + intermittent leave granted as needed for a 6 month period, which meant that if I needed take an hour off here or there because of a flare, it was proactively granted. The week off really helped me to reset and get my life back in order, and the intermittent leave made me feel so much better about calling out at the last minute and listening to what my body needed. I had been feeling so stressed before, worrying that my boss might think I was slacking or being irresponsible. Just the mindset switch from “informing my boss, because permission has already been granted” to “asking for permission and worrying what he was thinking” helped me a lot.

        The paperwork wasn’t too bad. My doctor was supportive so that helped a lot, and my company was large so I didn’t even know which HR bureaucrat at the other end was judging me.

        1. Rezia

          Oops just realize that I switched the to/from. Should be the mindset switch TO “informing my boss, because permission has already been granted” FROM “asking for permission and worrying what he was thinking” helped me a lot.

      2. Junior Dev

        Did you do anything in particular to deal with the mental health stuff (therapy, starting meds, etc.) while on leave, or was taking a break enough?

        1. Rezia

          Just speaking for myself, what I needed most at that time was to sleep and sort out what I could and couldn’t eat. Finding a therapist was something I looked into and got totally overwhelmed by (I’m in the US, insurance doesn’t cover a lot of this). Later on I did find a therapist and that has been really great — would recommend — but it wasn’t something I did in my time off, and in retrospect I think that would have been trying to do too much in that time.

          1. peachie

            I had to do the food thing, too! My depression was very weird and mostly physical and I lost the ability to eat when it was at its worst — not (just) the “I can’t deal with food logistics,” but, like, “I am sobbing at my kitchen counter because I am trying to eat a sandwich and physically can’t.” I think during my leave, I found a recipe for these weird little peanut butter cookie-dough-ish balls that I could sneak a lot of protein into, and that was (possibly literally) a lifesaver.

        2. peachie

          I am seeing this so late, but yeah, I found a (new) therapist at that time. I’d already been seeing a psychiatrist but had broke up with my therapist a while before because she didn’t know what to do with me. The new therapist was, for me, more of a “life planning” thing — I mainly wanted to find someone who could help me figure out ways I could get by and not lose my job.

    2. Middle Manager

      I had some extended medical treatment a few years back and was out six weeks. Since there were a bunch of people at that job with the same responsibilities, it wasn’t too bad and I think overall the break was important enough to my health that it benefited everyone in the end.

      In my current role I’m the only one doing my stuff and that makes it scarier. I worry if I ever need to leave for a long time again. But at the end of the day, you need your health to do your job, even if it’s temporarily challenging for you and your employer.

      Really hope things go okay for you!

    3. Aspiring Chicken Lady

      I once went out on leave due to stress compounded by a terrible supervisor. I think it was 6 weeks or so.

      I may have answered a few work related phone calls in the first few days. A week or two in, supervisor leaves a voicemail, asks when I’ll be turning in my laptop & cell. Luckily, I had the presence of mind to immediately contact HR and say, “Gee, it doesn’t seem to make sense to turn in my work equipment if I’ll be back soon. Why would she ask that?”

      Supervisor no longer contacted me during my leave. I was so relieved.

      1. Long Time Fed

        Our organization makes people leave their laptop and phone when they are out on extended medical leave, under the premise that you aren’t allowed to be doing work so you shouldn’t have the equipment with you.

        I think people have complained in the past about people reaching out for work related things.

    4. Karen from Finance

      I took 3 months of leave for Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, to go through chemo.( In my country, employers cover your leave in these cases, and I think the state helps cover some of the costs).

      I actually finished the treatment a little bit earlier than I anticipated, but they allowed me to finish my leave up to my original planned date, so I had a couple weeks to recover emotionally from the whole thing.

      Good luck!

    5. PicoSignal

      I’ve been on medical leave several times for a chronic condition, ranging in length from 1-14 weeks. In one job I was fully supported; HR and my superiors handled things professionally and legally. Every time I returned to work, I picked up right where I left off and things went fairly smoothly. If it would work in your situation, I highly recommend a couple of extra meetings with your superior when you return to ensure that you aren’t overwhelmed by a backlog of work. Managing expectations and, moreover, communicating to my superior the extent of the backlog, was critical to success.
      In my experience, most co-workers and superiors were helpful and touchingly concerned when I have returned to work. Some of my co-workers even participated in a meal train for my family during my leaves!
      In the interest of full disclosure, here’s my other experience: in the other job, I was encouraged by my boss to quit “for my health.” I declined multiple times and HR backed me up when I expressed concern about her behavior. Interactions with this boss upon my return were unpleasant, but then again, working for her had never been pleasant. I don’t think my leave was the cause of our problems, and this former boss is now under state and federal investigation for misconduct (beyond an EEOC-level investigation.) So I put more weight on the former experience.

    6. designbot

      Yep. I actually found myself in the ER *just* before FMLA would have kicked in for me at this job. I was in terrible pain and had no fracking clue what was going on, and nobody was really able to tell me. I was terrified not only about what was happening to me, but that if I got through it I might not have a job to go back to. I was in the ER insisting that my husband call my job and he’s like “that’s not really what’s important right now…” thankfully, he was right. Everyone was very understanding. I took a few weeks at that time, then seriously dialed back my hours (like I went from working 60 hours a week to 38–40) for the next six months, which culminated in another 3 week leave for the surgery that thankfully ended the whole saga.
      Even though part of this happened when I wasn’t even eligible for FMLA, my office couldn’t have been better about it. Even my most notoriously demanding client immediately forgot two deadlines when they heard I was in the hospital, without once asking for more details. Even when I tole my HR manager that the paperwork would say that this happened because I was an alcoholic, that’s not actually the case and I’m exploring with my medical team what the real cause might have been, they were amazingly cool with it all. Best of luck to you, I hope you get what you need to be well.

    7. Sleepytime Tea

      Don’t worry about the logistics. Your doctor has likely filled out the necessary paperwork a thousand times and knows what needs to be put in there. It’s a little stressful, but just let everyone do what they do and don’t let that worry stress you out more and take away from the healing time you need right now.

      I’ve gone on leave twice and had no issues whatsoever. The doctor and I discussed when I would come back, he told the company that was when I would be able to come back, and the company accepted it. I mean, it depends a little bit on what your situation is, of course. But your doctor diagnosed you. The people managing your leave at your company won’t contest the diagnosis (unless you’re talking about an on the job injury, which is a whole different situation).

    8. Ox

      Fun story! One of my coworkers disclosed a mental health issue to her manager, so her manager went to HR to find out what her options were. Our company’s HR told her she either had to take leave (via FMLA) OR go on a performance improvement plan, at the end of which she could be terminated. Yes, you read that right—she either HAD to go on leave, even though this was not something she or her doctor requested, or possibly get fired. I also believe HR didn’t inform her that she could get pay for this period using our short-term disability

      1. Ox

        Whoops, accidentally hit “submit” before I was finished typing! So she fought with them and got paid and her leave was great and everything, but the whole process was nonsense because HR clearly didn’t know what they were doing.

  22. Dragoning

    I’m feeling undervalued at my job.

    Not by my management, strangely enough–they all seem to like me and find my contributions valuable and necessary.

    In my department, we have three people who perform basically my same role–some of our side tasks are a bit different, but our core job is the same.

    And they…seem to wonder why I’m even here, at times. I’m the youngest and newest of us by a fair amount, although a part-timer filled my role before I was here, and before that I think there may have been someone else–not sure. I’m also the only contractor, as they’ve both been made full employees of the company well before I was even here.

    Because of this, I have to take a month furlough later this month, and while my managers are all slightly tense bout it, my coworkers are like “whatever there, used to only be two of us, it’ll be fine.”

    “Heck, there used to only be one of us and it was fine.”

    It’s just frustrating, to hear that to them I basically not be employed and everything would be the same.

    Not sure what to do about it, though. Not much I can do but vent here.

    1. Dragoning

      I should probably mention–there are more of us now than there used to be because we have a lot more to do. One of these coworkers has also made almost a point to mention in meetings with our grandboss, while she was evaluating headcount and my contract was coming up for renewal, that we had our workload easily in hand and it felt strongly like she was hinting we didn’t need so many people.

      They’ve told me repeatedly to keep looking for a new job, and I know I’m a contractor, but…yikes?

      Yikes.

        1. Earthwalker

          Yeah, sounds like territorialism: your presence suggests that someone thought they weren’t getting enough done and they’re taking their resentment about that out on you. In which case, it’s not about you, if that’s any consolation.

        2. Tangerine dreamer

          Erosion of responsibility. The FTers are worried that they will be seen as doing non essential work, and that work can be farmed out to contractors rather than FT staff. And also that the work is be re-graded, so that they will be seen as workers whose job grades are higher than the level of work they are doing.

      1. sub rosa for this

        Keep in mind that they have to encourage you to look for another job.

        I had one of these “contract breaks” recently. I knew they wanted/needed me back at the end of the break, and badly — but they had to go through the formalities, and encouraging me to find a full-time gig (with promises of great references) was part of that.

        Knowing that they can get by for a month, rather than replacing you right away with another contractor — that might be a good thing. :)

        1. Dragoning

          They can’t refer me. They’re peers in all hierarchies.

          None of my management has encouraged me to look for a new job, and this has come up in conversation since I started here, and pretty much never in context with my furlough.

          1. Dragoning

            (Also, furlough here is….well, every time one of my coworkers has had to take one since I started, even with no formal promise of contract renewal, their things were all left in their cube untouched, nameplate and all. The one person who wasn’t renewed in my time here had her things packed up well after the fact and given to her).

    2. sunshyne84

      Yea it sounds like they are phasing out the contractor position. I would take that time to start looking elsewhere.

      1. Dragoning

        They’ve been saying this for two years, and they have no knowledge or authority over anything. My management is all quite happy with me and has never indicated anything less than excitement to have my back after my furlough, and concern about the workload when I won’t be there.

        1. Dragoning

          (last two times they’ve extend my contract, they’ve tried to extend it for longer than they were able to–and they tried to extend it through my furlough. I don’t think they’re getting rid of me).

          1. Tangerine dreamer

            Keep in mind the FTers are headcount. Contractors are business expenses. One is a drain on the dept budget, the other is a tax write off.

    3. MoopySwarpet

      I wouldn’t read too much into the “used to be fewer and we were fine” comments. I think that is very sustainable for a short period of time (a month or so), and they are likely just trying to ease your stress about it.

      Your addendum, though . . . can you talk to someone with some actual authority to find out where they see your position going?

    4. ContemporaryIssued

      My sympathies. This is slightly bewildering to me, because I was hired in a team that used to be 7, then downsized to 3 (due to losing a massive contract), then one person left so it was just two (both of us newbies! panic!) but steadily our team got new contracts that equalled the size of that one massive one the team had lost a year prior. We were begging for a third person to help us out. When the workload kept increasing we did make a great two-person team who gelled so a third would’ve disrupted the dynamic BUT we would have easily adjusted to get some of the work off our backs. When you have less on your plate, you can focus on doing it better, instead of being swamped and possibly making some mistakes due to it. I can’t wrap my head around them wanting to get rid of you.

      I would hope the management understands the work needs 3 people, so the team needs 3 people. But if the two people lobby hard it just might happen, unfortunately. So I second the suggestion of starting looking, unless your company has other teams they could put you in. At least in my company, unless you wanna leave, they would hate to lose a person who knows the ropes, and would rather put you in a different office.

  23. peachie

    I just got called into my boss’s office for a “shut the door, let’s discuss your performance” conversation, which made me VERY nervous, but… I got a raise! I’ve only been here a year and they pretty much never give raises, so I am extremely surprised, but, yay! It’s a very technical role and I’m coming from a self-taught-but-zero-actual-experience background, and I never expected to be doing this well.

    1. T3k

      Congrats! Those are the nice conversations to have (just hearing that first line would have also made my anxiety suddenly spike through the roof there, but glad it was good news!)

    2. The Man, Becky Lynch

      I hope this helps you to build more confidence in your skills. Being self-taught can be extremely fulfilling. Congratulations, I’m glad you were recognized for your contributions!

  24. S

    Any tips (or just good mojo) for starting a job search when you’ve been comfy in a corporate job for almost a decade, you’re not sure exactly what you’re looking for, but you just need to GROW?

    1. Ali G

      Just start reading job ads. Research into other companies you might be interested in working for and see what they have available.
      If you aren’t sure what you want to do, start by making a list of things you do want in your new job (this could be anything from more autonomy to a casual dress code) and what you know you don’t want (long commute, or being a manager). Then when you are reading job ads, you can evaluate them based on your preferences.

    2. irene adler

      Talk with folks in your field and find out about what they do/suggest you do. Find and join a professional organization in your industry with a chapter near you. This is a good source of people to talk to, a networking avenue, and a good starting place for reference material to learn about types of jobs out there.

      Read the job ads -everywhere you can find them. This can give you some ideas.

      1. S

        love your name!

        Thanks to both of you. Job listings give me stomach aches, but I’ll start looking.

        1. Junior Dev

          Maybe trying to look at one a day with no intention of applying would be good, so that when you do apply you’ll be a little more used to them.

    3. Ama

      Another approach to this would be to think through what you absolutely DON’T want in your next job (this could be actual job tasks or things like a long commute, amount of business travel, etc.) . I was in a similar position to you a few years ago, and my “dealbreaker” list made it a lot easier to weed through job listings.

    4. Jess

      I second the suggestion to read job ads. And not just in your field. When I’ve been out of work, one of the most helpful things has been to skim the craigslist jobs and volunteer listings and see what pops out — what categories, what specific jobs, etc. For instance, a signmaker job caught my eye. Nothing I’d ever thought about doing, but noticing my interest helped me figure out what sort of things I’d been missing in my previous work. Another time I saw an ad for an afterschool job working with kids… I wasn’t qualified, but I realized I missed being around kids and reached out to them about volunteering, which was fun in itself and eventually led to a job for a while. Bookmark or print out whatever catches your eye one day, without intention or expectation that you will apply to ANY of them. Then go back a day or two later and dive into those a little further, see what still appeals, what feels like a pipe dream, what feels like golden handcuffs, etc etc.

  25. Toxic waste

    My boss was talking about tattoos and she just randomly lifted her shirt and showed us hers. Held her shirt up and just kept talking. My coworker and I didn’t know what to say or do. Omg. That is all.

      1. valentine

        Next time she’s in the room when anyone says “tattoo”, do a full-body cringe and hold something up to block her from view.

    1. Amber Rose

      My boss and coworker had a conversation about brazilians (waxing, not nationality) which kind of morphed into a conversation about sex toy preferences. And coworker did lift her shirt to show me her tattoo.

      I’m not easily phased, but it was a bit much all at once.

        1. Amber Rose

          Just another day at the office. *sigh*
          It was the waxing talk that was worst. The idea of being naked around strangers is deeply horrifying to me.

      1. AvonLady Barksdale

        I had to listen to (“had to”– the door was open and they were right behind me) a conversation about bikini waxes between my VP and Director. It was so horrifying. The detail they went into!

        A co-worker of mine once stood in front of my desk and stretched his arms, and in doing so, his shirt rode up and exposed his stomach and he didn’t even notice or care. I NOTICED AND I CARED. It was not fun.

        1. personalshopper

          Ewww. An old boss was in the habit of adjusting his crotch while talking to me about my next assignment. Ugggggggh.

    2. Karen from Finance

      Where exactly are her tatoos? Are we talking mid-abdomen, or did she lift it all the way up to near her bra?

        1. ElspethGC

          Yeah, I’d be happy to untuck my shirt a little to show something just above the waistband, and equally would be not too fazed by someone else doing that (although I recognise that plenty of people would see that as too far) but if it’s one of those rib tattoos that are right under the band of the bra, that’s *definitely* too far in pretty much all formal situations.

    3. Epsilon Delta

      Gah, That is super awkward! My coworkers at my old job were super over-sharers and I don’t think they would ever have gone that far!

    4. Nanc

      And now I have Allman Brothers “I’m No Angel” stuck in my head– Oh come on baby. Come and let me show you my tattoo–which does not in any way help your situation but isn’t the worst earworm to have . . .

    5. just trying to help

      That can’t be all! What was the tattoo of and how big or expansive was it? Inquiring minds and all that…

    6. some dude

      Oh god, that reminds me of being at a party a million years ago and talking to a friend of a friend who was sitting next to her big burly and somewhat possessive boyfriend. We got into tattoos and she had something that snaked around her body and she held up her shirt and skirt to show me. It was one of the more uncomfortable moments of my life. Luckily the boyfriend didn’t beat me up.

    7. Piano Girl

      My husband, the Drama teacher, had a student several years ago who emailed him a picture of her tramp stamp. She had no idea that doing that could cause him problems.
      Sigh….

  26. jobhunter2

    i’ve applied for about 15 jobs in the past 6 weeks and haven’t heard back from anyone yet :( i’ve been using this site a lot to refine my cover letter/resume and i think they’re pretty good (and i think i have fairly good judgment about this stuff) so i’m just disappointed and confused. i’m hoping the places i’m looking at are just moving slowly. i’m also trying to transition from a corporate position to a nonprofit position, so maybe that’s holding me back as well. oh well.

    1. Beth Jacobs

      That sucks! I’m guessing it’s probably a tough market in your field and area? That said, have you had a second pair of eyes look over your resume :) ? I’ve found that can help.

      But most importantly, six weeks isn’t that long in the grand scheme of things. I know it sucks right now, but something will come through.

      1. jobhunter2

        thank you! yeah, i’m trying to keep the time frame in perspective. maybe i’ll shoot it over to a friend who writes professionally.

      2. Hopeful Jobhunter

        I experienced a few months of not getting any interview invitations. In January I decided to follow the targeted resume advice where I adjust my resume for each job. I focus on changing my summary on the top to align to my experience related to the job and different applications ands skills, such as LexisNexis for legal jobs.

        Since this change, I’ve been receiving weekly phone or in-person interview invitatations. That advice might be a good idea because it can work.

    2. Lupin Lady

      Feel better! I was in a similar boat around Christmas – I had put out around 15/20 quality applications to jobs, and it took 5 or 6 weeks for me to hear back for the first interview – but I landed a great job out of it, it just took some time.

      It happened to me, it can happen to you! Good hiring processes often take time, try not to get discouraged.

    3. jonquil

      Nonprofits, in my experience, move soooooooooo sloooooooowly with hiring. So slowly. I guarantee some of the first jobs you applied for haven’t even gotten around to reading all the resumes they’ve received. It’s the worst. Hang in there!

  27. Dotty

    Does anyone have any advice on how to handle missing out on a promotion?I just missed out on a high level internal vacancy – a role I was incredibly excited about. I prepped really well, and got good feedback but ultimately came second. Now I have to be managed by the successful candidate – someone I get on fine with as a colleague but uninspired by as a boss. There’s no other roles at this level so I’m at the top of where I can go now, but I don’t want to leave (not yet at least).

    1. Middle Manager

      I was on the other side of that a few years back. I got the promotion and my friend/co-worker felt passed over (she’s older and felt it was “hers” from the moment the vacancy came open so she was really disappointed).

      From the other side, I would say that I hope you give the new person a shot. They haven’t had a chance to be the boss yet and if you start out on a terrible foot it will make things harder for both of you. And it’s hard, but I would try really hard not to let the disappointment take over and shift your attitude. The co-worker who felt passed over in my case has really damaged her reputation with the leadership in our company and probably shot herself in the foot for future promotions because of how she reacted. I think she would have had a really solid shot at the next opening if she had handled it better, but I’ve heard senior management make comments since that lead me to believe she’d closed those doors now.

    2. just trying to help

      This sucks. I have been in similar situations – twice. I was passed over for promotions a long time ago, and then had to train the person they promoted. Very frustrating.
      My advice would be to keep looking around for other opportunities and hone your skills to go deeper into expertise for your current role. Look outside as well. Good luck.

    3. Marthooh

      Think about what you need to do to get a good reference from your new manager, and concentrate on that. If your next step up has to be to another company, you have to start planning to leave, and it’s best to leave on good terms.

  28. If your job was a movie tagline what would it be?

    A bit of fun for a Friday – if your job had a movie tagline what would it be?

    I give people a lot of disappointing news about getting into university, so mine would be “nobody gets into this job to be the good cop”.

    And now you!

    1. Amber Rose

      My favorite catch phrase since I was a little kid has always been “let’s get dangerous.”

      But my job is the exact opposite. So I guess it’s more like “You can’t fix stupid.”

    2. Elizabeth West

      “In a world where style guides rule . . . where subject matter experts mangle grammar . . . where content controls lurk on every page . . . she’s the only one who can maintain the document repository. They call her—The Reviser!”

    3. Karen from Finance

      “We need to put a new system in place for this”

      and

      “In order to perform that level of analysis, I’m going to need that level of raw data”.

    4. The New Wanderer

      Queen of the Zombie Projects

      The Idea That Wouldn’t Die

      Maybe this time, they’ll get it right…

    5. bunniferous

      “it’s not what you see but what you smell that gets to you.”
      (I sell foreclosures.)

    6. Miss Pantalones en Fuego

      “She finds the lines in the sand (and clay, and gravel, and…).

      And then she destroys them (by carefully excavating and recording them).”

  29. Zona the Great

    The thread this week about the over-thanking in emails got me thinking about the opposite issue I have with someone in my office: the over-you’re-welcomer. I first noticed it when boss took me around to meet everyone on my first day. I am introduced to Jane who says, “Hi, how are you?” and I say, “fine thanks!” and before I could reciprocate, she blurted out, “You Are Welcome” not even a “you’re”. It was odd but I moved on.

    But still she says it all.the.time. If someone has a Thanks in their signature line, her sign off will be, “You Are Welcome – Jane”. When a customer emails a question or request, Jane will always sign off with, “You Are Welcome” and it just sounds snotty or passive aggressive because it’s out of the norm. We were displaced and reassigned during the government shut down and afterwards, Executive Director brings us into a meeting and says Thank You to us for being flexible. We all begin to say Thank You for reassigning us and Jane just shouts out, “You Are Welcome”. It was so odd.

    No question, really. Just wanted to share the weird.

    1. Rainy Days

      It does sound a little odd, but more like a personal quirk? I read the posts on autism/ADHD in the workplace from earlier this week, (such amazing info and insights, thank you to all that posted!) perhaps this person falls on the spectrum and is doing their best to conform to social norms but the execution is a little clumsy by neurotypical standards.

  30. anonymsaurus

    Help me navigate my notice period? I got a new job (hooray!). I’m in a director level position and offered a 4 week notice. A big part of why I’m leaving is a lack of communication/support from the exec. level. I’m about 10 days in and no one has asked what I’m working on/what work needs to be re-distributed. I’ve proactively provided a list of things that need to be addressed. I want to leave things in a good place but I’ve got a super full month of already planned work and quite honestly no capacity to do any transition documentation in the last week. I am the only FT person in my department, and as an exempt employee work an average of 55 hours a week to keep everything moving. No one has communicated any transition expectations with me. Is this normal?

    1. kbeers0su

      Wow. So either they have their heads in the sand or they’re making plans regarding your transition and just not looping you in. The best you can do is your best. You say you’re the only FT person in your department- can you at least make sure that the other folks in your area know where things are/how you’re leaving things when you do go? I’d probably try to divvy them up (assuming you have a few people)- Person A gets info on B, C, and D; Person E gets info on F, G, and H, etc. My biggest concern is your position is not wanting to be hunted down by this place once you leave and they suddenly realize they need answers/information. So it’ll probably actually work out in your favor if you try to work that stuff out.

    2. Librarian person

      I think normal really depends on your company, and you’ve already noted the communication and support issues in your current job. Honestly, I’d do what you can and what makes YOU feel good about leaving and don’t worry about any of their unspoken expectations or needs. If they can’t be bothered to care about the transition, why should you be?

  31. Alldogsarepuppies

    On dating apps that list companies I am finding a lot of people that work for one of my companies bigger clients. If the dude isn’t one of our contacts is it safe to right swipe, or is that professional faux-paux.

    1. sunshyne84

      Do you have your company listed? You wouldn’t be meeting them about work so I suppose it’s fine, just awkward.

      1. Alldogsarepuppies

        My parent company. We are both huge organizations, so its very likely he (generic he) doesn’t know about my company or that we work with their company. Think my company bakes chocolate, but only a small part of this company makes chocolate teapot, and most wouldn’t think of where the chocolate comes from – but I may not know if they do.

  32. Moving to Australia

    Hello, any expats or people who have imigrated due to work?
    I currently live in the USA, my husband just got a job offer in Melbourne, Australia. Anyone have any advice or resources we should know about? We know they are going to do the Visa process for us. It looks like I will be able to work on my Visa. I’m not sure if I should apply to jobs now or once we get there. Any advice? I know this is the work related thread so I’ll probably post tomorrow as well for the personal side of moving countries.

    1. Willow

      I have friends who moved from the US to Sydney a decade ago. One thing to know is that everything is a lot more expensive there, so keep that in mind when you get job offers.

      1. Moving to Australia

        Thanks! We’ve been looking at things as percentage to income and it’s actually better then what we pay here. Everything is more expensive, but the pay rate is better as well. At least for my husband’s job. Compared to his American offers, rent is a much lower percentage of income and rent is the main complaint.

    2. Anon Anon Anon

      Done that move. They use CV’s instead of resumes there, at least in my field. Do whatever you can to learn about CV norms in your field in Melbourne.

      I have good friends in Australia and family from there. The culture is more different from the U.S. than it seems at face value. It will probably take some time to get used to, and you may offended people without realizing it for a while. Americans tend to notice at first that it’s politically progressive, urban and secular. Compared to the U.S., a lot of people live in one of the major cities, and fewer people practice a religion. Some of the norms about things like sex and using profanity seem progressive by American standards. But it is culturally more traditional that the U.S. in some ways, and that isn’t always obvious at first. I don’t want to go into too much detail because I am American and Australians reading this might disagree. Just be aware that there are a lot of unspoken cultural norms despite the fact that most people aren’t going to church (which seems odd to Americans because we tend to get our norms from our religion or have a more anything-goes approach to things). People are understanding if you’re a foreigner, but once you’ve settled in, you’ll be expected to act more like everyone else. The other stuff is easier to look up – local vocabulary, how to order coffee, driving on the other side of the road, etc.

      But Melbourne is such a fun and beautiful city! You can’t have a bad time there. I wish I was there right now!

    3. Existentialista

      I did the same move, although it was back in 1992, and I’ve been back Stateside since 2007.

      There are many similarities, which makes the move seem easy, but the differences can run deep. The biggest two I found, which you probably won’t experience until you’ve been there for 6-12 months and are starting to form closer relationships:

      – Disagreement with something you say is not a negative comment on you as a person. I had some friends who would directly argue against things I said, even on sensitive topics like politics, and at first I would fold and take back my statement and try to be more agreeable, but then someone told me that they were actually testing the strength of my resolve and the courage of my convictions, so it worked much better to stand my ground and argue back.

      – Teasing is a gesture of friendship. I had a friend once leave a dinner in tears, thinking she was being bullied, when actually she was at last being welcomed in to a group of friends. But don’t try to do it back at first, because it’s difficult to get the tone right and not be mean.

      All the best! It’s a wonderful place to live.

      1. Sammie

        This makes me think of my parents. The Irish sense of humour is similar to the Aussie one. My American mother fell in love with my Irish father because of his amazing sense of fun. But then she moved to Ireland and it was very different when EVERYONE was practicing the whole ‘verbal abuse as affection’ thing. While driving home from a dinner party one night, my mother told my father that if anyone ever talked to her the way he talked to his friends (and they talked to him) she would consider them enemies!

        It did take her a while to get used to and, rather unfortunately for me growing up there, I caught a lot of her earnestness and sensitivity. Now she gives back as good as she gets (as do I, when I’m visiting), but she described that time as ‘technically we all spoke the same language but really we were from different planets’.

      2. Moving to Australia

        Thank you! Those are definitely good to keep in mind. The first one I don’t think I’ll have too much of a problem with. My parents immigrated to the USA from Southern Africa. That’s a good way of phrasing. I was raised to politely disagree. There’s no need to argue, but to state your opinions. I still remember being shocked by friends who would agree with my mom, and turn around and say the opposite as soon as she left the room. To them that was polite, to me, that was lying. It will still be an adjustment to have that more constantly.
        The teasing is good to know about ahead of time.
        Thanks so much for your comments!

    4. Melbourne local

      I moved to Melbourne 6 years ago, and I just love it here. Such a beautiful city, loads of things happening all the time, amazing arts and culture vibe, and awesome public transport. I did buy a car but I only drive to see friends in the country once a month (yes, the car was a waste of money).

      Re applying for jobs – don’t do it until you’re based here. I have been on both sides (CV submitter and CV reviewer) and everyone overseas is immediately put in the NO pile. If you have a local address and a local phone number (you can buy virtual mobile numbers here and I’m happy to give a recommendation if you want) then you might have luck applying while you’re still in the US.

      I would also advise you to get started on the red tape stuff before you’re here – you can open a bank account from overseas, and you’ll need to have a TFN (tax file number), and all Australians get paid mandatory superannuation (basically, forced retirement savings) so you’ll need to research and find a good Super provider.

      Speaking of Super, when you’re negotiating your salary make sure you know whether the salary is “inclusive” or “plus”. Super is currently 9.5%, so if you’re offered, say, $80k, “inclusive” means you’ll receive c. $73,000 (before tax) and the other $7k will be paid to your Super account. If that $80k is “plus” it means you’ll receive $80k (before tax) and $7.6k super will be paid to your Super account.

      Other than that, most of Alison’t normal advice applies – stand out with a great cover letter, have a chronological CV (from most recent job) with accomplishments not tasks. Slight difference is a minimum 2 page CV, but no more than 3 pages. Thank you follow ups are definitely not normal here, but every time I’ve received one it certainly hasn’t gone against the candidate, so follow your gut here.

      Good luck with the move. Melbourne is so awesome, I can’t recommend it highly enough!

      1. Moving to Australia

        Its good to hear about car vs public transportation. We keep reading that Melbourne has great public transportation, but our current location supposedly does too and we would really struggle without a car here. We will keep that in mind and probably wait a while before buying a car if we do. Just a question, how do most people transfer larger items that you buy without a car? such as furniture. Do most places have delivery services or do people rent cars or trucks?

        If you can quickly give a virtual phone number recommendation I would appreciate it, but if it requires research don’t worry about it. I’m not sure at what point we will have an address to give.

        Appreciate the CV advice. Thank you so much for taking the time to respond!

    5. M

      Melbourne born and bred here!

      This is a really minor one, but totally threw a friend of mine when he moved over here. Australians tend to say “nah, yeah” and “yeah, nah” quite a lot in answer to questions. It’s the *second* of the contradictory answers that is the one that’s answering your question. In certain contexts, they’ll also be used to express agreement/disagreement with a statement/argument/opinion. “yeah, nah”, roughly translated, basically means “yes, we’re on the same page, the answer is no”. “nah, yeah” is a lot harder to fully translate, and has shifting contextual implications when used in response to a statement rather than a question, but is essentially expressing agreement with a conclusion with an underlying (implicitly mutual) rejection of something rejected to reach that conclusion.

      For an American: you’ll find the statutory and union-based protections for workers a lot stronger here than you’re used to. This may matter when calculating the salary you want (e.g. 20 days annual leave is a minimum standard, as is 10 days paid sick/carer’s leave) – as will the existence of universal government-funded healthcare.

      While offices will have the *official* hierarchies you’re used to, we tend to have a cultural aversion to formality and demanded authority. This tends to translate into a greater expectation that junior staff will speak their minds/engage with more senior staff as equals – and a real lack of patience for staff who treat others differently depending on their position within a hierarchy. Being rude is still not on, but what it *means* to be rude is subtly different, and it may take some time to fully get across the implications of that in a workplace context.

      This has particular implications for low-level swearing in the workplace (expected) and the kind of workplace conversation norms. Humour and sarcasm are very standard, rah-rah pep talks tend to be seen as weird and try-hard. Religion is a private matter to be talked about in roughly the way you would your knitting club (“oh, I had a lovely brunch with my church friends this weekend” = fine, “you should come along to a service sometime!” = nope unless someone’s expressed explicit interest in doing so already, “I think [subject of conversation] is a sin, you should all repent” = a trip to HR).

      Melbourne’s a pretty centralised city (getting better re: suburban hubs, but still a long way to go). That means living somewhere convenient for getting to work is going to *really* matter, and it’s worth spending more on where you live to make that happen. Rush hour traffic is genuinely bad for commuting from the suburbs to the city, so living fairly close in if that’s where your working is worth it. We also tend to rely on public transport more than most Americans will be used to, so take that into account when planning commutes – it’s extremely nice public transport, by American standards – and deciding whether you even want/need to buy a car.

      1. Moving to Australia

        Thank you! Yeah, no is a statement I’m familiar with, the other way around would take me a bit to parse. so that’s good to know.
        Good to know about the unions. My husband has been given a salary and told the union is working to increase it. He is in academia so he is researching what exactly is negotiable.

        The workplace culture information is great, thanks. Definitely will help and we will keep that in mind.

        Spending more to live closer is a decision we have made on our current location. Especially with public transportation, we will probably make the same decision in Melbourne. It really good to hear everyone’s opinion of public transportation.

        1. M

          Oh, if you’re planning locations and commutes around one of you working in academia, I can give more specific advice for that, given there’s a limited number of universities! The overarching problem to keep in mind is that Melbourne’s train network is a set of spokes around the city centre – there’s a planned loop line in the mid-suburbs, but it’s only in the early planning stages. That means if you’re working around needing to public-transport commute to somewhere other than the city centre, you’ll want to be on the “right” train line for doing that, or you’ll be going all the way into the city to go back out – or relying on buses to “hop” between lines.

          Melbourne, RMIT and the ACU all have most of their buildings located just outside the city centre, and have a real lack of parking – your husband would be very reliant on public transport commutes for any of them. Swinburne is literally next to a train station, and so while driving is more possible, it’s also not really necessary so long as you can find somewhere you like along the Belgrave/Lilydale line or the local tram routes. Victoria University is a bit of a walk from its local train station, but not beyond the scope of what is reasonable for a commuter trip.

          Monash is a more in-between case, in large part because of the number of campuses – the main campus (Clayton) is reasonably accessible by public transport, but it’s both less convenient, and less functionally necessary (parking is expensive, but available). For the very closest suburbs to Clayton, the rental accommodation leans heavily towards student share houses, so that’s worth taking into account. Caulfield is the other larger campus (and, like Swinburne, right next to a train station) and Parkville is right in the city centre, but the Peninsula and Berwick campuses are… questionably even in Melbourne – you’d want a car for either of them.

          Deakin is inconvenient to reach by public transport from anywhere bar the surrounding suburbs along its tram line and bus routes (which are quite nice, and generally have reasonable public transport connections in their own right – Deakin’s roughly equidistant between two train lines, so if you go north or south-east from it, you’re pretty conveniently located). Latrobe has much the same problem, with the added difficulty of being much more towards the outskirts of the city.

          (Obviously, only one of those is going to be the information that’s relevant to you, but easy enough to type out for such a small set of options!)

          1. Moving to Australia

            Thank you! That is super helpful! That gives us a much better idea of the public transportation! I really appreciate that time and effort!

    6. Jaded

      Go in with a sense of humour, particularly be prepared to laugh at yourself for not knowing simple things – like what the area code is, or having to read bank notes to figure out how much they are worth. And don’t put pressure on yourself with your expectations to love it immediately, or to make it your forever-home. Just take the view that you’ll have as much fun as you can while you’re there – whether that’s for 6 months or 60 years. Good luck, enjoy :)

  33. Salary History

    Question about California’s (and other states) recent-ish laws about not asking for salary history.
    I am applying to an office in a city and state that does NOT have a salary history law, but the company’s headquarters are in CA – what laws overrule? HQ laws for all offices, or local laws for local offices?

    1. Not Me

      Local laws for local offices. Otherwise no business would be headquartered in CA, IL, or NY.

    2. Lisa B

      It depends- some companies may institute a HQ laws for all offices.

      But either way I would lead with “oh, here in California there’s actually a law regarding companies asking. The salary range I’m targeting for this new job is $X-$Y.” Be matter of fact about it and move right along, and they probably won’t press you. If they do, I would still defer. “My current salary is for a different role at a different company, so I’d rather focus on the range I’m looking for here. Is $X-$Y in line with your targets?”

  34. GIGI

    I don’t think this is common practice or anything, but I’ve come across a few of those twitter posts that are basically the digital equivalent of standing on the street with a ‘looking for work’ sign. Mostly young people it appears, the ones frustrated with the ‘need experience to get experience’ cycle.

    Now a couple of these were RT’d by some high profile accounts and got traction, but I wonder if it’ll get to the point where it’s just another gimmick people use to circumvent the usual hiring processes.

      1. The Original K.

        There was a ton of that after the mass Buzzfeed & HuffPost layoffs a few weeks ago; my Twitter feed was full of folks who had just lost their jobs (and really JUST lost them, like that day) announcing that they were looking for work.

        1. ElspethGC

          The BuzzFeed layoffs were pretty shocking. I don’t go on the site but I have a soft spot for some of the video series(es?), and the comments were full of people talking about it. Some of the people they laid off were very popular creators, so I’ve no idea how they decided that this or that particular person had to go when they brought in so many views of the “I see _, I click” sort. I suspect that some of them would meet with quite a bit of success if they job-searched on Twitter, honestly.

          1. Batgirl

            Yeah that’s the other reason. News outlets cover firms who lay off an masse – except when it’s happening in their own house. That’s when journalists do it for them, completely in line with an industry norm.

      2. Batgirl

        Journalist roles arent advertised and get snapped up very quickly and informally. Its been an industry norm for years to get jobs through friends and to give a crew-wide shout out when you’re looking.

        Nowadays a journalists entire portfolio is online so it makes sense to shout out to those who may only know you by reputation.

    1. Aspiring Chicken Lady

      I would say that there’s no particular reason that one shouldn’t “circumvent the usual hiring processes” — seeing as so many of them are broken and impersonal.

      Journalists do this … and it makes total sense, because they have a following of colleagues and other audiences … and can let folks know what’s up. If someone already appreciates their work, then it’s a helpful heads up that they’re available and interested in talking about new opportunities.

      It’s just one other way of networking with people in your social circles.

    2. Junior Dev

      I see this a lot in software, and it often works because 1) we’re hiring a lot and 2) job ads are often written by, and resumes often screened by, people who don’t understand the technical requirements at all. So having someone talk to you who can understand that it’s reasonable to apply to a job wanting 4 years of Python experience when you instead have 3 years of Ruby experience (or whatever) can be a legitimate advantage, for reasons that have nothing to do with favoritism.

      1. Junior Dev

        In other words, bypassing the recuiter is a legitimate thing to do when the recruiter doesn’t understand the skills required, and you have those skills but don’t have signifiers like a CS degree or a history at an “impressive” company.

    3. Moonbeam Malone

      I feel like this is very field-dependent, probably? I see it a lot in animation and game design, and it’s not really out of touch in those fields, since people do sometimes recruit talent from Twitter. (It also alerts their network that they’re looking, and people can pass leads along to them.) You’d still have to go through the normal hiring process, of course.

      I think there are other fields where this would probably seem super weird. I’m not likely to gain any traction tweeting that I’d like an Office Manager position.

      1. L. S. Cooper

        Yeah, I was going to say that I saw a lot of this when Activision/Blizzard laid off a TON of people a couple weeks back. But these were largely people with portfolios to link, too.

  35. Scott M.

    I’ve been at my job for 30 years. While I haven’t been promoted in years (I haven’t asked to be), it is an I.T. job so its constantly changing (I’m not getting stale).
    If I were to leave do you think that staying so long would be an issue with getting hired elsewhere? What have others experienced?

    1. Coffee Bean

      Not an issue at all – you can explain that your job was constantly changing which provided your room to learn and grow, and you valued that enough to stay. Now you are looking to move on, that is fine.

      I don’t think staying too long is really ever seen as a bad thing. Could be wrong though.

    2. irene adler

      It’s been a problem for me. Been looking for 4 years now.

      First, unless you started that job when you were 5, you are probably pushing 50. Age discrimination is real. I’ve encountered all sorts of situations where the interviewer tries to find out how old I am. One guy even sang 1970’s songs to me and asked me to guess the artists. As I was able to answer, there was no further interest in my application. Others ask when I graduated from college. The conversation usually ends right after I give them the year. During interviews, out of nowhere I’m asked about various skills not listed in the job description. And am told these skills are essential to the job. Hence, I am out of the running for the job.

      Emphasize the most current skill set you possess. Don’t list archaic skills unless asked for in the job description.

      I’ve been told that not having a new job every 5-8 years means I lack the ability to adapt to new situations. That’s a big negative. Still wondering how to combat this one. I have earned several (recent) certificates, volunteered and networked but that’s not good enough.

      Suggestions: instead of indicating the dates of employment (i.e. 1990-present) put “15+ years of experience”. Don’t put the dates when you received your degrees, certificates etc. unless they are recent (last 5-10 years). Don’t put everything on the resume- just the skills relevant to the job.

      Be open to jobs with a smaller salary. Or no benefits. That’s what I’m looking at. Not pretty.

      1. Glomarization, Esq.

        Seconding this! Age discrimination is so very real. I’ve removed the date of my undergrad degree, as well as my oldest, first professional job, from my resume. If people do the math on what’s left, I might appear 5-10 years younger than I actually am, but there’s no actual falsehood on the document.

        1. Autumnheart

          I went back to school and finished my degree in 2016. I won’t lie, that was an advantage that factored into my decision to return.

        2. Wishing You Well

          Yup, I’ve heard you list your degree, but DON’T list the year.
          Best of luck to job seekers who are older…and younger!

  36. dorothy_parker

    So it’s international women’s day and my company always makes all the women in the office do a group photo with something purple which I kind of hate. I’m especially annoyed this year bc a celebrity that’s affiliated with our organization was accused of sexual assault and harassment and my company initially scrubbed him from our site but has quietly let him remain associated with us and a lot of senior leadership have maintained personal relationships with him. I’m mostly just mad that we have to do this photo but I see photos of our CEO on social media spending time with this jerk. **He was “cleared” after an investigation was done by his employer without actually speaking with the accuser.

  37. Workforce re-entry?

    I recently became a stay-at-home parent after 10 years in the workforce, and plan to be out for about 5 years. What have other Parents’s experiences been on how difficult it is to re-enter the workforce? I was at the management level, but plan to try to re-enter at the Sr individual contributed level, since I think I’d enjoy that more. I really don’t want to have to freelance or try to work part-time during this period, but am nervous about such a large gap on my resume, even though my previous work experience is considered highly desirable.

    1. OtterB

      Is your field something you could use as a volunteer to keep your hand in a little? Or, can you take an occasional course or attend a seminar on “new topics in What You Do”?

      1. OP

        My industry (Digital media) moves a little too fast for coursework to be hugely relevant unfortunately. But volunteer work is an option, if I have child care options towards the end of my time home.

    2. Former Retail Manager

      I know you say you don’t want to freelance or work part-time, but I’d suggest you at least consider it once your child is around 2-3. if you opt to put your child into daycare/mother’s day out a couple of days a week, as a lot of parents do, that would free up some time for you to work and enable you to keep your skills fresh, network, etc. making a future transition back to full-time work that much easier. Without knowing your industry, if it’s reasonable to leave at the mgmt. level and return at the senior contributor level and your industry isn’t changing at light speed, then I think it’s entirely reasonable to say that you took time off to stay at home with your child to explain the 5 year gap. While I’ve personally never gone this route, I’ve known a couple of ladies who did. Both were willing to take a “step down” the ladder and one went down one level and one went down 2 levels, but neither had a hard time finding employment.

      1. OP

        That’s good to hear that you know folks who didn’t have too many challenges getting back into the workforce! While there were things I enjoyed about management, there was enough I didn’t enjoy to think the Sr route might be best next time. That is a good point that towards the end of my time home I might have more flexibility. What I want to avoid is working around the clock trying to do all the things.

    3. Lisa B

      Do you have a current manager that you have a particularly good relationship with? If you can find someone in your network that would be willing to get together and “talk shop” once or twice a year, that will help when you’re ready to come back. That person might think of you for a role they’ve got or be able to sell you up within their own network. If you CAN make that work, I’d do it without bringing your kiddo along, so the persona you bring to the meeting is more Jane, who’s a great professional colleague, and not Jane, who’s a stay-at-home-parent.

      1. Workforce re-entry?

        I did, but part of what went into the decision to stay home was a cross country move, so unfortunately I’m far from the network I had built. :/ I definitely think it’s a good idea to stay in touch with what’s going on in my industry.

    4. Red Lipstick and a Book

      Can you focus on just one or a few processes/skills of your profession and use them in a volunteer position from time to time?
      I know that digital media can be many things but how about helping out your local animal shelter / school /retirement home with a campaign for an event/fundraiser on social media or designing a new flyer for them? In an ideal case this would even let you say your skills ‘boosted attendance with 25%’ or something similar.
      If you are following blogs of well-established professionals, that can help you stay on top of new technologies. What I see in my surroundings is that this requires more planning than people originally expect.
      So if volunteering is not an option, make sure you regularly schedule reading up on the novelties and trends.
      All the best with your new challenge.

    5. KX

      I was out of the workforce for ten years. For the first four or five, I had pretty steady freelancing work for Big Name Companies in the same industry. Then, a lot of long-term volunteer work for non-profits, doing somewhat adjacent work and leadership stuff. After about a full year of hard looking I stepped back into a different in the same industry but at a Big Industry Leader company—where my friend was able to navigate my resume. After two years in that position I felt like I had resumed my career and could start branching out/exploring new responsibilities.

      I maybe stayed out too long. A spouse’s job loss is what prompted/amped up my return to full time work. I was lucky to land where I did, because it was a chill location with a lot of intangible benefits, but… I stayed out too long.

      1. OP

        Thank you for sharing your experience!! It really helps to hear from someone whose done it already. If you think you stayed out too long, how long do you think would have worked better for you?

      2. KX

        I had two kids under two, and it got harder and harder to do freelance work. I burned out. I should have done fewer projects at once and spun it out longer.

        I am sick sometimes when I think about all the lost income. But, there is nothing for that now, and my life has not been bad.

        I volunteered as a board member for the parent teacher group for five years. It was a high functioning group and I learned that I could do unexpected things. I helped start another nonprofit in the community. It was hard to leverage that to the return to work, and if I didn’t have a friend at Big Company when I went back I don’t know what would have happened. But all that nonprofit work gave me more insight about myself and what I liked to do and what I was good at, and I think if I hadn’t done it I would be floundering around right now like a new grad trying to find myself. And I am pretty old to be in that position. So I re-entered with a lot of perspective and new experiences I don’t think I would have had. But… if I hadn’t had that friend… It was risky to wait five years after that last freelance project ended.

  38. Anon anony

    Boss’s son works here and is lazy- doesn’t go to meetings, has attitude, flirts with all of the young interns and dates coworkers. I don’t have to interact with him luckily, but when I do I just get attitude or he doesn’t respond. How do I deal with this?

    1. Auntie Social

      I’d interact less and email more. Then you can be a little more formal (“need a draft of this by the 15th”) and also be able to send second requests when he ignores the first one. And you can blind copy whoever you need to.

    2. L. S. Cooper

      I don’t have good advice, but I do have a story.
      My dad can be a little mouthy– not in a bad way, he’s just pretty outspoken when he sees something being done poorly. He’s got a lot of value on integrity.
      He has been fired once, in his entire life. His boss (Bob) had hired Bob’s son (Chad) to do IT and some testing at Dad’s company, and Chad was tragically completely unqualified. Now, I’ve worked with Dad since, along with other interns, and Dad has the patience of a goddamn saint– as long as you’re really trying and aren’t rude.
      After Dad called Chad on it enough times (Dad’s a software engineer and knows what he’s doing), Bob called him into his office and told Dad to pack up his desk and go home, because he was just being too ~mean~ by pointing out how bad Bob was at his work. This was a Tuesday.
      Dad had already given notice and was leaving on Friday, with a new job lined up. Boss gave him a very long weekend.
      (And Dad sounded almost proud of himself when he came to pick me up from school that afternoon.)

  39. El Camino

    Hey all! Posting this on behalf of my dad. TLDR: he’s really struggling at a new job that he found after essentially being laid off without severance from his last job and his confidence is pretty shaken. Lots of thoughtful commenters around here so any advice or words of encouragement is much appreciated!

    He’s been at the new job for about 6 months and is absolutely miserable. He got this current job after his last employer basically let him go by telling him they had to put him on temporary leave b/c of budget problems, with no callback date. He found out some months later after bumping into an old coworker that he was the only person at that company to be put “on leave” even though he was told at the time he’d be one of several, and ex-company never told anyone that he’d been let go – his former coworkers just assumed he’d taken voluntary leave of absence or quit on his own. He felt lucky finding this new job in the same field and with a similar title pretty quickly, but it’s way different than he expected – and either he isn’t getting support from his supervisor or is too stubborn to ask for help, I can’t tell. To say he feels overwhelmed is an understatement – he’s taking home work every weekend, stays late and since the commute is long he doesn’t get home til 10 pm most nights only to leave at 6 am the next day, etc. He sounds depressed when I call, says he’s never felt like this at any job he’s ever had, and all the stress is taking a toll on him physically and mentally – he looked…not great the last time I visited. Between the way the last company treated him, and now working with a lot of folks fresh out of college I guess he feels like the proverbial old dog you can’t teach new tricks to.

    He knows ultimately he’ll have to leave. But part of what’s keeping him there is that he feels kinda lost – he doesn’t have a degree or certificates, and feels his 30+ years of technical experience isn’t anything specialized/marketable, which he thinks hurts him if he decides to switch fields. He’s also concerned that being 55+ will be a factor, and currently his is the only source of income & health insurance between my parents b/c my mom had a pretty serious health scare a while back. She’s healthy now (thankfully), and applying for part-time work but so far, no dice.

    Any advice, words of wisdom, encouragement I can share with him? Coping methods while he looks for something else? My mom and I are at a loss of what else to tell him, other than offering to look over his resume, help him look online for other jobs closer to home even if it means a pay cut. I know at the end of the day, it’s on him to change things but he’s my dad and I love him…and therefore hate seeing him like this.

    1. MissDisplaced

      I mean, the best anyone can do in this situation is to look for other jobs, and apply for them on weekends. It’s hard, especially when you’re tired and stressed from a current job that’s a bad situation.
      I don’t mean to sugar coat it, but yes, being 55+ will make his job search difficult. But it’s not impossible. You can also consider a temp/contract or bridge job.

      Current job: Not sure what exactly the issue is and why it’s not working out? Is it a bad place/bad boss, or is there something he’s truly not able to learn? There is a learning curve to be expected for ANY new job, regardless of having held a similar job previously. Sometimes you just have to cut yourself a break and say it will take some time and know you won’t be an expert in everything at NewJob from day one. Part of coping is also working a reasonable schedule and getting proper rest. Because the more tired you are, the more stressed and fearful you become, and so it’s easy to end up in a self-fulfilling failure loop.

      1. El Camino

        Very true, the sleep thing especially!

        He’s used to being a field guy – think construction or electrical stuff with some administrative tasks, maybe 25-30% of his time. Now it’s more like 45% being in the field, 55% administrative (with more advanced TPS report procedures, for instance) for multiple projects and he’s struggling to balance it all – either he didn’t fully understand the role when he came on board, or they’re using a “sink or swim” approach to see how he handles it and it’s not going well. And I think he feels embarrassed that he is struggling when everyone else seems to be fine with the workload – seems like that’s the culture, 60+ hour weeks and all. Tbh I think it’s just a case of being a bad fit for him and a job better suited for someone with an engineering degree.

        He brought up stopping by a career counseling agency that helped him during the recession, so we’re encouraging that.

        1. MissDisplaced

          It’s hard to say if that’s just the way it always “is” at that company (too much work and not enough people) or if it’s one of those things that you get better at as time goes by?
          But either way, it doesn’t sound like the best fit, especially if he has a long commute on top of all of it. It sounds like he took the job out of desperation, and maybe didn’t ask enough questions about the work, the hours, etc. Understandable if you’ve not job hunted for a while.

          It sucks to get into these situations. I’ve been there myself. But unless they fire you (which could happen and you get unemployment) the best bet is to keep up the job search as though you didn’t get this job.

    2. OtterB

      The things I can think of to suggest tend to require time, which it doesn’t sound like he has with her current working hours, but I toss them out anyway.

      Is there a community college? Maybe he could get a certificate in something related to what he currently does, but more marketable?

      Depends on where he is located, but here in the DC area there is a 40Plus organization that provides job search assistance and networking to people looking for jobs after the age of 40. My husband, an engineer, found that they weren’t terribly knowledgeable about technical jobs and resumes, but he still liked the networking and support of people in a similar position.

      1. El Camino

        Oh wow 40Plus sounds like an excellent resource! They’re not in the DC metro unfortunately but that got me thinking of local organizations that might do similar work – thanks for the suggestion!

    3. Sam Foster

      Misery can be cover for anxiety or depression. Suggest he talk to the Employee Assistance Program if his work has one or seek out a trained therapist through insurance. I did this and found out a LOT about myself and I’m pretty much in the same boat as your dad. Everything I learned is helping me a lot as I keep plugging away!

    4. TootsNYC

      I wonder if there’s a job-hunting coach that he could turn to in order to help him strategize how to market those years of technical expertise.

      There’s so much bullshit out there in the job-coaching field, so I worry whether it’s possible to find someone good, but it might make him feel more hopeful!

      (though when he’d have time…)

      And the other thing that is SO tough is internalizing the “it’s not my life” idea. It’s so hard to see someone you love struggling or suffering. But yes, he has to be the one to deal with it.

      The other thing to do that might be valuable to him is to be the “place” where he doesn’t have to talk about his job, and he can just be Dad, and not “person struggling w/ work and job hunting.”

  40. in the file room

    A success story:

    I was having an issue with my boss – she doesn’t get along well with one of my coworkers (the two of them are a whole other story…) and, when they disagreed, she was often coming to another coworker and myself to roll her eyes and complain about Coworker. Obviously, this made me really uncomfortable!

    So I asked myself what the advice would be if I wrote in. Then I sat down with Boss and told her that it was making me feel very awkward to be put in the middle like that. And she seemed to get it – said it would stop and that she knew she should just walk it off or something instead of complaining.

    I haven’t really had the chance to see if she carries it out in practice, but having the conversation was SUCH a relief. Thanks everyone – I could never have done it without all I’ve learned from this site!

      1. in the file room

        Ha, thanks! I figure I can’t control the bad faith they both bring into their interactions with each other, but I can ask them not to extend it to me or expect me to take sides.

  41. FaintlyMacabre

    Stories of weird/uncomfortable/funny last days at a job?

    This is my last day at this job. However, everyone seemed to think the previous Friday was my last day and when I came into work this Monday I got a lot of confused “Wasn’t Friday your last day?” I wasn’t expecting a party or anything, but a goodbye might have been nice… Also, if Friday had been my last day, my badge should have been cancelled- ex employees should not be allowed to waltz into the building!

    I checked to make sure I wrote the right date in my resignation letter. I did. I think it was the more than two weeks notice that confused them, but seriously, the brouhaha on Monday makes me glad I don’t have to deal with this dysfunction anymore!

    1. CheeryO

      I had a pretty awkward last day at my last job. I had been asked to leave two days before my notice period was over (ouch), which made my last day the day of the annual holiday luncheon and Great Christmas Ham Giveaway (it was a VERY old-fashioned company). I was NOT offered a ham, and I ended up eating alone in my cube because people were treating me like I had the plague or something. A few people came over to say goodbye and wish me well, but all of the higher-ups (including my boss!) completely ignored me all day. I could not get out of there fast enough.

      1. Artemesia

        I can believe it was awkward, but what kind of monsters didn’t even give you a ham? Yikes.

      2. FaintlyMacabre

        Oh Christmas Ham, Oh Christmas Ham,
        How petty is thy absence!

        CheeryO’s employers were such jerks,
        I’m glad that for them she no longer works,

        Oh Christmas Ham, Oh Christmas Ham,
        How petty is thy absence!

    2. Overeducated

      When I left my job last year, I had a joint good-bye party with a long-term intern. A day or so before the party, the intern decided not to take the other job she’d been offered so she could stay for the maximum amount of time possible, another 6 months or so. There was a giant cake with both of our names on it. She was definitely embarrassed. We were all like “don’t worry, it’s a party to celebrate that you’re staying now! Everybody likes parties!”

      1. Delta Delta

        I had something sort of similar once. Someone left their position and their last day was also my birthday. We were going to do a combo goodbye/birthday party. That felt icky to me – I didn’t want to take away from the other person’s goodbye party because I knew she was having a rough time with some personal stuff and I thought the least I could do was let her have a nice moment for herself.

    3. T3k

      So my last job was a short contract (6 months) and it’s exactly 6 months (so if you start on the 20, your last day is 6 months from there on the 20). This meant my last day fell during the middle of the week and, as I was sad my contract wasn’t being extended, I didn’t tell most people, just the ones in the same position (though others found out in other ways). This meant I didn’t tell the guys I shared an office with (about 5 of them). Well, me and some of the now former coworkers had already planned to meet for drinks/dinner later that week after my last day, and when the guy who took over my duties showed up, he mentioned that my former office mates were asking my boss (their supervisor as well) “Hey, T3k hasn’t been in the last few days” and so they had to fill them in that my contract had finished. Whoops.

    4. MissGirl

      My work forgot to invite me to my own goodbye party. Luckily I was secure enough in my position there to know it was an oversight not a slight.

    5. Lisa B

      Oh nooooo – that is terrible!

      I made the mistake of putting Jan 2 as my last day at Old Job. I wanted to get paid for the New Year’s holiday so I needed to work the day after. But since it was in the middle of the week, most people had taken the last few days off to have a nice long break. My boss was out, my second line boss was out, my closest colleague was out, my cube-mates were out…. I had an awkward “well, here’s my badge, guess I’ll be leaving now” with a manager I hardly ever worked with. It was a depressing send-off.

    6. MountainHire

      My last day at my first Corporate World job- I had been an intern during college and then when I graduated I was offered a part-time job managing their website with another intern-to part-timer. Basically he did the back end coding and I did the front end layout and user experience. Almost a year into the position my boss let me know they didn’t have the budget to keep either of us on. Neither of us were too upset, he was going back to finish his degree and I was looking for full-time work. What was nice is my boss gave me a month’s notice and let me take days off work and still paid me for the time.

      Anyways, the awkward part: The company was launching their brand new app and holding a launch party the same day as our last day. It was hella awkward because we were both invited and this party was legit; they brought in free food trucks, a band, games, and had a bunch of swag giveaways. All for an app that provided free content and didn’t have plans to generate revenue, unlike, say, our customer facing website I had been running and said they didn’t have the budget to pay for. I didn’t even stay until the end of the day, I said goodbye to three people and left at 11am.

      Recently heard from a friend who still works there that they had a mass layoff of all the people who worked on the app and are now selling off all the land they own around their building to supplement revenue.

    7. Quinoa

      My last job was a temp-to-hire gig that I was unexpectedly not hired for almost a month after my projected hire date. My counterpart in the office spent my entire last week telling me how hard my not being hired was going to be for HER.

    8. BB

      I was a senior associate at a dysfunctional small law firm, had gotten an offer contingent on references for a much higher paying position at a medium sized law firm, and spent two weeks gritting my teeth and dealing with the chaos while waiting for the offer to become firm. Among the signs of dysfunction:

      * Managing partner was rarely in the office due to personal reasons, and had failed to bring in enough business to really keep the firm afloat over the past many months. His solution to this was to put tremendous pressure on the associates to meet impossible business development goals. Then, on the few occasions associates brought in clients, he turned them down or let them expire through neglect.

      * Despite Managing Partner’s work habits, everyone else had to be in the office from 9-5 exactly every day. Working from home cost PTO. This is extremely abnormal for attorneys, especially senior attorneys.

      * A junior associate was fired for ongoing performance issues the Sunday night before Christmas, by email.

      * Three employee paychecks bounced, then the next pay period, payroll was a week and a half late.

      So, my last day, a Friday, went as follows:

      * Arrive at office at 9 AM. Wait until 10 AM for Managing Partner to arrive.
      * Tell Managing Partner and Office Manager that I’m leaving. As expected, Managing Partner didn’t want me to stay around any longer than that last day.
      * Managing Partner tells me behind closed doors that he’s very sorry to see me go.
      * A few minutes later, Managing Partner asks about my PTO balance, which shows as negative 16 hours. That included 2 days when I worked from home with a gout attack and billed a total of 20 collected hours to our one non-contingency client, and Yom Kippur when he told me to take the religious holiday and not worry about it. He said he would take that time out of my last paycheck. When I argued with him about it, he told me “you’re a great attorney but you have a sh*tty attitude.”
      * A half hour later, while I’m cleaning out my office, he pops in to ask if I would stay if he gave me a title promotion to partner without a raise. I said no.
      * Later that day, we call all our joint clients to inform them that I’m leaving. For all the clients he originated, I politely say that I’ll contact them later to see if they’re interested in transferring.
      * The last client we call is the one I originated whom he’s never talked to before. He spends the call hard selling my client on staying with his firm.
      * I get my last paycheck on my way out the door. As promised, the 3 days of wrongfully debited PTO have been taken out.
      * To cap off the pettiness, as I’m leaving, Managing Partner demands that I return a piece of electronics a client gave me that I used to do some work.
      * The other attorneys had all gathered at a bar across the street to get drinks as a going-away get together. Managing Partner said he would be joining. I give the excuse that I have to go take care of my baby at home, and promptly call my best friend among my co-workers, explain that I can’t hang around and socialize with this guy.

  42. Lucky

    Outsourcing this to the commentariat, especially those of you that work in corporate environments. What does respect in the workplace look like to you? How about disrespect? Looking across all work relationships – boss to direct report, colleagues on same team or cross-functional – and looking for real examples and anecdotes, big and small.

    Here’s a common example: I’m in Legal and my internal clients often forward a contract with a request that I “drop everything, this needs to be reviewed/approved ASAP” but I can see on the email chain that they received the contract a week or two earlier.

    1. Amber Rose

      Respect: “Hey we’re doing this new thing in a few months, do you want to sit down and discuss processes and procedures?”

      Disrespect: “It’s not like doing your job takes up that much of your time. The program pretty much runs itself.”

      The first was from a manager that I really like. The second was from upper management, my grand-boss. He thinks that my program doesn’t require much work, and he also thinks my secondary responsibility, order entry, is a quick and easy thing, even though it takes up around 60% of my day/week.

    2. peachie

      Yeah, with that last-minute stuff — I understand that it happens sometimes, but the attitude makes all the difference for me. I work with internal “clients” in a university (they don’t pay our department, but it’s a big enough place that they’re more like clients than coworkers) and last-minute requests with a hard deadline do come up. Some of the requestors acknowledge that what they want may not be possible, thank me for my time, and generally have an attitude of “I know this was inconvenient but I really appreciate you doing it.” Other times I get emails that are essentially “You need to do this. Why isn’t this done?? I am more important than you!” Guess whose projects I prioritize?

    3. LQ

      Respect looks like honesty and directness to me. “So my boss wants me to spy on you for her. That’s bullshit.” “I have no idea how to make this work.” Trying for 2 months and 6 different ways and still trying some more.

      Disrespect looks like disingenuousness. It looks like not admitting to failure. It looks like someone above my pay grade demanding work above my pay grade that they themselves can’t do and haven’t done for the decades they’ve been here and then wanting to punish me for that. (That’s a “colleague” in another department.) Saying bad things about me in front of her staff, but never in front of my boss (who would devour this person alive for those things if she said it in front of him). Yelling about how bad my entire department is in front of a bunch of your staff when I’m the only person from my department in the room and you’re 5-6 levels above me in the Chain-O-Command.

    4. CupcakeCounter

      Hot button issue for me right now.
      I have been feeling very disrespected by my GrandBoss who I still work with very closely. A huge change was coming that was going to directly impact my job and they didn’t tell or bring me in until the last minute and then completely disregarded my concerns and questions. Each and every one of them was valid (and 100% accurate) and we ended up with a big mess. He then proceeded to roll over and show his belly to upper mgt and comply with their messed up process that took several weeks to work through and will have to be manually adjusted for up to 5 years which takes several hours during a very busy time for my role. I’ve notified them repeatedly that I don’t have time for it but they refuse to take that or anything else off my plate at this time because 5 years ago I let them know I had bandwidth the end of each month so they gave me a very serious task with hard deadlines of mid-month.
      Another huge blowup happened with week and I worked my butt of for a sneer and a “are you almost done yet”. I might be here next week with a story of blowing up a metaphorical bridge with finger flags waving.

    5. Cheesesteak in Paradise

      I’d treat them the same way a host at a nice restaurant would treat a demanding diner. “I need a table now!”

      You say:
      “That’s not possible. The turn around time for this type of document is x days.”
      They: “But it it now!”
      You:
      “I’m sorry. That’s not possible. It will be completed as soon as possible.”

      I’d worry less about respect and just make your response bland and boring as possible while not reordering your priorities unless instructed by your boss.

      You can also say:

      “I’m sorry we have a set list of priorities. Yours will be gotten to as soon as possible. I invite you to discuss with Boss further if you need an exception made otherwise I cannot deviate from my order of tasks.”

      1. Holly

        I have to disagree with this Cheesesteak unless that’s the culture of OP’s specific organization – being a lawyer or paralegal is basically a service job – if your client needs it done, you have to do it.

    6. Up Hill-Yes, both ways!

      We have a common mantra, if you will, in my working world, to the effect of: “It is not my problem that you failed to [submit your request/loop me in/whatever fits] in a timely manner”. I’m a buyer: people think I can just whip out a credit card (that I don’t actually have) and waltz to the nearest store and buy whatever they’re asking for. No can do. There are so many laws around procurement, and small business advantages and so many different methods of procurement and red tape and hoops to get through, this thing they thought I could buy in an hour down the street takes 2 weeks or more. It’s like “PEOPLE! I don’t make the rules! Do you really think this is easier on me than just buying it and getting you to shut the hell up?” But of course, can’t say that :) So I kindly explain that unfortunately the laws are what they are, and until they are changed I am required to follow them. And depending on the other person: whatever they are asking of me is not worth jail time. Obviously YMMV.

    7. DCGirl

      This quote: Sometimes people use “respect” to mean “treating someone like a person,” and sometimes they use “respect” to mean “treating someone like an authority.” And sometimes people who are used to being treated like an authority say, “If you won’t respect me, I won’t respect you,” which means “If you don’t treat me like an authority, I won’t treat you like a person.” They think they’re being fair, and they’re not.

    8. CDM

      I think, in the broadest terms, it comes down to listening vs: telling.

      If your boss, your direct report, if your colleague isn’t willing to listen to you when you have something to say, it’s clear that they don’t respect you. If they talk right over your attempt to make a point, or set things up organizationally so that you can’t even communicate with them, then they don’t respect you.

      You need to drop everything else and make this a priority vs: I apologize for my lateness in getting this to you, is it possible for you to get this done by x and is there anything further I can do to make this happen? and waiting for a response.

      At Old Job, our new CEO made it clear to everyone that he wasn’t concerned with the internal org, only with cultivating community connections, so he would only listening the COO and CFO. So when he incorrectly claimed our department was unprofitable in staff meetings, when our income was double our expenses, we had no way of knowing if he was being lied to, if numbers were being manipulated, or if he was “merely” careless, and no way to correct our record. We certainly didn’t feel respected.

      We had 30 FT and near FT staff, my tenure overlapped this CEOs by two years, we spoke three times. One of which he called me by the wrong name. I didn’t bother to correct him, because I knew he couldn’t have cared less who I was or what I did in the org.

      The week after the wrong name incident, at a gathering hosted by my husband’s company of about 200, the owner, the CEO and the COO greeted me by name, because they were all people who listened to and respected their employees and other people and fostered that culture throughout the company. At another annual gathering, the CEO brought one employee up to the podium, as they both shared how that employee was struggling in a particular position, and the talk the two of them had. CEO listening to the employee about why and how things weren’t working, and what did the employee think about the best way to shift gears and move forward. And together, they made changes, and a year later the employee was highly successful in the revamped position. Hugely powerful message, instead of punishing a failing employee, or waiting for him to find another job and leave, it was “how can we work together to make this relationship successful for both the employee and the org?”

      Current job made a business decision that resulted in a 10% pay cut combined with a 10% increase in hours for me. Management doesn’t want to hear that. I get cut off, told I’m not a team player and that other people who get paid much more than I do and who are permitted to work from home and work flexible hours (which I do not) also commute distances, so sit down and shut up. Similarly, boss asked the management if there was any way to meaningfully acknowledge that I’m working at a higher level than the other two staff in the same position, which was met with a tirade about how that manager isn’t responsible for supervising the other two and it’s not her fault that a peer excels at chit-chat and organizing cookie exchanges while half my workload is actually in the next job description above mine. Management is just going to shout their narrative of “everything’s fine so sit down and shut up” over anything we try to tell them, rather than listen.

      Even if there’s no way an org is going to do anything to correct a problem, listening to an employee and acknowledging that something is indeed a problem shows far more respect than drowning out their voices and steamrolling right over them.

    9. Respect My Time

      A moment I realized a colleague did not respect me (and didn’t even realize they didn’t respect me) was when I recognized the following pattern:
      Colleague promises unreasonably short timeline to client
      Then comes to me and asks me how much time I need for my part (which would need to be followed some by a second person’s part, before colleague would be ready for his part)
      My estimate was longer than the time until colleague had promised it’d be delivered
      Colleague says “can you make it work? this is a really important sale for us and we already closed/booked flights/other crap”
      So I need to rush, which makes it more likely I’ll make a mistake, and work excessively long hours, which makes it more likely I’ll make a mistake, and so does a second person, all because colleague didn’t ASK FIRST how long it takes before making promises about how long it would take
      Colleague before during and after regularly thanks me and second person, tells us how much they appreciate and value our expertise and our working so hard and so long

      And that, frankly, was bullshit. If you respect my time and input and expertise, you wouldn’t put me in this position. You wouldn’t ask me to work double-time for weeks on end because of your failure to plan. You wouldn’t leave me no time to test and review and make sure what I’m producing is actually good.
      And you sure as hell don’t do it twice. If “please just make the exception for this one super important client” is the line you feed me every time you ask me for anything, then you don’t respect me.

      You respect my expertise and value the knowledge I have and you don’t? You respect my time. You don’t tell me you respect me. You have to actually do it and that comes through actions.

  43. Hatesbeingyelledat

    Have you talked to a career counselor? My best friend is a lawyer and was feeling very similarly to what you are describing and she paid for a couple sessions with a career counselor-who I think also had a law degree-and the exercises he assigned really help her hone in on her skill set and how to apply it. She ultimately found a job in an adjacent area and while she is stressed trying to learn everything, I think she feels happier having made the transition.

    Best of luck, I too have had jobs that give me anxiety like you mention and its such a tough go.

  44. Bitter old owl

    So just need to get this off my chest as I’m feeling pretty unappreciated at work.

    Not to go into specifics, but a big release is coming up soon for our company and, as such, we’re on the front lines to help with customers during that time. Now I get it, we’re going to busy, we need everyone on board, etc. (I’m talking about non-stop customers from the moment one clocks in until they clock out deal). That said, their automated scheduler system has really screwed me over. Despite supervisors telling us scheduling preference is given to top performers (and I’ve been told repeatedly I am a top performer) it keeps giving me an undesirable lunch time despite repeatedly trying to get it corrected, then during the big release drastically moved my shift to morning (when I applied and came on board the understanding was I started at noon) and while we have rotating shifts, it’s done so you still work 5 days each week with 2 days off somewhere. Except this time it has me working 7 days non-stop (everyone else I’ve talked to has at least one day off during this crazy time) and 1 day off before back to work. So needless to say I’m feeling pretty upset and frustrated and my supervisor says they can’t do anything about this. If I didn’t know any better I’d say they’re trying to push me out (sort of like how retail/fast food will start to schedule workers at times they clearly said they couldn’t work to have an excuse to fire them).

    At this point, the only good thing I can see is that one my college classes finished last week, so I just have to do 1 chapter’s reading each week now, but geesh. Needless to say I am starting up the job hunt again (I was hoping to continue sticking it out here until I finished this degree in a couple years or so, but this really frustrates me, and I already have a degree, just this one I’m working on now is aimed at what I want to do now). That said, I’ve decided instead of my normal drive where I quickly finish with one customer to move to the next, I’m just going to sit on them a few extra minutes because I can only see burning myself out doing this 7 days non-stop. I don’t care if my productivity goes down because obviously being a top-performer still means I get screwed over schedule wise.

    1. LCL

      I would try one more time with the supervisor. Ask her to find out why the schedule program has scheduled you in this way. It sounds like it’s policy that she doesn’t have the authority to change it. She, and you, need to find a way to bring it to the attention of someone who does.

      1. Bitter old owl

        Unfortunately because we do customer service, schedules are pretty much set 2 weeks ahead so it’s very difficult to change (essentially if you need a day off in there, you then need to find someone else to change shifts with you for that day). That said, I incidentally had quite a bit of vacation time built up that’s going to expire in a few months, so I might or might not have submitted for a small vacation soon after that. My supervisor would have to be very blind not to see why I requested that amount of time off xD

        1. Darren

          Taking vacation after a particularly busy period is really expected, I’ve always done it with the mad dash to get everything done and bedded down, then taking a bit of time off to unwind and relax.

          1. valentine

            Tell her you can only work x days with y days off between. (Also, how many hours on/off do you have? Do you have at least 11 hours off between shifts? Because you’d need more than eight consecutive hours’ sleep.) Wait and see what she says. Tell her the current schedule just isn’t something you can do. Raise any safety or other issues as well. What mistakes and disaster will crop up if you’re a zombie?

            Tell her whatever you need her to know about the vacation. If her not knowing will harm you, don’t assume she knows. I find that people are oblivious. No matter how glaringly obvious it is to you, remind her you need to use or lose, for example.

            1. valentine

              Tell them you just can’t do mornings, that you were hired for noon and need to stick to that. (If they were reasonable, I’d say to offer 11:00, bit no. They’d probably expect you to be grateful they “pay” you in tokens and let you shop at the company store.) Don’t let them claim the robot is the one screwing you over. And the nonstop customers is also absolute BS. It’s inhuman. You need bathroom and refreshment breaks with little delay from the time your body prompts you.

  45. RandomU...

    Any petty things irritating you in the workplace this week? I know I’m grumpy, but the soap in the bathroom about sent me over the edge this week.

    Small office and our office manager has been stocking the women’s bathroom with drugstore hand soap for the past 5 years. For some reason, she decided(?) not to do it last week. So the soap container was getting lower and lower and lower, finally I added water to it just so I could pump some out. We’ve had several office supply and drink orders come in the past two weeks, so I’m thinking surely she’ll just add on a soap order. Nope, never happened. So Tuesday I bring in an extra bottle of hand soap from home. I tried to use it and between being frozen and who knows what the pump didn’t work. I was late for a meeting and just left it in the bathroom to see if it was the freeze that was the problem.

    When I went later to the bathroom, someone had dumped the soap into the old container. Ok, works for me, simple solution… but!!!!!! They didn’t dump out the watery dregs from the old bottle before pouring in the new!!!

    Who does that?!? Now my nice hand soap that I begrudgingly donated because apparently someone doesn’t want to order is ruined by the yucky watery different colored cheap fragrance’d yucky soap that was in there.

    I told you it was petty… it’s been 4 days and every time I use it I want to throw it all away out of spite.

    1. JocelynX

      Oh man, the women’s bathroom on my floor nearly had Soapocalypse earlier this year. Three sinks/soap dispensers but one has been broken for over six months and another was empty, so only the middle one had soap. A few of us kept putting maintenance requests in before finally @-ing the entire floor to try and get more people to do it too, because if that middle one went empty…

    2. peachie

      Vending machine is constantly out of Diet Coke. Don’t make me go all the way downstairs for my diet coke!!

    3. epi

      I feel your pain. The person who cleans this floor of my office regularly skips emptying/refilling at least one thing in the women’s room. Some days, we have had a cascade of stalls run out of toilet paper because everyone is now using just three stalls that weren’t refilled, then just the two… He also often does not refill the soap which is just gross. We have in-counter dispensers and it is like he doesn’t look under the counter every day. Once or twice, I pulled the empty bottle out and set it on the counter so it would be immediately obvious it needed to be replaced– and it still wasn’t.

      This is the most crowded floor of the building, probably majority women, and I just can’t figure out how it is allowed to go on. Except I can, because I also haven’t complained, myself. Everyone seems to like this guy so much! I feel like the one Grinch on my floor who thinks this situation is unacceptable.

      1. Up Hill-Yes, both ways!

        epi, I used to handle janitorial contracts. Caveat, I’m in state government, so lots of laws and whatnot around every contract anyway. But if the person who is in charge of the contract doesn’t know it’s an issue, s/he can’t fix it. I can’t tell you how many times I heard from someone “I’ve absolutely HAD it with these people! They never do X, Y, Z, and hardly ever bother with A or B!” Well…now that you’ve told me, I can do something about it! Usually it’s not a problem at all. I would literally just use the walkie-talkie to let the janitorial people know, and they’d take care of it immediately. Obviously, YMMV, but definitely let someone know. You’re not the Grinch for wanting to have access to the restroom facilities that are presumably there for that very reason!

        Also, as the contract officer, it makes us look bad to our supervisors when our contractors aren’t doing right. So letting him/her know doesn’t have to be a terrible thing at all. Just a quick “Hey, not sure if you’ve already heard, but we’ve been having this issue come up a few times lately. Not trying to get anyone in trouble at all, but we really do need toilet paper in all of our stalls since there are so many of us using it on that floor.” And, in my world, problem solved that day. If you know the person in charge of contracts isn’t really reliable for following up with things, I’d advise you to say “I’ll be happy to follow up with you in [a few days, a week, whatever] to let you know how it’s going.” And then do that.

    4. medium of ballpoint

      I’ll jump on some pettiness that happens to be bathroom-related, too. My job is basically back-to-back meetings all day erryday and if I’m lucky I have 5-10 minutes in between them. There’s a bathroom right across the hall from my office, but it’s closed for cleaning every day immediately after lunch, when everyone needs it. I have to search the other floors to find a bathroom that’s open and I hate having to decide between foraging for an open bathroom and being late to a meeting.

      I also work with folks from all over the world and their bathroom habits can be odd. Folks will go in barefoot, they’ll have speakerphone conversations, they’ll watch Netflix, they’ll converse with people three stalls down from them. My kingdom for quiet, peaceful bathrooms again.

      1. Mr. Tyzik

        Cell phone conversations in the shared bathroom drive me nuts. It’s so rude and disrespectful, the phone must get so dirty with functions and unwashed hands, and it draws everyone into the meaningless conversation about dinner plans in the evening. Not to mention, when I hear the conversation I first think someone is talking to me. How embarrassing if I respond!

        I’m just one of those who wants to pee or poop in peace without talking.

      2. Katie

        Speaking of timing – I like that our work bathrooms are cleaned on the regular, but the cleaning guy ALWAYS picks the worst times: beginning/end of work day, mid-morning/mid-afternoon break times, or at lunch. And even when I change up my bathroom times at random, like my habits are being watched! I work in a large building serving multiple government agencies. There are two bathrooms in one long hallway, sunk back in and you have to walk around a pillar (weirdly) to get to the door. If I choose the bathroom further from my office, inevitably I will walk the entire distance to find the closed signs placed directly in front of the door, not out in the hallway to preempt even walking down that far. Oh, and the absolute grossness of spare ends of TP rolls that I see on the floor under a toilet one day, and then conspicuously perched on top of the dispenser in the stall or on the hand-washing counter the next day. Sorry, if it’s already been on the floor, I’m NOT using it. Ugh.

      3. Up Hill-Yes, both ways!

        Not to be repetitive, but please see what I wrote above to epi. I’ve had this issue come up (several times), and it’s never been an issue for me to tell them to simply clean that particular restroom an hour earlier or later. Just let the person handling the contract know about it. If you say something like “I obviously really appreciate that all the bathrooms are cleaned every day so well [if that part is true]. But I have noticed that the bathroom on X floor is closed every day around X time, and if there’s any way that schedule could be changed to maybe an hour earlier or an hour later, that would be so helpful to [me/the people on the floor/whatever fits].” A good contract officer will say no problem, I’ll see what I can do, and have a conversation about the route the janitorial people are taking. Every time I had it come up, it was fixed immediately. But I couldn’t fix it until I knew it was a problem.

        1. medium of ballpoint

          Thanks, Up Hill! As silly as it sounds, I hadn’t thought about mentioning it to anyone.