interviewer asked what brings me pain, I reported a coworker for hitting a child, and more

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

1. Interviewer asked what brings me pain, my favorite color, and other inanities

I’m hoping you can give me some insight as to what exactly happened at an interview I had this morning. It started normally, I walked in, let them know I’d arrived, and sat down to wait to speak with the HR manager. We went over my resume, which was again normal, but then the weird questions started.

Questions included: what brings you joy, what brings you pain, what color were the chairs in the lobby, what was the hair color of the person you checked in with, what’s your favorite color, what animal do you identify with, among others. Then the logic questions started: if you’re in your car and only have room for one person, and you pass a bus stop where your best friend, the man of your dreams, and an old woman in need of medical attention are waiting, which one do you give a ride to? How can you make this scenario a win for everyone?

I could go on and on about how absolutely weird this was, and it was with the HR manager! From what I gather, one other person was supposed to be there but he was on vacation, and I have no idea if things would have gone differently had he been present. I feel like the whole thing was some kind of test to see how much I was willing to put up with.

I can’t afford to be picky about jobs right now and the position would be an amazing opportunity for me, but I have no idea what to even say in my follow-up email. Is this a thing people do now or should I run away from this as fast as possible?

At a minimum, this is an interviewer who has no idea how to hire. I mean, the questions about the lobby chairs and the receptionist’s hair color are obviously intended to test your attention to detail — although unless this is a job as a security guard or detective or other role where you need to be paying attention at all times, I’m doubtful they’re getting useful data from them — but the questions about pain and favorite color and animals are so laughably bad that we can write off the entire interview as evidence that this person sucks at hiring.

That could mean that the company sucks at lots of other things, or has weird ideas about lots of other things, or it’s possible that it’s confined to this HR person. It’s hard to know from the outside. If you were in a position where you had lots of options, I’d tell you to think critically about whether what you learned in the interview makes you interested in continuing to interview there, but since you don’t feel you do have many options, you might as well continue onward with them and learn more. But do it with a skeptical eye.

Read an update to this letter here.

2. I reported a coworker for hitting a child

Today, I saw a man hitting a small child. I confronted him and he got very aggressive, insulting me, acted in a physically threatening way, and finally pushed me. I was able to find out his name and the incident has been reported to the police and social services. I also googled him, and it turns out he works for the same employer as I do, but a different department. It’s pretty unlikely that I’d ever run in to him at work. It’s a big employer and he works in a different building. Still, do you think this incident, the fact that I not only witnessed and reported him committing a crime but also pressed charges against him for the push, is relevant to work in any way? Such as, should I inform HR or anything like that?

I don’t know if this will go to trial, but I expect at least the child abuse will. We’re not in the U.S., by the way.

It might not become relevant to you at work … but it also might. For example, if you unexpected find yourself in a meeting with him, or if he becomes aggressive toward you in the parking lot, or if he finds out you work there and starts smearing your name … none of that might happen, but the situation is charged enough that you’re probably better off giving your employer a heads-up about it. You could talk to HR and frame it as “this will probably never come up at work, but I wanted to err on the side of caution and let you know about in case it ever does.” Make it clear that you’re not asking them to take any action, but that you simply want them aware in case it ever does affect anything at work.

3. My boss has a burping problem

I’ve been at this job for a couple of months now and work with a very small team, about seven, all under one manager. My manager is great, except for one thing — she has a burping problem. She’ll burp loudly throughout the day, every couple of minutes, and usually doesn’t say “excuse me” or pardon herself at all. It’s jarring and frankly irritating, and I find myself glancing up from my computer every couple of minutes when she does it. The office is very small (one room) so there’s no separation or anything.

I don’t know if there’s any sort of medical issue that could be causing it or if it’s just a bad habit. She will typically start each day with one to two bottles of soda, which I’m assuming may contribute.

I don’t know what to do here, or if there is anything I can do. I tend to be on the reserved side and avoid confrontation, personally, so I haven’t broached the topic with any of my coworkers to see if there’s more background/a reason/why no one says anything about it. I’m honestly just kind of nonplussed about the whole situation and thought I’d reach out to see if there was any advice!

Well, it’s possible that it’s a medical condition, which she wouldn’t necessarily disclose to people. (You might be thinking that if that’s the case, the soda is an odd choice as it might exacerbate it, but plenty of people drink soda without regular burping, so I’d come down on the side of thinking her beverages aren’t really our business).

If it’s not a medical condition, that is a lot of burping, so I’d lean toward assuming it is. And really, if it’s not, there’s nothing to lose by being wrong about that.

Regardless, there’s not really anything you can do to address this. If it’s a medical condition, it’s definitely off-limits … and you’re not likely to find for sure that it’s not — which leaves this in the realm of an annoying behavior that you have to learn to live with.

One adjustment to your thinking that might help, though: It’s probably better that she’s not saying “excuse me” each time — with it happening every couple of minutes, wouldn’t that be more distracting?

4. I accidentally ditched a peer at a conference and then cried publicly about it

Last year, I was a speaker at an industry conference. I was part of a three-person “package” with a well-recognized peer in my industry, Sansa. Sansa was super nice, helped to keep me calm, and I felt like we really hit it off. On the last night of the conference, she texted me after sessions to say she’d text me when she was going to the industry dinner so I could come with her and wouldn’t have to go alone, which was very kind as I’m a big introvert. I was exhausted but I said thanks. I wasn’t even sure I wanted to go to dinner. But I took a short nap and went down to the hotel lobby just to get myself out of my room and motivated. Another peer, Arya, saw me sitting in the lobby and said she and a few other folks were going to the dinner, and did I want to hop in their Uber? I was iffy but she was excited, so I said yes, and off I went.

I was having a good time, with about 15 other peers (four of whom were at my table at the restaurant) when Sansa walked in. She saw me and had a look of shock on her face. I totally TOTALLY forgot she’d said she’d go with me. I missed several texts somehow, but she also emailed me and tried to contact me through LinkedIn and Slack, and email; she even tried to ask other people to contact me. In other words, she tried really, really hard. Her last message was, “Well, I’m going to go, I hope you’ll decide to join me!” — at least 45 minutes after she first tried to contact me. And I completely ditched her, but not on purpose. She was angry and frustrated, but not unkind. I told her to please sit next to me, let me buy her a drink, and I must have apologized 20 times, no exaggeration. And then … I started crying. Everyone at my table was uncomfortable after that. I think I was just so appalled at my behavior because I don’t often get included in things, and to know that someone was trying to include me and I acted so poorly, I couldn’t get past it. I wound up staying out for hours past when I’d normally go back to the hotel, going wherever she went, just to try to make it up to her. It was pretty obnoxious. She was still angry, and then annoyed, which I totally get, but she was still being fairly nice to me.

So now, it’s six months later, and I’ve been asked to go to this conference again and be on a panel with one other person: Sansa. How do I address not only ditching her, but worse, acting like that afterwards? She is more well-known than I am, and getting to do something with her again is very good for my career, so I can’t just say no. I’m cringing just thinking about it. I have to balance acknowledging how crazy I acted with being a professional adult person who knows how to control her emotions. Or maybe I don’t acknowledge it at all? Do I make a joke? Do I build a time machine to go back and not be so weird? Do I say something now, since we both have to figure out this panel thing, or do I say something later on?

This might be counterintuitive, but the best thing you can do is to put in the past and just move forward. Don’t apologize again — it sounds like the apologizing might have gone over the top last time, so you don’t want to start it up again! Don’t make a joke about it (too much risk of it not landing well). Really, don’t try to address it in any way. It happened, it got weird, you tried to address it at the time (and addressed it too much, it sounds like), and if you raise it again there’s too much risk of the old weirdness getting raised along with it.

Instead, make a point of being warm (but not too warm) and professional. Greet her pleasantly, shake her hand (if that’s a thing people there do), tell her it’s good to see her, and then treat her like you’d treat someone you know a little but not well. The message you want to convey with your behavior here is “professional person behaving appropriately at a conference,” not “abashed person trying to fix something.”

It’s okay if Sansa feels a little weird or is stand-offish with you. That’s fine! All you can control is you. Plus, this conference isn’t the final word in how people see you. It sounds like you’ll run into Sansa and others again from time to time, and over time you can build up a calm, professional image that will eventually be a strong counterweight to something that at some point will be many years in the past.

Read an update to this letter here.

5. Can I negotiate when a pay ceiling was named earlier?

I was recently a casualty of mass layoffs. An old boss of mine reached out to me about another job right away, making it very clear he wanted me on the team. He told me off the record the base offer would probably be about ~$10K more than I was making at my last job, which makes sense — the job would be a step up in terms of responsibilities. However, when HR reached out to me about the position, they told me the budget they had for the position was $15K below the number my ex-boss gave. After saying that wouldn’t be doable for me, they called me back and said they could go up to $X, which is about what I was making in my last position.

Here’s where I’m getting tripped up: I’m not at the offer stage yet. This was a preliminary phone call to check if I want to move forward with the process, given their budget and my specified salary band. I am moving forward regardless because … well, unemployment, but my question is, if/when I get an offer, would it be tacky to negotiate more? I know under normal circumstances, it never hurts to ask, but given how early they gave me a ceiling, I don’t want to come off out of touch.

I am also curious in general how my negotiation power is affected given I got laid off — the salary would be a significant step down from my last position given the added responsibility, but I’m not at that job anymore. So is it actually relevant to negotiating?

I’d argue that your old salary is almost never relevant because jobs should pay based on their value (and too often salary history is used to depress wages), but sometimes it can be effective to use it to convince an employer to increase an offer. In your case, it’s true that it’s less relevant because you’re no longer at that job (so it’s not a case of “I’d need you to at least match my salary in order for me to consider leaving”) but it still does convey that your work was priced at a certain level previously.

The bigger thing here, though, is to talk to your old boss. It’s possible that when he told you the job would pay more, he was guessing and didn’t have hard numbers. But it’s also possible that he’d go to bat to get you that higher amount because you’re a known quantity and he really wants you, or would shuffle money in his budget around to make it work. So before assuming anything, touch base with him and say something like, “HR originally told me they’d budgeted $X for the role, then called me back and said they could go to up $Y. Since you and I had talked about $Z, I was wondering if you had any insight.”

In general, you don’t want to hear a pay range at the outset, agree to move forward in the process, and try to negotiate for more at the end — that’s seen as operating in bad faith and wasting people’s time. But if you can genuinely frame it as “as I’ve learned more about the position and talked with (former boss) about the role’s responsibilities, I’m hoping you can go up to $Z, since in my experience (including at my last job), jobs paying $Y generally don’t including managing a large team or doing so much travel” (or whatever).

{ 578 comments… read them below }

  1. Ask a Manager* Post author

    For question #1 … there are a lot of comments below that just say “I’d answer that logic puzzle this way,” which isn’t especially useful and is really cluttering up the comment section. I’ve removed some, and please refrain from more of those!

  2. Naomi*

    Oh, I’ve heard of the bus stop one! You’re supposed to give the car keys to your friend to drive the old woman to the hospital, then wait for the bus with your ideal partner. This is one of those trick question “lateral thinking” puzzles that makes a fun party game but almost never reveals anything relevant to your job skills.

    1. Fey*

      So is that answer the only “correct” and acceptable answer, in the eyes of the asker?

      I would have NOT thought that man was the man of my dreams just by his looks, told my best friend to call Uber/Lyft and that I’d text her later, and taken the old woman to the hospital. But what do I know?

      1. Tau*

        I know, right? Obviously I’m taking the old woman to the hospital, my best friend can take care of herself (especially since she’s… waiting for a bus? she’s not stranded on a desert island, she doesn’t need my intervention?) and pffft at the idea that I’ll decide some random person is the one for me just by looking at them even discounting the queerness factor.

        1. Audrey Puffins*

          I’m taking the old woman to the hospital, and leaving my best friend to talk me up to the dreamboat.

          1. OP 1*

            this is what I said! she kept asking how everyone could win in that situation but I would think we’d all win by getting a sick woman to the hospital? it was so insane

            1. Jack V*

              Agh, yeah, I hate it when people do this. They know what solution they mean, but it depends on lots of assumptions they just assume are obvious, so they assume that if someone doesn’t have the same answer, it’s because they can’t solve problems, not because they value different things.

              When properly posed, I quite like this puzzle as the answer is quite nice, but not like this. Amongst the questions I wonder:

              * Asking brain teaser questions which can only be answered by someone heterosexual is not great in a job interview :(
              * The woman “in need of medical attention”, I assumed from the fact she was waiting for a bus that she was going for a necessary but scheduled procedure, not that she needed to be rushed to the hospital right now. If she did, why is everyone just standing there, not like calling an ambulance or a taxi?
              * Is this somewhere where the bus automatically goes where you want to go? Most places I live, that’s not true — either the buses are good, or bad, but either way, if you were driving a car, it’s probably because you can’t get where you’re going on the bus.
              * Are all adults required to know how to drive? What if your best friend can’t drive, either because they didn’t learn, or because of a medical restriction or something else?
              * Is your friend automatically insured to drive your car? I know that in practice, many people in many countries just assume that’s a necessary flexibility whether insured or not, but “hi, I’ll break the law on light pretexts” is not a… great thing to have to say in a job interview!
              * I assume the intention is that you have some reason to think casually striking up conversation with the “partner of your dreams” is ok? Maybe you already know each other but not well enough to date? Or were both involved in the apparent emergency? But “I fell in love with them so followed them home” is not a great look in a job interview!

              Just, in general, it assumes the interviewee is “typical” in every way: not too young to drive or too old to be elderly, not themselves travelling for a medical problem, het, not worried about safety hopping on a bus with a strange man, etc, etc. And that’s going to put a lot of people off SOMEHOW.

              I thought maybe the point of the question was to judge what you think is most important, which might also be relevant, although I think this is just a bad judge of empathy than it is of logical thinking, for much the same reasons.

              After all, I wish more people would offer lifts whenever they saw someone elderly or ill — but in practice, most people do that occasionally at best, or they’d be doing that as their full time charitable work. Putting someone on the spot about that doesn’t really tell you how compassionate they are, especially when many employers would not like “sorry the work is late, I was driving to the branch office and then I stopped three other people” when it actually happens.

                1. Mary Connell*

                  There are two kinds of people: those who think this is a simple logic puzzle, and those who don’t.

                2. One of the Sarahs*

                  Except it’s not logical at all, for all the reasons above!

                  But seriously, this is why “logic” puzzles are so often ridiculous. The idea that there’s a “right” or “wrong” answer is really weird to me – especially when they give so little context. I like to think that one of my top skills is being able to look at things contextually, and come up with individualised solutions to problems, which always requires digging deeper into looking at what the problem actually is, and so this kind of question would be terrible for me.

                  But while it’s also assuming a very specific set of shared experiences (sexuality, driving, insurance etc) – the stupidest thing is that someone who is terrible at logic, but happens to know the “correct” answer to this (or the fox/goose/river one, or the 2 doors, one that leads to certain death etc etc) would do much better in this interview than anyone who actually thinks about it. That’s the opposite of logical!

                3. Lance*

                  I’d argue that it’s a lot less ‘simple’ than many would assume, if it can be read that far into.

                4. Nephron*

                  The Zebra puzzle where you have to work out relationships between things based on limited information is a logic question. This is a values question that will puzzle depending on where the person is from.

                  Why do I want to talk to some guy at a bus stop? Why would me chatting him up at a bus stop be the best solution for him? I don’t like being chatted up at the bus stop, why does my soulmate?

                  Why is this woman at the bus stop? If she cannot afford an Uber do we need to start up a collection to pay that medical bill?

                  And as a person that takes the bus I have actually had to change my schedule to avoid overly eager acquaintances that want to give me a ride. I can get myself to and from places and have a plan in mind, I do not need others bothering me and possibly throwing off my schedule.

                  My schooling has also trained me to analyze fiction into oblivion since about 9th grade so expecting people to not read into it is ignoring how we teach literature in the United States.

                5. kittymommy*

                  No, it’s a stupid logic puzzle and should be treated as such. As an aromantic asexual I don’t have a “man of my dreams” so the interviewer should stop being so heteronormative (or even assuming the sexual orientation of a candidate).

                6. blackcat*

                  “This is a values question that will puzzle depending on where the person is from.”
                  Yes, yes, yes! I hate it when these types of things are referred to as puzzles. They make so many assumptions about individuals. Like the OP, I would be like “Uh, I take the old lady to the hospital, catch up with my friend later. My friend, being awesome, would have determined if I wanted this dude’s phone number and gotten it for me. And then my friend would be a grown up and get herself where she needed to go. Because my friend is 100% capable of… being an adult.”

                7. Aveline*

                  But the answer is not logical. It assumes a certain view of the world.

                  So many so-called logic puzzles start with a set of presumptions that are deeply problematic.

                  If you have to assume a white, male, cis-hetero-monogamous, American/European, educated, etc. POV for it to be logical, it’s not a test about logic. It’s a test about fitting into a certain type of hierarchy.

                  This question assumes everything stated above. It also assumes you have one best friend. That you have one partner. That you believe in a “dream/perfect/one true love” type of relationship.

                  It’s not all of us reading too much into it. It’s the person who formulated the question initially and all those who have asked it after are not logical enough to see that they are being reductive and privileged and not seeing the wonderful diversity in this world with respect to:

                  (1) Definition of friendship
                  (2) Definition of the ideal partner(s) (or no partner)
                  (3) Definition of what one should do with respect to helping others we perceive to be in crisis/need of assistance

                  It’s illogical and privileged and horrible on it’s face.

                  I mean, I have a good friend whose a nun, but her order doesn’t require strict dress and she works outside the convent. How is she supposed to logically answer that question?

                  Ugh. I feel like I need a shower or a bourbon.

                8. Parenthetically*

                  It’s not, it’s a stupid, heteronormative, unrealistic hypothetical “gotcha”. And it sucks as an interview question because it will tell you precisely nothing about a person’s work abilities.

                9. Aveline*

                  PS This question originated in the Bay Area at startup/tech companies.

                  It’s a classic white-boy tech dudebro logic question. It assumes that what would be “logical” (i.e., clever) in their situation is capable of universalization. Honestly, the people who put this question out do so b/c they think they know the correct answer and are clever.

                  It’s a test of cleverness based on their metric. Not logic.

                  There are about 5-10 questions that have originated there and seeped out into larger HR circles. They need to be killed.

                  FYI – this probably became popular after it was featured in the movie 16 blocs. It’s probably not a good idea to base hiring decisions on what scriptwriters would think would make Mos Def and Bruce Willis look clever.

                10. Aveline*

                  PPS I was in the Bay Area in the late 90s when this sort of question started popping up in IT and tech circles.

                  From the start, these “logic” and “puzzle solving” questions have been deeply, deeply flawed in terms of the actual logic involved, the insistence on one perfect answer (instead of the person’s ability to puzzle through alternative scenarios), and the assumptions of maleness/heteronormativity/etc.

                  There are very, very few things in life that have discrete, perfect answers. If it’s not a math problem or the actual to a factual question (e.g., what is the capital of the USA?), one should focus more on how one arrives at an answer rather than the actual answer.

                  I once had a SCOTUS justice tell me he hated multiple choice questions on the bar exam because, in his experience, almost nothing in the law could be reduced to a single, perfect response. Those things that could were unworthy of being put on the exam. The point of being a lawyer wasn’t the conclusion, it was the thought process and building of evidence to back the conclusion.

                11. Jamie*

                  I don’t think he was reading too much into it.

                  My first thought was what’s my liability if I take the old woman in my car as opposed to calling an ambulance. That’s a logical thought which for me has to factor into the puzzle.

                12. Michaela Westen*

                  “It’s a classic white-boy tech dudebro logic question.”

                  This is why those Microsoft security questions make me crazy. They were clearly thought up by a privileged white 25-year-old who has no clue about the wider world.
                  Questions about marriage – not everyone gets married!
                  Questions about childhood like “who was your best friend in grade school?” – I had a bad childhood and do not need reminders!
                  “what is your favorite song/movie?” – like I’ll remember what I said 6 months from now?

                  OMG, the person who came up with these is lucky I don’t know his name.

                13. Jadelyn*

                  But that’s the point, though. What is theoretically a “simple logic puzzle” is neither simple nor logical, and the only puzzle involved is “why did you think it was a good idea to ask that in a job interview?”

                14. Aveline*


                  Or the “street address” you lived on as a child. Not everyone has street addresses. Not everyone lived one place as a kid.

                  Not everyone wants to remember it.

                  Up until very, very recently, a large swath of my childhood state did not have street addresses. They had “Rural Route 1, 2, or 3” or just the township. Because the Post Office knew where everyone lived and didn’t need specific house numbers.

                  And not everyone grew up in the USA either.

                  Ugh. These corporate American assumptions of universality are so wrong.

                15. SpaceySteph*

                  For security questions, don’t use answers that answer the question. And just store the answers in your password keeper. Like “what was your best friend in grade school?” = peanut butter

                  That way nobody will ever guess, not your mom, not your cousin, not your frenemy from grade school.

                16. alphabet soup*

                  But, it’s not. It’s a lateral thinking puzzle. A logic puzzle relies on deriving valid inferences from presented facts. Lateral thinking puzzles rely on “creativity” and “thinking outside the box.” They’re two pretty different ways of thinking and test two different kinds of intelligence.

                  But also, I agree with all the other issues that commenters have pointed out: this particular question is more of a values question that only makes sense if you adhere to a certain worldview.

                17. alphabet soup*

                  I mean, “logically,” the only answer that makes sense is: you should call an ambulance for the woman, because you don’t know if she’ll need emergency medical care while in transit to the hospital.

                  The “have your cake and eat it too” answer (have your best friend drive the woman to the hospital while you stay behind to mack on the dude) isn’t very logical at all. No one is going to stay behind and flirt with some dude after a woman was just rushed to the hospital. That’s not how decent people act– that’s an episode of Seinfeld.

                18. Michaela Westen*

                  Aveline and SpaceySteph –
                  Exactly! I remember the address I grew up at. I do not want to be reminded of that place or those people.
                  I worked with someone who would enter things like “I hate you” for the answers.
                  The marriage questions really get to me. Did I dream of having a wonderful husband and marriage? Yes.
                  Did it happen? No.
                  It’s like they go out of their way to make us feel bad.
                  Also what if the customer was married more than once? Which wedding will they use, and how do they remember which one when they need it?
                  The only questions that make sense are ones with unchanging answers like the model of your first car. I’ve seen lists of 10 questions where only one was like that.

                1. Busy*

                  Haha which is why everyone hates us.

                  But I would add here the goal of these questions in not to reach a logical answer. It is to reach the most self serving and manipulative – which is why people struggle with it so much. Because when you dig into it, the only person benefiting is the person in the situation. It is not indicative to the real world because it doesn’t include a whole slew of uncontrolled variables and relies heavily on assumption. So if you are an extremely logical person, it will not compute, as it were lol.

                  You want to know how someone functions logically? Give them a real life work related issue with enough controlled variables to make it function.

              1. Lepidoptera*

                This is the way my brain works, too. I’m happily married, so does “dream guy” mean that HR wants me to cheat, or is my husband at the bus stop because he magically forgot that he owns a car? If so, he apparently also needs medical attention.

                This is why I did terribly on those middle school logic competitions. I remember being asked during one “You’re sitting on the beach. Is the sunset in front of you, or over your shoulder?” No mention of what beach, which way I’m facing, nothing. Apparently “logic” trumps geography and cardinal directions.

                1. Lord Gouldian Finch*

                  Hah. I say (truthfully) I married my best friend, and she IS the “person of my dreams.” She is also a trained doctor and better suited to helping an elderly woman having a medical emergency…

                  Also a two seater car implies I’m driving either a sports car or a motorcycle, and a sick elderly woman might not be able to ride on a motorcycle or get into a sports car.

                  In the words of my legal training: Objection! Assumes facts not in evidence!

                2. whingedrinking*

                  “Is the sunset in front of you?” seriously sounds like one of those Jungian psychology questions (“Imagine that you’re taking a walk and you run into a bear, what do you do? Now you pick up a cup and drink from the stream, what colour is the cup?”).

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

                  I live on the west coast, but on my portion the beach actually faces SOUTH. If I’m staring at the water, the sunset isn’t going to be in either one of those places.

              2. Aveline*

                This also assumes the person is open to being in a relationship. Maybe they are asexual and aromantic. Maybe they are a nun or a monk or a Catholic priest, etc.

                Also assumes that you can afford bus fare. Maybe you have a car and gas paid for, but are broke.

                (Comrades – If I’m using the wrong words for persons who don’t want to have sex or romance, let me know if there’s a better term).

                1. Janie*

                  Asexual = doesn’t feel, or only very rarely or under certain circumstances feels, sexual attraction
                  Aromantic = doesn’t feel, or only very rarely or under certain circumstances feels,

                  Doesn’t want to have sex = doesn’t want to have sex.
                  Doesn’t want a romantic relationship = doesn’t want to have a romantic relationship.

                2. Janie*

                  Whoops, I meant:

                  Aromantic = doesn’t feel, or only very rarely or under certain circumstances feels, romantic attraction.

                  Sleep is a good thing, I recommend it.

                3. Parenthetically*

                  @Would-be manager: you’d think so! But one of my high school teachers was also a semi-retired local priest — it was a public school, he did like one mass on weekends and one midweek prayer service, and taught more or less full time.

              3. Jessen*

                Yup. Come to think of it, my best friend is actually legally blind. I’m also not straight, so the “man of my dreams” would be an extremely awkward conversation. I know it’s “just a puzzle” but I like to resist puzzles that assume heteronormativity.

            2. Myrin*

              I’m fascinated by this because I don’t really see how the “right” answer is a win for everyone, either! This mysterious man of my dreams might not actually be interested in me at all. But even if we assume that his interest is already one of the things that make him my dream guy – imagine the situation from his perspective!

              I see an old lady in need of medical assistance and instead of calling an ambulance or loading her into my car, I get out, push my car keys into my friend’s hands, and usher her and the old lady into my car with instructions to go to the hospital. Then, I turn around and chat up this guy as if nothing weird just happened??

              Not to mention that my best friend probably had other plans for her day than being made to drive a sick person around in her best friend’s car.

              1. Aveline*

                It assumes a complete lack of agency on all parties.

                It’s just reductive, heteronormative, and icky all around.

              2. General Ginger*

                Right? In this situation, pushing my keys and a hospital trip onto my friend is me being a really shitty friend, and prioritizing a random attractive stranger over either my friend or the person potentially in need of help.

              3. Genny*

                Exactly! This isn’t a win for anyone but the sick woman (maybe). Friend presumably had plans for the day that didn’t include chauffeuring an elderly lady to the hospital. Maybe friend takes the bus to work because there’s nowhere to park, so having the car becomes more of a hassle. I presumably had plans for the day that are at best delayed as a I wait for a bus (and possibly now have to make multiple transfers or walk a greater distance to my destination). It’s not the meet cute scenario for dream man that the designer of the puzzle thinks for all the reasons you mentioned and more (he’s not interested in you, he just wants to be left alone, you have a nice chat but ultimately go your separate ways, etc.).

            3. JJ Bittenbinder*

              it was so insane

              I have many, many years of work and many, many crap interviews behind me, and I still have never experienced one like the one you describe. Bless you for enduring that, and I hope you find a job with decent, smart, reasonable people soon.

              1. The Hamster's Revenge*

                I recently had an interview where I was grilled about my marital status, my non-existent children, how big my house was, how much I paid for it, if I had a pool, how I had a car and a house with no husband and no job and if I fixed various household appliances. Then the interviewer began obsessing over whether I could fix his toaster or not (the job would not typically involve repairing household appliances). He finished up by saying that a woman could not physically perform the job he was hiring for despite the fact I’ve been doing it for nearly 30 years. It was a wild one.

                Last week I was told that I was “aggressive and presumptuous” when I asked for the wage that had been listed in the job posting.

            4. Falling Diphthong*

              I don’t think these people understand how relationships work. Starting with the man of my dreams one, but really the best friend and fellow human in distress ones as well.

              (Clearly the answer is to ditch the toaster car and always drive an 8 passenger SUV, on the off-chance you tumble into a dreamboat/best friend/medical emergency situation.)

            5. Cat Fan*

              “Typical Aria, dropping everything to help someone. She’s great, you should give her a call sometime!”

            6. SarahTheEntwife*

              I’d probably just offer to call her an ambulance. Either she needs emergency treatment and there are people better able to provide that than me, or she probably doesn’t want random people she doesn’t know asking her to get in their car. If it’s an unusual situation and there aren’t medical personnel available I’d obviously offer to drive her, but otherwise none of these people seem to need my help. And why am I waiting at the bus stop with the “man of my dreams”? Was I even going the same way the bus is?

              1. KimberlyR*

                Same. Yes, I have a car and the ability to drive. But I can’t give the woman medical care while doing so. Ambulance personnel can. I would absolutely (offer to) call 911 for an ambulance and do what I could to assist, with the direction of the 911 dispatcher, until then. I would also offer to call her family members to meet her at the hospital. My bestie would likely help me. And my dreamboat would too, or he’s not my dream guy. (Actually, I am happily married and not interested in random dude at the bus stop anyway.)

                Definitely overthinking it here, but I would fail this test in the interview anyway because I don’t see the logic in the “correct” answer anyway.

                1. Aveline*

                  You have the correct answer.

                  Offer help, don’t force it where it’s not wanted or needed and might be harmful.

              2. boo bot*

                I think this logic puzzle only works if you’re all fleeing from something. The stakes are just way too low – even if this is the only time you’ll ever meet the guy, and you’re the woman’s only possible ride toward medical help, the answer is still, medical emergency first! Tell your best friend to give the guy your email address as you’re helping her into the car.

                If there’s a zombie horde behind you then it gets a little more interesting, but only a little: then you take your best friend, because you save the life of the person you already love (I’m skeptical of this ‘dream guy’ thing anyway).

                This is basically a weird version of the trolley problem, where instead of running someone over the trolley stops and gives them a ride.

                1. General Ginger*

                  If I’m fleeing a zombie horde in a two-seater car and I don’t at least have a roof rack I can try to get someone to hold onto, then I’m probably not prepared enough.

                  Right on with the trolley problem!

            7. facepalm*

              I’m keeping my own car–I’m a lesbian, what do I care about a handsome man?
              Wonder what she’d’ve done with that curveball.

            8. Wren*


              But also, in the supposed correct answer, how does someone else having my car and later needing to return it to me affect what else I had planned today, or what my friend had panned today? What does Dreamboat now think of me that I did not do the obvious thing of taking the sick woman to the hospital myself and instead fobbed that onto my friend? The “correct” answer is utterly inane.

              1. JunieB*

                And if you were on your way to work (that’s usually where I’m headed!) how does handing off your car to hit on a stranger make you a better potential employee?!

            9. Flossie Bobbsey*

              If the “right” answer is for the friend to drive the woman to the hospital, that’s definitely not a win. The friend was obviously on his/her way somewhere waiting for the bus, and now had to make a major diversion way out of the way?? He or she is going to be really late to the original planned destination. NOT a win!

            10. TootsNYC*

              we’d all win by getting a sick woman to the hospital

              This tells us something VERY important about you, actually. The idea that you consider advancing other people’s welfare to be a win for you!

              You’re hired.

              (I’d have said, “I’ll call an ambulance, we’ll all wait around worriedly, and then I’ll offer guy and friend a ride.”)

            11. Cafe au Lait*

              There are times when you “win” by losing. Or to put it differently, there are times that your immediate comfort is less important in the situation at hand that someone else’s. Their comfort or needs wins out over your comfort and needs.

            12. Observer*

              she kept asking how everyone could win in that situation

              Oh my goodness, is this the person you would be working with?! Because she’s not only using a stupid questions, she’s not even good at using it! This is definitely a warning sign – this sounds like real rigidity and being married to the idea of “the ONE right answer” in situations where such a thing doesn’t exist.

          2. Dragoning*

            If the “man of my dreams” doesn’t support taking old women to the hospital, dump him anyway.

          1. TamiToo*

            Exactly! And I would wonder if this “man of my dreams,” really is that if he is just standing around and not helping this woman who is in need of medical attention. Plus…my best friend would not be standing around either! Plus, like someone stated above, this is assuming someone’s sexual orientation. If someone answered it the way that it is “supposed” to be answered, I would have questions about their moral compass.

            1. EnfysNest*

              When I read it, I assumed the “in need of medical attention” applied to all three people, and you had to decide who to help first. Because if the friend and “dream man” aren’t in medical need and the other woman is, how is there even any question about what to do?! But rereading it after seeing everyone else’s interpretations, I see that it does sound more like the “old woman” is the only one in need of assistance, in which case… obviously just help her.

              No matter what, it’s an awful, awful question for an interview in so many ways. Ugh.

          2. Bunny Girl*

            I’ve watched way too many horror movies to let a stranger into my car, no matter what the circumstances are. I’d also call the ambulance.

            1. Aveline*

              Well, the option’s aren’t (1) Let stranger into car or (2) Call ambulance.

              You could talk to the person. Ask if they want/need help.
              Call 911.
              Call the non-emergency police line.
              Call a cab/Uber/etc.

            2. Aveline*


              I’m not trying to be mean or argue to argue.

              It’s just that in the USA, we are trained to “call 911” or call an ambulance, but, increasingly, that has the potential to harm people. If there’s an issue and a black man is involved, I don’t call the cops unless it’s an absolute last resort. If it’s a medical emergency, I only call if it’s a last resort.

              And that we shouldn’t make choices for people who are capable of making those choices themselves. There’s nothing in this hypo stating this woman isn’t capable of telling you what she wants. She’s not unconscious.

              1. Bunny Girl*

                No you’re right. I just meant that if the choices were to let a stranger into my vehicle or call for emergency services, I would always call emergency services. I would ask if that’s what they wanted, but other than that I’m not sure what I could do. I don’t have any medical training.

          3. Colette*

            That doesn’t mean a bystander shouldn’t call an ambulance if one is required. Can’t the woman decline assistance from the paramedics if that is her concern?

            1. Aveline*

              Not necessarily. Depending on her state, she might not be able to. They might not listen.

              I’ve had clients stuck with bills when people called an ambulance for them, they tried to decline, but cops/ambulance/etc. decided they didn’t have capacity to do so. My clients insisted they did have capacity and could have gotten care on their own.

              There’s an excellent piece available through NPR about people who were bankrupted when strangers called an ambulance to help. When they jumped through all the hoops and still there was some “technicality.”

              Let’s not derail on this too much. But I’d recommend all Americans read that NPR piece/listen to the Podcast.

              Here’s something to start with: “Why An ER Visit Can Cost So Much — Even For Those With Health Insurance” + NPR

              It’s not as simple as you call an ambulance for someone and it’s all ok. It’s a growing issue in the USA.

              In short:

              The person might be uninsured and headed to a hospital that will care for them for free.

              They might be on private insurance and in an area served by a hospital like Zuckerberg’s one. They won’t honor private insurance. You have to pay the bill.

              They might be out of network and headed to an in-network.

              Your definition of “emergency” and their’s might differ. They might not be the same as the one used by the insurance company.

              Unless the person is unconscious and in danger of dying, do not call an ambulance without asking first. Period. You could bankrupt someone if the EMTs, cops, etc. don’t listen to them.

              Sigh. This isn’t as bad as calling the POCs on black people who irritate you, but it is something a lot of middle-class white Americans are trained to do to be “helpful.” It isn’t always helpful. Sometimes it’s life-alteringly harmful.

              I’m not saying never, ever call an ambulance. Only think about the potential downsides.

            2. Aveline*

              PS If you call an ambulance where I live, they take you to the Catholic hospital which fights discharging women who are pregnant or people with DNR orders.

              The EMTs and responders take in anyone they feel “can’t decline treatment.” They have been sued over transporting people against wishes. But it’s a Catholic county and many of the potential jurors support the hospital.

              So I would not call an ambulance if injured on my property. Husband would drive me to adjacent urban area’s university hospital.

            3. Aveline*

              Also, based on experience, if the ambulance comes and you are clearly ok and you don’t consent to an assessment, no charge. So if I’m walking down the street and someone calls to prank me, I’m not on the hook.

              If they arrive and you refuse transport and they have any grounds to say “we aren’t sure, we will assess you first to see if you can refuse treatment” then you will be billed.

              So the best, most important thing to do in this situation is to speak to the person and ask what they want. Only if they are clearly incapable of making the decision themselves should you call.

          4. Kelly L.*

            Yeah, I call the ambulance, and once the woman in need of medical attention is taken care of, I suppose I invite my BFF and dreamboat out for coffee or something. BTW, have I ever met this guy before, in this scenario? Because if I’m just seeing him for the first time today, then he is not the “man of my dreams,” he’s just a guy I find attractive, and I’m unlikely to ever pursue it. That’s just not how I meet partners. If it’s my actual SO, he’s (a) already friends with my BFF and they were probably having a grand time talking about GoT until the medical emergency happened, and (b) probably already called 911.

        2. Kettles*

          I’d argue that any person who whinges about having to catch the bus over an injured old lady isn’t worth being your friend and certainly isn’t your ‘dream man’.

      2. One of the Sarahs*

        I don’t understand how it can be the “man of my dreams” (esp as I’m a lesbian) if he and my friend are just standing at the bus stop next to an old woman who I can tell needs medical attention from driving past and not helping her, or would be happy to get into my car and just leave her there. Ditto my “best friend”! I want kind people in my life!

        1. Nervous Norvus*

          “Well, the man of my dreams talks backwards and looks like someone I know, but I know it’s not really them, and he tells me about an exam I totally forgot to study for but the key is that’s when I realize I can fly and get everyone where they need to go, but, oh man, I’m doing it all in my underwear.”

          1. One of the Sarahs*

            I’m laughing out loud at this! Then he suddenly turns into my boss, and I can’t find my way out of the car, which is now a weird basement!

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

                  Martha and JJ Bittenbinder- before today, I thought I was the only person who dreamed either one of those things!

              1. Anonny*

                And then I found one, but Belial cultists kept trying to break in and perform their occult rituals, and they wouldn’t listen to me when I told them Belphegor was the demon who was worshipped on the toilet.

                (I have a casual interest in folklore, mythology and demonology, which is a partial explanation for that memorable dream, I suppose.)

        2. Sharrbe*

          Right? I would spend half the interview explaining why the premise of the question was so wrong and not get the job.

      3. Peachywithasideofkeen*

        I would’ve taken the woman to the hospital because the man of my dreams and my best friend would both understand that is more important than giving them a ride. Also, asking a random stranger at the bus stop if you can give them a ride is weird and the man of my dreams would agree.

      4. Flossie Bobbsey*

        Good point, if the person is the partner of my dreams, that means (for me) that I already know him (since for me, attraction would be based on personality and a number of other factors besides just glimpsing a random stranger in passing), so there wouldn’t be any urgency in connecting with him at that very moment – I could just catch up with him later. And same with the best friend. She’s not in distress, so why do I need to do anything to help her at that moment? Also, what about people who have been partnered off a long time? Am I supposed to forget that I’m happily married and pretend that the partner of my dreams is actually a stranger who might get away if I don’t act now? And what does it mean for everyone to “win”? Especially if the “right” answer is for the friend not to have to take the bus? Strikes me as classist, in addition to the question presuming and/or discounting sexual orientation and marital status. What a horrible interview question all around.

      5. Janie*

        Best friend shouldn’t be driving my car as best friend probably isn’t on my insurance.

        I’m not straight or allo so unless the man of my dreams is a cat… plenty of room for the old woman.

    2. sacados*

      Wow, that’s pretty ridiculous. I would be suuuuper irritated to get nothing but questions like that in a job interview!

      1. JulieCanCan*

        “Pull dream guy into my car, drive off into the sunset. Buh bye dearest bff and senior citizen. Have a Starbucks on me.”

        Then drop the mike (mic) and skedaddle out that HR lady’s door!

    3. T3k*

      Yeah I heard this solution before, but then I’d also be that one that adds on “but actually that’s not a win win scenario as my bff is not covered to drive my vehicle on my insurance so I’d give her money to call a ride” (assuming that’s the reason she’s at the bus stop and not for something else).

      1. Traffic_Spiral*

        Also, how do you know this is the guy of your dreams, and isn’t it going to look a little stalker-y if you send your friend off in your car and stay at the bus stop to make eyes at him?

          1. Lucy*

            /insert Chrissy Teigen cringe meme/

            Yet another reason why the question is so inappropriate. It sounded like you handled it with dignity though!

          2. Aveline*

            One could be lesbian, asexual, or a nun….or already married.

            I’m none of those, but I am in the firm camp of not believing in the “one true love” or “man of my dreams” or “perfect person.”

            Plus, I’m married. So my answer would be “I’d drive by b/c my two best friends are fully capable women who can take care of themselves or ask for help if needed. I’m married, so if a nearly perfect man were standing there, I should better drive on by. I’d also assume someone at the bust stop who was conscious made the decision either because they didn’t feel like they needed help or because they can’t afford an ambulance/whatever hospital I choose.”

            So, even as a cishet woman, this question is really, really assuming a lot.

            1. Rusty Shackelford*

              I’m married, so if a nearly perfect man were standing there, I should better drive on by.

              “I’m already married to my perfect man, so I’d say honey, please take my car and give this lady a ride to the doctor while I chat with my friend, thanks!”

              1. No Tribble At All*

                LOL, this. I’d ask my husband why he wasn’t at work — he doesn’t take the bus?

          3. Rusty Shackelford*

            Even if she’d said the “person of your dreams” or “person you find irresistibly attractive” it would be a stupid puzzle. But yeah, that’s the cherry on the stupid sundae, isn’t it?

            1. Mr. Shark*

              It is a stupid question, and I don’t see why it would be included in any interview. But it sort of boggles my mind that people are dissecting it so much. Even if you’re happily married or are not interested in “the man of your dreams” for whatever reason, the puzzle is the puzzle, and it’s not hard to take your own life/preferences out of it and understand the logic question for what it is, and evaluate it under those assumptions.

              1. JunieB*

                The problem is that to answer the logic puzzle, you have to know what the asker wants you to want for and expect from those people. Should I be assuming that the older woman wants medical care? Should I assume my friend can drive? Should I assume the man wants to be flirted with? If I’m being prompted to make this “a win for everyone” but not told what everyone wants, I can’t answer! Other people’s needs and abilities are a crucial part of this puzzle. For someone like me—disabled and mostly involved in social groups with others who have chronic medical issues and mental illness—the idea that the others could drive or would want to go to a hospital didn’t occur to me. It’s hard to solve a puzzle when being atypical removes half the pieces.

          4. Karen from Finance*

            Hahah OMG.

            See? This right here is what happens when not-smart interviewers think they’re really clever and try to do these silly “tests”.

    4. SS Express*

      I’m pretty good at logic puzzles, but in that situation I’d immediately help the old woman because in life or death situations I don’t stop to puzzle out a win-win. Her survival outweighs potential boning or easing my friend’s commute by so much that looking for a way to meet everyone’s needs would be ridiculous. I’m even better at prioritising and acting fast in an emergency than I am at logic puzzles, and I’m okay with that.

      Also if that really did happen to me, a) my best friend isn’t the most confident driver so I can probably get the woman to the hospital faster and b) I’m married, so meeting “the man of my dreams” at the bus stop either means hanging out with my husband, who I’ll see at home anyway, or blowing up my whole life.

      1. Overeducated*

        Yeah. I would bomb this interview because I’d insist that’s really the only choice you should be considering (well, maybe calling an ambulance if you’re not sure you can safely transport the lady) and it’s a nonsense question. Quite honestly i think i wound up at an employer where protection of life and safety IS a major concern so maybe it’s useful there….

        1. Leslie Knope’s Long-Lost Twin*

          But I worked at a place like that, and they asked “how would you handle this situation?” questions that were based on the types of scenarios one would actually deal with in that job. There wasn’t a right answer. There were certainly *wrong* answers. But mostly they just wanted to see candidates’ thought processes and find out how much they would rely on co-workers, how much pre-existing knowledge they had of this field, etc.

          1. SarahTheEntwife*

            That makes sense if the question is at least vaguely work-relevant. There could be many correct solutions! But this is a bizarre, context-less scenario that’s presented as having a right answer.

          2. Overeducated*

            Yeah, I find it hard to imagine anyone at my employer asking any kind of hypothetical question like that…but if they did, I think “protect life and safety first” would be the only correct answer, the rest is a distraction. The actual real-life “what would you do in this situation” scenarios where life and safety are at risk, once you’re beyond the stage of planning and prevention, are much more difficult because they often involve a risk to the person helping as well and people rightly see “what would you do” as not really fair. In that case I’d see a “can you tell me about a time when…” or “how would you analyze what went right/wrong here…” question as a more likely and useful interview question.

          3. AMPG*

            At my old job, I found out another team was asking job candidates questions to suss out their ability to prioritize – basically giving them a list of tasks that were all supposed to be completed in a too-short timeline and seeing how they would order them. But several of the tasks were things that actually should have been scheduled earlier in the project, so a candidate who had some familiarity with the job would potentially be left wondering if they were walking into a situation where their co-workers were going to be a hindrance.

      2. Falling Diphthong*

        It’s a clue that if this person is your boss, all of your assignments will be top priority and you’ll never get them to declare that they need the grant proposal that’s due at 5 pm today more than a chicken salad sandwich from the deli across town.

      3. Marthooh*

        “…in life or death situations I don’t stop to puzzle out a win-win.”

        Then clearly you’re not sociopathic enough to work at Vader Enterprises.

      4. RabbitRabbit*

        I was like “my best friend and the man of my dreams” = my husband. And why am I driving our car when he’s the one who drives to work, and I take public transit there? And what the hell is so awful about taking a bus that apparently the “right” answer is to try to rescue them from being on one?

    5. JamieS*

      I’d leave the guy for my best friend, she has a car and I’d know if it broke down so the guy is probably why she’s at the bus stop in the first place, and take the old woman to the hospital.

    6. CurrentlyBill*


      I’m going to outsource.

      I call an ambulance for the old lady since they can provide better care and get her to the hospital and past triage more efficiently than I can. It’s important and its not my expertise, so I get the right person to do it.

      My best friend is capable of riding the bus and can later introduce me to the person of my dreams after they’ve already started promoting me to her. It’s a combination of a teaser trailer, rolling product roll out, and influencer marketing. Again, I’m outsourcing to the person best able to handle that at the moment.

      Finally, I’ll continue driving to where I was going because I wouldn’t already be going there if it wasn’t important.

      And in the next budget cycle, I get a decent sized car.

      1. Socks*

        Yeah aren’t you like specifically not supposed to drive someone who’s in a medical crisis to the hospital on your own, because the ambulance can provide treatment during transit, and, also, might still be able to get her to the hospital faster because they can get around traffic lights and such? I’d always heard that the best thing to do in a true medical emergency was to get an ambulance.

        Also, even if I did take the old lady to the hospital on my own, neither my best friend nor the man of my dreams would qualify for those titles if they had any problem with me just, doing that. Especially this theoretical man of my dreams- no one could be the man of my dreams if he got pissy that I didn’t pick him up from a bus stop because I had to drive someone to the hospital. Actually, I’m pretty sure the theoretical man of my dreams would be pretty disturbed if I did choose to pick him up, ignoring both my best friend and a medical crisis in the process. In fact, the man of my dreams has first-aid training and was already in the process of helping the old lady when I got to the bus stop, and already called 911 himself, I have just decided. Whoever came up with this riddle must have had really low standards for their fantasy life partner.

        And why is my friend waiting for the bus? What if it’s because they can’t drive, for whatever reason? Just saying. I don’t think the ‘correct’ answer necessarily displays useful real-world logic skills. And I’m concerned that the person who came up with the puzzle is unaware that you’re not supposed to drive people in life threatening medical situations to the hospital on your own. Man, that’s a bad interview question.

        1. AcademiaNut*

          These kinds of logic puzzles drive me up the wall from a logical perspective, and have since I was an adolescent. You’re supposed to guess a “right” answer, but even when you come up with perfectly logical, rational answers, you’re “wrong” because you didn’t guess the particular solution the questioner had in mind. I mean, I’d phone an ambulance and wait until it arrived and leave my friend and man of my dreams to take care of themselves. Later, I’d ask them why they were ignoring an old woman in trouble.

          1. Knitting Cat Lady*

            Yeah, I’d call an ambulance and keep the old woman company, and send the man and the now ex-friend as lookouts a few metres away from the bus stop at either side to flag down the ambulance.

            Once the old woman was safely in the hands of the medics I’d tear my new ex-friend a new one about what the hell they were thinking just sitting there.

            Once I got off a commuter train with a friend and an elderly guy keeled over more or less right at my feet. Two of the people next to me went for the first aid while I called an ambulance and my friend organized scouts to act as way points so the medics wouldn’t lose too much time looking for us in the station.

            Seriously. If there is a person in distress I’ll help them first.

            Also, the ‘man of my dreams’ doesn’t exist since I’m neither sexually nor romantically interested in people…

          2. last_codon*

            Same here. For all the reasons you said. There is a specific “right” answer that is based on a) a ton of missing context, and b) specific set of artificially imposed, extremely dubious assumptions. You can have perfectly solid reasoning and not get the “right” solution. As a kid I’ve always felt these questions punished both imagination and logic, because you’re not “allowed” to think of alternative paths or ask for missing context.

          3. LaurenB*

            This is just a bad scenario because it’s too tied to reality. If I were asking a question about rowing animals back and forth (not in a job interview, it’s still a stupid question) I’d get annoyed at someone who kept insisting that you would never actually need to take a rabbit across a river. That’s not the point! But this one is so bound to a real-life situation that I would have a hard time seeing it as a logic puzzle – it could also be a values and ethics test.

            1. fposte*

              Yes, I think this is well-stated. I like logic puzzles, but to make them work their best you need to minimize the cultural inflections. This is the bastard child of a logic problem and a hypothetical work situation.

            2. Humble Schoolmarm*

              Yes! In the case of the rabbit in the rowboat, there’s also a defined measure of success; everything gets to the other side, nothing is eaten. In this situation, I’m honestly not sure what a win-win-win-win scenario even is. A win for me is (assuming all kind of things about my relationship and orientation) getting to chat up “person of my dreams” without being a bad human or blowing off my friend. The elderly lady wins by getting medical care (although an ambulance would be better all around). Person of my dreams wins by…uh…. getting to talk to me…(which seems weak) and friend, well, friend looses out big time because she was apparently going somewhere to do something and now is driving an unknown person in medical distress to a hospital, which is never a quick trip, in someone else’s car.

        2. OP 1*

          it’s such a weird, complex question that’s missing way too much relevant information, I seriously couldn’t fighter out what to say

          1. Bilateralrope*

            I’d have probably started with “why did you assume I’m straight ?”

            Or all the questions I’d want to ask, that one probably tells me the most about the interviewer.

          2. Mongrel*

            It’s very similar to this comic, or goddamned trolley problems and while I realise it’s hard to know someone in the short space of time these sort of question say more about the interviewer than how the interviewee answers.

            You have to make a decision in highly contrived, improbable scenario using implied assumptions (sexuality etc) knowing that your answer will be used as a ‘personality test’.

            Generally I find there’s often three answers to any of these problems;
            What would I actually do in this situation? – Can’t know till it happens
            What would I like to think I’d do?
            What answer is the interviewer looking for?

          3. Kettles*

            The weirdest part is assuming that anyone wouldn’t choose the old lady. Is it a bizarre way to catch out psychopaths?
            “Bro, I’d pick up my dream man and let the old lady bleed out on the street. High five!”

            1. Falling Diphthong*

              I like this. “How can we screen for the sort of cold-blooded sociopaths we need in this role?”

        3. blackcat*

          “I’d always heard that the best thing to do in a true medical emergency was to get an ambulance.”
          There’s a difference between “urgent” and “emergent.” My old health insurance spelled this out. They did not count broken bones as “emergent” and therefore would not pay for an ambulance. I had several colleagues get hit with the full cost of ambulances for broken legs, arms, etc. In both cases, there was the potential for head trauma (car accidents), so in my book, ambulance was totally the right call. But our insurance classified those as “urgent” and therefore expected the to take a taxi or otherwise get themselves to the ER/urgent care. I had zero problems with insurance for my ambulance ride that came with epi-pens and oxygen, though, since that was considered “emergent.”
          Given the state of health care in the US, unless someone is unresponsive, bleeding out, or otherwise clearly in a “going to die in the next 10 minutes” state, I’m going to ask them if they’d prefer I call a taxi and, if I am in a position to do so, I will offer to drive.

          1. So long and thanks for all the fish*

            That’s just so cruel on the part of your old health insurance provider.

          2. RegBarclay*

            Yes, I live in fear that I’ll have a seizure one day in public, someone will call an ambulance, and I’ll be stuck with the ambulance bill and a much higher ER copay (since I have epilepsy, seizures aren’t an emergency).

            1. JunieB*

              I have multiple “DO NOT CALL 911” bracelets and ID tags… it still doesn’t always work, but luckily thus far I’ve been mostly out of the post-ictal fog before they try to take me anywhere and have been able to decline. I hate that you can be charged for healthcare you didn’t consent to.

          3. BelleMorte*

            That’s insane, broken bones often need temporary splinting before moving, especially broken legs, as you can easily rip your femoral artery by moving with a broken leg. I nearly broke my shin bone after a 330 pound barbell hit it, and I definitely called 911 because I couldn’t move the leg or put weight on it. I mean if you break a finger, or a toe, then by all means take a cab, but a major bone… nooo…

            Car accidents have potential for spinal injuries as well particularly with possible head trauma. That insurance company was a lawsuit waiting to happen.

        4. Lord Gouldian Finch*

          My friend most likely to take the bus is because he lived in New York City and giving someone in NYC a car is NOT a win for them. It’s a terrible question.

      2. Shad*

        In the US, thanks to the cost, the old lady might specifically decline an ambulance. Those things are expensive under our medical system.
        Plus, of course, this is an absurd logic puzzle with no connection to one’s ability to do the job.

      3. One of the Sarahs*

        But why have the best friend and man of dreams not called an ambulance themselves? I don’t understand!

          1. General Ginger*

            Or he’s already asked the lady if she needed/could afford an ambulance, and both he and my friend are waiting for the bus with her to ensure she gets to the hospital safely.

      4. Dragoning*

        This just brought to mind the question of WHY THE HELL HAVEN’T MY BEST FRIEND AND THE DREAMBOAT CALLED 911 YET???

    7. Daisy*

      I like these puzzles usually, but this one doesn’t make any sense. Ignoring all the things that you’d actually do if it were real life (e.g. call an ambulance), it doesn’t even work as a logic problem. How have you and the friend ended up where you needed to be? That answer is like saying ‘eh just chuck the fox in the river, didn’t need him anyway’.

      1. Joielle*

        Haha! This is what was bothering me about it too but you’ve said it much better. Not only is it not the only solution, it’s not even a good solution! There’s not enough information to figure it out, really, aside from “well I guess the most pressing thing is getting medical help for the woman, so I’d do that?” The puzzle doesn’t explain what counts as a “win” for you or the friend or the guy, so it’s impossible to solve with logic.

    8. Ruth (UK)*

      At least in the UK, unless you’ve somehow previously thought to get your friend insured on your car, you’d now be breaking the law… even assuming your friend can drive!

      And… even assuming you have the insurance AND your friend can drive, how is that a ‘win’ for your friend? What if they were going one stop on the bus which was due in a few minutes but now they’ve had to take a massive detour driving someone to the hospital in your car, which you didn’t do yourself because you wanted to stay at the bus stop with the man of your dreams… (I’m often not a fan of logic puzzles at the best of times tbh…)

    9. Bilateralrope*

      It sounds like the question was written before widespread cellphone use.

      If I was being interviewed, my response to the question would be to ask four questions:
      – What symptoms is the old woman showing ?
      – What is everyone doing ?
      – How much room is there to park ?
      – What is my friend doing ?
      – Why do you think I’m straight/gay ?
      The first questions will tell me how much the interviewer understands the question. The last two tell me about the interviewer. Are they going to insult my best friend, who they have never met ?
      Are they intentionally discriminating based on sexuality ?

      Assuming the interviewer hasn’t failed the interview at that point, my answer would be to park nearby leaving room for an ambulance. Grab the first aid kit I keep in my car. Then head over there to help until the ambulance shows up, asking my friend to tell me what’s happened. Once the old woman is in the ambulance, then I’d think about giving my friend a lift.

      Now if I were the interviewer, certain answers will look badly on the candidate:
      – Anyone who tells me that they plan to spend the time with someone they decided is the partner of their dreams based on looks alone is a sexual harassment risk.
      – Anyone who wants to stick the old woman in a car with only a driver has failed first aid. One of the big rules of first aid is to never move the patient without a very good reason like immediate danger.
      – Anyone who doesn’t mention cellphones or an ambulance is someone who isn’t thinking. The same goes for anyone who doesn’t ask further questions about the scenario.

      So the question could be useful. Though it also seems like a legal minefield as it risks exposing the candidates sexuality, opening me up for an accusation of discrimination.

    10. Folkie*

      After taking the lady in need of medical attention to hospital, convince dream guy and friend to campaign for better infrastructure and healthcare in your spare time. That way, you get to spend time with them, and it’s a solution that benefits everybody.

    11. Bilateralrope*

      But it might reveal if you’re gay to the interviewer.

      I wonder if the employers lawyer(s) know about this question being asked.

      1. OP1*

        I’m in Canada and well protected but I was still really uncomfortable, especially having already been asked about “my pain”

        1. Bilateralrope*

          Here in New Zealand it’s not illegal to ask about someones sexuality in a job interview. But it is illegal to discriminate based on the answer.

          So it’s considered best practise to not ask. Employers like being able to say “we can’t have discriminated over that because we didn’t know”

      1. Dragoning*

        These aren’t even logic problems at this point, they’re just “Hey, have you heard the answer to this old, old puzzle before?”

    12. Hmm*

      That’s ridiculous. You can’t spot your ideal partner from one sighting at a bus stop. You grow up and drive the old woman, surely.

    13. Bilateralrope*

      If the interviewer only accepts the “correct” answer that means they are looking for someone who will prioritise sexually harassing a stranger over getting to work on time.

      Not to mention the possibly illegal way this question discriminates against anyone whose sexuality doesn’t match what the interviewer assumes.

    14. Bilateralrope*

      Now for some fun. Lets list all the red flags a competent interviewer should see in someone who gives the “correct” answer:
      1 – Spending time with someone who looks hot over getting to their planned destination or helping an injured person. Questionable time management skills.
      2 – Deciding that someone is the man of their dreams based on looks alone. Sexual harassment risk
      3 – No mention of cellphones. Doesn’t use commonly used tools.
      4 – Makes friend drive car despite being an uninsured driver*. Candidate might cause legal trouble for employer for candidates amusement.
      5 – Moving someone needing medical attention despite lack of immediate danger.
      6 – Candidate prefers to seriously inconvenience more people than necessary** for own amusement.

      I’m sure I’ve missed some.

      *Some of my friends don’t have drivers licenses.
      **If you ever see me waiting for a bus or train, it’s because I don’t want to deal with parking wherever I’m going.

      1. Observer*

        Well, here’s another:

        Deciding someone is the person of their dreams based on looks alone – shows terrible judgement.

    15. Arts Akimbo*

      If you want to skip past a long comment thread that doesn’t interest you, you can collapse the replies under the top post and scroll past much faster.

    16. CM*

      Interesting. 100% of the reason I opened the comments was to see what the correct answer is.

      My question, honestly, would be how do I know there’s a medical emergency and not just three people waiting for the bus? Also why am I trying to turn a medical emergency into a win for everyone?

      It seems like maybe the solution is to make sure my soulmate is an elderly woman whom I am best friends with so that when this prophecy comes to pass no one is left behind to wait for the bus.

  3. Parisi Chook*

    I removed a long derailing thread on language here which had 20+ comments after I asked people to move on. Y’all, I’m going to have to start temporarily banning people for ignoring explicit requests like that if that continues. – Alison

    1. voyager1*

      I looked it up too. And as an American I was unaware of any contonation to ableist language either. And frankly it isn’t a word I have really heard in any context since maybe the 1990s as slang.

      1. Triplestep*

        I wouldn’t say “nor at all in the US”. I am American, age 55, and it was quite commonly used when I was growing up. I knew exactly what it meant in the seventies starting from age 10. So it makes sense that twenty years later its origins wouldn’t be questioned. That’s how abelist and other ___isms become normalized.

        I don’t typically contribute to derails, and this will probably get deleted, but that made my eyes widen. I feel like it would have been OK (even a service to the LW) to edit out from the start.

        1. Clisby*

          Agreed. (I’m American and 65.) I can’t remember when I first heard the term “spaz” although it could have been the 70s. When I was 10, people just said “spastic.”

          1. Tigger*

            Huh, I am 26 and my American parents (who are in their 60’s) call me a spaz all the time. I had no idea it had that contention. Whelp.

    2. Mary Ann*

      It is a completely derogatory term in the US and totally ableist. That’s where the word originated from. It’s considered wrong to use the word now just like the term “retarted”. Don’t say it and call out a person who does use it.

      1. EOA*

        I mean, no, it’s not. I think Alison did the right thing in editing it out of the letter (I only read the letter after it was edited out) and I also think it is fine to ask people to not use it. But it’s not accurate to say it’s “completely derogatory” in the U.S. and you just can’t declare that it is. Particularly for younger people, many are unaware that there is any offensive connotation to it.

    3. Akcipitrokulo*

      Thank you! You’d done it before I saw letter, but as someone with relatives with CP, it wouldn’t have been pleasant to see.

      1. Grace*

        Yes. Relative with cri du chat here, that presents to the unaware a little like severe CP; that word (along with r*tard) are words that get shut down *immediately* in my presence. I don’t care if it embarrasses the other person, even if they’re a friend – you *do not* use those words, and especially not when I’m present.

        I’m glad Alison edited it out before I saw it – I would probably have clicked off the page if I’d seen it, to prevent myself from writing a comment that’s rather more strongly worded than just “FYI it’s ableist”.

        1. JJ Bittenbinder*

          Thanks for mentioning cri du chat—I’d never heard of it before and just spent some time educating myself.

          1. Grace*

            You’re welcome! It’s not very well known at all, and lots of doctors wouldn’t know how to diagnose it at birth – my cousin was lucky that a doctor who had authored studies on it was walking through the maternity unit shortly after she was born and heard her crying.

            It can vary from fairly mild learning difficulties and a few physical differences (cri du chat produces very distinctive facial features) all the way through to my cousin’s variant, which means she’s completely non-verbal, using Makaton to communicate, with significant cognitive difficulties. A lot of her behaviours and tics are similar in appearance to those in CP that lead to a certain word being applied, hence my particular sensitivity to that brand of ableism.

        2. Akcipitrokulo*

          I’ve generally had positive responses from people who genuinely didn’t know, along lines of “Wow, really? Sorry, won’t use again.”

          Currently losing the fight at work about one of main freeware databases which is called m*ngo … :(

            1. Environmental Compliance*

              I also read it as mango, and for the life of me, have no idea what word is actually being referenced. I think I need more caffeine.

          1. It'sGettingTiresome*

            Oh geez – the ‘mongo’ in MongoDB is a derivative of ‘humongous’ – not ‘mongoloid’. It’s a database that claims to be extremely scalable (i.e. handles huge amounts of data).

            ‘Mongo’ is a common US slang term for ‘Huge’. Growing up, we used it all the time – mongo nachos, mongo kegger, mongo waves, etc…

            Stop trying so hard to be offended.

            1. Myrin*

              You know, that’s actually a very interesting point (to me as someone who didn’t know this database and also, as a non-native speaker, has only limited knowledge of slangs in the English-speaking world) but it could have been made much less aggressively!

            2. Yep*

              Agreed. If it is going to get this emotionally exhausting around here, I am just going to bow out. Again.

            3. Akcipitrokulo*

              I have friends whose children with DS have been abused using that word. I’m not trying to be offended.

              I don’t happen to believe their excuse “oh, we just meant huge….” – but it’s not relevant to whether something which is used as a slur gets a free pass because there is another meaning in a dictionary somewhere.

              1. Yep*

                But maybe you should .. I dunno … see the world outside your own small world view? Words have lots of meanings long ago that no longer apply today. Words like mongo and spaz in most of the US do not mean what you think it means. mongo to some areas means big. Spaz is like calling someone a geek (another word commonly used that in the past had a very different meaning). I think it is ok to realize that, despite your own personal experiences, and move on instead of trying to illicit some kind of emotional response, including an apology.

                And quite frankly, people lately vomiting their emotions unnecessarily all over this place have become complete derailing. Like why make everything about you all the time? Why are you emotionally interjecting yourself and forcing others to participate in that all the time? I don’t want people answering that because it is rhetorical and meant for self reflection. I and the rest of the internet do not need to know every feeling you have.

            4. Perse's Mom*

              Huh. I wonder if this is a regional thing or a specific demographic thing. I’ve never heard the term.

    4. Akcipitrokulo*

      It is – it’s derived from the word “spastic” which was the very, very old term for someone with cerebral palsy.

  4. Nini*

    OP3: I have similar issues with hiccuping and other strange noises after eating or drinking due to stomach surgeries I’ve had, so honestly something like that would be my first guess too. It happens to me so frequently that I don’t notice it as being out of the ordinary myself, and I don’t comment on it or apologize for it. I feel like it would just draw more attention and force an explanation of medical issues if I did apologize.

    1. Carrie Oakie*

      I came to say pretty much the same. I deal with GERD & IBS – some days are better than others & I’ve come to accept that this is my life for now. Soda will sometimes help with the bloated feeling by helping me burp – it seems counter intuitive but it’s honestly a relief. Other days I’ll have a loud yelp that sounds like a sudden gasp of air from someone who’s been underwater for minutes. I usually say excuse me or pardon me; but at home my family just says to stop saying it cause it’s so often that there are times at work I do the same.

      If you’re really wondering if she’s aware, you could try an “oh my, are you okay?!” In a startled kind of way & see if it’s acknowledged. My coworker did that with me (I didn’t realize they could hear me down the hall) one day & I explained “oh sorry, I just need to let it out sometimes or it becomes painful. Excuse me!” And carry on.

      1. Hmm*

        To be honest, I think doing that now would seem really passive aggressive. It’s been too long. Leave it.

        1. Lance*

          Yeah, I think that sort of comment would have way too big of a potential to be embarrassing for a lot of people. I’d just do my best to try and pretend it isn’t there, no matter what may be causing it; chances are, it’s already embarrassing enough all on its own.

          1. Sloan Kittering*

            Personally I might try to raise it politely at least one time, in case it is a habit she’s just unaware of (others have said could be an anxiety thing) – and even if it’s medical, it might be more out of control than she realizes. Plus it gives her the opportunity to address it if she chooses to by referring to a medical condition. Or if she says “oh yeah I just like to belch” well, that’s useful to OP to know. If it’s distracting OP I can’t see just trying to ignore it without ever trying even one time to bring it up. I would eventually start job searching over something like this so you owe it to everyone to at least try once.

            1. valentine*

              I might try to raise it politely at least one time
              Yes, because then you know for sure if you’re stuck with it. Assuming it’s medical seems like talking yourself into not saying anything.

              Carbonation makes me burp all day (though not this frequently) and causes horrific, painful bloating. I can avoid being gross and rude at work by avoiding carbonation.

      2. BetsyTacy*

        Branching out on this topic – would anyone have different advice if it were an employee who had the constant burping issue… It’s loud enough where it disturbs people in offices several cubes away.

        It’s likely a medical issue, but I haven’t really spoken with the employee on this topic; however, recently, my management has informed me it can be readily heard on conference calls and they find it quite disturbing.

        So far, when I’m walking by and hear it, I fake shock and say, ‘Oh my! Excuse me!’ As a note, this is also an employee I have so many challenges with, this wasn’t even on my list until Management brought up that it was audible on calls held a significant distance from this staffer.

        1. WellRed*

          Maybe others with burping issues can weigh in, but I feel like people should be able to (mostly) control the volume, if not the frequency, of burps. I had a coworker who used to actually sneeze with a loud, vocal ahh-chooo! Until I was on a flight with her and she sneezed quietly so as not to disturb others. After that, I asked her if she could be more mindful of being quieter when she sneezed.

          1. Jamie*

            This is controllable? I work with someone who sneezes so loudly people in offices down the hall startle. He said it’s impossible to control the volume. Interesting.

            1. Rainy*

              It really depends, speaking as someone with horrific seasonal allergies. Many of my sneezes can be muted, and I do, but there are occasional ones–usually the sort that I get when I’m sick with something that makes me sneezy or when I’m having a really bad allergy day–that it’s impossible to stifle.

              Because of course, when you mute a sneeze, what you’re actually doing is stifling it.

              1. Jamie*

                Thanks. I don’t have allergies and tend to be a quiet sneezer when it happens so not an issue I have personally. But hearing this I’ll choose to assume he can’t help it as it makes it easier to live with.

          2. Observer*

            Most people who are loud sneezers really can’t control the volume. Even when they can, it’s generally quite difficult (and something doctors strongly recommend against, because, as others noted, it’s really just a matter stifling the sneeze. And that’s not only generally difficult and painful, it can also be dangerous.

          3. J*

            I am a loud sneezer. I literally can not change the volume of my sneezing or stop it from happening.

        2. Sloan Kittering*

          I dunno, I also think some people just weren’t raised in the culture where you say excuse me after a burp. My roommate never did, I always thought it was odd – he’d come into a room I was in, let one rip, and go about his business. He was very pleasant in other ways so I think this wasn’t something he was raised with. (I also had a debate with someone else about whether to apologize after – ahem – passing gas, something I was not raised to do if discreet).

          1. BetsyTacy*

            To be clear, it’s not that I want the employee to say ‘excuse me’ every time. I use that more as an interjection to let them know I heard the volume of their belch and found it disruptive and disturbing.

            Again, this employee doesn’t seem to understand social norms or office etiquette – which is shocking, seeing as they have worked in this office for a long time.

          2. Yep*

            I have GERD and IBS. Sometimes******* I can produce a random loud burp that comes from nowhere. Say if I bend over, one can literally shoot out of me. Sometimes if it is particularly bad, I can wake up in the middle of the night feeling like I am about to be really sick, only to sit up and win the world record on the world’s longer belch (no lie, went on for a full two minutes with short breaks). So do I have a very extreme case of this? You bet. With that said, aside from these rare situations, I can control the volume of a belch. Most people do not know I even do this regularly.

            With that said, this is also an extreme minefield of emotions I am not willing to traverse with another person. I *know* this amount of loud belching all day is ridiculous, but I am not about to explain that out to another person – I do not have enough emotional capital to listen to them *explain*why their medical condition is more special than mine. I will just quietly deal with it, but I am also very skilled and blocking people out.

        3. Not A Manager*

          But why do you fake shock? Why do you say, “Oh my! Excuse me!”

          Tbh, both of those sound weird and passive aggressive. Do you want the employee to say “excuse me” to an empty cubicle? Excuse herself to the entire office? Are you pretending that you just walked in on her doing something very very private? Why are you shocked that someone is burping?

          If she’s a poor employee then obviously you’re going to address that, and if the burping is interfering with office functioning you can try to address that, too. But I don’t see that what you’re doing is really addressing either issue.

          1. BetsyTacy*

            Yeah, it’s not doing anything. To be frank, I wasn’t even addressing this issue until it was raised to me by Management late last week.

            Ugh. I think I’m just dreading yet another ‘Oh my gracious, I can’t believe I have to have this conversation with you,’ with this employee.

            So, I need to address the actual disruption rather than the behavior itself? Focus on the impact to the office?

            1. Not A Manager*

              I am NOT A MANAGER, but I’d guess that you’d need to address it differently if it were a medical issue vs. if it’s a behavioral one. Although if you don’t want to get into that distinction, I guess you could offer her whatever accommodations you’d do if it were a medical issue?

              The logical solution would be to get her a private or more distant space where, at a minimum, people can’t hear her on their conference calls. But if you think it’s something she can control, maybe just tell her to cut it out?

              1. valentine*

                I need to address the actual disruption rather than the behavior itself?
                Yes, always. Them burping away behind closed doors quietly enough that no one knows isn’t an issue. I actually took your feigned surprise as a mea culpa, as though you were the one who burped and, while I’m sure your colleagues know differently, maybe not?

                I understand if it’s awkward, but you need to take that hit for your colleagues, who may have said nothing because they think it doesn’t bother you. You have all or most of the power here and using it is your job. Tell them they need to reduce the noise level or the burping itself, or leave the area to do it without impacting their work. Be prepared with option if they say that it’s unavoidable or, for medical reasons, they have to drink two sodas first thing and it causes them to break the sound barrier. (I mean, conference calls?!) And it may seem petty compared to the other issues, but the great impact means it may be a larger issue than their performance.

      3. Op 3*

        She’s definitely aware. A lot of people below have raised a good point that if it is a medical issue, it’s probably much more annoying for her than it is for anyone around her, and likely out of her control. I’m going to try to re-frame my thinking around it. I also agree that at this point it would be odd to bring it up to her (and possibly invasive if she does have a medical condition)

        1. Morning Flowers*

          As someone with all kinds of gut issues and whose family all has the same, OP3, the soda drinking might itself be medicinal. I have a SodaStream at home, and the main thing I use it for is when I *need* to burp and can’t! The carbonation can help relieve nausea and other uncomfortable issues in the stomach. So the soda might be causing the burping, but in order to relieve discomfort or even severe pain. Just thought that perspective might be helpful in terms of reframing!

          1. Rainy*

            I started to comment something similar. My dad’s side is prone to a really severe set of stomach issues (so severe that my dad has lived longer than anyone else in the family who had the Family Stomach–he’s in his 70s, and the issues typically come on by the mid-30s at the latest and used to kill the sufferers by their late 30s tops; modern medicine has been really good to my family in some very tangible ways). I don’t have the Family Stomach, I thank the gods, but I do have some of the less severe issues that go along with it, and one of the things that eases them is drinking soda water and burping, because the fluttering of my LES that happens with the right kind of burp both soothes the pain and can reset the LES and stop my reflux.

        2. joeyjo*

          I have some reflux-type issues, and some mornings I just wake up burpy. Sometimes, I’ll issue a blanket apology to whoever I’m working near that day because it really is embarrassing, but we also have work to do. As others have said, soda does help me feel better, and I try to keep the burping volume down on those days, but sometimes they even surprise me.

  5. Artemesia*

    In many cases frequent burping is behavioral and the habit can be trained away. But given that it also can be a medical issue, it would not be something I would be comfortable mentioning to someone. Just 343rd reason why open offices are the pits.

    1. Sloan Kittering*

      Even if it is a medical thing, I think you can respectful raise it once if it’s bothering you that badly. Knowing it is distracting you, there may be something she can do to mitigate it.

      1. Phoenix Programmer*

        Most people with medical burping would mitigate if they could believe me!

        Honestly I had a coworker like this and after a while it stopped bothering me. Having him burp 20 times while speaking to you was just normal.

      2. Observer*

        Like what?

        If you know anything about the medical causes for constant burping, you would realize that unless someone is a masochist, they are going to do whatever they practically can to reduce the problem, because even if they don’t care about the noise of the burping, they care about the underlying problem.

  6. Dan*


    TBH, I’m of the opinion that once you’ve been laid off, your previous salary is no longer relevant. I was let go from a company that was doing significant downsizing, and was more or less told after the fact that I was making too much money. (Except both offers I got post layoff were for more than what I was making while working. WTF… and five years post layoff, I’m making almost double what I was making at old job, so double WTF on getting laid off. But I digress.) What does matter to you now is if you have multiple offers to consider. If you don’t, then there isn’t much leverage you have.

    Post layoff, the job I turned down offered me a lower salary than I wanted, even though it paid more than previous job. When I started pressing them on increasing the offer, they then asked what old job paid. I said it didn’t matter, and in any event, asked for some time to receive and consider an alternate offer (which I ended up taking.) Turned-down-job was NOT happy about me turning them down. But it was funny, because I wasn’t happy with the pay they were offering, and we both knew it. What did they expect me to do? (And for those who may think I mishandled negotiations, maybe. But there’s no f’ing way I’d be making there what I making now, so no loss on my part.)

    1. ThursdaysGeek*

      Your previous salary is relevant – it’s one clue in what you should be paid for the type of work you’re doing. And since we often don’t talk with peers, it’s often one of the only clues we really know.

      1. ForProfit*

        But is it really? I went from Academia to a nonprofit, and now I’m looking at jumping for profit. Should I be paid less for the same work because I’ve chosen lower paid industries? In this case a desire to make more is one of the precipitating events to going for profit. I also happen to be a female minority, so what if paying me less than my peers opens them up to a wage discrimination suit?

        But I live in California, so a prospective employer can’t ask about my salary even if they want to. I’m just explaining why maybe they shouldn’t want to.

        1. ThursdaysGeek*

          Ok, your previous salary COULD be relevant, if you are going to a similar job. That doesn’t mean you should tell the potential employer, and it certainly doesn’t mean that you think the same salary at the next job is appropriate (especially if you know you are under or over paid). But it is still a clue, when we sometimes have a dearth of clues.

  7. Lily*

    Sansa probably doesn’t even care that much now. If something like this happened, I would be annoyed that evening because I waited and waited and waited but after a week this would be one of the “weird stuff happens at conferences” or “misunderstandings happen” stories.

      1. Not Australian*

        So how would it be if the OP just said something like “I’m going to try not to get over-tired this time, I don’t like what happens when I do”? No direct reference to the incident but acknowledging that she’s concerned not to repeat it… (Which in itself would be a great way of making up for it IMHO.)

        1. OP4*

          That totally sounds like something I’d say! I’ll keep that in my pocket as something to use if it seems right.

          1. EPLawyer*

            Follow Alison’s advice. it got weird when you over apologized and tried to make up for it. Sansa was probably more worried something happened to you than irked at being stood up. Once she saw you were fine, it was time to move on with a quick apology. But you went overboard. I get that as someone who is not included herself, you get get overjoyed at being included and people showing they care.

            But it’s time to stop. Well, it’s past time to stop. It’s been a year, Sansa probably forgot all about it. She’s a busy lady. Your little misunderstanding does not stand out that much in her mind. Unless you keep bringing it up. The idea is to change her opinion of you, not re-enforce it. By referencing the last conference at all, you are doing that just that.

            Be professional. Be polite. But stop trying to get her to forgive you what happened last time. It’s over. Move on. She has you need to too.

            1. valentine*

              Sansa was over-the-top in contacting OP4 every which way she could. For me, a simple “Oh, my gosh, I totally forgot” would’ve sufficed. I wouldn’t even need an apology because I wouldn’t have let it inconvenience me.

              I agree to let it be and, OP4, if this isn’t a one-off, maybe look into why you’re this upset over a standard mix-up.

              1. Alanna*

                Agreed – i think Sansa seriously overreacted! If I invited someone out to dinner and then slacked/texted them and they didn’t reply, I’d just go! If I saw them there, I wouldn’t be upset – people’s phone settings and networks aren’t always the best when they’re traveling, and things happen at the spur of the moment exactly as happened to the OP!

                I feel awful for the OP, I would have been upset if someone had been _angry_ at me for not getting a ride to an event with them, too – frankly, Sansa doesn’t sound nice. I’d keep it professional at the next conference, don’t make any promises, and if you chat with her, you chat with her, but don’t go out of your way.

              2. LisaLovesWork*

                Agree that Sansa’s repeated attempts to contact you (even contacting others to get to you) was WAY over the top. It’s not like you were best friends taking a hike out in the desert and you went missing for cripes’ sake. You’re an adult who just didn’t get back to her about dinner. She’s a jerk for being angry with you. Just let it be and act professional with her. Don’t reference it at all.

            2. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

              Agreed—this is a case where alluding to the prior event does no one any good for all the reasons EPLawyer stated. OP#4, you have to let this drop, and you have to move on.

        2. CaseyAtLarge*

          It would come off as a way too obvious reference to the original incident and wouldn’t fool anyone. And it would put the friend in the position of having to acknowledge it which is what we’re trying to avoid here.

          1. Not Australian*

            It’s not intended to ‘fool’ anyone, though, and it doesn’t put the friend in the position of having to acknowledge anything at all – but clearly we have different approaches to the question. ;-)

            1. SarahTheEntwife*

              Yeah, I like the way it indirectly references the original incident but doesn’t over-apologize or otherwise turn it into a Thing.

              1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

                Unfortunately, because it was so much of a Thing last time, I don’t think OP should make reference to the prior incident at all.

      2. OP4*

        I’m worried about all of it but yes, my weird reaction is the thing I’m worried about most.

        1. Airy*

          Don’t refer to it unless she does, and she probably won’t. Ideally you want her to see that while the earlier incident was uncomfortable and embarrassing, it was an anomaly and you normally behave sensibly. The best way to achieve that is to show not tell – show her your sensible behaviour rather than tell her how sorry and embarrassed you are. It’ll probably be something of an emotional ordeal at first but it will get easier!

        2. Akcipitrokulo*

          I think it doesn’t matter that much to be honest – it all feeds into the “overtired and having a bad day, but usually professional” version you’d like people to remember.

          Just be your best professional self and it will be OK.

        3. Anonym*

          OP4, Sansa won’t want to be reminded of it. Awkwardness is awkward for all. Bury it and don’t let your worries take over. The discomfort and feeling the need to address it will pass once you’ve had a few normal, professional-friendly interactions with her at the conference. Trust that it will pass!

          And just a side note of sympathy – worry has this nasty way of insisting on itself, but it’s wrong. Good only comes of letting this stay in the past. Best of luck!!

        4. Lynn Whitehat*

          Maybe for this year, give yourself more breaks so that you don’t get totally peopled-out. Know your limits.

        5. Karen from Finance*

          I agree with the others that you shouldn’t reference this to Sansa, directly or indirectly. It will just make it awkward all over again. She’s probably forgotten by now. Focus on showing a good image this time around and you’ll be fine.

    1. MK*

      HM. I would agree if, when Sansa showed up at the dinner, the OP apologized profusely, explaining that she forgot their arrangement, and then let it go. The crying, the repeated apologies and following Sansa around for the rest of the evening, that would take it from”slightly thought less colleague forgot our arrangement” to “wow, what an over-dramatic and exhausting person”.

      In either case, the best thing the OP can do is not refer to the incident, act and appear calm and collected and be professional and friendly to Sansa without coming on too strong.

      1. sacados*

        Definitely agree. Sansa was probably a bit irritated (or possibly just wondering if OP was OK) when her initial messages went without a response. Which I think is a natural reaction.
        But it would’ve been a non-issue with one “wow, I’m so sorry, Arya invited me to go eat with them and I completely forgot to message you about it.” End of story.

        That said, I totally sympathize with OP, sounds like anxiety got the better of her and pushed her into an overblown reaction to try and smooth over the situation. It wasn’t a great thing to do, but it’s in the past and the best thing that OP can do is not beat herself up over it (definitely don’t let yourself do the thing where you obsess over the secondhand embarrassment of your own past self!!).
        Just move on and create a new, calm and collected reputation for yourself!

        1. OP4*

          I am grateful for these comments because leaving it alone was at the bottom of my list of what to do, but it sounds like that’s the best thing!

          1. RUKiddingMe*

            Yes it *is* the best thing. Move it to the top of your list. Re-litigating something that happened a year ago will just make things weird (again!) this year. In the immortal words of Paul Mc Cartney: Let it be.

          2. Carlie*

            Oh yes. She is not thinking about it. Or if she does, the most she will be thinking is “I hope things don’t get weird again”. And if you bring it up, you will want to apologize. And then worry that the first apology didn’t sound emphatic enough, so will do it again. And then it’s entirely repeating the scenario!
            I’m with you – I do the same thing. It helps me to repeat to myself that no one pays as much attention to me as I do. She’s either totally forgotten or brushed it off, so let it go!

            1. OP4*

              Ha! That’s totally me: apologize, worry that it’s not sounding sincere and do it again, then apologize for apologizing… I exhaust *myself*!!

          3. MK*

            I know these things can loom gigantic in our brains and we feel like they have to be addressed and resolved, but really the best way to move past them is to exhibit better behavior in the future. The more Sansa sees of you being calm and professional, the more she will dismiss what happened a year ago as a bad moment. Most people really do want to just move on from embarassing situation and oftentimes it’s best to let them do it.

          4. Washi*

            I have anxiety issues and your reaction sounded so much like something that could happen to me! When someone is upset with me because I’ve done something wrong, my brain starts scraming FIX IT FIX IT FIX IT and then I go way overboard apologizing because I would do anything to get rid of that panic.

            I say this, because let’s say you do say something to Sansa again about this, and she reacts coolly. For me, that might be a trigger for my anxiety all over again. I definitely recommend just acting like nothing happened – that will be the most reassuring for both of you.

          5. Akcipitrokulo*

            It really is. Especially since part of what was the issue last time was the over-reaction to it – you want this time to be the opposite to counteract that impression. Mentioning it doesn’t only bring it to mind – when you want it left in the past – but it also reinforces any bad impression – you don’t want people thinking”Wow, she’s STILL on about that!?!?!?”

          6. Not A Manager*

            I would absolutely leave it alone. Act super professional and warm but distant.

            Apparently this is a multi-day conference. IF at the very very end of the conference, you feel that things went well, and you feel that your colleague is okay with you, and you have a good, private opportunity (maybe when you are shaking hands and saying goodbye) – then you can say, “It was great to see you again under better circumstances. Last time we met I was under some stress and I’m sorry you got pulled into it.” That’s all you need to say, and unless the circumstances are right, you probably shouldn’t say even that.

          7. epi*

            It really is.

            It is counterintuitive, but sometimes continuing to apologize and explain to people is actually kind of an imposition. They most likely heard what they needed to hear the first time– subsequent apologies are usually about soothing *yourself* and trying to get a particular response from that person. (Speaking from experience in both sides of that situation.) One way to think about this is, what would your interactions with Sansa probably be like if you’d handled that dinner better last year? She’d probably be a professional acquaintance you’re happy to see at conferences. I doubt you’d be asking her for emotional support for events that occurred a year ago, talking about your personal feelings, or singling her out to talk to before or after your panel with other people you presumably want to meet, too. Well, you can’t ask her for *more* this year than you would have if things had gone well.

            I would recommend Captain Awkward if you haven’t read before. She does a great job unpacking this type of anxious need to reengage when it would work better to let things go.

          8. Antonia Balazs*

            If you don’t leave it alone you’re putting Sansa in the position of having to field your reference to The Dinner. I doubt she wants to do that.

      2. RUKiddingMe*

        Yes, all of this.

        Ok, you missed the texts, you apologized…moving on. But to apologize 20 (!!!) times?! Crying…following her around?! If I were Sansa and knew that OP was going to be at the conference this year again, honestly I would hope to not need to spend any more time with her than professionally necessary.

        OP I don’t want to sound mean because I don’t mean it that way but all of the apologies after the first one and all of the rest of the over the top reaction to not realizing she was texting you…probably made her feel way uncomfortable. I’d bet money she was happy when the evening/night ended.

        1. Dunkin*

          The OP already acknowledged that her reaction was weird and over the top so I don’t see how this is helpful at all. Especially the part about “betting she was happy” when the evening was over. That’s just mean. One thing to be honest and another to rub salt in a wound. Leave her be, jeez.

          1. RUKiddingMe*

            I was not “rubbing salt in the wound.” Not trying to at any rate. I was only trying to give an idea how Sansa may have seen it at the tim and how if OP brought it up now, a year later, might feel about it.

            OP I apologize if my comment hurt your feelings.

            1. Dunkin*

              If you preface something with “I’m not trying to be mean because I don’t mean it that way”, you’re obviously aware that what you’re saying is unkind and unnecessary, so your apology here rings pretty false. You knew what you were doing. And it was mean. That’s all.

          1. theguvnah*

            does she though? Because she keeps reiterating that her instinct would be to apologize again. I think she needs directness in understanding why constantly apologizing to someone else is an imposition on that person.

        2. PVR*

          But speaking of over the top reactions, not only did the peer text multiple times but then proceeded to email, message through LinkedIn and Slack, and she even asked other people to contact the OP for 45 minutes. If I make plans with someone and they don’t respond to texts, I might call and if I can’t get ahold of that person, I’m going to assume either they are unavailable, their plans changed, or their phone died/they aren’t getting the messages. I would probably tell a mutual acquaintance if I ran into one, hey if you see So-and-So, can you let them know I’m still hoping they will swing by X location? And then if I run into that person and they explain that they weren’t getting my texts, I’m going to say, oh that makes sense now, so glad you are here! The peer’s reaction, to me, is also somewhat unreasonable. In the OP’s place, I could imagine feeling fairly overwhelmed and the need to match the level of intensity by over apologizing and then crying when that didn’t smooth over the miscommunication.

          1. CommanderBanana*

            ^^ This

            Glad I’m not the only one that thinks Sansa is being weird! I go to a ton of conferences, I’m also an introvert, and I often bail on optional social stuff to recharge so I’m functional the next day – it’s actually really normal. Ultimately I’m there to work, and I can’t be functional if I don’t have time to unwind.

            I’ll usually tell people to text me if they’re going somewhere and if I’m up for it I’ll respond – if not, I’m probably already asleep. If I were Sansa and my first text went unanswered, I’d have told OP that I was heading out and that would have been it. I think trying to contact her four different ways is a little weird.

          2. epi*

            I really don’t think this is helpful.

            More than one person in a situation can behave less than 100% optimally; the fact that you wouldn’t have acted as Sansa did doesn’t mean that the OP did nothing wrong. Sansa’s actions don’t explain the OP’s behavior and there is nothing she could do to make it ok to follow her around at a conference crying. It’s also not really clear that Sansa did anything that weird. Many people will put more effort into not even appearing to snub or ditch a professional contact they just met, than they would in another situation. It also sounds like Sansa provided some emotional support to the OP earlier in the conference, and she may have known it was unlikely that the OP would want to go alone.

            The bottom line is that, based on their actual interactions with Sansa, the OP likes her and cares about her good opinion. There is nothing here that is so unusual it suggests the OP is wrong to feel that way.

            1. CommanderBanana*

              I’m not saying the OP did nothing wrong, I’m saying the situation reads to me (as someone who attends way more conferences than they would like to) as odd from both sides, that’s all.

              1. boo bot*

                I actually think it is totally worth pointing out to the OP! It doesn’t mean that she didn’t make things awkward, or that she shouldn’t recognize her behavior wasn’t great and she could have handled things better (which she clearly does).

                But it’s true that Sansa was over the top with the messages, and that creates a sense of urgency that’s disproportionate to what happened, and I can see why the OP felt the need to apologize more profusely than was appropriate. I think that can be helpful to be aware of in the future: how upset someone else gets isn’t necessarily a reliable measure of how much you screwed up.

                1. CommanderBanana*

                  Thanks, you expressed that better than I did. I’d be alarmed if I saw that I’d missed that many attempts at communication but I would also be really off-put if someone did that over something ultimately pretty trivial.

                  Case in point – a few years ago I was traveling for a few days and had gone on two or three dates with someone right beforehand. I was out of touch while I was traveling but had told them I would be – and I got back to my office to voicemails and emails on my desk line and work email that I had NOT shared with that person, because they’d gotten so upset at not having their texts answered right away that they’d Googled where I’d worked and found my desk line and email on the website.

                  I did not talk to them again. They were a nice person, but that was such a bizarre thing to do over me being out of touch for a weekend that it freaked me out enough to completely stop contacting them.

                  Yes, the OP could have handled things better and hopefully will in future, but I also think Sansa’s behavior was a bit excessive.

                2. jolene*

                  No. OP leant emotionally on Sansa, Sansa was lovely at making a real effort to reach out, and Sansa got snubbed and then had to do emotional labour for sobbing OP. Sansa is entirely a sympathetic figure here.

            2. PVR*

              I think most reasonable people (not just me) would not have used 5 different platforms to get in touch with someone over a casual meet up (when there was presumedly no cause for alarm) and spent 45 minutes trying. I also think most reasonable people would accept that OP did not receive the texts and moved on more gracefully once they found out what happened. OP is all ready extremely focused on their own mistakes in the situation, so looking at the bigger picture may help to put the incident in perspective. In fact, OP may have been reacting to the intensity of the situation brought on by the peer—the multiple texts, linked in messages, slack messages, emails and attempts to contact mutual acquaintenances—without realizing that is why she reacted so strongly by over apologizing and then crying when that did not resolve the situation.

          3. RUKiddingMe*

            You know I hadn’t thought about it but Sansa kinda did kinda go over the top in trying to reach OP too. All that texting, email, etc. was more than necessary.

            1. Annie*

              If someone did what Sansa did to me I’d be freaked out and think I had a stalker. Not just the obsessive pursuit and attempts at contact, but the fact she was so shocked and hurt at a very minor “snub” most people would not even notice.

              1. sashi*

                I think the “shocked and hurt” could also be OP reading into her reaction due to her own overactive anxiety. To me it sounds like OP isn’t too outgoing but really clicked with Sansa; if I was Sansa in this situation, made plans with OP, and then OP didn’t reply, I wouldn’t assume that they got another ride or went to another event, I’d assume I got the wrong phone number and that OP would have been upset with me for ditching her since it kind of sounded like OP was relying on Sansa to be her social crutch that evening (or gave Sansa that impression).

          4. TootsNYC*

            well, the OP did say that Sansa helped her to stay calm during the lead-up to the presentation.

            So maybe Sansa had slipped into a caretaking role because of that interaction. Which would explain why she was as worried as she was.

          5. MCMonkeyBean*

            Completely agree! OP’s behavior was odd there is no denying that but Allison’s right that the best thing to do is to ignore it and move forward. But I wonder if OP might be helped in that at all if they stop to think about the fact that maybe they weren’t the only one who acted oddly. Sansa’s actions were quite odd as well.

            I think OP felt bad that Sansa spent 45 minutes trying to track them down, but unless they made plans that were much more firm then it sounds like in the letter, that was an unusual thing for Sansa to do and if they chose to do it that’s really on them! It sounds like an awkward situation all around. OP, just remind yourself that people in general are pretty weird and all we can do is try to be less awkward in the future! :)

      3. kittymommy*

        Same. Sansa, if she is even thinking about it, is probably hoping it doesn’t come up. Just ignore and move on.

    2. Annie*

      Both Sansa and the LW sound… intense.

      If I had casual plans to tag along with someone for dinner at a busy conference, I’d message them once or twice then assume either they were tired or something else came up. Sending dozens of texts, emails, trying to contact friends, even using linkedin (????) just sounds insanely stalkerish.

      Ditto, following someone around crying and apologising all night because you didn’t meet up with someone at a conference is excessive.

      I think the LW needs to look at deeper issues and her relationship with Sansa. Is her anxiety causing problems to the point Sansa was concerned about her physical welfare? That’s the only non-stalkerish reason for Sansa’s odd behaviour.

      1. jolene*

        She followed her round crying and apologising. Sansa was clearly worried about her mental state and rightly so.

  8. AngryAngryAlice*

    Re: burping

    I have acid reflux and IBS, and usually things are pretty under control. Flair-ups are rare, and I don’t really have to worry about this anymore (thank god). But during a flair-up, sometimes I burp at a rate of (and I SWEAR to you I am not exaggerating) up to 50-70 burps per minute. Sometimes it’s 1-2 burps/min, sometimes it’s one every few minutes. But if it starts, I have no good way of controlling it, and sometimes something carbonated actually helps relieve the tension/bloating and ends things faster.

    When this happens, I’m embarrassed and in physical pain because I’m burping acid up into the back of my throat. I know this doesn’t help you find a way to deal with it, but maybe you can sympathize with her a bit if it’s medical.

    Also, maybe consider buying a travel-sized pack of TUMS and offering her one if you’re nearby and this is happening? Sometimes that might help.

        1. AngryAngryAlice*

          And yes, that means more than one burp per second at the height of it. They’re short and terrible and don’t relieve any pain or bloating, and there’s acid in the back of my throat whenever this happens and it’s the absolute worst thing ever. Thankfully, that frequency usually only lasts a couple minutes before it slows down. But it happens every time I eat garlic and anyone who hasn’t experienced it always thinks I’m exaggerating unless they witness it.

          1. Michaela Westen*

            Don’t eat garlic. I know it’s hard to avoid – chefs and food processors apparently think there’s a law it has to be in everything – but it’s worth the trouble.
            As someone who has studied food allergies, it sounds like you might have an allergy or sensitivity to it.
            I have to avoid both garlic and onion because of my sensitivity to fructose. Do you also have trouble with onion or other foods? If so, identifying the family of foods to avoid might help you even more.

            1. Observer*

              I’m sure that AngryAngryAlice knows to avoid garlic. And no, this is not allergy, this is classic reflux. Onions are another food that can often trigger some pretty bad results in reflux sufferers,

    1. blink14*

      I also have acid reflux, and I rely on fizzy drinks (generally ginger ale) to sort of “disperse” extra air in my stomach and settle it. I also agree that could be why this woman is drinking soda first thing in the morning. It’s obviously not a great long term solution, but maybe it’s the only thing working for her? Who knows.

      I second the Tums suggestion (although my preference is Rolaids!).

      1. Rainy*

        Ugh, I wish antacids worked on mine! I find that a huge spoonful of really cold yogurt sometimes helps.

  9. Knitting Cat Lady*

    Re: Burping and soda

    I have a colleague who has to drink a certain amount of carbonated beverages a day due to a stomach condition.

    And soda usually leads to burping when you drink a lot of it very fast. Plenty of people manage to drink it without ever burping.

    So the soda is not necessarily connected to the burping.

  10. Matt*

    I have a burping coworker too, sitting at my opposite desk – the worst about it isn’t the noise, but the uncertainty if it’s just the noise, or if there will be a cloud of smell of his half-digested recent lunch wafting over to my desk … I find myself holding my breath each time he does it again.

    1. JulieCanCan*


      Keep your mouth closed when you’re walking by or you might taste what he had for lunch.

  11. Lady Ariel Ponyweather*

    OP#2, just want to say thank you for stepping in and doing something. I hope you (and the child) never have to see that man again and all goes well.

    1. Lucy*

      Yes, LW2, this is just what I came to say. I think Alison’s advice is just right, but more importantly thank you for stepping in and making a difference to that child.

      1. valentine*

        OP2: It’s great that you were able to help.

        I might tell my manager, in case the guy shows up in my department.

    2. Hmm*

      +1, even if nothing comes of it.

      Someone confronted my father in this way when I was young. Nothing happened unfortunately, but my brother and I never forgot what the person said.

      1. TootsNYC*

        I think this is so important–I think people in abusive situations benefit greatly from hearing the message, “This is not normal.”

    3. Alli525*

      Yes, heartily agreed. I was in the awful position of watching a mother scream/curse at her screaming child and yank her around while on public transit yesterday, but she seemed so angry and stressed out that I chose not to engage. (Previous attempts to say something to others have not resulted in kind dialogue.) Maybe, just maybe, your intervention will make a positive difference in your coworker’s life, and in his child’s life.

    4. iglwif*

      + a million.

      It can mean the world to a kid to witness another adult calling out terrible adult behaviour as Not Okay.

      1. Case of the Mondays*

        As someone who was regularly screamed at in private by an emotionally abusive parent, situations like this infuriate me. You absolutely did the right thing, OP. I hope that poor excuse for a father is punished and the child gets help.

        Here’s another reason to inform HR that this father has been reported to CPS: This man could also have an anger management problem at work.

        1. iglwif*

          I mean, he might not. My bio father was abusive af (usually not physically, but in every other way) at home but people he worked with remember him as affable and funny.

          But yeah, he equally well might. I feel like we’re always hearing about cases where workplace violence turns out to have been preceded by domestic violence…

  12. Ruth (UK)*

    3. I had almost forgotten about this, but I burped with level of frequency for a bit over a year when I was a teenager (perhaps 15 or so). My mother even took me to the doctor about it and nothing was ever concluded… they mostly thought it was linked to anxiety/etc (and even at one point went through this awkward period of suspecting I had been abused in some way and wanted my parents not present during talks with the doctor etc). Basically, I had a lot of stress/anxiety issues as a teenager, mostly linked to what was quite bad obsessive compulsive disorder at the time. I was also prone to swallowing/gulping a lot of air when trying to calm myself.

    Because the burping was so frequent (and I almost stopped noticing when I was doing it because it was so much), I was definitely not pardoning myself after every burp. Being a teenager as well, burping frequently tended to get me in a lot of trouble (which probably didn’t help as I was otherwise a quiet and well behaved child who hated being in trouble – and already burping through anxiety) – people believe this is something everyone can control. And while you might be able to hold back some burps, not everyone can all the time. These were small ones which surfaced unexpectedly – so I didn’t necessarily even have time to cover my mouth or think about attempting to hold them (plus if I hold in a burp, they come out my nose with about the same sound anyway).

    So… I think if someone if burping as much as number 3’s boss, whether or not it’s strictly ‘medical’ in condition/reason, I doubt it’s likely they can control it or are doing it on purpose. If that is the case, asking them to try and stop would be pointless anyway and just make things awkward.

  13. Story Nurse*

    #1: Among the many other problems with that approach, questions that require visual acumen and facial recognition are biased against people who are visually impaired or faceblind. And the “man of your dreams” bit discriminates against gay people.

    As for the logic puzzle, my friend is presumably providing first aid to the old woman while strongly encouraging her to see a doctor, and the best thing I can do is stay out of the way, so I leave my husband (aka the man of my dreams) to take the bus and keep driving. If it’s an emergency, my friend is already calling 911 and my husband is already performing CPR, or vice versa. (We all re-up our CPR/first aid certifications every two years.) I pull over safely, get the Red Cross CPR guidance app up on my phone, and then swap in for chest compressions as needed until the medics arrive. However, if there’s a bus I could be taking, I wouldn’t be driving, and if my husband and I are going to the same place and need to get there around the same time, presumably he’d already be in the car with me, and there’s an urgent care center right by our nearest bus stop… so really none of this makes any sense.

    #2: Thank you for making that report.

    1. OP 1*

      I’m a lesbian so I had no idea how to repeat the question without making it awkward. I used “person of my dreams” in the response but she persisted with “man” and I was really uncomfortable

      1. QueenB*

        Oh yikes! I would have thought she would have taken the hint but I guess it hadn’t occurred to her? I mean I doubt it’s intentional but it is a poorly though-through interview question from that perspective only.

      2. RUKiddingMe*

        I know you say you don’t have a lot of job options right now, so if you absolutely must continue with this place then do so, but if you can see any way clear to *not* do that, I think you are likely to dodge a bullet here.

        Not because she kept saying “man,” some people just don’t “get” that not everyone fits into their own little world view, but because that is a stupid test/interview and the possibility that the whole place is this screwy would make me scared to accept/get trapped in a job there.

        I mean what if you get hired, find out that they *are* all this fucked up and then you ca’t leave because you turned down/failed to pursue other opportunities, possible other jobs are already filled, you would look like you’re job hopping…ergo you *have to* stay a couple/few years?

        So much —try to find pretty much any other job— about this.

      3. Snickerdoodle*

        Yikes! I would’ve just said “You mean the WOMAN of my dreams?” Let it get awkward. Let it fester. They started it.

      4. Not Me*

        Is she the only HR person at the company or does she have a boss? I would 100% contact the boss (if there is one) and mention this. They are just asking for a lawsuit with this question and the insistence on making the question heterosexual based.

      5. Save One Day at a Time*

        If you do end up taking this job, this will be your HR person.Hopefully they aren’t the only one in the department?

      6. Oranges*

        The constant hetronormativity suuuuuuucks.

        Also she should have picked up on the fact that you didn’t gender the person. In my area that would tell me that this person has never dealt with or learned about LGBT+ issues (saddens me because HR). It might be different in your area though.

      7. Yikes!*

        Also wondering… if you don’t accept the position, can you forward a link to this thread to the head of the company?

      8. CM*

        Ew. That’s not a great sign about the interviewer, but I guess there’s a chance the whole company isn’t like that? Here’s hoping.

    2. Falling Diphthong*

      I am very good at detail work (in my writing) but have no idea of the color of the chairs or the receptionist’s hair unless they were so strange as to cause anyone to do a double take.

      1. EnfysNest*

        I’m trying to think of the color of the chairs in the lobby to my current office, which I have passed through several times a day for the past 4 years and… they might be orange? Or peach? Or maybe tan? I really have no idea – it’s just not information that my brain has deemed necessary to store.

        ….Actually, after typing that first part, I went down to meet with a coworker and glanced into the lobby on the way and the seats are tan and the seat backs are light green. So, yeah, I failed that test after walking past those chairs literally thousands of times. Using that as a test is nonsense.

        1. nonegiven*

          Don’t forget that blue/black white/gold dress that blew up the internet a while back. People can’t agree on the color while looking at it.

    3. Jadelyn*

      Re the questions about chair color/hair color/etc, for me the issue is ADHD – stuff like that gets dumped out of my mental buffer in approximately 0.1 seconds, unless it was particularly awesome in some way – a receptionist with rainbow hair or something cool like that. Otherwise, my mind races too fast to hold on to those kinds of details.

    4. smoke tree*

      These questions are so baffling that I would probably have just said something like, “Sorry, I honestly don’t understand what information you’re looking for with this question. I’d be happy to discuss this from a work context instead.” While it’s a slightly aggressive approach and might piss off the interviewer, I just can’t imagine sitting through a full interview’s worth of preschool aptitude tests. Not to mention the heteronormativity–yeesh.

  14. Cynthia*

    I’ve had a boss in the past tell me how disrespectful I was for getting upset every time someone sneezed in the office that you’d hear like 10 bless yous each time. That’s disruptive and sneezing happens during allergy/flu times.
    Bodily noises whether sneezing,burping or farting happen…I wouldn’t want someone pointing it out every time I did it.

    1. Airy*

      Everyone in my office sneezes more or less constantly (our air conditioning is horrid) and I have a policy of one blessing per person per day; they just have to make it last.

      1. RUKiddingMe*

        So glad I’m not the only one that has a “one per person per day, make it last” policy!

          1. RUKiddingMe*

            I have, multiple times, but I am at a loss to make the connection right this minute…

            1. Sam Sepiol*

              “but you didn’t say god bless you when I sneezed!”
              The woman nearly dies for this transgression!!

      2. nonegiven*

        Stand up and address the whole office, “Bless y’all, everyone,” and be done for the day.

    2. Allison*

      I’ve had to tell my coworkers that my face explodes multiple times a day, and they don’t need to say “bless you” every time.

      I’ve also had my boss come to my desk and tell me off for burping once, because someone who worked near me didn’t like it. I have tried not to belch too loud since then, but sometimes I’ve got some tummy gas, and it’s gotta come out, and all I can do is try to let it out quietly.

    3. ScienceTeacher*

      I have severe allergies (no, sniffling, sneezing, and nose blowing) plus some weird thing with my diaphragm where I will hiccup a single time, it’s loud, painful, and random.
      The kindest and most polite thing anyone can do for me is to pretend it didn’t happen/ignore it. I hate hearing “bless you” from 6 people down the hallway….

      1. Pomona Sprout*

        I’m with you on the “bless yous”! I have allergies, and I’m a sneezer….and when I sneeze, I can rattle the windows. I can’t tell you how embarrassing it is when this happens in a public place and the next thing I hear is a chorus of “bless yous” from random strangers. *cringe* I know it’s a knee jerk reaction for people to do that, but I still feel like looking for a hole to crawl into!

    4. Alli525*

      I usually just mutter “bless you” under my breath when a coworker sneezes from a few cubicles away – they can’t hear it, but my superstitious ass feels better. (I’ve always liked the old folk belief – maybe indigenous? – that a sneeze is your soul’s attempt to escape and a “bless you” locks it back in place.) For coworkers with serial sneezes, like 3 or 4 in a row, I just say “bless you” the once.

      I also try to take into account religious beliefs, so maybe “gesundheit” for non-Christians, even though I would never say “God bless you” (just “bless you”) anyway.

      1. EmKay*

        iirc the “bless you” comes from medieval times, when people thought that your nose running was bits of your brain leaking out, so they blessed a sneezing person in case they were dying

  15. 867-5309*

    I might be in the minority here, but I think abusing children and assaulting someone rise to the level of notifying HR. Especially since in this case, OP2 shares an employer with this person. I’m not suggesting the individual be fired without due process but also…maybe she should be fired.

    1. Lucy*

      LW went through the proper processes (police etc) so the report is more to give HR notice that there is now history between LW and ChildHitter rather than because the employer has any duty regarding the child. LW can be completely factual (“I reported to police ChildHitter for hitting a child and I only mention it in case it comes up later”).

      Being a child abuser doesn’t bar people from many jobs, whatever we may think. I think it would be different if the company or his role had something to do with survivors or child protection or education or similar, but particularly before conviction and on a coworker’s say-so it would be unreasonable to just get rid of him. Again, different if he is at-will and it leads to a conviction, or there is something in a contract or employee handbook regarding arrests or charges. Obviously we believe LW, but it would set a difficult precedent.

      1. Lucy*

        Ugh words are hard.

        It does occur to me though that a company with bars on employing people with particular convictions will often suspend people accused of disqualifying offences (e.g. if you can’t employ someone with a conviction for CSA and one of your employees is accused of viewing indecent images of children, you suspend them during the investigation/trial).

      2. RUKiddingMe*

        Agreed. I completely believe OP’s statement, and she went through the proper channels via the police.

        However going to HR and saying “I accused ChildHitter of hitting a child then he pushed me and I recently found out he works for our company” is fine but if he were to get fired without a conviction…that seems just a little over the top, even here in the US with little to no employee rights.

        That this happened in another country where hitting a child is illegal (not like here) then I would bet my last donut that they can’t just terminate him anyway.

        1. Kettles*

          Or to reframe this:

          “Hi HR. I’ve seen this co-worker be violent twice, once to a minor and once to me personally. I have reported him and have a reasonable fear for my safety.”

        2. PVR*

          I don’t think it’s over the top to fire an employee for getting physical with another employee full stop. No warning, no police or conviction, simply, that type of behavior will not be tolerated here. Completely fair and frankly, what I expect to be most conpany’s policy.

          1. Lucy*

            I know what you’re saying, but the company didn’t witness it. Again, we believe LW, but the company doesn’t want to set the precedent of dismissing people without evidence (so it would be fine to wait for the court hearing and in the meantime review internal procedures).

            Anything on company property especially on camera, nothing further required, goodbye and good riddance. But there are employees who make trouble with false accusations so I do think you have to wait for more evidence than “LW said”.

            1. RUKiddingMe*

              This exactly. It’s a bad policy to start firing people just because someone said they did something.

            2. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

              I think it’s important to be careful about the idea of who “witnesses” something. If someone is being prosecuted for assaulting another employee, that’s something I want to know as an employer.

              You’re right that it’s not ok to penalize people for allegations, but it’s also ok for an employer to suspend someone during an investigation or to take precautionary measures when there’s an allegation of violent or assaultive behavior.

              1. Lucy*

                Yes, and that’s something I mentioned in my second comment. Paid suspension is a good way to protect employers and employees without prejudice – but it’s expensive.

            3. Kettles*

              But also I wasn’t jumping immediately to “So fire him!!!!!” – it’s reasonable to report that a colleague has made you afraid without a judicial conviction.

              1. Lucy*

                Yes definitely reasonable to flag up – but not reasonable to expect anything of your employer beyond keeping you apart wherever possible, or similar protective measures.

                1. Kettles*

                  Not at all. But as I said below I was advocating firing if there was video / physical/ witness evidence

            4. CEMgr*

              The evidence backing up LW’s claim is her own testimony and for a trusted employee, that certainly puts it over the bar of preponderance of the evidence, assuming that HR does what is appropriate, and asks some followup questions to test and confirm LW’s statement. As a hire/fire manager in the here and now, I would consider that adequate to start proceedings heading toward termination for ChildHitter.

        3. Autumnheart*

          I think the concern is that ChildHitter might see OP in the hallway and confront her again/get violent. Which would, of course, be a firing offense, but that might not be of much comfort to OP if she’s injured in a future confrontation.

          1. Kettles*

            Exactly this. I’ve briefly mentioned a creepy coworker to my boss – not as a “fire the person” but as a “just in case this escalates”. And physical violence is way worse than creepy behaviour.

      3. Kathlynn (Canada)*

        I think his reaction to getting confronted is something I would want HR to know about. If he is violent towards children, and threatening to those who step in, he may also be violent or aggressive towards people in other situations.

        1. Washi*

          Yeah, sounds like a guy with a dangerously short fuse. I would definitely want to have a heads up about that.

        2. So long and thanks for all the fish*

          Yeah- not that I agree with this, but there are still parents that believe in spanking, which is of course hitting children, but generally not illegal. If the police/CPS investigate and find that no underlying child abuse occurred, it’s still definitely an issue that he assaulted the OP, and one the employer might want to know about.

          1. Kettles*

            See my first response is to agree and say haha, of course spanking isn’t the same as beating! Then I remember Sean Connery saying it was ok to hit a woman with an open hand.

                1. Kettles*

                  Sorry the point was that my cultural conditioning, both as a member of society and of a (semi) older generation where being hit was ‘normal’ was to normalise it. Then look at other cultural ‘justifications’ and realise they are bullshit.

      4. WellRed*

        What about the assault on the coworker, though? Not saying I disagree with anything else you’ve said, though.

    2. Hmm*

      I think you notify HR because the person assaulted YOU while you were witnessing a crime that you reported. That alone is reason to tell them.

      1. 867-5309*

        This is what I was thinking… that the person assaulted another employee – even off premise and outside of work – is reason to tell HR.

      2. WS*

        Yes, I agree. Unfortunately, hitting a child isn’t a crime in a lot of places, so it may legally not come to anything, but HR needs to know that one employee assaulted another outside of work.

    3. Ladysplainer*

      I am in the US and OP is not but here… HR (and possibly even the police) may not care that the jerk hit the child but OP their concern would be that he assaulted you.
      I’ve had to let HR know that I’m afraid of being assaulted (long story, good reason for fear) by someone who doesn’t even work in our industry.
      At some companies you could get in trouble for not telling HR that. This man obviously isn’t Ok, gets violent with whomever. What if he gets violent again at work and it comes up that you were well aware?

    4. Kettles*

      I think the individual should be fired. The teenager who punched a colleague (of his own age and size) outside of work hours was terminated. We all agreed that that was fair.

      This guy has assaulted a child and a coworker. He should be gone, yesterday, not least because people like that typically escalate – especially when they perceive themselves to have been ‘wronged’.

      There’s a lot of psychology around this. It won’t be “I’m a terrible person for hitting a child,” it’ll be “how dare Jane interfere with my parenting / she’ll get hers.”

      1. RUKiddingMe*

        So HR is supposed to just take the word of one person, without actual proof? Sure OP notified police but anyone can make an accusation about anything. Taking in the info and maybe investigating is a great idea, but to simply start firing people because someone accused them of something (and I do believe OP!!!) is a bad precedent.

        1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

          It’s true that people sometimes issue false reports as retaliation against others, and as a result, we cannot rely exclusively on uncorroborated evidence. But we also don’t require proof beyond a reasonable doubt (the standard for criminal prosecution) when it comes to avoiding workplace violence. And we don’t want to perpetuate an environment in which we don’t take victims of violent crimes at their word.

          If there’s an allegation of an employee assaulting another employee under the circumstances OP has described, then OP absolutely should report this to HR, and at a minimum HR should be considering suspending the alleged assaulter. It also sounds like there were witnesses, which takes this out of the allegation realm and squarely into the “an incident actually occurred, and there’s evidence to that effect” realm. The employer can decide if it wants to undertake investigation or wait for the criminal process to play out before determining how to handle the Assaulting Employee.

        2. Kettles*

          Ah – no not at all. I was thinking that cctv / physical evidence was involved. If it’s words then you are right that more circumspection is needed.

        3. CEMgr*

          I agree HR should do some followup on LW’s statement, as I noted earlier. The reaction of termination shouldn’t be instantaneous.

  16. Hmm*

    #4 For the record, you only ever need to apologise once. After that it makes it awkward for the other person.

      1. Falling Diphthong*

        Thirding. One sincere apology and then move on. Making them keep reassuring you is very draining.

        1. The Original K.*

          I agree. And for sure don’t bring it up at the next conference. If she’s thinking about it at all (which I doubt), she’s probably hoping that there’s no repeat of last time. In her shoes, if I got another apology I’d be like “Uh oh, is it starting again?” Just move forward and establish a new reputation as a calm, focused professional!

        2. Sloan Kittering*

          This is exactly it. Repeated apologies are shifting the focus from *their* inconvenience to *your* need for reassurance. So ultimately it defeats the purpose.

          1. OP4*

            All super good points. I am sure you can believe that I apologize A LOT for lots of things. In my professional life (at work) I have stopped using “sorry” for almost everything unless I literally caused someone harm. I just haven’t done that in my private life yet – and this was kind of a weird crossover. I have to remember this!!

    1. Curiouser and Curiouser*

      Going overboard with the apologies also robs the person of the right to be a little annoyed. Yes, what you did was annoying. It’s not unforgivable, however, so at a certain point you’re forced to say “it’s alright” just to make the apologies stop.

        1. jolene*

          OP, you’re doing a truly excellent job of listening here and I commend you hugely.

  17. One of the Sarahs*

    OP #1, I’m laughing out loud with horror at that interview – I read it to my partner who’s colour blind, and cannot stand bullshit hypotheticals that have no bearing on real jobs, and her face is a picture too. I hope, for your sake, that it’s just a weird individual quirk, but the fact it’s someone in HR does give me pause.

    1. One of the Sarahs*

      Also, re “What gives you pain”, what would that kind of interviewer do if I answered something like “stubbing my toe” – would that be seen as too flippant? I can’t think of what the ‘right’ answer is – “climate change” and “Brexit” are true, but obviously political, ditto “the fact people have to use foodbanks in the UK in 2019”.

      I suspect my first reactions would be a bit sarcastic – things like “Not getting jobs I’ve interviewed for” and so on. But I wonder what the interviewer would do if someone responded with something really painful, like “finding out my parents liked my siblings better than me” or “finding out my boyfriend cheated on me” etc etc. I genuinely can’t think of a way to answer this that’s being sincere but interview-appropriate!

      1. Lucy*

        Is it meant to be some new iteration of the classic “what’s your weakness” style question? Are they expecting you to say “missed deadlines” or “typographical errors” or something?

        1. One of the Sarahs*

          Oh, interesting – though I wouldn’t want a member of my team to feel pain from making a mistake, I’d want them to be able to spot it quickly, acknowledge it and learn from it so they could avoid similar mistakes in future, if possible. But your answer makes as much sense as anything else in this bizzarro interview….

              1. Lucy*

                (onscreen, I’m not bothered. But when something is meant to have gone through an editorial process and a “wreckless decision” remains, I flinch)

              2. it's-a-me*

                A typo in a favorite book can be like a friend you see again each time you read it.

                “Oh, I remember you!”

                1. Jadelyn*

                  Oh my god it is though. “Hello again “bee strings”, I missed you!” (Actual factual example, why do I remember that one off the top of my head? No one knows…)

      2. Anon for this*

        I would hate to have to filter through my genuine have-been-in-therapy-for-them traumas unexpectedly in any situation, much less a job interview. Childhood neglect, #metoo moment – no, can’t use those, no, don’t get caught up in it now it’s not the time… Ah, there’s my interview appropriate answer.
        I mean seriously wtf.

        1. One of the Sarahs*

          Exactly this! For me it would be sarcastic answer, no, no Sarah, take it seriously… No, not THAT seriously! That’s too much! Think, think… would “world hunger” work? TOO FLIPPANT! But aaargh I can’t say *that* in an interview…. I bet I’d end up just blurting out “terrible interview questions like this one!”

        2. OP1*

          I kind of laughed it off and said “student loans” but she PRESSED FOR MORE so I told her there was a lot of emotional fallout from a surgery I had last year and even though I didn’t give details I felt pretty gross about it

          1. Snickerdoodle*

            The whole thing screams “They have no idea how to hire (and therefore probably no idea how to manage)” so I wouldn’t worry about it anyway. Not exactly related, but it reminds me of a question I once got: “How do you handle drama in the workplace?” I thought “I work someplace else!” but of course only said something lame about taking a few deep breaths and referring the situation to a supervisor or something. Turns out the supervisor WAS the drama llama at that workplace, and the position was vacant due to high turnover due to his antics. Always be suspicious of weird interview questions!

          2. Lance*

            Going by the letter, and your comments, it sounds like this woman’s whole thing is ‘pressing for more’, huh? I would be… really concerned about someone wanting to dig in that deep about things that frankly don’t concern them in any sort of work context, to be quite honest. How much else is she going to demand to know/have further clarified?

            1. Kelly L.*

              And did they have OP cook dinner for 20 after the interview?

              They seem bizarrely pushy and culty.

            2. Jadelyn*

              I’m both exasperated on OP’s behalf, and feel vaguely bad for the interviewer – there’s not a lot of training you get when you advance to a level where you’re involved in hiring. Some companies do train their new managers, but most don’t, and so you sort of get thrown in the deep end, wind up frantically googling for advice, and finding terrible advice that leads you to this sort of situation. Ask weird trick questions, “always probe for more”, etc. This whole thing reads to me as someone who’s never really been taught how to interview and hire, and is just sort of doing what she thinks she’s supposed to be doing.

            3. Pomona Sprout*

              Seriously, this is a job interview, not psychotherapy! The goofy questions are bad enough; the pressing for more and more intimate details is wildly inappropriate and just plain gross.

          3. LaDeeDa*

            And she was the HR MANAGER? If this was a someone who was on the hiring panel and had no clue what they were doing- then maybe (?) but… an HR manager should know how useless and problematic such questions are. You have now revealed a traumatic surgery… and she could be wondering if that is something that is going to cause attendance problems, higher claims through benefits… uggg. It makes me angry.

          4. Sara without an H*

            One word: Boundaries. They don’t have them.

            I know you said you don’t have a lot of options for jobs just now, but based on your letter and your comments so far, I’d recommend you give this place a pass, unless you have to choose between this job and sleeping in your car.

        1. irene adler*

          That works.
          I would have said “sharp objects”.
          If they won’t be specific regarding the kind of response they are seeking, it’s not my problem if my answer is not something they can use.

      3. Mary*

        For some reason, my immediate reaction in that kind of situation would be the kind of extreme discomfort that certain sounds/textures give you: I’d probably go with “people scraping their cutlery on rough or unglazed ceramics” which would be 1. entirely true 2. spectacularly unhelpful in most job situations?

      4. EPLawyer*

        What causes me pain? Stupid interview questions that have nothing to do with the actual job.

        But well, that wouldn’t go over well. But it would be nice to think about doing.

        1. Lance*

          Personally? I’d be quite fine with it not going over well… but then I have a very low tolerance bar for nonsense.

        1. Jamie*

          That was my first thought and honestly, probably would have blurted out some form of that with a grin.

      5. Oranges*

        I would be really tempted to make it about bdsm regardless of the fact that I’m not a masochist.
        “My mistresses whips” maybe????

        1. Jennifer Juniper*

          I thought the same thing…or worse…the question could be a prelude to being dragged off to be tortured and executed…

      6. Jennifer Juniper*

        “Not bringing world-class performance to this role in every day and every way. It brings me pain when I let the team down.”

        I would say this – and mean it.

  18. Actual Australian*

    OP4, I think that you need to be kind to yourself about what happened. It sounds like you were tired, over socialised and made a mistake. These things happen and while what happened at the dinner wasn’t ideal, you have the opportunity to reshape the narrative with this upcoming event. As long as you are professional and polite, it will be in the past where it belongs.
    This time, start again as if it hadn’t happened and take care of yourself.

    1. Miss Astoria Platenclear*

      Yes. You can move on from this faux pas. Others may not even remember it as well as you do.
      Here’s hoping you have some pleasurable, balanced amount of socializing in your life. <3.

        1. CommanderBanana*

          Actual Australian’s got a great point – I’m an introvert whose job kind of revolves around conferences (sigh).

          When we do our pre-conference training we really, really stress self-care, including trying to get enough sleep, hydrating like crazy, and building in time to be alone and unwind. My extrovert coworkers like to go out and do social stuff after 12+ hours days being around people. I Do Not and I can’t function very well unless I have time to recharge, so it’s known that unless an event is mandatory or I’m staffing it, I’m not going to be there.

          If you’re going to be attending conferences on the regular, schedule self-care time, and it’s okay to tell people that you’d like to be invited to stuff but going is going to depend on how you’re feeling at the moment and you can’t promise you’ll make it.

    2. CM*

      This time I’d also keep a little distance from Sansa — unless she explicitly invites you somewhere (in which case, show up and continue to act normal and not apologize), don’t suggest any social outings with her and keep it friendly but professional.

  19. Atlanta*


    They are hopeless, weird interview questions that at most show that you can spit out canned answers to hopeless, weird interview questions, not that you can perform at the job.

    They are really familiar too, so the likelihood of getting a hackneyed answer, even if it meant something, has got to be high. I read that the traditionally ‘best’ answer to “what animal do you identify with” is a duck—smooth and gliding on the surface and all hustle underneath or a squirrel—always look ahead and make sure the future is taken care of while it’s easy to do so in the present.

    1. Lepidoptera*

      I would do terribly on those animal questions, since I love finding weird stuff on Discovery.

      “I’d be a Turritopsis dohrnii. My retirement plan did not account for immortality, so I’m going to need more details about your 401k.”

      1. Pomona Sprout*

        Based on the last thing I watched on Animal Planet, I’d probably say I’d be a rock hyrax….which is a cute, furry animal that spends most of its time lying around like a “fluffy rock” (direct quote from a zookeeper on the show I saw!). I’m sure that would go over GREAT in a job interview lol!

  20. Washi*

    OP1 – sounds like you had an interview with Buddy the Elf! But that doesn’t necessarily mean that everyone at that company is like that. My best boss ever was at a job where when I applied, I had to record my answers to questions in one of those horrible interviews, and HR was also really into Topgrading (that method where you make the candidate walk you through every job they’ve had in excruciating detail.)

    If the job itself seems good and the Glassdoor reviews seem normal, I’d give them another shot.

    1. OP1*

      the only other review I could find was a comment about how the interview process was invasive and super long haha

      1. Michaela Westen*

        The answer to what gives me pain would probably be details about my abusive parents – and then I’d wait to see what happens.
        Or I might get so mad I’d just leave.
        Really, who do they think they are asking this? The right answer would be all the details of the most traumatic thing the interviewee has experienced (or seen in news or TV, and how it made them feel).
        Just dump all that on them – they literally asked for it.

        1. Pomona Sprout*

          Like I said in another thread, this is a job interview, not psychotherapy. Probing people for details on their personal traumas? Of all the nerve!

  21. Same.*

    Re #4: Am I the only one who thinks Sansa’s efforts to reach OP were really overkill? Multiple text messages, email, LinkedIn, AND Slack, plus asking other people to contact them?

    1. Blue_eyes*

      That’s what I was coming here to say. That sounds like A LOT of attempts to reach OP for something that wasn’t urgent or particularly important. If I were Sansa, I would have done something more like: texted twice, called once, waited 5-10 minutes, and then texted that I was leaving for dinner and I would see OP there.

      I wonder if Sansa’s over the top attempts to reach OP are part of what made OP’s reaction so strong. I would feel really bad if someone had tried that hard to reach me and I hadn’t responded.

      1. Lily Rowan*

        The odds are decent that Sansa ALSO feels like she was weird that night, so just pretending like none of it happened is an even better idea!

      2. ExpatInTheHat*

        Thirding this. I think all those attempts probably helped build the situation up in OP’s head into something way bigger and that of course ramped up the anxiety around it.

      3. Sloan Kittering*

        There is enough awkwardness on both sides to go around. Sansa probably feels weird that she went to defcon 11 too (although I completely understand why she might have, if they had a clear meeting time and someone didn’t show up you might think something terrible happened to them, particularly if that person is junior and you’re supposed to be showing them around). But since OP was fine and having a good time at the dinner Sansa probably feels a little sheepish too.

      4. OP4*

        This is such a great point that I hadn’t thought of. When I think about it, that did play a part in how upset at myself I was. Still not sansa’s fault that I acted that way, but it makes me feel a little better!

    2. Smia*

      Exactly what I thought! A call and text or two, but that many times and methods? I’d be creeped out, tbh

      1. Peachywithasideofkeen*

        Same! It sounds like it was awkward on both ends. Just let it go and move on!

    3. L. S. Cooper*

      It’s definitely a lot, but I wonder if Sansa was worried about LW4 after she stopped responding? There have been stories in the news about horrible things happening to women at conferences, and it’s possible Sansa had a completely reasonable fear that LW4 had been hurt.

      1. NotMyRealName*

        I was kind of in this situation at a conference. A group of us were supposed to catch a cab to the airport at the end (very early) and one woman was missing. We called and texted her but got no answer. We had the desk send someone to check – her things were in her room but she was not. We had to leave at that point, but she later got in touch with one of the group who let the rest of us know she was ok.

    4. Yvette*

      Yes, unless Sansa had reason to worry that the OP was lying under a bus somewhere, it was very over the top. I agree with the others who think that this probably contributed to the OPs reaction. I think Sansa will want to pretend it never happened as much as you do.

      Am I the only one who is reminded of the letter from the woman whose anxiety caused her a problem at work?

      1. valentine*

        OP4 spiraled and was able to see how everyone reacted, thus feeding the cycle.

        That OP stalked and harassed her coworker in ways that required police involvement. “Caused a work problem” tops “Houston, we have a problem” because that wasn’t deliberate minimization.

    5. TootsNYC*

      well, the OP did say Sansa “helped to keep me calm,”and then add in the over-apologizing, so I wonder if that indicates an overriding anxiety, and a dynamic in which Sansa ended up being “emotional support person.”

      In that situation, Sansa might have feel much more invested than she would have with other people.

    6. Samwise*

      Totally agree. I’d text twice, call on the hotel house phone and leave a message, and that’s it. Sansa was really overdoing it — I’d think it was creepy TBH.

  22. Anne of Green Gables*

    #5: I would have the conversations Allison outlines as soon as possible. I frequently call candidates to confirm that they are okay with the salary–the lowest of the range mentioned in the job posting. (Yes, I know, that sucks. There is nothing I or my department can do about it, hence the phone calls to candidates.) It is *extremely* frustrating when someone who says yes, they are still interested then turns us down when they realize we were serious about that being the salary.

    1. Samwise*

      I;ve been on the other end of your phone call and have said yes, because the job may turn out to be worth the lower pay (benefits, lots of flex time, possibility for advancement — and lots of other reasons), I just don’t know at that point. And, sometimes employers will say, this is really truly all we can offer, and then come up with more $ after all. There’s no way for the person on the other end of the phone to know.

    2. vck*

      I’ve had that problem, but kind of in reverse! When I was doing my phone interview, I was told they only had a budget of $X and absolutely could not go higher. I was fine with it, but later my supervisor (who wasn’t part of the interview process) mentioned that she could have negotiated for more if I had said anything. *facepalm*

  23. SaffyTaffy*

    #3 I can’t believe anybody could stand to be in a room with a person like that. I actually beg off seeing a friend I’m fond of because she does the same thing your manager does, and it makes me dry heave. I’m sure she knows about it and is just resigned to it- at least my friend is.

    1. marmalade*

      Right? I was honestly surprised by the other top-level responses here – I have an strong and instinctual disgust of burping. It just really, really grosses me out, and I can’t even say why, but it’s overpoweringly repellent to me. Ugh, even the idea of working around someone who’s burping all the time makes me feel ill.

      Also, not impressed that she has a burping problem (which she must be aware of) and she drinks a lot of carbonated drinks.

      1. SaffyTaffy*

        FWIW, my friend insists that what she drinks doesn’t change her problem. I asked her if people at work have ever mentioned it, and her response just now was, “I think a couple of people moved cubicles because of me. I wish I could get away from myself sometimes, it’s gross.” So there’s at least an anecdote about how a rational person might respond to OP3

      2. Rainy*

        I mean, maybe read some of the other comments here from people whose gastric issues are actually helped by carbonated drinks.

    2. Ask a Manager* Post author

      For many people it’s a medical condition. I understand you can’t control your instinctive reaction, but typing out this kind of comment about a health issue isn’t very kind.

      1. SaffyTaffy*

        I didn’t even think of it that way, I apologize. My own anxiety illness manifests in that ‘dry heaving’ thing, so I was thinking of it as a symptom. And, of course, getting nauseous over sounds and words that don’t bother other people is it’s own challenge.

  24. irene adler*

    I so loathe those ‘logic’ questions. I’m nervous enough as it is, trying to remember how to respond to questions pertaining to my resume and the job description, there’s not a lot of bandwidth left to cogitate much of a response.

    My response to the driving by the bus stop question:
    Continue driving.
    Clearly, I’m on Candid Camera and they are all actors portraying my best friend, the man of my dreams and a lady in medical distress. Hence, I don’t know the actor portraying my best friend, there’s no point getting to know the man of my dreams as he’s just a role the actor is portraying, and the lady is not really in any distress.

    If I’m wrong, there will be ample time to greet my friend and get to know the man of my dreams as we’ll all meet up at the lady’s funeral. Granted this won’t be so great for the lady who was in distress, except that she’s no longer in any distress.

  25. AdAgencyChick*

    Oh god, #1. That sounds insane, and also like it would be really tempting to break out into “Joy and Pain” by Rob Base & DJ EZ Rock.

  26. Amethystmoon*

    Regarding number 3, I do happen to know that having had stents put in can cause that. It’s happened to a close relative of mine.

  27. pleaset*

    OP1 The joy and pain could be easy to answer in a work interview – they’re like “tell us about yourself” and should be answered in a work context. “Pain for me is when we take the time to set up good systems, but don’t document them well, so we slip back into old ways….”

    “Joy for me is when we get the product out the door, at quality, due to the whole team …..blah blah blah.”

    Questions about, etc, not so much. I’d just answer quickly giving them short shrift. And put in a few “i don’t knows” for others.

    1. OP1*

      I had to give a few “I don’t know” answers and she got super annoyed each time and wrote down a bunch of notes in silence

      1. WellRed*

        Too bad you couldn’t have written down a bunch of notes at the same time, namely, your irritation at the stupid questions.

      2. Else*

        Yeesh, every time I see your response with more detail I am further and further convinced that this woman is utterly bizarre. If you have any choice at all, I wouldn’t take a job there. If she’s HR, she’ll have full access to ALL of your records, including medical, vacation, etc.

      3. HR Recruiter*

        OP-I’m getting angrier and angrier as I read your additional comments. I think we’ve all gotten one bizarre question before and you shrug it off as a bad interviewer. But the fact that she asked ALL of these and then got upset when you didn’t answer how she wanted is insane! It seems in a couple cases she pressed until you revealed personal information which is just appalling. I really hope she is doing this on her own and is not something the whole company does. I don’t know your financial situation but I’d run, run very far away from this place. Please make sure you leave a glassdoor review and any other reviews you can b/c ppl need to know what this woman is doing. I think you said you are in Canada. I’m not familiar with the laws there but in the US if you didn’t get the job I know many employment attorneys would have a field day with this woman for basically forcing you to reveal protected information.

    2. Me*

      I had an interview with a tell me about yourself question. It was actually phsased tell us something about yourself we can’t get from your resume or the interview so far.

      So I answered and kept it work related. No, no they wanted to know what I did in my free time. The urge to snarl none of your business was suppressed, but alas, I knew then what I had an inkling of before…this was not someplace I wanted to work.

      1. These questions*

        Then they should’ve flat out asked “What do you like to do in your free time?” Looks like they gave you a look into their communication style. I wouldn’t want to work with people who can’t ask the question they want the answer to and instead need to “hide” it behind something else.

        1. Me*

          The first clue was when they asked – “Teach us something about technology”. That’s it. Not “Tell us about a time you used technology to successfully solve a problem”. Not ” Tell us how you would use technology in this role”.

          I’m pretty sure I made a face. I definitely said, I’m sorry what?

          They were lawyers, maybe it’s a communication style suited to their career that I don’t speak.

  28. Akcipitrokulo*

    My actual answer to the animal one would either be “I really don’t know” or “human”. Because it’s what I am.

    I genuinely don’t do well with “what kind of tree are you” questions – my brain just responds “but I’m not a tree…” and I really have difficulty getting past that!

    I would like to get those questions in an interview for a job I didn’t need to get so I could stand up, thank them for their time and wish them all the best in filling their vacancy… nice fantasy!

    1. irene adler*

      I’d want to embark on a discussion with the interviewer regarding how they evaluate responses to such questions and how this relates to procuring a viable candidate for the job.

      1. LaDeeDa*

        The people who ask those types of questions don’t even know WHY those questions were asked in the past– they were asked to get an idea of someone’s thought process, to see how people “think outside the box” , and to get an understanding of how a person perceives themselves. But they are junk questions and I haven’t heard anyone being asked those types of questions since the mid-90s! Professionals know that behavioral and situational questions are what really help you determine those things about a person.

    2. These questions*

      I don’t even know the different types of trees to answer “what type of tree are you?” I would probably say “A tall one that grows in the forest?” =\

      I’ve been asked the animal question and whatever answer I made up at the time impressed them. I still didn’t get the job. The interviewer printed a list of questions off the internet, had the paper in front of her, looked down and asked me some of the questions. I was so going “WTF” the entire interview. I later told someone else this story and being asked the animal question. She asked if I had been interviewing at the zoo.

  29. Jo*

    OP 4, I can empathise because this is totally the sort of thing I would do! I think the other commenters have a point – it’s best not to bring it up and just be pleasant and professional and make a point of being on form (although don’t stress if everything doesn’t go perfectly to plan)! After the apologies and you being upset last time, I’m sure Sansa knows it was a mistake and that you felt bad about what happened. It was unintentional, you apologised profusely and did your best to make up for it, and plenty of people, me included, have got upset at work over less. If you don’t behave as if you find things awkward, there’s less chance of Sansa finding it awkward too. Good luck and hope it goes well for you!

    1. Sloan Kittering*

      When I think about this, it sounds like Sansa was agreeing (and agreed again this year!) to take on a newbie and help them out, so this is the kind of thing one might expect when they sign up for that duty – miscommunications, emotional reactions that are a little out of step etc. It’s like when I agree to take an intern out into the field – I know it’s probably going to be a little Much, and I’m considering it an act of service on my part. In case that helps OP #4 feel better about it. She’s probably not as fussed about it as you are.

  30. Snickerdoodle*

    OP #2: Definitely report it to HR! They need to know somebody potentially violent is working for them, and it definitely needs to be on the record if anything ever happens with him, whether it involves you or not. I agree with Alison, though; something unpleasant could happen if that guy sees you in the parking lot or something, and you don’t want to hear “Gee we wish you’d said something.” But even if that never happens, they still need to know. He could have a history of bad behavior at work that you don’t know about.

  31. Ermintrude*

    And ‘stuffed if I know’ is probably not a great answer to what colours things are.

    1. Rusty Shackelford*

      “Grey. They were all shades of grey.”

      “What animal do I closely identify with? A dog.”

  32. Allonge*

    Pain, pain… sharp or pointy objects (blunt, too, if correctly applied), extreme temperatures… like most people, I guess? Oh, you mean professionally? Incompetence comes to mind…
    Also: I call an ambulance for the ill woman. It’s a win for all: she gets to have medical care and the rest of us are not charged with negligent homicide or failure to provide assistance or whatever applies in the particular jurisdiction.

    1. L. S. Cooper*

      This is what I was thinking! Ambulances are expensive, sure, but I’m not having an old woman die in my car, or having her get injured somehow, or any of the other countless things that could go wrong that I would be wracked with guilt and a lawsuit over.

  33. Phony Genius*

    For #3, if somebody is burping that frequently, it is almost definitely a medical condition. Though, the person may not have seen a doctor or been diagnosed for it. (Personal experience: the cause can be very difficult to diagnose, and many doctors who can’t find a reason will just dismiss it. That doesn’t mean it’s nothing.)

    1. valentine*

      it is almost definitely a medical condition.
      You can’t know this. People said of course male-dominated-workplace burrito dude wasn’t farting on purpose, but he had started or increased his burrito intake upon moving into pregnant OP’s office and kept closing the door while she vomited all day. He got what he wanted: to run her out.

  34. The Gollux (Not a Mere Device)*

    OP1: The more I think about that “logic problem” interview question, the worse it sounds. “What gives me pain” includes my knee that hasn’t recovered properly from an injury. There’s a fair chance that someone’s immediate answer to that would involve disclosing a disability, which we’re generally advised not to do at that stage unless we need accommodations for the interview itself. So, why is the interviewer asking for information that they can’t legally use in hiring? That’s assuming that the interviewee doesn’t blurt out a political answer, and then worry that they’ve just disqualified themself because the person asking the question is in favor of that policy.

    And a lot of people’s real-life answers to the bus stop question, ditto. Do I disqualify myself by admitting that I don’t drive, or with “he guy I woke up next to would already be in the car if he wanted and it made sense”? That’s even before we get into “my best friend isn’t an EMT, and even if she was she wouldn’t be able to do that work while driving, and would have already asked the woman if she wants her to call for help.”

    On the practical level–where those questions aren’t–I’d agree with Alison, wait and see if you here back from someone more sensible who wants to do a follow-up interview

    1. Heidi*

      The logic puzzles are infuriating because they are supposed to demonstrate some sort of cleverness, but they are based on a very narrow hypothetical construct with unrealistic rules and limited choices which ultimately stifles any really creative or truthful answer. People who ask them can be really smug about it, too.

      1. Rusty Shackelford*

        They might possibly be interesting as a thought exercise, if the asker would abandon the idea that there is a correct answer. Like the “who stays on the liferaft” question. But even then, I don’t see how it could possibly be relevant to a job interview.

        1. Heidi*

          In my experience, people who like these types of questions get really mad when you challenge the premise of the question. Why can’t I sedate the animals and put them all on the boat? Why can’t we call 911 and get some medical attention? Unfortunately for the OP, this is a job interview and you can’t just tell people that their questions are useless.

          1. LaDeeDa*

            Not that I would ever ask such a question, but your 2 responses would make me hire you! LOL!

          2. That Girl From Quinn's House*

            Or crate the animals. If they’re all in carriers, they might be snarling at each other but they can’t hurt each other.

            1. Lepidoptera*

              This seems like it should be the default. Who transports animals by letting them run free around the vehicle?

              1. Oranges*

                Someone who wants less animals and a huge mess? I mean there’s kinda a reason that zoos have different areas/enclosures for their animals…

                To be fair: I am chuckling over an animal “Hunger Games” situation just because I have a very dark sense of humor (of course it wouldn’t be funny in real life).

          3. Batgirl*

            Those aren’t the RULES Heidi! Stop thinking outside narrow perimeters and ‘think outside the box’.

          4. Lynn Whitehat*

            But the point is to solve it within the stated parameters. Getting the fox, the chicken, and the sack of grain across the river by sedating the animals isn’t the activity. That’s like saying you succeeded at basketball by figuring out it’s more efficient to run down the court with the ball in your hands than it is to dribble. Or succeeded at golf by teeing off 20 feet from the hole. Of course that would make it easier, but then it’s a different activity.

            I agree that the question about the old woman, the dream guy, and the friend has way too many holes and assumptions to even be a logic puzzle. But some people like well-constructed logic puzzles for what they are. If it’s not your sort of thing, you can just say it’s not your sort of thing.

            1. Heidi*

              In a purely recreational context, there’s no issue. But I think the main reason people are having a problem with it here is that an HR manager is using it to determine skills and suitability for employment in a job that presumably doesn’t involve selecting people for rides in very small cars. I also get the impression that the OP couldn’t have said it wasn’t their sort of thing without negative repercussions.

            2. One of the Sarahs*

              But none of these are well-constructed logic problems in an interview context, because how can you tell if I give the ‘right’ answer because I’ve worked it out on the spot, or because I’m a horrifically illogical person who’s happened to have heard this one before?

              Me, I can rattle off the ‘correct’ answers to a whole string of these annoying “brainteasers”, without thinking about what makes it ‘right’, or if there are reasons it might not be, because I had access to a load of books that included these sorts of things as a kid. But this has absolutely no bearing on any jobs I’ve ever done, and it’s not even a good test of my memory if I’ve remembered the answers, because maybe I’ve remembered this one because had a striking illustration, eg. Or maybe I know the answer to which-door-leads-to-certain-death because I loved the film Labyrinth, etc etc etc.

    2. Astrea*

      That was my reaction. Prolonged computer usage gives me pain. Prolonged standing *or* sitting gives me pain; I do better with work that conbines some of both. Attempted heavy lifting gives me pain. Things that a prospective employer would want to know about me as early as possible, but I wouldn’t want to tell them at that point in the process. The pain I get from those activities often dissuades me from applying for jobs, so if I’m at the interview stage, it’s because I have a calculated hope that I can do the work with reasonable accommodations and want to learn more.about the details of the tasks for further assessment of the job’s doability.

  35. Not Me*

    Burping is a symptom of acid re-flux, among other stomach issues. It might be annoying to you, but it’s most likely more than simply annoying to her. Maybe frame it that way in your mind? You’re talking about someone who most likely has a medical condition that impacts her life every day, all day.

    1. Lily in NYC*

      You don’t know that at all. It could just as easily be the two sodas she drinks every morning. My best friend is a constant burper, and it’s because she swallows a lot of air when she talks. No acid reflux.

  36. LaDeeDa*

    FFS. You want to know why people hate HR and think HR is a joke– because of people like in #1. That is ridiculous. What in the world did the interviewer think she was going to get out of that? Even if you aren’t trained or knowledgeable about interviewing, we have the internet now- you can just Google, “interview questions for X position”, and you will not only get a list of appropriate interview questions, you will also get an explanation as to why those questions are asked.
    I don’t think the interviewer was smart or crafty enough for this- but a question like “what brings you joy?” could have a lot of people answering about their kids or spouse– “my 3 mo old baby!” and then they could have reservations about hiring someone with such a young baby or what if they answered with the name of their spouse, revealing they are in a same-gendered marriage… and there could be bias there. I don’t think the interviewer was clever enough to do that on purpose, but it is still problematic.
    OP — Did you check Glassdoor to see if anyone else has posted about such an odd interview? Or what their overall reviews are?

  37. LaDeeDa*

    #4- Wasn’t Sansa’s attempts to contact the LW a bit…. much?? It seems like 45 minutes and multiple methods is A LOT! Like a weird amount. Maybe she is the one who didn’t want to arrive alone and was nervous about going alone?
    At any rate- LW you did react strongly, but that is ok– you felt bad and you made it clear you felt bad. Let it go, and enjoy your conference!

    1. Not Me*

      That’s what I was thinking! Multiple texts, email, social media platforms, other people…it sounds to me like Sansa made this weird first and your reaction (stressed/anxious) wasn’t out of line after the way she acted. That would weird-out a lot of people.

  38. Banana*

    I definitely had an interview go quickly downhill after being asked my favorite color. I guess it was the hiring manager’s least favorite color. She was so offended. I couldn’t recover.

    I think a dodged a bullet…

    1. Arianne*

      Wow. And you thought there was no wrong answer to this question. I can’t imagine hating a color so much you couldn’t hire someone who liked it. It’s not like the color is in a relationship with her father and wants her to go to couples therapy with them.

  39. Eleanor*

    There’s a health condition called Aerophagia, where the person constantly swallows too much air, especially when drinking, eating and talking. This in turn can lead to bloating, trapped air, & then excessive belching. She may have it & not even know it, usually only a gastroenterologist or speech pathologist can diagnose it.

    1. valentine*

      Or she enjoys being rude and gross, or, like one OP, her family never told her letting ’em rip all day, especially at work, is rude and gross.

      Why the insistence on and even hunt for medical conditions? If I’m annoyed or grossed out, I don’t care why someone is doing the thing.

      1. Ask a Manager* Post author

        Because ultimately it doesn’t matter. There’s a good chance it’s a medical condition but even if it’s not, there’s no real action the OP can take here so it’s better for her peace of mind to assume it’s out of the boss’s control (as it is for many people) and move on.

      2. High school teacher*

        I’m actually paying close attention to the people commenting with medical causes, because I’ve recently started burping frequently and uncontrollably myself. :(

        Luckily for me, mine is mostly when I’m exercising or lying down to sleep. (Not great for my poor husband, alas)

  40. MommyMD*

    Just be politely professional with Sansa. Say nothing personal. Keep your composure. She’s probably uncomfortable and doesn’t want it brought up.

  41. ThisColumnMakesMeGratefulForMyBoss*

    #1 – Back in 2008 I had been laid off, and had an interview at a large national company. No weird and inappropriate questions, but he took me into his own office (I’ve always had interviews in conference rooms), and during the interview he proceeded to check email, check his cell and take a call on his office phone. I was very tempted to tell him off and walk out. Afterwards I spoke to my recruiter and told her that I’m not sure how he could make a fair assessment of my ability to do the job since his attention was elsewhere the entire time, and that I had no desire to pursue it further if they were interested. I was desperate for a job, but wasn’t willing to risk begin miserable. The fact that these questions came from an HR person is a big red flag IMO. Those questions were ridiculous and inappropriate for a job interview. I’d run away, and if asked for feedback, be honest.

    #2 – I would definitely make an appointment with HR and explain the situation. Even if you never work with this person, if he realizes you’re also employed there, he could make threats or try and sabotage you at work as revenge for reporting the incident. You never know what people are capable of, and IMO it’s better to be safe than sorry.

  42. Master Bean Counter*

    #1–This isn’t a normal interview. It’s a parade of red flags. Take it from someone who actually got hired by the guy who relied on personality tests and logic tests. I scored off the charts on the logic tests. He really wanted me. This turned into a 2.5 year long ride on the crazy train. During that ride I witnessed things that should have never happened. I actually had to tell this employer that not paying me for a day when I worked 3.85 hours was illegal. I was recovering from what I realize now was the Noro virus that I had picked up the week prior at work. I drug myself in to do the absolutely necessary things for the day and went home. The rule was if you didn’t work 4 hours you didn’t get paid. When I finally left this place they were under investigation from the Department of Labor.

    Pay attention to the red flags!

  43. iglwif*

    #2 — I can’t speak to any legal questions but I would certainly want to get some kind of heads-up if an employee of my company were committing acts of violence on their own time…

  44. Anonforthis*

    Burping manager – I once worked for a manager who passed gas All.The.Time. I mean loud, very obvious passing gas. Constantly. She would just ignore it like it wasn’t happening, so I did, too, but I did think it was odd that she never said something like, “oh, by the way, I sometimes involuntarily have to pass gas, so my apologies in advance.” But she was just a very odd person in general.

  45. Elizabeth West*

    #1–Yeah, unless the questions relate to the job somehow, it’s pretty silly to ask any of them.

    I had a great answer to the what-tree-are-you question when it was so ubiquitous, but no one ever asked me. I would say, “A mallorn tree.” If they knew what that was, we’d probably get along really well. :)

    #3–I have a hiatal hernia and reflux and I burp a lot. Soda definitely makes it worse, which is one of several reasons I avoid it as much as I can. I burp out loud sometimes at home because I can, but it’s possible not to do it loudly when I’m elsewhere. Maybe she got used to doing it that way–for whatever reason; medical issue, habit, etc.– and doesn’t realize she’s still doing it. I don’t know that you could say anything unless she brought it up herself, and only if you had a good relationship with her.

    Boss: *BRAAAAAAAAAP* Oh sorry, hahaha!
    OP: “That happens a lot. Are you okay?”

    1. CommanderBanana*

      I’d be Yggdrasil the world tree. Or the Giving Tree but I’d tell that little kid to scram and get his own apples.

  46. Jennifer Juniper*

    #1: If someone asked me what brings me pain, I’d brace myself for a punch, a kick, or being taken away to a torture chamber! But then, I’m a nervous pessimist with a very morbid imagination.

    #3: At least your boss isn’t farting all day. Buy some noise-canceling headphones and be thankful she’s not stinking up the place.

    1. Database Developer Dude*

      If I were asked “what brings you pain?” I’d probably write off the job and say “sitting in an interview where I get asked the stupidest questions”.

  47. Sun Tzu*

    – What brings you joy?
    – To crush my enemies, see them driven before me, and to hear the lamentation of their women!

    1. Rainy*

      To crush my competition, see them driven into the job market, and to hear the lamentation of their reports.

  48. The Rafters*

    OP2. Even if child-hitter isn’t / can’t be fired, your HR should be made aware of the situation. Perhaps he can be banned from your building and you can be provided an escort to your vehicle.

  49. Database Developer Dude*

    OP#2, you’re a better person than I. If I saw someone abusing a child, it would make me homicidal. I’d be in jail for what I did to that individual.

  50. nonegiven*

    I have been in a 2 seat sports car with 2 other people and drove a Subaru station wagon with 6 other people in it.

Comments are closed.