my coworker is routinely late because she stops for coffee, letting a man open a door at an interview, and more

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

1. My coworker is routinely late to work because she stops for coffee first

I have a question about a coworker, Sansa, who is routinely ~5-10 minutes late (2-3 times a week). Her job does not require she be here at 9 on the dot. I know being a stickler about a few minutes is not good. However, every morning (not an exaggeration) she is late, she strolls in with Starbucks drinks/food … so in this case, it’s not “traffic was bad” or “the kids weren’t cooperating” — both of which I totally understand happen and aren’t cause for concern. To me, this is a known discretionary stop on her commute and she should plan appropriately for it. If one day the milk steamer explodes and she is late because of that … well, fine, but this is happening SO often. Honestly it just drives me crazy, but I know I have a pet peeve for habitual tardiness.

A further concern is that we are in the midst of recruiting (two offers have been made to new grads and we expect them to start within two months). These new employees will be at the same level, and doing similar work at Sansa (they’ll be more or less equals), and I’m worried Sansa is setting a bad precedent.

I’m not Sansa’s direct manager, but I do have seniority over her (I’m middle management, she is entry level). Am I crazy for wanting to say something to her? I could go to her manager? He and I have a good relationship — we’ve been working together for seven years and I consider us friends. But that seems extreme.

I’m sorry to tell you this, but I think this is a you problem rather than a Sansa problem!

You have a pet peeve about habitual tardiness, but the fact that it’s your pet peeve doesn’t mean Sansa is doing something wrong. The way to solve this isn’t to talk to Sansa, but for you to realize that this isn’t really your business.

Many managers, including me, couldn’t care less if someone is routinely five or 10 minutes late, as long as their job doesn’t require coverage that starts earlier than that. The question for any manager should be: What is the work impact of this? If there’s no work impact and Sansa is doing good work, who cares? I suspect you care because of the principle of the thing — it annoys you on principle that she doesn’t take timeliness more seriously. But lots of things can annoy you on principle without it being something you should address.

Ultimately, if her manager doesn’t care, why do you need to? And if you’re thinking, “Well, her manager is making the wrong call” — it’s not smart to nickel and dime good employees over five or ten minutes, especially when a lot of people value that kind of minor flexibility in their jobs. (Personally I’d be really annoyed if my boss gave me crap about being five minutes late when I was doing great work and it didn’t have any impact.)

If your concern is that Sansa is setting a bad example for the two new grads who about to start, that’s something for those new hires’ managers to deal with. If you’re their manager and you really need them to arrive at 9 on the dot, then you can let them know that — saying something like, “You might see some people come in a little later than that, but for our work it’s really important that you’re here on time because of ____.” (But if you can’t figure out what to fill in the blank with, that’s a sign that you don’t have a reason to require that.)

2. I waited for a man to chivalrously open a door for me while I was interviewing

I have been a stay-at-home mom for about 16 years, but have been working part-time jobs and most recently have been running my own cooking business. I am trying to get back into a professional, corporate position. I had an interview with the VP of HR in his office. When the interview was over and we went to leave, I walked to the closed office door and he was right behind me. I hesitated when we got to the door so that he could open the door for me. Which he then did.

I have no problem opening my own doors, so I don’t know why I didn’t just open the door myself!?! I know it’s not a big deal at all, but do you think this looked bad like I’m some sort of passive, old-fashioned, out of touch woman?! I expect my husband to open doors for me if we’re out and about, but I think men and women are equal!! I’m still waiting to hear if I got the job … it’s between me and one other candidate. She probably opened the door herself.

It’s true that it wasn’t ideal and in general you don’t want to wait for men to open doors for you in a professional context, but I wouldn’t worry a ton about it. There are other explanations for why you could have paused there — like that you were letting him take the lead because he was the “host” of your visit, not because he was a man, etc.

It is true that I’d be concerned if I saw a lot of indications from a candidate that they expected gender-based chivalry in the workplace, but one pause at a door probably wouldn’t add up to that. Give yourself permission not to worry about it!

3. People in my new office talk non-stop over the cubicle walls

Am I just a jerk or am I right in thinking this? I recently started on a new job where I get my own cubicle (no more sharing desks) so that is pretty exciting! That being said, cubicle etiquette is a little new to me. The problem is, all the people around me talk non-stop over the cubicle walls. For example, two people directly to my right talk over their shared wall for hour-long conversations at a time (work-related, but still frustrating). As I write this, they’ve been speaking for over two hours almost without break (I timed it).

Am I wrong in thinking that if your conversation is going to be longer than a minute or two, you should probably try to find a private room so you don’t disturb the people around me? It surely seems like that’d be more beneficial than talking to a wall anyway. I have a lot of trouble focusing with constant chatter in my ear. I tried bringing noise-canceling headphones to work, but there’s still just enough noise that I can’t focus on anything else.

I agree with you, as will lots of others, but ultimately this really depends on the culture of your workplace. If it’s an office where lots of people do a lot of talking over cubicle walls, that’s just the culture there … and they’re not really being rude by participating in that culture and following its norms. If it were just a few people, you could try saying something (like “I’m sorry to ask but I’m have trouble focusing — would you mind going to a conference room?”) but if it’s everyone around you and you’re the new person, that’s not likely to solve it.

It might be worth experimenting with what you’re playing in those noise-canceling headphones — if you tried music before, try white or pink noise now, and vice versa. (The comment section on this post has a lot of suggestions of specifics to try.) Otherwise, you may need to hope that in time you get used to working with conversation around you and that you’ll be able to tune it out. That does happen for some people — look at reporters who write on deadline in crowded open news rooms! — although I suspect not for everyone. (Although it’s actually easier if there’s so much conversation around you that it can become one big blur; it’s harder when you’re hearing just one conversation.)

4. Do I need letters of recommendation from my high school teachers?

I don’t know if you’ve answered something like this before, but I’m sending this in on my friend’s behalf. We graduated high school about a year ago, and we’re both in college. Recently, her parents have been hounding her about collecting letters of recommendation from high school teachers. We are both confused at their fixation on receiving letters of recommendation from old teachers without need. What could be a possible application of letters of recommendation from your old high school teachers? They presumably want her to obtain them in order help with searching for a job, but are they even useful as references when looking for a job that will require listed references? Do interviewers even take letters of recommendation anymore? The situation is baffling to the both of us.

Yeah, you’re not going to need those.

First, you’re right: the vast majority of employers don’t want letters of recommendation anymore; they want to actually speak to references so they can ask their own questions. (There are some exceptions to this, like academia and law, but those are exceptions.) Second, references from high school teachers are going to be of really limited value regardless. Managers from part-time jobs, if you have them, will be better.

That said, with the types of jobs you’re applying to as a college freshman, it’s possible that letters of recommendation could have some limited value just because you don’t really have “references” in the traditional sense at this point and really, when you’re hiring people without much work experience, there’s such limited data that it’s all a bit of a crapshoot. But you absolutely do not need to be out there collecting letters, definitely not with the fervor your friend’s parents are approaching it with.

It would be one thing if your friend was looking for a reference and her parents said “what about your newspaper advisor from high school who liked you so much?” … but hounding her to do it just as a general rule falls pretty squarely in the category of “don’t take job search advice from your parents.”

5. How did phone interviews work before email and cell phones?

Yesterday, I telling a friend about how my organization only started doing any kind of phone screen about six months ago and how before that, they just brought a bunch of folks in for interviews. My friend said “why?!” My theory is that it was the result of never updating process, that back in the day, before people had cell phones, hiring managers probably couldn’t reach applicants during work hours. I don’t imagine people could use their work phones. Perhaps they could schedule phone screens in which they called applicants at home, but not everyone would be able to make that work. So then we got to thinking about how one would schedule a phone screen (or even an in-person interview). We had email by the time we graduated college, which seems like it probably really helped with hiring processes. I guess before that, one could leave a message for an applicant at home and they could call from a pay phone during work hours … but what about before answering machines? Did scheduling an (in-person) interview require writing letters back and forth?

This conversation occurred on the occasion of my 39th birthday, which means that I am more often on the “you don’t understand how things were” side of conversations these days. But now I am very eager to learn about hiring processes in years predating answering machines. I would love to hear about it through the lens of AAM reader experiences!

Interesting! I’m six years older than you, which means that when I was first entering the work world email was just starting to become a commonplace thing and it definitely wasn’t something that had become a standard part of hiring correspondence. And I can barely recall how we did it, although I do remember applying for jobs by fax (!) and setting up interviews by phone. And I bet that you’re right about your theories about phone interviews — the logistics would have been a lot trickier.

People of the right age whose memories have not abandoned you: How did this work?

{ 989 comments… read them below }

  1. RUKiddingMe*

    When I first entered the job market back in ::mumbmemumble:: they just called and set up an in person interview. No phone interviews back in the Cretaceous.

    1. Approval is optional*

      What a coincidence! That was the year I entered the job market too.
      I even had interviews set up via snail mail (or mail as it was then) when I was first job hunting.

      1. Ask a Manager* Post author

        How did that work? Would they mail you with some suggested dates and times and you’d mail back with which one worked? What was the reason for doing it that way rather than by phone? And how far out did the dates then have to be?

        1. Phil*

          I’ve been playing Red Dead Redemption 2 a LOT lately. The game is set in 1899, and that’s what I’m picturing them doing back then. :P

            1. RUKiddingMe*

              It’s 2:30 in the morning here and I am awake because my entire body is screaming “you’re 130 years old, old woman… here have some pain…” so ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

        2. Not Australian*

          No, you got “please attend for an interview at 2.0 p.m. on Thursday 30th” and a phone number to call if it was inconvenient and you wanted to reschedule. The problem was, the post could be slow – I once received a letter inviting me for a job interview that same day, and in fact within two hours. I just about had time to get there, although I was wildly under-prepared. I did get the job, however. If I hadn’t been at home when the letter arrived, or had been further away from the job site, the chance would probably have been lost altogether.

          1. WRed*

            I recently interviewed with a federal agency and… it was still basically this, just sent via email instead of USPS.

          2. EvilQueenRegina*

            One guy at my old job was an hour late on his first day because they only confirmed his start date by letter, told him to start at 9am but the post only arrived at 9.30. No idea why they only gave him the date by letter, considering this was 2007 and other options were readily available!

        3. Kimmybear*

          My FIL talks about being hired by the federal government by mail around 1960. He took an exam and then was sent a letter saying he was hired with a start date.

          1. RUKiddingMe*

            Oh this made me smile. Someone getting a job before I was born (actually the year before my parents got married) just made me feel a little less old!

          2. just a random teacher*

            Speaking of “job advice from parents”, my parents kept encouraging me to apply for government jobs because they thought they still worked that way! They knew I did well on standardized tests so they figured I’d get hired with a lot less effort put into the hiring process than they same me putting in for private sector jobs. That…was not my experience.

            1. somebody blonde*

              Actually, some of them do still work this way. That’s basically how I got a job in the 2010 Census.

        4. Approval is optional*

          I think it was done via letter as applicants couldn’t always take calls at work – every employee having a phone on their desk wasn’t a thing in all workplaces! Probably only 70% of homes had phones, so they’d have to send some letters anyway. The letter usually just said, ‘this is your interview time’ with no options – one could call to change times though I think.
          The date set was usually about a week after the letter was mailed. Probably for more senior roles phones could be used, as those type of people would have had access to a phone at work, but I was applying for graduate/entry level type roles back then.
          I’m in my 60s and it was just how things were back then – mailing time was factored into a lot of processes.

          1. Cathie from Canada*

            As I recall, it was expected that the cover letter should include either a phone number where you could be reached during the day, or a statement that you could only be reached at home during the evenings. When I was hiring people in government public relations offices in the 70s and 80s, I remember getting a stack of 20 or 30 applications, all paper of course, and then picking five or six to interview. The HR dept then set up the interviews, usually all in one day or over two days at most. When the hiring panel picked the top one or two, based on the interview, then we would check references only on those candidates. So there was never a phone screen at all.
            I remember that in general it was considered rude to send in a job application by fax, because that required the receiving office to use their own special fax paper to print it.

            1. pleaset*

              You comment makes me think the total number of applications was lower due to the need to actually print and post letters.

              Also, worth noting that payphones were pretty common in some places – especially cities. Not useful for actual screenings, but could be used to call an office to negotiate a time.

              1. deesse877*

                Dude, not “print”–before good printers were widely available, you would have had to TYPE!

                1. Sack of Benevolent Trash Marsupials*

                  Yeah, you took your resume to the print shop and had them print copies on the nice stock paper with a fancy watermark. Once laser printers were a thing, you had to make sure you got the paper in the printer right so the watermark would be facing the right way and not upside down.

                2. AndersonDarling*

                  Oh Dear, I was cleaning up this week and found my stash of Resume Paper. I don’t know what I will use it for now…maybe coupons for free hugs.
                  But I remember going to the library and printing my first resumes, and later going to Kinkos and wrestling with their printers to print on my fancy paper. I’m only 38, so this wasn’t that long ago.

                3. Milton*

                  AndersonDarling – I still have resume paper too!
                  I use it to make ren fair appropriate “aged” paper if I need any. Waste not, want not!

                4. Sal*

                  I give my resume paper to my 4 yo to paint on. (Only 33! I must be one of the last buyers…)

                5. Mockingjay*

                  I found my stash of beautiful cream heavyweight bond and envelopes the other day. The receipt was dated 1984.

              2. starsaphire*

                I totally remember (late 1980s/early 1990s) having to go to a grocery store and wait by their pay phone for a call from a potential employer (to set up an interview) because I had been in my apartment for less than two weeks, so AT&T hadn’t set up my phone service yet.

                (Want to really cry? Rent on that apartment was $550 a month.)

                I also remember getting my resume printed on nice paper and walking around the mall/downtown handing out copies at places with the little “We’re Hiring” signs in the windows. In a shirtwaister dress, hose, and heels. My poor feet just throbbed, remembering that…

                1. Galloping Gargoyles*

                  We were in Staples within the last 3 months and they still sell resume paper. I couldn’t believe it! Who on earth is buying that in 2019. I’m knocking on 50 so I recall interviews being setup by phone, with messages on the answering machine for scheduling purposes.

                2. Burned Out Supervisor*

                  In my mom’s time, some apartments were not wired for individual phone lines so there were pay phones in the hall. My dorm in college had only been wired for individual lines about 10 years before I went there.

                3. Jayn*

                  When my parents were newlyweds, they had a phone in the house… but shared the line with several neighbors. Who could listen in if they wanted. Glad that changed by the time I came around.

              3. Frogsandturtles*

                The number of applications to EVERYTHING was way lower before email. Magazine editors that got maybe 30 submissions from authors a week in the slush pile now get 300. Or 3000. There are several literary magazines now that have actually gone back to paper submissions because they can’t handle the incredible number of electronic ones, 98% of which are terrible. Jobs that would have had 20 applicants now get 200, with at least half of those being wildly unqualified. Back in the day kids would only apply to two or three colleges — now they apply to fifteen or twenty. It’s just too easy to hit “send.” This is a big reason why editors and employers started ghosting I think — there are just too many people applying.

                I know I sound like an old crank, but it’s such a crock that computers make life “more convenient” “more efficient” blahblahblah. Mostly they have just made everything way more complicated, and have vastly increased the amount of (duplicated/redundant) information everybody has to deal with — with very little difference in what actually gets done. In fact in some cases I’d bet people actually get LESS done because a ton of that extra information isn’t actually relevant. What took two or three steps to accomplish in, say, the 1980s now takes 10 or 12.

                Plus now you have to pay thousands of dollars for the computers phones etc. that are obsolete in a few years, plus whatever else for service, upgrades, etc., and meanwhile your actual human interaction has gone way down. What did we really get for all the zillions that business have spent on computers — Excel? Some days I think the entire thing is just a gigantic sham.

                1. npd*

                  I’m kinda with you on this. I feel like technology has just made it easier to generate tons of paperwork that needs to be dealt with. I was way more efficient at work before email was a thing. And any old computer was fine for word processing, excel, data analysis, and such.

                2. Mary*

                  People said exactly the same about the invention of the typewriter and adding machine kn the 1860s. How far back would you like to go? ;-)

                3. TrainerGirl*

                  We did the ability to save documents rather than having to re-type them if they got messed up. As someone who remembers typing class and Wite-Out, that alone makes it worth it.

          2. Clisby*

            I’m 65, and I don’t remember interviews being set up by mail. However, for the first almost 12 years of my working life, I was a newspaper reporter and editor, and most of the time I (a) didn’t start work until about 3 p.m. and (b) usually had one or two weekdays off because I worked Sat. and Sun. It was very easy for a prospective employer to reach me by phone.

            1. Suzy Q*

              I’m in my 50s and never applied for a job by snail mail. All jobs ads were in the classifieds section of the newspaper, and you called to schedule or just went to the place with resume (of you had one) in hand. I’m trying to think back that far (ow, my brain!), and I guess I never had a job at the same time I was job hunting, so the issue of not being able to use the phone at work never came up. And there was always a paper job application to complete, except for one attorney I can recall.

              1. npd*

                I am in my early 50s and the last job I applied to by paper was in 2006. I got that job. My other jobs were either by personal networking, and no resume even needed, or by filling out paper applications.

                1. MatKnifeNinja*

                  You make me feel so much better.

                  I’m 54. Looking back all my jobs were from bulletin boards, classifieds or word of mouth.

                  My 1980 hospital job made a glorious $6.00/hr, health insurance, pension plan, 7 sick days and 7 PTO/vacay. That was word of mouth job.

        5. Bagpuss*

          I remember getting letters which invited you for a specifc time, and others which asked you o call to set up an interview.

          When I first graduated and was looking for jobs – in a very difficult market in my field, I went on holiday with my family, and had to make complicated arrangements for a neighbour to open any post addressed for me, and for me to phone them every day to see if I had any interview invitations, as no-one in my family had a mobile phone, and the holiday let didn’t come with one.
          I also once got an interview invite which arrived on the day of the interview, due to postal strikes – it was in a city 2 hours drive from me, and I’d never been there or driven on a motorway before, so that was an exciting day in a lot of ways!

          1. huh*

            This may be something that everyone knows but me, but what is a motorway? Is that like a highway?

                1. SS Express*

                  In New South Wales we definitely have motorways! (As well as freeways and highways, and the Cahill Expressway. I think they all mean slightly different things but I forgot which is which.)

            1. londonedit*

              Yep, in the UK it’s a three/four-lane highway. Historically learner drivers haven’t been allowed to drive on the motorway (I have a vague recollection that they might be changing that?) so you couldn’t drive on them until you’d passed your practical driving test. People in rural areas (like the one I grew up in) often don’t have much cause to drive on motorways (where I grew up the nearest one was a half-hour drive away) so it’s easy to stick to the smaller roads and never get experience with motorway driving.

              1. Lucy*

                There are multi-lane highways which aren’t motorways (dual carriageways) so the words aren’t exactly interchangeable.

                londonedit has it right that they are now letting learner drivers on to motorways with qualified instructors, but motorways are still restricted for other kinds of vehicles such as small motorcycles, nonmotorised vehicles (ie horse and cart, pushbike, pedestrian), and it’s illegal to stop except in an emergency.

                1. Andraste's Knicker Weasels*

                  Wow, neat!

                  My very first time driving in driver’s ed started with me going right out onto an 8 lane road (4 lanes each direction, separated by a median of wide islands) from the gas station we had stopped at to fill up after one of the other students did their first driving. Terrifying!

        6. Archangels girl*

          In the 80’s I too remember that a whole and somewhat lengthy paragraph had to be devoted to not only the numbers where you could be reached but when you could be reached. For example, you might give your work number and say I can be reached there between 12 and 1 and stay glued to your phone for a few days.

          I also recall that the hiring process went much faster. From the time that you mailed in your application to the time that you heard from someone was usually less than two weeks. Once interviews took place, hiring decisions were usually made within a couple of days. Several times I got hired on the same day for administrative jobs. Like literally at the interview they said we’ve enjoyed meeting you and we’re pleased to offer you the job. That happened twice. At least three or four more times they called me shortly after I walked in the door at home having come from the interview.

          I think that’s the crazy thing about the way people are hired today. We’re easier to reach and more accessible than ever, but the hiring process takes much longer. I think it’s because employers have more selection with the reach of the internet. Back in the day, when you applied by resume and cover letter and by mail, there’s just a far more limited number of people that would see that process through. You might only be competing with a dozen people. 50 applicants would be a lot.

          And of course, they didn’t put a whole lot of stock in your resume in the sense that you couldn’t adjust the resume for every single job, I mean you’d created it on a typewriter and gone and copied it at Kinkos. You had ONE resume. The only thing individualised was your cover letter.

          I always think of this when people are getting bad job application advice from their parents. Us old folks in our 50s mean well! It’s just that bav in the day, we did need to go to a special stationery store and get special cream colored paper that was heavy bond to put a cover letter and resume on. But that’s because it was going by mail! It had to look good, be neat, and represent you by being on good paper.

          In my day we had fax machines but it would be horribly unprofessional to use one for a JOB application. And finally, yes, it WAS considered good form and a show of your interest in the job if you hand delivered the application, dressed in your best clothes, to the company. Sometimes if you did that and the receptionist liked the way you looked, she’d call the person hiring (really no such thing as HR departments back then) to come shake your hand, if they weren’t busy, and you might have a better chance of being contacted for an interview. It was good when that happened because, to watch back to the beginning of this post, they would usually tell you when they would call you so you could be prepared.

          All of these experiences happened to me in Toronto, folks, between 1985 and 1993 or so.

          1. RUKiddingMe*

            And those special resumes had to be mailed in a large flat envelope so they didn’t get folded.

            My first ever job was at Lane Bryant in the mall by my house. Malls were a place to hang out (like Fast Times st Ridgemont High…only a few years earlier than that movie). I decided fir the hell of it to apply like on a Thursday night.

            I was 15 but said I was 18 …no I-9s or other stuff needed to be done back then and I could pass do they believed me. I talked to the manager and then went home. That Friday I went to my grandmother’s house for the weekend.

            At some point my mom calked to tell me the manager had called to offer me a job and to call her back on the following Tuesday.

            My mom kept pressing me to call back *Right Now.* I waited until Tuesday.

            Parents giving out bad job search advice since 19 ::mumbmemumble::

              1. RandomU...*

                Even if there was they were pretty fast and loose with the rules.

                My first job (early 90’s) I got when I was 15. Technically I wasn’t allowed to work until I was 16 (There were a few places a 14-15yo could work, but it was really restricted). A friend worked there and at my interview the manager turned to my friend and said something like “umm… same deal?” (my friend nodded because she had worked there a year and had just turned 16) “Ok, you start Wednesday if anyone asks don’t tell them how old you are and I’ll process your paperwork”

                And that is how I got my first HS job.

                1. SophieChotek*

                  Same! I think I got hired in the summer (my birthday was Nov.) for a coffee shop but until I was actually 16, I could only do limited thing (dishes, trash, cleaning tables, register) but could not be trained to use the espresso machines (old-fashioned kind, not these automatic ones like today). I miss those old-fashioned machines.

                2. Suzy Q*

                  I totally lied about my age to get jobs when I was a teen. I’ve been working since I was 14!

                3. Burned Out Supervisor*

                  I’m from South Dakota and I’m surprised there are any child labor laws there at all (been working since I was 14 as well).

                4. Mary*

                  Ha, I started working front of house in a restaurant (=licensed, so illegal under 18) in September, and turned 18 in November. I’m sure that must still happen though—it can’t possibly have died out!

                5. RUKiddingMe*

                  We were allowed to get jobs at like 14 ½, though 14 and 15 year olds had even more restrictions than 16 and 17 year olds. I just didn’t want to mess with getting a work permit. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

              2. JanetM*

                I remember when I-9s were introduced. I had to go to a special training class about them.

                1. TryaSample?*

                  I had to google I-9 to even know what it was, though I probably did fill one out a few years back where many local retirees apply to do demos at BigBoxStore.

            1. JJ Bittenbinder*

              Yup, my first job ever was in a supermarket and I lied about my age. I was 14 and said I was 16, in order to work. They didn’t have any way of verifying.

              1. TexanInExile*

                Until much later in my career, the only proof of anything I ever had to show were my American Red Cross lifeguard and water safety instructor certificates.

              2. TardyTardis*

                I lived in a small town, so if I’d tried to lie about my age I would have been busted anyway, too many people knew my parents…

            2. Kelly L.*

              I remember going into places and getting an application and filling it out on the spot. I used to have this ongoing argument with my mom about it. She thought it looked better to fill it out right there in the store, because gumption. I thought it looked better to take it home and bring it back, instead of just hanging out awkwardly in their store for half an hour to fill it out, because I thought it would make me look more…together, or something? She usually won this argument. I carried a card with my past job contact info in my purse for just such occasions.

              1. schnauzerfan*

                When I got my first full time job, I went to the city personnel office, filled out the app, and got sent straight over to the library for an interview. I was mortified, as I had just meant to pick up an application and was wearing jeans and a sloppy tee shirt. Got interviewed, didn’t get the job… but a week or two later they called and offered me the job as the first person didn’t work out, but don’t wear the jeans…

              2. I'm the Blue Marble*

                I once had an argument with my daughter at the mall while we were shopping because she wanted me to buy stuff for her. I told her to get a job. She pissingly walked to the next store, asked for an application, filled it out on the spot and then was called two days later for an interview and was hired. We still laugh about it.

              3. Random person*

                A long time ago someone told me that if someone took an application home to complete it and then brought it back, he would throw it straight into the trash because he didn’t know if they could read or write and had gotten someone else to fill it out for them. I remember being horrified.

            3. aurora borealis*

              I miss the old days! My first job was at 14 in 1986 – got a call from my sister who worked at a very busy national restaurant. Their hostess had just quit on a Sunday morning. If I could get there in the hour I had the job. I got the job and mostly loved it. Manual cash register (so I learned to count back change VERY quickly!), lists of handwritten names on the ‘waiting to be seated’ list, I even think that’s where I had my first cigarette – out of a machine. I have to admit, I’ve tried to keep up with the technology, but I know I take longer than most with simple things as Docusign.

          2. Bagpuss*

            I was applying in the 90s and did tailor the CV but remember having special ‘good quality’ paper to print it on, and paying to print it at the library becuase we only had a dot matrix printer at home…

            I did have e-mail but it wasn’t something you would use for a job application, at least in my field.

            We still get some job applications by post..

            The first job I ever had, working Saturdays in a Supermarket, I think I just went in and filled in a paper application and the manager read it and told me when to start…!

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

              I started working in the mid eighties, and nearly every job I ever had, I filled out a paper application and waited to be called into an interview.

              1. Jules the 3rd*

                ditto, through mid 90s. I then got a couple of jobs through networking, and by the time I was back to applying for jobs, it was all email… ’98 or so.

            2. TurquoiseCow*

              I got a job in a supermarket in…1998? Paper application, handed it in. A few years later (2000, i think?) I got a job in a different supermarket. I filled out the paper and the customer service person said, “hang on, I think the manager is here.” She called over the manager, the manager looked at it, and said “call me back on X day and we’ll set up training.”

              A few months later, they installed computer systems at the store. You had to answer a long questionnaire with lots of psychological questions. The application got sent up to corporate and then back down to our store. If you didn’t get the go ahead based on the psychological questions, the hiring person in the store didn’t see your application. She used to be on the phone all the time saying “I’m sorry I don’t see your application, you’ll have to try it again.”

              1. LunaLena*

                Oooh, I remember filling out a questionnaire like that for Border’s! It struck me absolutely ridiculous, especially for a minimum wage job. That was in 2005, I ended up just getting a job at Gamestop in the same mall instead.

            3. Garland not Andrews*

              I think I still have the remnants of such a package of Resume Paper in my desk. Super nice cream paper, like 25% linen fiber.

              1. Sans*

                Yeah I have resume paper lurking in my basement, too.

                I started working professional jobs in the early 80s. We mailed our cover letter and resume and checked our phone messages when we got home. You’d find a place to call them back (either a phone booth or early or late in the day before or after work) and set up an interview. And I-9s have only been around since after 9/11, I think.

            4. Mary*

              I graduated in 2001 and had endless arguments with my parents about whether it was acceptable to word-process applications or whether everything should be filled in by hand. My parents swore you couldn’t possibly get a job without a handwritten cover letter.

          3. Sleeplesskj*

            This is identical to my experience in Chicago between 1982 and 1989. Also we all had answering machines and I remember getting messages saying “I will call you back this evening at 7 pm to arrange an interview time.” Evening phone calls were definitely a thing! And while there was no such thing as the phone screens like today (or those ridiculous online assessments) you often had the chance to ask a few questions and decide if you still wanted to apply before coming in. (You could ask about the salary without fear!) One thing that I REALLY miss as I go through the process again for the first time in decades (I’m relocating) is the ability to simple staple my resume to the application and write “see attached.” WTH is up with having to retype everything on the resume you just uploaded into the online form???)

            1. Turtlewings*

              Ugh, the whole “retype everything on the resume you just uploaded into the online form” thing is one of my serious pet peeves about the online application process.

              1. AKchic*

                Mine too.
                Alaska has a state job bank. At one point, you were required to upload your resume and then still use their “Resume Builder” where you’d redo the whole thing using their formatting system (which really screwed the whole thing up), and even after all of that, when applying for jobs, you’d still have to use each company’s own website/application system and send them your resume as well. I heard they’ve fixed that particular issue, but I haven’t used the system in a decade.

                The other issue I had was most companies have now started specifically stating “Do not write ‘see resume'”. Well, don’t ask for a resume and then expect us to duplicate work!

            2. Not So NewReader*

              People who did hiring work often stayed late so as not to interfere with the applicant’s current job. But there were quite a few who did not and made the hiring process so much more nerve-wracking by their rigidness.

              It’s good to remember that for boomers their parents had a different mind set with jobs entirely. Boomers got told things like “get one job and stay there for life” or “if an employer even looks at you, fall down and kiss the ground they walk on”. It was an entirely different mind set.

              Just my theory but if you found a place with good benefits you stayed, they bought you body and soul. I remember my grandmother’s nursing home was paid in full under her coverage as a widow from grandpa’s company. You just don’t see stuff like this now. To be clear, this did not happen for everyone nor did it happen all the time. So if you found it then you suddenly developed Eternal Loyalty.

              I can remember middle-aged people working jobs that we now consider “starter jobs” or “throw away” jobs. And there was less snobbery about that, I think. You could sell shoes or cookies and people were more apt to think of that as a “real job”. Now we are more apt to refer to this jobs as “the job I had before I got my real job”. This seriousness/respect laid the foundation for the whole hiring process to be a lot more formal and (my opinion) more intense.

              On the good side it feels like getting a rejection is less of an issue than it used to be. There is more of an attitude of, “try some place else”. This is a better mind-set.

              1. facepalm*

                My grandmother still receives some kind of decent quarterly monetary benefits from a corporation (think along the lines of 7/11 or Dairy Queen) for my grandfather who passed 40 years ago. He was the equivalent of a clerk. It’s always been mind-boggling to me.

                1. Busy*

                  My mom still has a pension from her job!!! She has been there 20 years, and if she makes it to her birthday this year, she gets it no matter if she switched jobs or not. I mean, what private company pays people pensions anymore!!

                  She has a terrible time understanding why my generation change jobs every couple years. It makes sense why.

                2. starsaphire*

                  My mom retired from the post office, and had good insurance – GOOD insurance – and a pension for the rest of her life.

                  I’ll be lucky if I can ever retire, and I’m paying for my own insurance out of pocket.

                3. Libretta*

                  My mom gets a pension – with pension and SS, she brings in more than I do with a full time job! A few years before she retired (early 2000s) – the company tried to demote her so that her pension would be based on a lower salary. She had to hire a lawyer to get them to honor her salary (she won but still did the lower level job). She had been there 25 years and managed lots of people, and they put her in an entry level position. It was sales based and she nailed every single ‘entry level’ goal for bonuses that year and she cleaned up. She did all the work they asked her to do and she kept her manager salary. It was a super stressful year for her, but it worked out in the end. I know I will never have a pension.

                1. Not So NewReader*

                  Just wanted to point out that those of us who remember these kind of benefits are very much aware of how employers are so very different now. [Insert many negative remarks here.]

                  My aunt worked for a company doing routing. Now we would call it logistics. The company FORCED her to buy their stock, as if she had discretionary money to do that. She cut corners to make those mandatory purchases.

                  When she went to retire the stock was worth 80 times what she paid for it. She worked for Big Oil. We were so naive we did not understand what was happening and why. She had this nice little nest egg that let her take trips to Ireland, Hawaii and Nova Scotia.

              2. Oh So Anon*

                I can remember middle-aged people working jobs that we now consider “starter jobs” or “throw away” jobs. And there was less snobbery about that, I think. You could sell shoes or cookies and people were more apt to think of that as a “real job”. Now we are more apt to refer to this jobs as “the job I had before I got my real job”.

                This change is really only a middle-class and above phenomenon, though, right? Working-class people don’t have that “real job” or “entry-level job” vocabulary because these are the jobs they work throughout adulthood.

            3. CmdrShepard4ever*

              I think the big reason for having people fill out the online form with resume information is it puts it in a standard format for people to read and evaluate. So if the employer wants to know your name, school and degree, and work history from latest to oldest, they can make it so everyone appears that way. If they only look at resumes people format their resumes in all different ways and it can make it hard to try and line up candidates and compare them.

              1. Mary*

                It also cuts down on the number of applicants, as per the discussion above. “Send a CV to…” gets 300 applicants chucking an invitation in for the hell of it. “Fill in our irritating online system” gets 30, most of whom are genuinely interested in the role and have relevant experience. O always say this to my students when they complain a lot them: every point where you think about giving up on the process, some of your competition actually does.

            4. Ella*

              For me it’s not even an online application; my industry hasn’t got that far. I have to print out the form, hand-write everything in it (because we couldn’t possibly use fillable PDFs), and scan it back in… *with* a resume; you are explicitly disallowed from writing “see attached” even though you are attaching a resume and form to the same email and it’s getting looked at 100% by real people and not an automated system. (No one in my industry has money for a fancy automated system.)

          4. Liz*

            Most of this was my job hunting experience back then as well! I really only had one phone number, pre-cell phone, and I don’t recall if I put my work number on my resume, after I had a job or not. I might have since it was my direct line. I also was hired quickly too; I used agencies for a couple of jobs, and I can recall coming home after a day of interviews, and getting a call from the recruiter, saying x company wants to hire you. Um yes please!

            I do have an edge on you; my resume we did before college graduation, and you cold take it to our career office, where they had a LASER printer and would print out ONE copy for you. That’s it. Which you then took and made copies of on nice paper. No dot matrix for us! Its funny because I’ve been with my current company for close to 20 years, and I was just thinking today you really should DO a resume. I don’t have one. I haven’t needed one, and the one I used for this job is WOEFULLY out of date, plus I’m sure wrong.

            Ditto to the going to get nice paper to print your stuff on, WITH matching envelopes no less. And you really took care with your appearance etc. The only thing I didn’t do was hand deliver stuff as I lived outside of NYC and was interviewing there so not an easy way to just pop in and do that.

            1. JJ Bittenbinder*

              I had a coworker who took the matching-paper-and-envelope thing a step further when sending her resumes off in the late 80s and early 90s. She felt that it was important to have attractive stamps as well!

              One thing I remember from bring on the hiring side (because I was promoted to assistant office manager at 21! For the amazing salary of 19k/year!), was that the lack of phone screens really brought the caliber of candidates down. I remember blocking off 30-minute slots for a day to hold interviews, and then of course there was no-show after no-show, and terrible candidate after terrible candidate. But when things did move, they moved quickly.

          5. Jennifer*

            I agree with you. I think it’s ridiculous how long the hiring process takes now. I think because companies have so many options now. I know my parents didn’t have to jump through so many hoops.

          6. That Girl From Quinn's House*

            I have cream resume paper, someone told me I needed it in 2007 when I graduated. It was wholly unnecessary and a waste of money, even for the extra copies of my resume that I usually bring to interviews.

            1. zora*

              I just saw boxes of “Resume Paper” for sale on the shelves at a FedEx office store. It kind of made me mad, I feel like they are taking advantage of people who think that is still a thing. I was very tempted to say something.

              1. Sabina*

                Yup, I still have that paper! I thought it was such an upgrade because I once HAND WROTE a resume of sorts on stationary with DOLPHINS across the top for a job at a health food co-op. Yeah, I was a hippie….

              2. RPL*

                Nah, there are other uses. I had to submit multiple hard copies of my master’s thesis to the university on resume paper. And I know someone who uses it for their calligraphy.

              3. LunaLena*

                To be fair, I think it IS still a thing for some employers. I work at a university, so there are several job/internship fairs throughout the year and students are told to bring printed copies of their resumes. The university print shop has linen-weave paper in white, ivory, and light gray that they call “resume paper,” but they also don’t charge extra for it.

            2. Adminx2*

              I still have most of a pack of special paper envelopes from when I started doing job searching in the early 2000s, bad advice. My partner didn’t want to use it for his tax mail in but I pushed that it certainly wasn’t getting used otherwise!

          7. Jenn G*

            I was job hunting in Toronto this period and I basically agree. There was also a lot of discussion about heathens who folded their resumes.

        7. Melonhead*

          RUKidding, when I was a teen looking for jobs, the Want Ads were still divided into “Help Wanted: Female” and “Help Wanted: Male.”

          1. Quickbeam*

            YES! When I got out of college with my shiny criminal justice degree, the only job I was “qualified” for was prison matron, because I had a vagina.
            Wasn’t allowed at the service academies although my half wit male cousin got in.
            Want ads were definitely Male/Female.
            Was told at an interview: “sorry, you’ll just have babies and leave us”. To my face! Still no babies.

            1. cmcinnyc*

              My mom was fired when she got pregnant (with me), and that was perfectly legal and even expected. And that was a civil service job in New York State.

          2. SheLooksFamiliar*

            Yep. Back when mastadons roamed the earth and I was looking for a part-time job in high school, I was told to look at ‘pink collar’ job ads. Argh.

          3. Not So NewReader*

            Yep, I remember that. Boy, you could sure get through the employment ads quicker then if you were a woman.
            I will add, we thought nothing of that (collective WE, individuals- not so much). But it was normal. As a woman I knew it would be something like cutting trees down or other thing that was beyond my skill set anyway.

            I remember in the 80s an employment counselor telling me that “Since you are a woman you can be a teacher, a nurse or a secretary.” I told him he sounded like my mother. She said the same thing. My father was cutting-edge. He said I could be what ever I chose to be. But he had no clue how to get there.

          4. Not One of the Bronte Sisters*

            Absolutely true! I remember those ads in the newspapers. I got my first job at 16 in 1971. I was talking to some friends in the high school cafeteria and one girl mentioned that she had ushered at a theatre that presented live productions the previous summer and that it had been a lot of fun. She suggested that I call them and ask if they were looking for ushers for that summer. I called and they were and they gave me an interview day and time and hired me. For my second job (still 1971) I walked into a fabric store and asked the gentleman whether he was looking for any part-time help. We chatted, he said, “Consider yourself hired,” and I started that job a few days later. No applications, no resumes. I didn’t have a resume until probably seven years later.

            1. Sack of Benevolent Trash Marsupials*

              Yes! I think this is why the notion of ‘gumption’ refuses to die – it used to be that you did show up in person, because if they liked the looks of you (and yes, frequently for all the wrong reasons), you could get hired on the spot. And a bunch of us remember that, although honestly you have to have been hiding under a rock for the last 20 years to think that this is still a good idea.

              1. Kathlynn (Canada)*

                That’s how I got my first job way back in… 2007. No joke, but it was a seasonal cashier job, where my mom worked (and got fired a month or two later). I got the job because they needed someone, and I said that I liked the people who worked there.
                Small town. Didn’t actually need my resume until my 3rd job, because my grandma got me a job at her place the next summer.

          5. MatKnifeNinja*

            I flipped sod at 14, and the help wanted sign did say “Help Wanted, Male”

            The cranky foreman asked me why I wanted the job.

            I need money. I’m a hard worker. My dad is an arborist, and I already know how to flip sod.

            Got the job. The rest of the make crew weren’t jerks. (thank god). I got paid cash and probably wasn’t legal to do the work.

            That was 1978.

        8. Melonhead*

          @Alison, you either called and said, “I’m calling about the Widget-Maker job” and got an interview set up. Or, you mailed a paper resume to the appropriate person (listed in whatever ad), and if you didn’t get a letter or phome call in response, you followed up by calling a week or so later.

          At my jobs, it was generally ok to use your phone for occasional personal calls. Most people at my jobs sat in shared offices, so making calls was pretty easy. If you didn’t want to talk in front of your office-mate(s), invariably you could use a friend’s phone at lunch. Yes! We took 1/2 hr to an hour for lunch, every day!

          1. PB*

            you either called and said, “I’m calling about the Widget-Maker job” and got an interview set up.

            Interesting! I’m wondering if this is the basis of some of the gumption-y advise we see now.

            1. Detective Amy Santiago*

              It absolutely is. Things have changed tremendously since I entered the job market in 1999. At that time, I still perused the want ads in the newspaper, highlighted & cut out positions I was interested in, and mailed/faxed my resume to the hiring manager. They would call to set up an interview.

              I didn’t use the internet to job search until at least 2009. The reason younger people now are getting this outdated advice is because their parents/grandparents were job searching in a time when calling was standard and they haven’t realized that times have changed.

              1. Busy*

                Yeah, now that I think about it, I did use want-ads primarily until about 2009! And it was crazy BTW when the market crashed in 2008. I live in a very industrial town, and the want ads were literally like a paper within the paper! 7 or 8 pages long!!! And then around November 2008? One page. It was intense seeing such a physical change in opportunity that you could literally hold in your hand.

                The after that, I did it all online.

                1. JeanB in NC*

                  I remember when the help wanted section was like 20 pages long. There’d be at least 4 pages of admin/accounting jobs alone. That was in a big city though.

              2. Sophie Hatter*

                My father got the job he still has now 30+ years ago when his sister mailed him a newspaper clipping for the job in their hometown. Nothing else in the envelope to hear him tell it which always amused me.

                1. Not So NewReader*

                  Now we send hyperlinks to friends and family.
                  Nothing else in the envelope? That’s funny.

            2. PhyllisB*

              “Interesting! I’m wondering if this is the basis of some of the gumption-y advise we see now.”

              You are exactly right. When I started working, in 1971, you applied several ways. If you saw a help wanted sign it was not frowned on to just walk in and express an interest. You would be given a paper application to either fill out on the spot or occasionally take home and bring back. It was not not even a bad thing to walk in a place you wanted to work and ask if they were hiring. (This is where the gumption comes in.) I don’t remember resumes even being a Thing then, but I wasn’t looking for professional jobs in those days. When I started college, in secretarial science we were taught to write a professional sounding letter expressing interest. This would be today’s cover letter.
              I ended up going to work for the phone company in 1972 and never heard of/had use for resumes until 1994 when our office closed. I went back to school (by this time it was called Office and Technology. Now it’s called Applied Science.) This is when I was introduced to resumes. Special paper, folded in a certain way to make it easy for them to unfold. We even had a special class in folding. In fact I got a job because they were so impressed with my resume and the quality of paper I used.
              As for how you were invited for interviews, in the 70’s it was definitely by letter. Even then some people didn’t have phones. (The phone company did contact me by phone. I guess they figured anybody wanting to be a telephone operator would have a phone!! :-) )
              I ended up not using my office skills; I went in another direction and the business I went into encouraged the use of business cards. I had some generic ones printed up (email was a thing by then) and put my email in my contact info. Still had to submit paper resumes. I would attach my business card to my resume. There again, I was offered two jobs because I attached a business card. Funny what impresses people!! Anyway, all this sounds so old-fashioned and quaint now, but this is the way the business world functioned then.
              BTW, I had never heard of sending thank you notes until I started reading this site. I told all my adult children to send thank you notes, and my son received an internship because he sent one.

              1. Wow*

                You had a special class in folding? How long was it and how did it work? Who taught it? What did you learn? I find this utterly fascinating.

                1. Persephone Mulberry*

                  I had a book on letter writing once upon a time that explained this. Business letters are Z-folded with the top of the letter facing out and inserted into the envelope top edge up so that it unfolded as you pulled it out. Personal letters are C-folded with the contents to the inside and the top edge of the paper facing down, to keep the contents private.

                2. Pilcrow*

                  I remember learning* to fold business letters as part of a typing class in the late 80s. It was very precise with which end to fold first and how you placed it in the envelope so the person opening it just had to grab one part to flip it open and have the text be upside-up.

                  *Now ask me if I actually remember how to do it. :b

                3. Nanani*

                  I’m a millennial, but thanks to the timing of curriculum changes I was in high school under the Old system that included typing on typewriters and correctly folding business letters.

                  Have not used these skills since that class, but can confirm they were taught.

                4. Hapless Bureaucrat*

                  I didn’t have a special class; my mother taught me. She was a contract tech writer most of her career so she knew pretty much everything about how to apply for jobs. Z-fold for resumes so they see your header when they open the envelope, and sharp creases, applied with a ruler or fingernails if needed, so the letter lies nice and flat.

                  Served me well in my early career, though. That, and other things she taught me, got me into front desk jobs in college, back at the turn of the century. I worked at a career center my first job out of college and we were still teaching it, right alongside teaching people how to email resumes or fill out online applications. Things changed quickly.

                  I used mass mailing skills up through at least 2005. I remember nearly hugging the automatic letter- folding machine at one work place.

                5. PhyllisB*

                  Ha Ha!! Sounds funny doesn’t it to have a class in letter folding? It was one class session, and after the lesson we all have to demo to the teacher that we had learned. She was so funny; she would take the letter out and snap it open to show how it should look to the prospective employee. To this day, I still fold letters this way.

              2. Seeking Second Childhood*

                About the help-wanted sign…
                My location is both engineering and manufacturing. There is a “now hiring” banner up for the production floor — were someone to stop by and fill out an application, the only strange look they’d get is if they don’t think to mention the person who referred them to the job (to get them their referral bonus).
                But engineering & marketing & management? Those all have to go through the website.

                1. Freezing Librarian*

                  In the early 1990s the college I worked at even had that kind of walk-in-and-apply option, for pretty much every position short of faculty. Hard to read handwriting could get your application spiked!

              3. sofar*

                I am an older millennial who entered the job market in 2006, and I totally got the “folding and nice paper” education as well! Shockingly many job applications, even in 2006, were done by snail mail in the mid-size midwestern city I was living in. The job posting may even be online with instructions to “Mail resume and cover letter to this address.”

                I remember Googling “how to fold a business letter” (I was always forgetting), and sending off my applications. I had nice paper on hand and a printer at home. The hardest part? Lining up the envelopes in the printer and printing the address on them because handwriting the address on the envelope looked unprofessional.

                Some places even still responded by mail. I received many rejection letters, but also a few, “Congratulations, you’ve made it to the next step” letters containing a number to call (or an email address to email) to set up an interview.

                I was next in the job market in 2010, and by that time, snail mail applications had been 100% phased out.

            3. Pinky Pie*

              My grandfather was so upset with me after I graduated college in 1996 that I wouldn’t walk from company to company handing out copies of my resume and lining up interviews. That was how he did things when he was younger. (He was also upset that I wanted to leave Alabama.)

              1. Works in IT*

                Yeah, mom literally forced me to go door to door handing out resumes, ignoring my “but the website says they are definitely hiring” in 2010.

                She got mad when the strain of knowing that ignoring the explicitly stated directions would make them not want to hire me when they DID have open positions but she was threatening to kick me out of the house over summer break if I didn’t follow her idea of showing more initiative so I didn’t have a choice made me break down crying. At least once I was crying from the stress of being put between a rock and a hammer, she cut the driving around with resumes excursion short.

                1. Works in IT*

                  Definitely NOT hiring* pesky phone keyboard. The websites said if you apply here anyway we will never hire you!

                2. Sack of Benevolent Trash Marsupials*

                  Yes, one of my great job-hunting memories from like 1987 was my dad handing me the car keys and saying, “Don’t come home until you have a job.”

                  So that day I got a job in the lingerie department of a now-defunct department store, in a college town. It. sucked. College boys would come in wanting to buy something skimpy and maribou-trimmed for their girlfriends, and the awkward quotient of them looking me up and down and saying, “well, she’s about your size, but *insert busty gesture*…” was very high. I was not a mature enough person to be like, begone, youth, and come back when you know what size she wears, and also, just saying, no self-respecting woman is going to wear that stupid thing anyway. Ah, the things you wish you knew then.

                3. SS Express*

                  @Sack of Benevolent Trash Marsupials, speak for yourself but this self-respecting woman would definitely wear something skimpy and marabou-trimmed! Shame the store’s not still there :(

              2. sofar*

                I was a senior in college in 2006, and my dad was still like, “If you apply online or by email nobody will take you seriously!” And then he insisted that I look up the phone numbers of companies I wanted to work for and COLD. CALL. THEM. Even if they didn’t have an open position listed.

                It did not go well. Months later, I called my dad to tell him I’d been hired by a publishing company via a posting on

                1. Maeve*

                  I got my first job in…2004? But I definitely got it by reading a classified ad in the newspaper and walking in to the business to fill out a paper application. I don’t think there were really websites with local entry-level job listings in my town at the time, or at least none that I knew about.

            4. Not So NewReader*

              Gumption. Yes, the mind-set was that jobs were rare. You had to go ask for a job if you wanted to get noticed. People got into jobs and stayed there forever. So openings did not come up that often

              We have many more stores and businesses now than we ever did. This also means office people are needed which means more jobs. Back then you either had a profession or you had a trade. If you were young and starting out your best hope would be for someone to adopt you ( a mentor). Barring that, you had to have gumption. I know we laugh about the concept, but that is what it took to get something for yourself.

        9. Lynn Marie*

          No phone screens. No suggested dates. They mailed or called and told you when to show up. If you wanted the job you made it happen. Except for very senior positions there were no follow-up interviews either. And it was not at all unusual for the employer to call or notify you within a week if you didn’t get the job and why not.

        10. RJ the Newbie*

          I am old enough to have received a snail mail letter confirming an interview as well. As I recall, the letter (from Big Name Cosmetics Company) listed three possible dates/times together with the phone number of the hiring manager’s secretary and and deadline for confirmation.

          Oh man, was that a long time ago!

        11. BTDT*

          In 2003 I got a home phone call as a phone screen. After passing that everything else was done by mail. I had 3 more rounds of interviews and was sent a “you made it to the next round” letter with a time/location in the mail. There was no question about whether or not that time was convenient. It was that or nothing.

          For the phone screen, the interviewer called my home phone in the late afternoon with no warning and wanted to start the interview right then. But I was doing a friend’s hair – like I literally was holding a curling iron in her hair when I answered the phone. So i had to ask if we could do it in an hour or two, and the interviewer was clearly miffed. Ahh the good old days. ;)

          1. Not So NewReader*

            Something to point out here is that there was less caller ID then. And I am not sure when we started ignoring phones, but it was not long ago that you answered the phone every single time it rang. It was unthinkable not to answer your phone if you were home to hear it ring.

            1. Becky*

              Especially before answering machines were a thing. Once answering machines came around you could wait to see who it was. When I was a teen I would usually not answer the phone when my parents weren’t home (because 95% of the time it wasn’t for me and wasn’t anything I could help with) but sometimes it might be one of my parents so you could hear them say “Becky, answer the phone” on the machine and then pick it up.

          2. The Hamster's Revenge*

            In 1992 I had my new technical degree and was mass mailing my resumes (on cream colored linen embossed paper, natch) and I got a phone screen with no prior warning. My mom answered the phone and had to wake me because I worked nights as a security guard. I passed, apparently, but they called back for a technical phone screen…also without scheduling it and Mom had to wake me up again. I somehow did well enough, despite being half awake, to get the job. I remember Mom listening anxiously and getting me a cup of coffee part way through.

        12. OlympiasEpiriot*

          Early to mid 80’s: Go in and drop off a resume in person OR mail it in with a cover letter that also indicated when/where one could be reached and wait for a letter or a call with appointment OR pay for an answering service who took one’s messages and call in periodically to see if you had them or get paged on a pager. (See movie The Bells Are Ringing for an earlier version of that.) Mid-80’s: got an answering machine and a dialer (handheld thing that made touch tone tones) so I could send the code to my answering machine wherever I was, even if I was someplace with a rotary phone or out of the country and therefore not using US standard tones.

          I came across that dialer a couple of years ago when cleaning out a box.

          1. OlympiasEpiriot*

            Just realized I didn’t describe how to use the dialer: you turned it on (saving the battery by keeping it off until needed), held it to the transmitter end of the telephone and pushed buttons that looked just like a dial pad, making the same tones that a US touchtone phone would except through the mouth piece and the machine would “hear” them, recognize your code and start the playback process. I could erase messages remotely, too. A wonderful thing.

        13. Peachkins*

          I don’t know about back then, but my husband applied two years ago for the job he has now with city government. They literally sent him a letter in the mail with the date and time of his interview. No other options given. No phone call, no email, just the letter. Just two years ago! No wonder they’ve had trouble hiring. They apparently got around to changing the process as their current new-hire did actually get a call.

        14. Kathleen_A*

          I think I had only one phone interview, back there in the Cretaceous, and the way it worked was:
          1. Saw ad. (Yes, a “Help Wanted” ad, just like in a black-and-white movie!) Ad asked applicants to call between the hours of X and Y.
          2. Called between the hours of X and Y, and talked to a woman for about 10 minutes. It was essentially a pre-interview.
          3. Passed pre-interview and was brought in for in-person interviews.
          4. Got job.

          I can’t remember if I got her first try or had to leave a number, but I was unemployed at the time, so leaving a number wouldn’t have been a problem. How employed people managed it is one of those mysteries.

          So yes, there was (at least in my experience) such a thing as phone interviews, but they weren’t common, presumably because they were so cumbersome.

        15. tiffbunny*

          Can’t speak for the person you were asking, but from what I saw around me growing up, generally you’d get a letter with a date and time set sometime in the next 1-4 weeks, and you simply did whatever you had to to make yourself available on the day. There was no asking candidates about what times suited them, employers simply gave you an interview slot and unless you had a seriously compelling reason, you didn’t have room to negotiate.

      2. RUKiddingMe*

        Life was slower then… no one was “on” 24/7 and people understoid it might take more than a vouple if minutes to get stuff arranged.

        Excuse me while I walk down memory lane and make dome popcorn …on the stove… so I can watch The Breakfast Club.

        1. Oh Boy*

          This is off topic, but plenty of people make popcorn on the stove. I think it is the special countertop popcorn machines that people got for their homes that kids today would never recognize.

          1. Seeking Second Childhood*

            Oh our countertop popcorn popper was a big hit at my daughter’s birthday party. The ones sold now are really fancy — but my husband’s 1980s air popper iss FAST. Fast enough to spill out of the bowl. :D

          2. LunaLena*

            I dunno, I think countertop popcorn machines are making a comeback now that they’re old enough to be vintage and therefore cool. I keep seeing them on Buzzfeed, which is definitely marketed towards younger people.

            My mom-in-law has one of those really old stovetop popcorn makers, though (the kind that looks like a pot with an extra handle) and everyone swears it makes better popcorn than anything.

      3. Miso*

        Oh, that’s totally how it worked when I applied for a traineeship, too!
        In 2014.

        Yeah, Germany is a bit behind times… (admittedly, I applied to cities, and we know those are always especially late with fancy shmancy technology stuff.)

        There were only a couple where I could send in my application via email. The absolute best part was when one city sent me back my application materials – only I had sent them per email, so yes, they actually printed those out (including the file name on the pages, so you can absolutely never ever use it for anything ever again) and sent those back to me via snail mail.
        You might notice I’m still not over that…

        1. MsSolo*

          I was thinking, I’m in the UK and I’ve definitely had letters inviting me to interview this side of the millennium, though my current employer emails (with a date and time, and a request to contact them if it’s not convenient). Usually the ad has a timeframe they expect to interview in, so you know in advance if your application is successful you’ll be looking at week commencing blah-di-blah, and if that’s not convenient you should probably include why in your application. I don’t know if it’s my industry or just the UK in general, but phone interviews are something I only associate with scenarios where getting to an in person one is impractical.

          1. Bagpuss*

            I’m the UK –
            In my firm, we don’t use formal telephone interviews but a fair bit of our recruitment is word of mouth, so there is often an informal phone conversation as the first step rather than a formal application, then we might invite them for an in-person interview, if they are interested and we think thye are likely to be a good fit.

            If we are advertising for a role then we would generally go straight to an in person interview, although if we had an application from som eone who wasn’t local we’d probably offer an initial phone interviewto save them having to travel more than was necessary.

            1. londonedit*

              UK here too, and I’ve never had a phone interview (publishing). If I’ve applied via a recruiter, then they’ll usually phone for an informal chat before they submit my application, but I’ve never had a formal phone interview as a first step – it’s either an in-person first interview or nothing.

              I graduated in 2003 and was still sending hard-copy CVs and cover letters in the post to apply for jobs back then, but I think it fairly quickly moved to email.

            2. Tuppence Lost*

              I’m in the UK too, and I have had exactly one phone interview in the 1990s, when I was applying for a job working abroad. However, my daughter had numerous phone interviews when applying for her placement year whilst at University.

              I left Uni in the late 1980s, and applications were all done on paper. There was a standard graduate application form, which could be used for jobs at different companies: I can’t remember where it came from. Also there was a printed graduate job magazine, which had numerous job postings for new graduates, and was available for free.

              My dad saved everything, and somewhere there is a huge folder from his science related job search in the 1960s. All done by letter, mostly typed but with handwritten corrections to eg interview times. I’ve got recollections that there were some printed forms along the lines of “Please come to an interview on ….. at …. am/pm” with the date and time filled in by hand.

              1. Mary*

                My dad has his appointment letter from his first post-postdoc job, which he basically kept until 2010. Salary around £3000 pa, I think!

          2. Marion Ravenwood*

            UK person here, and I have never been invited to a phone interview in my life. This might be industry-specific (I work in PR/comms/marketing), but it just doesn’t seem to be as much of a thing here – you just go straight from application form to either rejection or in-person interview.

          3. Clewgarnet*

            UK person here. I’ve had two phone interviews, but one was for a position based in the Netherlands and one for a position based in Germany. I’ve never had a phone interview for a UK job.

          4. Marthooh*

            I think this is partly a UK v US thing, dating from the days when USians couldn’t wrap our minds around mail delivered twice a day, and UKers couldn’t fathom why anyone would use the Devil’s instrument when they could just write a letter instead.

            1. 'Tis me*

              Another UK person! Also never had a phone interview (but I’ve only had internal interviews for the last 11 years). I filled in a paper form for my Saturday job when I was a teenager, transferred it to a different branch when I went to university, handed in my notice for my placement year – then went back to the branch in my final year to check if they’d rehire me and was sent to another branch (I think I had an informal interview but it was more confirming my hours and availability and because I was returning into a supervisory role sorting out when I’d be trained to open and close the shop).

              I did my placement year and graduate job applications by email. One agency had advertised several jobs that I applied to with no response; when I called up it was because they had put the wrong email address on all of their ads… I guess they had enough people contact them via other routes to not notice! I was made redundant early 2008 with a lot of notice so job-hunted again 2007/2008 and had a few letters with interview times, rejections, etc. Most replies were calls or emails though. One of them only offered me one timeslot and when I tried to rearrange I was told if I couldn’t make it they might not interview me. The guy seemed genuinely nonplussed that, having already committed to a different interview in that timeslot a week earlier, I wasn’t prepared to flake on them. (They did invite me for another slot which I could make. And when they wrote to invite me to a second interview I had to decline because I was due to start with my current company. I got two job offers by phone literally one after the other on my way home from one of the interviews, the other successful interview had been the day before.)

          5. Ponytail*

            I’ve been working since 1985, and have had a STACK of jobs, in three different fields, and I’ve never had a telephone interview either. I don’t think it’s really a British thing.
            I was going to also say that getting posted invitations to interview was still a thing but then it occurred to me, I haven’t had one for years. I think the last one I got would have been in 2007/8 ?

          6. Batgirl*

            Im in the UK and my boyfriend was really weirded out by a request for a phone interview for his current job. I was all “This is good practice! It saves you both time!” But he was very disconcerted by not knowing the ettiquette or what-have-you. Now he’s settled in he agrees that it seems to have given him a better class of colleague.

            1. Pixie*

              I’m in the UK and have never had a phone interview, but my husband did very recently. Unfortunately he’s not an AAM reader and didn’t twig what was going on – “I had a lovely chat with the HR assistant!” – but he then had two in person interviews and got the role so it worked out.

              We did some at my job recently – we were overwhelmed by good applicants for a skilled-but-we’ll-train-you three hours a day role in a good location, perfect for a student. Apparently it went really well and we’ve got new team members incoming.

        2. Gaia*

          Bit OT but when it comes to government being behind the times on fancy tech….I think my government employer might take the weirdest combo cake ever.

          We don’t have any ability to immediately contact someone in another building. Email takes about 20 minutes to get through whatever ancient maze exists in their servers. No IM. We all have iPhones (because we have no desk phones at all) but are absolutely forbidden to use them for calls or texts. Strictly to access email. So if I need to ask a question about a report I’m working on for someone working in a building across town….I have to set up a meeting and DRIVE TO THEM.

          1. Persephone Mulberry*

            This is AMAZING.

            I worked for a largeish mental health therapy practice, and most of the therapy staff weren’t given email access because we had to pay for encryption for HIPAA reasons on a per-sender basis, and obviously they were all in sessions most of the day, so our primary mode of communication was voicemail, and I thought THAT was kind of odd.

          2. Seeking Second Childhood*

            What do you use iPhones for if you may not use them to call or text your fellow employees!?

        3. Marion Q*

          Once,I half-heartedly tried to apply for a government job (a very coveted one in my country). I was scrolling down the requirement list mildly uninterested … Until I got to the cover letter requirement.

          They wanted a handwritten cover letter.

          This was in 2018.

          Honestly I was surprised they didn’t also ask for cursive.

          1. Suzy Q*

            I just passed on applying for a government job in the Year 2019. They did email the application on request, but it was TWENTY PAGES LONG, had to be filled out by hand, and was excessively intrusive. Plus, it had to be hand-delivered to the agency. No mailing allowed!

      4. Nicelutherangirl*

        But back in the day, if you had GUMPTION, you didn’t even need an interview. If you just showed up at the company or organization, resume in hand for the job you were applying for, and asked to give it to the CEO/President/Excutive Director, that grand poobah would be so impressed by your gumption that you’d be hired on the spot. Phone screens and interviews are for amateurs!

    2. Engineer Girl*

      We absolutely had phone interviews. I had one before they flew me out for an in person interview.
      If I remember correctly, they sent a letter requesting a time. I then contacted the secretary via phone that the time was OK.
      I have also received calls at work and we had a quick conversation on when to arrange a “real” phone interview. This was on evenings or weekends.

      1. Engineer Girl*

        BTW, standard practice was to NOT call someone at work. It was considered rude. Usually they’d call you at home around 7 pm or so. Because back then people were home by 5 or 6 pm. They used to take 2 week vacations too.

        1. OP#5*

          EngineerGirl, did hiring managers just stay late to make those calls? That’s the part I couldn’t imagine: if people are called in the evening, the interviewer is working in the evening…

          1. Combinatorialist*

            But could just as easily be working from home, if they have a phone there (and possibly submitting the cost for reimbursement). If I had to do a phone interview in the evening, I would call from my house

          2. cleo*

            I think they had services for that. One of my good friends had a job in the early 90s at like a call center type place that did phone screenings of job applicants for several companies. I don’t think she did full blown interviews but collected basic HR type info. I remember her laughing about how annoyed she’d get when a caller answered in a way that she had to “flush” their call – she really wanted them to do well.

          3. Engineer Girl*

            They usually stayed late so they could use the Watts line at work. A Watt line gave you “free” long distance. Back then, you paid a long distance fee based on location, time of day, and day. The most expensive time was during business hours during the week. The cheapest time (if I remember) was after 11 PM on weekends.

      2. Liane*

        I remember having a phone interview for a Florida state job in the early 1990s. The position was located 6 or 8 hours away from me with only 1 road in (The Keys), and I don’t think state budgets have ever allowed for flying in candidates for entry level positions, so this was actually a full first interview with the hiring manager. It was structured exactly like all the in-person interviews I did, except only one interviewer. (Were conference calls even possible then?) I think the HM left a “call me to set up a time” message on my home answering machine. I am pretty sure I did it from home.
        (Sorry, aging brain cells plus cold remedies is not a recipe for total recall.)

        1. The Hamster's Revenge*

          The company for my first real job was 300 miles from where I was living. Mom was my answering service (luv you Mom) and they never set up appts for either phone screen. They just called out of the blue and I dealt with it. I had to pawn my VCR for gas money to get to my first in person interview and I stayed in the fancy hotel they had paid for. I was so ashamed of my clapped out beater that I parked in back. They reimbursed my mileage and that money paid for the gas to get to my second (and thankfully final) interview before they hired me.

    3. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

      I’m a bit younger than OP, but I received phone calls to set up in-person and phone interviews. I think the first time I started receiving emails as the primary conduit for scheduling was halfway through college. I’ve never seen anyone use letters to schedule any kind of interview. At least in my limited experience, the default before email was phone calls.

      1. Safetykats*

        Yep, default before email was telephone. You didn’t have a cell phone, but you did generally have an answering machine. Communications also came by mail or courier; every formal offer I’ve had (including my most recent) came by Fedex, UPS, or courier (although now it’s common for an emailed offer to come first, the formal packet including the offer you’re meant to sign and return still comes in hard copy in my industry). Phone interviews weren’t uncommon, and you either took time off and did them from home or arranged an evening or weekend time.

        1. Turtle Candle*

          I remember my parents buying their first answering machine in the early 90s specifically for my father’s job search.

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

            My parents bought theirs in the early 1980s and forever after used it to screen every one of their calls- a habit I also got into and continue to this day on my cell.

            1. Detective Amy Santiago*

              My parents still screen every call on their home phone via answering machine.

              1. King Friday XIII*

                I still get the answering machine when I call my parents without warning them, and I’ll leave a “Mom? Dad? It’s King Friday, pick up if you’re there–” message until they do, because the leave the machine on the speaker setting so you can hear the message in real time.

          2. MarfisaTheLibrarian*

            When I was about 8, around the turn of the millennium, I remember hearing an ear-splitting shriek of joy across the house–the government had left a voicemail offering my dad a job, and my mom was the first person who heard it. She was happy. But so much less privacy when there’s one answering machine that everyone can listen to!

          3. Seeking Second Childhood*

            I married into a family with a name that looks like a common one but has a slightly different pronunciation. (Think Tyrion LANE-ister, not Tyrion LANNister.) For his last job search, my fatherinlaw changed his outgoing message to pronounce his name LANE-ister. When my husband teased him, he replied “If they hire me, I’ll correct them then.” Clever man!

    4. CatMintCat*

      I started office work back in the mid-1970s (0lder than dirt, me!) and how it worked was this:

      1. Buy the Saturday paper (where all the jobs were).
      2. Spend Sunday perusing the hundreds of job ads that suited what I wanted.
      3. Monday morning, telephone the ones that looked interesting and set up an interview (usually for that day, occasionally the Tuesday).
      4. Go to interviews. Decide which firm I wanted to work for.
      5. Start work Tuesday or Wednesday.

      This was for jobs in a big city (Sydney, Australia) in a professional field (law; I was a good legal secretary/paralegal before I became a teacher), and it’s just how it went. Definitely an employee’s market. I job-hopped a lot, too – my record of employment from those days would probably give Alison the vapours, but I wasn’t in any way unusual.

      So glad I’m not dealing with it these days. I intend to retire from or die in the job I currently have.

      1. Seeking Second Childhood*

        New York City in the early 1990s wasn’t QUITE that fast… but similar. The ads were in the Sunday paper. And I had to add Step 2.5 Sunday afternoon, wash newsprint fingerprints off your desktop. And swear to never get a white desk again.

        1. starsaphire*

          I have a very vivid memory of sitting in a Denny’s coffee shop on a Monday morning sometime in 1989 or 1990, in my shirtwaister dress and heels, at 8 AM. I had a cup of coffee, some toast, a copy of the Sunday paper’s Help Wanted ads, and a ballpoint pen. And I wasn’t the only person in there, dressed up and drinking cheap coffee and circling ads in the paper.

          Naturally, at that time, Denny’s had like three pay phones in the little hallway by the restrooms — so if you went there with a friend, you could take turns calling, and you only had to buy one paper between you.

          And that’s how we got jobs in the Jurassic era, kids… ;)

    5. Melonhead*

      RUKidding, when I was a teen looking for jobs, the Want Ads were still divided into “Help Wanted: Female” and “Help Wanted: Male.”

      1. Memory Lane*

        Fun fact, when applying for a dept. store job, I was assigned a department based on my gender & presentation. For what it’s worth, I didn’t really mind, and it makes a funny throwback story now.

        1. Sack of Benevolent Trash Marsupials*

          Yes, I posted above about getting assigned to lingerie in my department store job – I think not only because I was female, but also because I was young enough not to know that you don’t want to work in ladies’ underwear in a college town!! I’m sure the older ladies were like oh, no, we aren’t going to subject ourselves to hordes of male college students fondling all the merchandise, not buying anything, and everything else that went along with that.

        2. PhyllisB*

          Lucky you Memory Lane!! My first job was at a Howard Brothers’ (early Wal-Mart) and they put me in the….sporting goods department selling fishing tackle and blood bait. Of which I knew nothing. I had worked for three weeks when the phone company called. I went to the office to put in my resignation at the same time the store manager was coming to find me and tell me he was promoting me to department manager of ladies wear!! I was apologetic for quitting so soon, but he was very understanding and said he didn’t blame me; he would tell his daughter to do the same. But if it didn’t work out, I would always have a job with them.

    6. ssssssssssssssssssssssssss*

      Early 90s. Get the paper. I used to clip the job ads I applied for and paste them to cue cards to keep track of where I had applied to and results. Visited job boards. Copy down the info, and then either call the place and set up an interview, or mail it in per their instructions. I had one c.v., and the cover letter I would customize with my electronic typewriter. Mail out.

      I’ve had to return calls from work making it sound like a simple appointment I was making, or wait for lunch or for people to not be around. Or once, I did it from a pay phone… but no real phone interviews. But I was once screened by phone. When I called for the job, he cut to the chase: How old are you? I was shocked and I think I told him my age. That was no good because he felt that if you were below a certain age, then for sure you didn’t have enough experience for the job. A secretary job, to boot.

      When at work on these calls, your conversation style becomes very non-committal: Yes. No, Uh-huh. Ummm…

      When I started job searching Part II – After Kids (2009), 95% of all my applications was by email and I think I had a handful of phone interviews. I was shocked to get a rejection letter. By mail! It seemed so very old school by 2010.

      The best part was that the phone interview where I had the least fun for (because the poor HR person was doing her best to talk in English to candidates when she could barely speak English herself) was the one that led me to my job that lasted four years.

    7. Triplestep*

      I am 55, and I remember finding jobs in the newspaper, sending my resume and cover letter on nice paper, and then being called to come in for an interview.

      Before e-mail and then e-mail + cell phones, I never had the occasion to look for a job while still employed, but if I wasn’t home to answer the phone we did have answering machines. I think that the percentage of people who looked for a new professional job while already employed was probably lower before technology made that process easier; I don’t have any stats, but we do hear a lot about how people didn’t change jobs/careers as much as we do know.

    8. Lauren*

      You mailed in your resume and cover letter and they called you. Sometimes you could fax it. Or drop it off if you wanted it there faster (it wasn’t considered a faux pas then). Yes they called you at home and left a message. Then you called back during work hours and set up the interview. Lots of phone tag. I started working in 1984. I never got a letter calling me in for an interview. It was always by phone. I got letters telling me I either had the job or didn’t. Weirdly I got more “you didn’t get the job” then when the letters had to be typed than now when there is email which is much faster.

      1. starsaphire*

        My first office job was as a receptionist. 1987 or 1988, I believe.

        My first task — my VERY first task — was to type up boilerplate rejection letters and envelopes to ALL the other applicants for my job. For a $4/hour receptionist job.

        I think formal rejection letters were way more common then too, honestly.

      2. Snarktini*

        This matches my experience in the 90s. LOTS of phone tag. They left me messages on my home answering machine, and I’d dial home a few times a day to check, then dash outside/downstairs to a pay phone (or private place to use my cell, which I got in 1995) to call them back. Rinse and repeat. I didn’t get calls after hours that I remember. And, yeah, I got a lot more “we received your letter and nope” emails than I do today.

      3. marni*

        I think that’s because there used to be typists to send out those letters. Now that every manager does their own correspondence, those routine tasks tend to get sidelined…

    9. Combinatorialist*

      I’m in my first industry job and it is at the same place my grandfather’s first industry job was at. He was hired in the late 1950s. When I got hired, he showed me his job offer telegram that had come on Christmas Eve. I don’t know how interviews were set up (and he has passed now), but he definitely had a job offer on a telegram.

      1. Combinatorialist*

        Also in an amazing coincidence, my fiance’s first job is at the same place as my grandmother’s

    10. ThursdaysGeek*

      I remember how I financed college: I wrote on index cards that I would do house cleaning, yard work, or other odd jobs, and put down the phone number of a friend for messages. Then I walked house to house, knocking and handing them to people or leaving them in their doors. Each day I’d go to the friend and see if there were any messages, and if someone had called, I’d call them back, find out what they needed, when, and their address. I’d bike to houses when I wasn’t in class, mostly cleaning houses. And I got double minimum wage, so sometimes $6 an hour!

      I also remember when I got my SSN, but I was younger then, perhaps 12 or so. That’s why mine, my brother, and my sister have sequential numbers – we all got ours at the same time. My older siblings already had them – they needed them to work.

    11. TootsNYC*

      I remember running out to buy an answering machine so that I wouldn’t miss calls for job interviews–and that was my third job! (and they called me while I was out buying it! I think they called back)

      I don’t even remember how they got ahold of me before that; maybe it was when I was living somewhere that had a “front desk” setup for the phone.
      Otherwise, I think they sent a letter that said, “call us to set up an interview,” and they had someone manning the phones pretty reliably.

      1. Fieldpoppy*

        The job I had at a major department store for four years while I was a student in 1983-87 came about because my mother knew someone who knew the store manager and she said “send her in!” I just showed up wearing a little dress and waited in her office (no call, no appointment), filled out an application and was hired on the spot.

        My first real job came because I was doing a temporary job on campus for a conference (sitting in a booth for a book fair) and I got chatting with a publisher and he offered me a job. Again, no resume, no process.

        In 1989/90 when I got my entry level job in my current field, it was a combination of newspaper ads and registering with a recruiter. I was set up for three interviews within two weeks and was offered all three jobs. I chose the one that sounded most fun.

        I think the recruiter called me at my job because she had cleared it with me and promised to be discreet. I think the interviews went something like “come Wednesday at 5” knowing that i had a job i couldn’t leave during the day. The hiring managers stayed late for the process.

    12. MatKnifeNinja*

      I had on the spot interviews.

      Classified ad. Call or walk in. Person in charge of hiring did the interview. Sometimes they didn’t even want your paper, typed on a manual typewriter resume.

      It was yay or any on the spot. No waiting for HR to grind through 800 resumes.

      My hospital gig was paper resume and a phone call to set up an interview. In 1980, I had no caller ID or an answering machine. You hung around waiting for calls.

      1990 was university lab assistant. Was interviewed by the professor before he saw my resume. (friend put in a word for me)

      Current gig. Word of mouth. Mutual interests in finches and origami, both of which have nothing to do with the job.

      I’ve been extremely blessed. Always had a job. Maybe not a glorious upper six figure one, but enough not to be eating saltines, tuna fish and ramen.

      Anyone remember being taught how to type multiple columns of text on a manual type writer, and how to center them? #NotFum

  2. Vampire Manager*

    I have a piggyback question from #1, because I have seen this in numerous workplaces that have honor-based timekeeping (which is not a great system but that’s out of my hands, so I digress). Does the answer change for you when the habitually late employee arrives late but claims to arrive on time for timekeeping purposes (when paid hourly)? I appreciate flexibility and don’t usually nitpick time, but it really grinds my gears when someone claims to come in daily around, say, 8:00 but is actually there at 8:10 one day, 8:20 the next, and so on.

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      Absolutely, that’s a whole different thing — that’s someone lying about their hours and getting paid for time they didn’t work. Not okay (and fireable really, if it wasn’t an accident).

      1. Vampire Manager*

        That’s what I thought, but I’ve found myself in a few workplaces where this was the norm and it’s been an odd adjustment to a new normal. I’ve reported it quite a few times, but as a fairly new line manager/team leader, my hands are tied. All I can do is document and report. It’s been super demoralizing for my other team members but at this point, there isn’t much more I can do.

        Thanks, Alison!

        1. KayDay*

          Just out of curiosity, are these people who are technically hourly but generally treated as salaried? I’m not thinking of people being nefariously mis-categorized, but rather an admin assistant at an smallish office, for example. In that case, I could see/understand if a company thought the expense of setting up a more sophisticated tracking system would be greater than the cost of paying people for a few extra minutes each day. And actually, now that I think about it, my cashier jobs paid me to the nearest X minutes (can’t remember how much exactly, I think one place was 6 minutes but another was in the 10-15 minute range)

          Another example, I had a friend who worked at a law firm, but in a position that was non-exempt. She was paid on a salary basis assuming 37.5 hours of work each week but also received overtime pay for work over 40 hours in a week (as she was entitled to…and she worked a lot of it). But her boss didn’t nit pick their hours to the minute either. I’m sure anything egregious would/could have been dealt with; but I think they treated the 2.5 hours per week before overtime kicked in as a buffer.

          1. Angwyshaunce*

            I am an Engineer at a very small company. This position is almost exclusively salaried in the industry, but my boss pays us hourly so that we are (generously) compensated for any overtime.

            We do have a “clock in” system, not for making sure we are at work, but for tracking our hours spent on specific jobs.

            We also do not have a fixed starting time – generally we can come in any time before 9:30 and work our eight hours (plus unpaid lunch). For instance, I got up early today and arrived at 6:00, so that I can leave at 2:30.

            With all that being said, while our log times aren’t meticulously tracked, my method is as follows: If I arrive at 8:00, I work until 4:30. If I arrive at 8:05, I work until 4:35. I round to the nearest 15 minutes on the timesheet, but if they do ever check the log times, the quantity of time would be consistent.

            1. sunny-dee*

              My very first “real” job, I had a timesheet, and I always wrote in the exact time I arrived or took a break — 8:07, 10:11, whatever. My manager finally told me after a couple of weeks to round to the nearest 15 minutes, because it was driving her nuts adjusting my times when she was checking my hours for the pay period. (There wasn’t an electronic system because it was a really small place, with like 5 employees, and it just wasn’t worth the expense.)

          2. SpellingBee*

            The way it’s always been done where I’ve worked the 37.5-hr week (very common in law firm support) is that any hours between 37.5 and 40 are still paid, just paid at your normal hourly rate, then over 40 is paid at overtime. You still have to be paid for all the time you work because you’re not exempt, even though your pay is usually listed as a yearly salary amount and not an hourly amount. Of course there was the one firm I worked at back in the dark ages that liked to categorize anything up to an extra 15 minutes a day as “casual overtime” that they didn’t have to pay you for . . . while at the same time docking your pay by the minute if you were late signing in in the morning.

            1. Ramblin' Ma'am*

              This is how my office works too, although they consider a 35 hour week as standard. So 35-40 hours is paid at the hourly rate, and 40+ hours is paid at time and a half.

          3. Hey Karma, Over Here*

            That is a legitimate/official category. It’s called salaried non-exempt. That’s my situation, in a desktop publisher type role It works exactly like that. I receive paychecks based on 37.5 hour work week, OT up to 1.5 hours is straight time, after 40 hours, time and a half.

            1. Sara without an H*

              I have one employee in that category. She clocks in and out on the computer. As long it adds up to 30 hours at the end of the week, I don’t nag her to start at a particular time, just to let me know if she’ll be significantly later than usual.

          4. facepalm*

            I was a temp once at a law firm in a receptionist position, and part of my job was to walk around after 5pm and turn out all the lights, lock all the doors, etc (usually took an extra 10 minutes). Once I was about 5 minutes late in the morning due to traffic but I wrote on my time slip that I had arrived on time. The office manager said she wouldn’t sign the time slip and I said that was fine, but I was going to start recording the actual time I left every single day (5:10). She signed the time slip right then and never said another word about it. I have never seen the point in nickel and diming people who are otherwise good employees, especially in that case, when they were getting almost an hour of free work out of me each week.

            1. only acting normal*

              Reminds me of the place I was regularly 10-15 minutes early in the morning (because of train times) and was once reamed for being 30 seconds late clockin back in from lunch. Guess who never did any work before their official start time ever again?

            2. only acting normal*

              Reminds me of the place I was regularly 10-15 minutes early in the morning (because of train times) and was once reamed for being 30 seconds late clocking back in from lunch. Guess who never did any work before their official start time ever again?

          5. Ammonite*

            I had an hourly job that required clocking in and out on a system that rounded your time to the nearest quarter hour, but had a 7 minute buffer. So if I clocked 9:08-5:00 I’d be paid for 7.75 hours, but if I clocked 9:06-5:00 I’d be paid for 8. It was a good way to make everyone super motivated to rush to the time clock (actually a phone) the second they walked in the door! But ultimately kind of a terrible system because it punished you for a few minute discrepancy and was easy to game for those of us who weren’t full time. I had a coworker who would go race to clock in exactly 7 minutes early, then take her sweet time getting coffee, chatting, etc. At the end of her shift, she would stop working at the appointed time, but then hang around until it was exactly 7 minutes after the hour. She’d get paid for an extra half hour of work every shift, which really added up!
            That’s why I’m in favor of a general flexibility approach, even for hourly employees. It builds trust overall and treats people like adult humans rather than drones. Treat people like human beings and they’re likely to be happier, better employees, and less likely to try to game the system.

          6. Sarah N*

            Yeah, our admin assistant works like this, I believe. No one is monitoring and no one would care at all about 5-10 minutes a day; she’s basically being paid for 40 hours a week and of course would get overtime on rare occasions when she needs to work more. Of course if she’s taking a whole day off or something she’d use PTO, but generally I think it’s just “be in the office during reasonable office hours and don’t take 4 hour lunches” but no one cares if she goes to get coffee “on the clock” or something.

          7. Batman*

            My first job working for an organization (rather than babysitting or pet sitting or whatever) we had an old school time machine, where everyone had a physical time card and you stuck your card in and it stamped the time that you got there or left. When the managers went through and tallied up everyone’s hours, they rounded to the nearest 15-minute increment. So if you got there at 8:06, they’d round up to 8:00, but if you got there at 8:08 (or whatever, I don’t remember exactly) they’d round down to 8:15. We all knew this and a lot of people would wait an extra minute or two before clocking out so they’d get that extra 15 minutes.

          8. AnnaBananna*

            I’m an analyst at a large teaching hospital. Our timekeeping system is every 15 minutes. So if I arrive at 8:07am, then I get paid the first 15 minutes. If I clock in at 8:08, then I lose the time between 8 – 8:15. The law of averages works out fairly equally, actually, which is why when we upgraded our time system we kept the same 15 min increment.

            Now. As someone who is habitually late, I can confirm that this is a total personality trait. Its like I expect everything in life to take a lot less time than it does, EVEN WHEN I TIME IT. It’s crazy. I actually got ready an hour earlier today but only ended up 10 minutes early to work. True story. It’s like us late folk live in our own wormhole. I also have ADHD if that helps? Although I am rarely distracted when getting ready for work because I live by that routine and often feel my day is totally ruined if I don’t do everything the same. It is just that I somehow lose time in the process…wormholes, I tell ya!

            1. Zillah*

              I have ADHD too and this is my life.

              I’m genuinely terrified of ending up in a job without flexibility around my hours, because no matter how hard I try to be on time, it’s a huge stressor that I really struggle with.

              I work hard, I work later when I’m late, and I work longer if necessary… but the whole on time thing just destroys me.

        2. Burned Out Supervisor*

          If you felt like it, you could try and advocate for Flex time and allow people to stay 5-10 minutes late to make up the time. That way you’re being flexible on start times and people don’t have to lie in order to get paid the full 8 (although, you’ll probably still have people lie anyway because that’s their character).

      2. MassMatt*

        How is this different from the letter, though? Is it because in This case the person fills out a time card (in which case any tardiness is EVIL and MUST BE PUNISHED) and in the letter’s case you assume there is no time card in which case hey, saunter in at 9:15 and it’s all good?

        This doesn’t seem to be consistent.

        1. TechWorker*

          Pretty sure that’s not the logic… if you’re not paid hourly, or you are but don’t have a time card then in many jobs it doesn’t matter whether you work 9-5 or 9.05 to 5.05. If you do have a time card and work 9.20 to 5 but write down 9-5 every day then you’re not doing the hours you’re paid for.

          (And in reality if you’re not paid hourly yes it’s possible people might game the system but it’s more common to end up doing enough overtime that coming in 20min ‘late’ once a week, or whatever, is still easily over the ‘hours’ you’re meant to do).

          1. sunny-dee*

            Or, like in my case, I almost always eat lunch at my desk and do email or catch up on reading or editing. There are a lot of ways to make up (or lose) 5-15 minutes a day, and it could drive you mad trying to track and control all of them.

          2. MissDisplaced*

            Unless you take that 20 minutes off your lunch hour.
            I am not a lunch person. I do not need an hour off the clock to eat. So, I’d much rather come in 15 minutes late and take only a 30 minute lunch break (if any break at all). But no one see that this method actually works in the company’s favor by 15 minutes of course, because… optics!

          3. Someone Else*

            The part that gives me pause about the letter though is the person is coming in late every single day, not once a week. I get it, treat like an adult, don’t quibble over five minutes, and if she’s exempt it doesn’t matter and it probably washing out with out time in the evening in the end…but if she’s not then she is gaming the system. Specifically because of the Every Day aspect of it. I don’t necessarily disagree with Alison’s advice, but the Never On Time does bug me. I think more from a reliability angle? I was raised and went to school in an environment that very much emphasized punctuality. So I have a knee-jerk judgey reaction to someone who is late every day, even if I intellectually understand if she’s not a in a coverage type job it shouldn’t matter if she’s in at an exact start time or not as long as her work is getting done and done well.

            1. pancakes*

              The very first sentence of the letter says it happens “2-3 times a week,” which isn’t the same as “every single day.” Having been raised in an environment where people get agitated by a lack of strict punctuality certainly doesn’t oblige you to take that view yourself, nor to hold it forevermore.

            2. pancakes*

              And not to keep banging on about it, but I hope you’ll take a step back and look at just how many times you emphasized, in this brief comment, that you mistakenly believe the letter writer’s coworker is late daily. 3 times! (I’m including the “Never On Time!”). I have a hard time understanding why someone who’s such a stickler about this wouldn’t also be a stickler for reading comprehension, if wasting time is a concern.

              1. Burned Out Supervisor*

                But, 2-3 times is a lot. It’s enough times a week where it’s perceived to be happening every day. If your office culture is old school and places a lot of weight on reliability and dependability, then being 5-10 minutes late 2-3 times per week will be perceived as habitual and might make you look bad.

                Whether or not 5-10 minutes really matters is up to the person’s manager. Is the person only late coming in but on time to meetings? What if there’s a meeting right at their start time? Are they on time for that? Do they turn things in on time? Do they follow up on things in a timely manner? I think, what the letter writer is getting at is, is being late a lot damaging to a persons work reputation? I would say if they’re reliable in every other way but this, let it go (assuming she’s not lying on her time card or is salaried).

                1. pancakes*

                  It is a lot, yes, but it simply isn’t daily. I think it’s misguided to depict punctuality as synonymous with “reliability and dependability” because being present on time isn’t at all synonymous with producing reliable, dependable work. If the primary purpose of the work is to be present—a security guard, for example, or a spot on an assembly line—it is, but there are a great many jobs that aren’t primarily about that. By all appearances the letter writer’s coworker has one of the latter, because the letter specifies that “[h]er job does not require she be here at 9 on the dot.” Clearly not being there at 9 on the dot has damaged her reputation in the eyes of the letter writer, but it doesn’t follow that the coworker is therefore obliged to try to please the writer by more frequently being there at 9 sharp.

        2. jman4l*

          US wage and hour laws require hourly employees to be paid for every minute that they work. Operating on an honor system and recording 8 hours every day when people may work over that can set up the company for a lawsuit. Putting down 8 and working less stealing. A automated time reporting system or even a time card will keep people straight.

        3. LGC*


          More to the point, it’s two different questions. In the topline post, Alison’s response to LW1 was about whether Sansa’s tardiness mattered in general. Vampire Manager asked about someone who was repeatedly filing incorrect cards.

          So basically, you can be a few minutes late every day if you don’t commit wage theft while you’re at it.

        4. Huddled over tea*

          Because when you’re paid hourly, you’re paid for your time and when you’re salaried, you’re paid for your work.

        5. Gaia*

          It is because they are effectively stealing. They are saying they were there at 8 (and therefore being paid starting at 8) but really arrived at 8:10 (and so pay should begin at 8:10). That is theft. If they filled in the time card starting at 8:10, it would be fine.

          1. zora*

            Every place with timekeeping I have ever worked only allows you to enter time in 15 minute increments. So, if I arrive at 9:05, yes, I put down 9:00. That better not be considered theft, I am rounding to the option provided by the timekeeping system.

            1. Emily K*

              Yes, what you’re doing is fine. The employer is allowed to establish policies on rounding that you would have to follow if they did, but the policy has to be applied in a fair way such that it doesn’t always benefit the employer (ie rounding up your arrival to the next :15 and rounding down your departure to the previous :15).

              If your employer doesn’t have a specific policy on rounding I would say that any good faith attempt to round to the options the system provides is fine and not theft.

              1. zora*

                I’m responding to Gaia’s unequivocal statement that putting 8:00 instead of 8:10 is theft. I have never worked anywhere where putting 8:10 was possible, so I think that sounds unreasonably rigid.

                People often have to round in both directions for work time sheets, it’s the pattern of always adding significantly more time than you are working that is the problem. Not any single instance of putting 8:00 instead of 8:10.

                1. Someone Else*

                  I agree with you on the general principle about rounding. However, I’d also say that if you’re in a situation where your option is to put 8 or 8:15 when it was really 8:05, if you came in at 8:05 three days in a row, then you should probably round down twice and round up once. Especially if you’re late 3 days a week every week. Otherwise it kind of does work its way up toward wage theft due to volume. If we’re talking normal, every once in a blue moon you’re 5 minutes late, keep rounding down. But the letter scenario has such frequency that always rounding down becomes disingenuous.

            2. Observer*

              Sure, if everything is being rounded, that’s a different issue. But if you do that on a constant basis and never work and “extra” few minutes, then it becomes a real problem of theft.

              It works in the reverse, too. Labor law allows rounding to the nearest 15 minutes when calculating wages for non-exempt employees, but ONLY if the rounding goes in BOTH directions. Not “we’ll round down every time and never round up. Someone upthread mentioned being docked for every minute they were late or left early, but EXTRA time was only accrued in 15 minute increments and only when you hit 15 minutes. That’s flatly illegal in the US.

              1. The Hamster's Revenge*

                And therein lies the rub. I worked in a place which rounded forward for start times and backwards for shift end in 15 minute increments. If my start time was 3:00:00 and I clocked in @ 2:45:55, my time was recorded as 3pm on the dot. If I clocked in at 3:00:01, it recorded as 3:15 and I’d get written up. If I clocked out at 11:44:59, it was recorded as 11:30. One second later and it would be 11:45 and I’d be written up. If I clocked out at 11:29:59? Payroll checked all clock outs and would hand adjust them back 15 minutes if necessary and you’d be written up.

                My job function sometimes dictated that I couldn’t drop everything and go home. I was required to clock out and keep working for another 10-15 minutes until the next shift finished their standup and filtered onto the floor. I filed with the DOL and was told it was such small potatoes that they wouldn’t investigate.

                1. Observer*

                  That surprises me.

                  I would absolutely talk to a lawyer. This is blatantly illegal – and it’s a pattern.

            3. doreen*

              I think five minutes late is a special case- lots of systems either provide five minutes grace , or round the time so that 9:07 is 9:00 am and 9:08 is 9:15 . It’s different if you arrive at 9:10 ( which is after any five minute grace period and would normally round to 9:15, which is the closest 15 minute increment) and entered 9:00.

        6. Arctic*

          Hourly employees are paid for the hours they work and only the hours they work. This is not the case with salaried employees. It would be illegal to dock Sansa for those 10 minutes if she is salaried. It is expected if shes hourly.

            1. Arctic*

              It’s pretty easy assumption by saying she doesn’t have to be there at a set time. I’ve known no hourly positions that don’t have set work hours.

              1. Emily Spinach*

                I’ve seen some. I had a summer job that was admin-type support for day camps, and some days there was a set time to check in kids, but other days it was fairly flexible as long as the work got done. I told a colleague when I thought I’d come in usually, but sometimes one of us would text the other with a change last minute. We did have a time clock though, so it was easy to still be paid correctly unless you had to go out to a camp site, where there was no way to clock in. (Then a different admin person had to override the system to enter your hours.)

              2. Tara R.*

                I have one! They’re pretty common in places where the majority of staff are salaried, but a few are hourly (think interns, part-timers, or a handful of non-technical staff at an engineering firm, etc).

              3. Batman*

                I’m non-exempt. I’m not sure if I’m hourly or salaried (my pay is generally communicated to me as a salary, but every time it changes I have to sign a form that calculates it hourly, so idk). Regardless, I don’t have exact hours I must be here. I have a time I like to be here by and I try to meet that, but if I’m late my boss is fine with me just staying later at the end of the day. She was in my position before being promoted and that’s what she did. It was never a problem. So, I don’t think you can make that assumption.

                Now that I think about it, based on what she’s told me, I can be flexible with my time within the week, but not within the pay period. So if I have to come in late or leave early one day, I can work longer on another day that week to make it up. Or I can just use my PTO.

              4. Zillah*

                I’ve only had hourly positions, and none of them have had set work hours. It really depends on what you’re doing.

              5. Shad*

                Mine is.
                Admittedly, it’s part time, but I’m a paralegal paid hourly. There’s a general expectation that I’ll be in the office primarily for a subset of standard office hours, but within that, I essentially set my own standard schedule and it’s totally nbd if I come in a couple minutes late or leave a couple minutes early (as long as work is getting done and I’m being accurate with my clock times; I’ve got a vague internal sense about how many hours I need to do, but they’re really flexible about that and I’m running well over that minimum right now, so I don’t worry too much).

            2. Observer*

              The truth is that it’s not relevant because the OP didn’t ask about time sheets and payment. Their issue is that they don’t like tardiness and they are afraid that it’s going to “set a bad precedent”.

              There is nothing to indicate that there is a potential problem with pay. That would be a totally different question.

    2. Zillah*

      Just a counterpoint:

      I’ve found having to clock in and out to be both incredibly inconvenient – for a short time where my timekeeping wasn’t honor-based, my supervisor had to fix my time sheet at least a couple times a week (because I went straight into a meeting when I got in, because I clocked out for lunch and then ended up talking to someone about a project we were working on on my way out, etc, etc). There are downsides to it, but there are downsides to everything.

      In the situation you’re talking about…

      I mean, maybe they’re claiming time they didn’t work. It’s also possible that they work the right number of hours (by cutting lunch short, by staying a little later, by adjusting for doing so the day before, etc) but just put the same hours down every day for simplicity’s sake. I’m not sure whether that’s the case in your example, but I think it’s worth keeping in mind – IME, that’s more common than people trying to pad their hours.

      1. Zillah*

        Again: they could certainly be lying about their hours, and it’s worth paying attention to if you’re their manager! I just know that when I’ve come across those situations, people are usually doing what I’m describing rather than lying about how many hours they’ve worked, and if you’ve seen it in a few places, I’m wondering if that’s what’s going on more than a lot of time sheet fraud.

      2. temporarily anon*

        My company recently switched to a clock-in/out system as opposed to the honor system. It’s been a rough adjustment. And yes, beforehand, I was making sure my hours evened out as much as I could; I take a longer lunch, so I stay longer at the end of the day to make sure my hours were still where they were supposed to be. My boss has never had a single problem with my attendance, and if I roll in ten minutes late, she really doesn’t care because maybe I stayed twenty minutes past my usual time the night before.

        (She’s actually even more annoyed than I am about this new system because she’s now being forced to care about my timeliness when she never did before. I’m considering asking to be made exempt; I qualify for it under the business operations rule, and honestly, this new timekeeping system is much more annoying than losing the 1-2 hours of overtime I work every quarter.)

        1. Overeducated*

          I have switched supervisors within the same organization and same rules four times in just over a year, and whether that supervisor says “Oh, don’t worry about exact times, it doesn’t impact your work and you’ll make it up” or “If your start time is 8 and you’re not at your desk, you’re AWOL!” makes a huge difference to my underlying stress level and sense of how much I am valued and trusted. I absolutely sympathize,

          1. Slovenly Braid Cultist*

            I used to be exempt and became non exempt because of rule changes, and it was really demoralizing because I no longer felt trusted. I don’t know that I ever did less than my hours before, why suddenly did it matter?

            And in a situation where you’re tracking to the minute but someone calls at 4:55 on Friday and you’re forbidden from overtime are you really going to hang up abruptly on a customer? Walk out on an emergency?

            Not having the flexibility to spend five minutes finishing something really contributed to the daily panic attacks I was having. I knew I was in trouble when I realized I had stopped worrying about anxiety- related chest pains because I was so used to it.

            I think there’s got to be a little trust for things to work in a healthy fashion, exempt or not. My productivity is about the same if I work five minutes less or more once week. My morale is shot if those five minutes are all that matters.

            1. Overeducated*

              I absolutely agree. I think pretty much everyone where I work is treated as “salaried hourly” except for the very very top leadership, even the managers are not treated as exempt in terms of extra hours, so the question of being “exempt” is not really relevant. But we don’t use time clocks, we just record our total hours worked, and we have the option of starting our day basically any time from 6 to 9:30 AM, so it seems completely bizarre to me to worry about whether someone who has officially agreed to start at 7 comes in at 7:10. It’s totally about managerial style – I’m a union rep and have read all the rules and know that technically we have multiple flex time options, some managers just don’t want their staff to use them.

          2. ThatGirl*

            I spent ~9 years at my last job, 4.5 as a contractor, and had one manager who was obnoxiously micromanaging – I always aimed for 7:30 but it was a long drive and sometimes traffic interfered, he never got in before 8:15 but always wanted to be told if I was more than 10 minutes late. It made no sense. I made up my time and then some, and every other manager I had there was much more reasonable.

          3. Fergus, Stealer of Pens and Microwaver of Fish*

            “If your start time is 8 and you’re not at your desk, you’re AWOL!”

            I quit a job over this. I understand that some people take advantage and that’s why we can’t have nice things, but I didn’t have to put up with it at that point, and I didn’t.

          4. Perse's Mom*

            We have the double-whammy of 5+ minutes late = AWOL plus the juvenile attendance points system. It’s technically up to the supervisor whether to enforce the points thing, and my boss elected to ignore it (unless the lateness was significant, repeated behavior, because at that point it was causing issues).

            That is, my boss ignored it until their boss decided it wasn’t fair that some people had a flexible boss and other people had a rigid clock-watching boss, and Grand-boss came down on the side of… turning our supervisors into truancy officers, so now we all get treated like children.

            1. Burned Out Supervisor*

              Yeah, it never works out on the side of flexibility. Trust me, it probably sucks just as much for your supervisor as it does for you.

          5. temporarily anon*

            As soon as we learned about the system change, my boss immediately reiterated that she trusted me to do my job like an adult, to come in and get my tasks done, and that she did not give a damn if I came in at 8:05 or 8:07 versus 8:00, or if I left at 5:15 pm rather than 5:30 pm.

            It was a relief for me to hear it, because she’ll have my back when she fights with payroll about the system (yet again). There are some perks to reporting directly to the executive director of the organization…

      3. Washi*

        Yep, this is what I used to do when I was hourly, with my manager’s blessing. It was not considered a good use of my time to enter my time as 8:06 – 12:22 and 12:45 – 5:03 instead of just writing 8 – 12 and 1-5, or even fudging it completely as 8-4.

      4. TurquoiseCow*

        My company used to just have spreadsheets you filled in with your time and then we switched to an actual punch clock. I hate it. I feel like I’m not trusted, and it makes me want to nickel and dime my minutes and seconds. Punched in at 9:02? Punching out at 5:02 and not a second later, where as before I might have stayed an extra ten minutes or so to finish something.

        1. Emily K*

          We went the opposite direction a few years ago at my company. 95% of the employees are exempt, but we used to have to submit electronic time sheets every 2 weeks. It was honor system but if you didn’t submit your time sheet on time it was a big headache for payroll, my memory is a bit fuzzy now but I think they paid you as normal, but then later you would send in the time sheet with some hours taken as PTO instead of worked and they had to make retroactive adjustments, and it was a big PITA for the staff and the payroll department all around.

          The best change was when they did away with time sheets for all but the hourly staff. Now if you’re exempt, you just get your paycheck every 2 weeks, and we have an online payroll system we can log into with a calendar where you can mark the days you take off and the type of leave you’re using for them, and it doubles as an official time off approval system which we used to lack under the time sheet system – you would just ask your manager and get their permission verbally or via email, but it didn’t show up in any official system until the affected time sheet was entered.

          Now you can mark your vacation dates months in advance and it routes to your manager whose approval is then recorded, or you can mark your sick days a week later after you’re back in the office, without it mattering if a pay period had closed before you got back. The only limiter is that all PTO has to be recorded no later than 1 week after the close of the fiscal year in which it was taken. There’s no need to affirmatively submit anything confirming that you worked a normal week all the weeks you don’t take time off – you are just assumed (by payroll, at least) to have worked your normal hours unless you record otherwise and your manager approves the entry. It’s so much easier on everyone.

        2. temporarily anon*

          This is where I am too. Beforehand, I’d come in at 8:15, sure, but I was still the first one in the office every morning, and I’d probably stay until 5:35 or whenever to wrap up whatever I’d started, and that was all fine. Now that I literally have to clock in/out? I work 9 hours with a 30-minute lunch, so I come in at 8:02, I’m not staying a damn minute longer than 5:32. The amount of bitterness this has caused with all the hourly employees, especially the long-timers, in the whole organization is staggering.

      5. MarfisaTheLibrarian*

        I used to have to punch in and out on my work computer…which was irritating because it could take a couple minutes for the computer to turn on, or maybe I would stop to talk to a co-worker, or maybe the internet would be slooooow. So if I come in at 9:03 (an ok arrival time), I might not punch in till 9:08….which rounds to 9:15. Or inevitably I’d get back from lunch and remember fifteen minutes later that I’d forgotten to punch back in.

        1. Gnome Ann*

          Yes! I also had to clock in and out on my work computer, which we were also asked to turn off every day. So I get to work, have to wait for the computer to boot, and connect to the web (for a web based time system), and then clock in – it was taking 5 or 6 minutes every day. Eventually I talked my boss out of having me track it that way when I mentioned I was losing a half-hour of time worked every week because of it. But they were constantly having to adjust timesheets at that place.

        2. Burned Out Supervisor*

          We don’t require punch in/out for lunch times. They system just deducts that time from your punched in scheduled hours (you’re technically punched in for 8.5 hours). It’s really nice because I’m sure I’d have tons of people telling me that they forgot to punch in or out for lunch and I’d have to fix it.

      6. Mel*

        Yes, I hate time clocks. Especially on the computer where I’m not paid for the time it takes to boot up, sign in, load the clock, sign in and then finally punch in – which for some reason always takes a full minute to register.

        And yeah, there are a lot of circumstances where it has to be adjustable by the manager, which is obnoxious for everyone. I know there are too many liars to just do the honor system, but it’s such a hassle.

    3. Seeking Second Childhood*

      If someone comes in 5 minutes late and makes it up, what does it matter? I’m a professional whose entire classification was moved to the clock ~10 years ago , and we still have flex time.
      There have been some Fridays I come in or leave hours early because deadlines had me doing 9-10 hour days earlier in the week, theres no OT in the budget, and I must be there for some particular meeting or conference call with someone in another time zone.

    4. PieInTheBlueSky*

      Does this person write down 8:00-12:00 but actually work 8:10 to 12:10 for example? Any chance she could just be “rounding” off her hours? This is what I did as a student once.

      When I was in college many years ago I got a job working in the same academic department where I was a major. My hours per week were fixed, but my weekly schedule was loosely defined, based on my advisor’s need and my own class schedule. We had a weekly paper timecard where I would keep track of my hours by hand.

      During my first week working, I would write the exact times when I started and stopped work on my timecard, down to the minute. So the timecard might say I worked on Monday from 4:36 pm to 6:12 pm, Tuesday from 3:30 pm to 4:24 pm, etc. I made sure the total weekly hours added up to whatever I was supposed to be working.

      The next week, the department secretary came to me and in an annoyed tone of voice asked me to fix the timecard. I think she thought I was pranking her or being a smartass or something, because (I’m guessing) she needed to verify my hours and enter them into the computer. (In my defense, I was recording my hours in 6 minute increments — that’s 0.1 hour units! — so I thought I was already making things easy and convenient!)

      I figured out that she wanted round numbers to keep things simple, so I fixed the timecard and gave her hours in half hour increments from then on. I might actually work 4:36 to 6:06 but would just write 4:30 to 6:00.

      1. Elsajeni*

        I had a job where we filled out paper timecards by hand, and I was thinking the same thing — there were a lot of us part-time employees, and we all had different philosophies on writing down the exact time vs. rounding to the nearest 6 minutes, rounding to the nearest 15 minutes, just writing down our scheduled hours as long as we were within a few minutes of them, etc., and I still think all of those are basically fine timekeeping methods as long as they’re consistent. (At that job I think eventually one of our managers laid down the law and got us all using the same method, for the sake of his sanity when he went through and reconciled our hours.)

    5. K*

      My opinion is that you really need to be sure they are in fact hourly, know whether or not they’re making it up on the back-end, if they are under the impression the job has flexibility within an 8 hour day.

      I pretty much do exactly what you’re saying, but am salaried, work my 8 hours, and always am sure that my work week matches the hours in my employment agreement. It can also be super demoralizing to be watched like this when you actually are on top of your own schedule.

    6. Q*

      Do you know the whole story? Sometimes I am 15-20 minutes late so I will skip one or both of my 15 minute breaks or not take my 30 minute lunch. At the end of the day it balances and all my work gets done. You’re just seeing them come in late, but do you see the rest? We have another person who is habitually 25-30 minutes late because of how bad our public transit it. She just stays that much later at the end of the day so it evens out.

      1. Hills to Die on*

        Or, she goes home and logs back on, work weekends, fills in for others, goes out of her way step up on the regular, or is just a generally awesome employee. I am habitually late and make it up in any number of ways. I would be really annoyed with a coworker who felt the need to clock-watch me. Just change your focus back to being a stellar employee yourself.

      2. Burned Out Supervisor*

        Oooh, don’t work through your lunch unless you’re in a state that doesn’t mandate lunch breaks. In my state, it’s mandated that hourly employees are entitled to a 30 minute unpaid lunch if they work 6 hours or more. If I had a team member who was working through their lunch because they were late, I’d be kind of mad (it could be turned around on me if the team member became disgruntled and accused me of forcing them to work off the clock during their lunch). I’d rather they just made it up at the end of the day or came in early the next day.

    7. Me*

      Wait what? Honor -based is treating people like the adults they are. It’s a great system for most industries that use it. If you can’t trust your employees to fill out their time sheet, then how can you trust them to do their job?

      You should like you have an employee who is lying – that is a problem, not the type of time keeping system.

    8. Rose's angel*

      I habitually come in early (about 15 to 30 minutes) because my coworkers and I will grab coffee about 30 minutes after everyone comes in. Sometimes I do work during this time sometimes I dont. I dont put this time on my timesheet but I also dont mark down my time when I run out to grab coffee or take a longer lunch. My boss is ok because Im making an effort to make the time up.

  3. Thankful for AAM*

    I am in my 50s, I think I remember arranging my first post college job interview via snail mail! We arranged a week I could come back to my home state to interview. Hows that for old fashioned!

    1. Half-Caf Latte*

      For Nurse’s Week about 5 years ago, we invited staff to bring in pictures of them from early in their career or from nursing school, and displayed them in the library.

      One nurse, who’d been at that hospital for ~30 years, brought in the paper offer letter and envelope it had been mailed in, outlining her starting salary. I want to say it was $11-12/hr, but could have been less.

      My own offer letter in the late 2000s was by email, for quite a bit more.

    2. Life is Good*

      Same age range here. My soon to be husband lived in a city two states away. Before the wedding, I spent a few months in the library, researching companies (in actual books!) and typing letters on the manual typewriter they had for public use. I think I mailed at least two dozen letters, introducing myself to HR managers and explaining that I was moving to their city soon and would like to visit about employment when I got there. I received several positive replies in the mail to contact them when I moved to the city. I received a few offers in the first week!

  4. Raine*

    Oh, the days of someone leaving me a message on my home answering machine and expecting a call back the next day (!) or in some unreasonable cases, before 5 pm the same day, like l had a cell phone and could call someone back within four hours. Most people were good about knowing people didn’t check their home answering machines until the evening hours and would be reasonable about call backs in the next two or three business days. I had some recruiters who thought everyone used the service where you could check your messages remotely but that was new, extra, expensive for the time, and not available everywhere.

    But the jobs were all posted to the classified section of the local newspaper and you’d mail or fax in your resume and then pray someone would call you when you were home.

    1. RUKiddingMe*

      Oh I remember being so excited when I could check my answering machine remotely. Now I get a voicemail notification on my phone and my response is inevitably “oh what fresh hell is this…?”

      1. Triplestep*

        My husband said recently that our daughter (23) had called him, but he didn’t call back because she didn’t leave a message. Yes, I had to explain.

        1. Robin Sparkles*

          I do exactly what your husband does. Most people -if they need me to call back- leave voice message or text me right afterwards. If not- they often don’t need me and have moved on or will try me again later – and yes if I see more than 1 missed call I do call back at that point. But I also have voicemail transcription on my phone so I guess the voicemail doesn’t require much effort on my part to dial in and listen to it. *shrug*

          1. RUKiddingMe*

            I have the voicemail transcription as well. As far as I’m concerned this is the second best thing to gettign a text. n fact while waiting at the doctor office today (Husband’s broken leg is almost half way healed…yay because I’m so over it now) we were talking about my generalized misanthropy and I said that text messaging was the best thing ever because I could still do stuff/interact without needing to actually be in the company of other people…

            I really don’t like the phone. All those years doing answering service work (this kind of switchboard: no doubt. I tell people text me, text me, text me…or if you must…email me. I also tell them if they have to call me please for the love of anything you consider holy leave me a *detailed* message…they never do. ::sigh::

        2. Book Badger, Attorney-at-Claw*

          Speaking as a millennial, I don’t call back if there’s no message, but mostly because most calls I get are butt-dials (I have a number that’s a lot like 555-555-5555, so it’s very easy to dial on accident) or spam. Unless it’s a family member, in which case I call back when I’m free.

          The thing that ticks my parents off is that I don’t pick up the phone when it rings. What they don’t get is that my phone is ALWAYS on silent, especially now that I work and have to go to court and cannot have my phone on ring.

          1. Hapless Bureaucrat*

            I find this funny, since of course before cell phones it’s not like we had the ability to pick up a call any time anywhere, anyway. That was why voicemail was invented in the first place.

            It’s odd how fast expectations can change.

          2. Black Bellamy*

            This is something that some people just cannot understand. They’re on their phone all day and just can’t simply comprehend why their text or message goes unanswered for whatever minuscule amount of time it takes for them to get aggravated. Also, if I’m busy and I feel my phone vibrating, it won’t get answered until I feel like it.

        3. Batgirl*

          I hate getting voicemail because why should I check messages AND call you when I can just call you right back?
          Equally, when I’m the caller, why should I say it twice when it’s so easy these days to just get in touch.

          1. PhyllisB*

            You sound like my kids. I would call and leave a message like “You don’t have to call me back, just pick up milk on your way home.” I would get a call three hours later. Child: Did you call me?” Me: “Yes, did you listen to the message?” Child: “Nope.” Me: (Pulling my hair out) “if you had listened to the message, you wouldn’t have had to call me back!!!!!!!!” Now I just text. And for those of you wondering why I didn’t do that in the first place, texting used to be billed on a per text basis, which adds up after a while. I was so thrilled when unlimited texting became a Thing.

      2. Kelly L.*

        Yes! I remember in college finally getting voicemail and being Mind!Blown! by the fact that I could call my voicemail from somewhere else and still listen to it. Mid-90s.

    2. Mrs. Wednesday*

      Answering machines and faxes were SUCH big things when I was job-hunting right out of college in the late 80s. (My high school and college jobs were catch-as-catch-can phone call backs – ugh!) I think it is really the sense of appropriate response time that’s evolved, as you mentioned. We forget that what feels normal changes.

      Two things I do NOT miss: Sweating over whether I was using the “right” resume paper stock. And dot-matrix printers. Lord.

      1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

        I do not miss having to use a typewriter to fill out college application forms (because colleges hadn’t mastered the idea of the fillable .pdf form) or other standard forms.

        But I did enjoy making “caterpillars” from the edges of dot matrix printer paper.

        1. Róisín*

          I’m 24 and I also enjoyed making caterpillars from the edges. My grandparents had a huge stock of dot matrix printer paper when I was a kid.

          1. Phil*

            Oh! Caterpillars! I didn’t get that for a minute, but yes, I used to do this all the time!

              1. deesse877*

                You would tear off the strip with the pin-feed holes. Then, when all those strips were lying around, you’d fold them into a sort of spring, by laying two strips at right angles, and then folding each across the other until the strips ran out. It’s like doodling, a thing to do with your hands while actually thinking about something else.

                Who knew obsolete office supplies could provoke such intense nostalgia?

                1. PhyllisB*

                  Talk about obsolete, ask your grand-mothers (or mothers if they’re in my generation) about making Christmas trees on the typewriter!!

          2. Kisses*

            Haha, we made banners. I don’t know why that was so much fun but it was. And how loud the printers were! We also had a ‘dinosaur’ at my first retail job- if the phone line went down for credit cards went down we pulled out that bad boy and the carbon paper and did it manually.

            1. Candi*

              Oh, man, we were still using that dinosaur carbon paper system for credit cards at my job in 2009 when the power went out.

            2. Zephy*

              At OldJob (2014-2018), when the network was down and the credit card machines weren’t working, we had an order pad under the counter and would write up pen-and-paper receipts along with payment information and manually run the cards later when the system was back up.

              1. Kisses*

                We did the same thing at Recent Retail Job. All the power was out- no lights, no cameras, no registers.. But we still had to keep the store opens and write every upc down by hand. Then manually key them into the register once it came back up.
                I thought the owner was crazy over that one.

            3. iglwif*

              Oh my gosh! Those machines were still standard when I started working (in the early 1990s, summer and part-time jobs) — talk about a workout for your arm muscles! — and people also used to still pay for things by writing cheques! I remember the cashiers at our local supermarket used to ask everyone “cash or cheque?”

        2. Kimmybear*

          I had a job a few years out of college where we needed a typewriter for adding info to a particular wallet sized card. After a few years there, I had to teach the interns about using typewriters and ribbons because they had never used them.

          1. Ella Vader*

            When I started working at my cure law firm, I had to be taught how to use a typewriter, and I was 28 at the time (back in 2007).

          2. That Girl From Quinn's House*

            I had a job where we had a cassette player to use for senior citizen classes, and by the end of my time there in 2011, I had college student employees who had no idea how to work it. They couldn’t tell which “side” of the cassette was ready to go, how to put it in, if they needed to flip it or rewind it, etc.

        3. Insert Clever Handle Here*

          I always made caterpillars until my dad showed me how to make them into books for my dollhouse (complete with a sticker for a cover). Good times!

        4. Ponytail*

          You typed your application forms ? I didn’t even realise that was possible! I’ve always filled mine in by hand, and so have the people whose forms I read. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a typed application form.

          1. um....*

            I have a woman at my office who fills out everything on her typewriter. She hates her own handwriting. It is really bizarre.

            1. Anonymousaurus Rex*

              I can see myself doing this. I try not to ever hand write anything that someone will see professionally.
              I don’t have a typewriter to use at work (?!) but I will scan things and type over them to fill out forms.

              1. pancakes*

                Funny, I was in court this morning for something small and the judge’s order granting my motion is handwritten. (Her clerk has a copy machine, of course, and gave opposing counsel & I copies). Her handwriting is the nicest I’ve seen in years, nice enough to be used as a font, and I don’t doubt she knows that about it!

          2. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

            For some reason, when I applied to college (2001), a bunch of college admission forms required typed responses. The instructions all said “no handwriting,” which I thought was so bizarre. I also remember having to fill a common application online (the form was misery) but then also provide paper form “addendums” for some of the individual campuses. It was a low-key nightmare.

            No one I knew—school or otherwise—had Adobe Publisher, which was the only way to fill in a .pdf at the time. I remember begging the public library to use their typewriter (which they still used when organizing their card catalogue) without success. By the time I finally tracked down a typewriter, it took me way too many days to figure out how to feed it.

        5. Lynn Whitehat*

          I finished grad school in 2003. They wanted the Intent to Graduate form TYPED, which meant either Adobe Publisher ($$$$, rare) or a typewriter (considered extremely old-fashioned, no student would own one). The instructions said NO HANDWRITING!!!!! in about 6 places, because students would try to submit it that way for lack of options.

          I ended up begging my boyfriend’s grandmother to let me use her typewriter. Other people printed out a page with all the information needed, and literally cut-and-pasted onto the form. And then Xeroxed the assembled product so you couldn’t see the glue and cut-outs. They graduate thousands of students every year, so why make it so hard? It was like a class project in itself!

          1. just a random teacher*

            I’m surprised that they didn’t have a computer lab with Adobe and/or a student use typewriter somewhere. I graduated from my undergraduate program in 2002, and I definitely remember having access to Adobe in the computer lab to edit pdfs, since I remember using it for assorted personal projects (like taking the single-sheet hex paper pdf I had and combining it with another copy so I could print two-sided hex paper). I don’t remember if we also had student-use typewriters or not, but it wouldn’t surprise me.

    3. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

      Remember when you had to actually show up when you made plans because there was no way to call or text someone at the last minute to cancel? Oh, POTS.

      1. um....*

        oh man, those were the days. I can remember being in high school and borrowing my mom’s pager so that friends could reach me while I was out. That way I wasn’t tied to the house until they called back with where they wanted to meet up.

            1. um....*

              I used to call collect and then record “come pick me up” as my name. Then my parents would decline charges and come get me.

        1. Professional Merchandiser*

          Oh, yes. Pagers. I had one for a while when I first started doing merchandising work and my then teen/pre-teen children were constantly paging me. I would have to stop what I was doing, go find a pay phone, and call home only to hear, “When are you coming home?” Or (sibling) drank the last coke!!” I started ignoring them so then they started adding 911 to the end of the phone number. I finally told them they better not add 911 unless somebody was bleeding, or they might be when I got home.

      2. Kelly L.*

        And in college we had dry-erase boards. My roommate and I each had one. We would put “quotes of the day” and then a little note saying where each of us was at the time, like Molly Weasley’s clock: “Class,” “Work,” “BRB.” And if someone flaked on you, you might go look at their door and see if they left a note saying where they’d gone.

          1. Kelly L.*

            I’m pretty sure that if HP had been out when I was in college, one of us would have tried it. Alas, I am an old.

    4. JamieS*

      Slightly OT but how exactly did answering machines work? Were they connected to the phone somehow?

      1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

        Yes! Usually the machine and phone were part of the same device, but there were also answering machines that could be wired to connect to the phone. And messages were recorded on literal tape, which was tiny and filled up quickly.

        1. OlympiasEpiriot*

          The original ones were not that small. I remember a person I worked for (business run out of her home) had one the size of a stereo amplifier and it used a smallish reel-to-reel, maybe quarter of an inch wide? Probably the thick kind as it was reused for a long time before she’d change the tape. Pretty sure she bought that answering machine in the early 1970’s. the reply to this will have a link to what looks pretty damn familiar.

        2. iglwif*

          The one we had when I was a kid used standard-sized cassette tapes. The tape that came with the machine was very short, so we swapped in a 90-minute one!

        3. pentamom*

          Later ones recorded digitally onto a chip. I had one of those in use until just a few months ago, when I finally got a land phone provider that didn’t absurdly overcharge for voice mail and caller ID. And you can still buy them.

      2. Gir*

        Think of an answering machine like an external voice mail. Instead of going into your voicemail to listen to messages, they would be recorded on a machine that you physically had to hit play on (similar buttons to a YouTube video. Play/pause, fast forward and rewind).

        1. Sorrel*

          I love the fact that the world has moved on so far that you feel the need to say “similar to YouTube”!

          1. Amber Cline*

            I teach teens and the other day I told one to “click on the floppy disc icon to save.” That led to quite a conversation, but it made me think about how archaic iconography hangs around.

            I had to hunt down a 3.5 inch floppy and bring it to school the next week. And when I told them that my first computer-a Commodore 64 when I was 13- meant that if I wanted to play a game I had to type in the program (anyone remember buying a gaming magazine filled with pages of basic and trying to copy it perfectly?) and save it to a cassette tape one of them said that they had to type to play games too. I asked her what she typed and she said, “”

        2. Lynn Marie*

          We used to have to think of a voice mail as an answering machine message except without an answering machine.

      3. Working Hypothesis*

        There was normally, for any phone, a wire that ran into the wall and connected with the phone network. If you had an answering machine, instead of plugging the phone into the wall, you plugged the answering machine into the wall and the phone into the answering machine, so that it created a layer of intercept between handset and network. It contained a cassette tape (remember what those were?) which preserved the messages on it, and you’d need to play the tape when you got home, and then erase it to allow new messages. If someone left you a wonderful message you loved and wanted to keep — the excited, compliment-filled offer for your dream job or something — then you could change the tape out for a new one and keep the one with the message you wanted as a memento.

        1. Triplestep*

          I have a mini cassette tape from when my son was born and people called the house to congratulate us and gush and so forth (30 years ago.) I have nothing to play the tape on, though! (Off to eBay ….)

      4. tommy*

        PCBH and Gir are right. But also, before there were those, your “answering machine” was the person who happened to be home when the call came in, and they wrote down your message on a piece of paper. If nobody was home or willing to pick up, the phone just rang and rang, and nothing happened, and you’d never know, later, that anyone had called. Nothing showed you “missed call” at all, let alone “missed call from [number].”

        I remember arriving home and not even thinking about whether anyone had called, because there was no way to know. It was normal at the time.

        1. Ask a Manager* Post author

          Yes! There was no caller ID and no logging of calls of any kind. And then in the late 80s, *69 showed up, where you could dial *69 and get the number that last called you and it was groundbreaking.

          1. tommy*

            It’s fascinating to me how change in tech changes social rules about whose job something is. If Larry called Gerald in 1975 when nobody was home, it would remain Larry’s job to keep trying to call Gerald over and over and over until he reached Gerald (or reached someone else at Gerald’s house who would take a message). Because Gerald had no idea he’d been called! Nowadays, Larry only ever has to call Gerald once before the ball is in Gerald’s court to call back.

            And yes, Alison — *69 felt so shocking when it arrrived!

            1. Amylou*

              You can still do this. Just because the technology is there, doesn’t mean you have to use it/be a slave to new functionalities. We should all try to push back more often on these “new social rules”. It does take some practice to deal with FOMO and the not knowing.

              I don’t tend to call back if someone’s tried to reach me once and hasn’t left a message. (Unless I recognise the number and I know what they would be calling about.) If they really need to reach me, ball’s in their court to reach out again or leave me a message. If I try to reach someone, I’ll try 2-3 times at different moments during the day, and leave an email and/or a voicemail if they haven’t picked up.

            2. Jennifer*

              Now if I looked in my phone and saw someone had called that many times I’d call 911 lol. Funny how quickly things change.

            1. Putting the "pro" in "procrastinate"*

              “I know you called, I know you called, I know you called
              I know you called, I know you called, I know you hung up my line
              Star 69”

          2. Jennifer*

            If you wanted to make a prank call you had to dial *81 beforehand or they could trace it lol

          3. anonaa*

            That’s right, prank callers were no longer safe!

            But if you dialed *67 before calling, you’d be blocked from your target’s *69 sleuthing (and I think it was $0.20 per use or something like that – I know I got in trouble for dialing both).

            *67 still works now to mask your number from caller ID. It comes up as Restricted.

        2. Dino*

          I want to go back there, to be honest. I remember cassette answering machines from my childhood and even that amount of “distance” from being called on would make my life better, never mind never having to think about whether someone wanted to get a hold of me.

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

            They still make answering machines, they’re just digital now. My husband and I have one.

            I didn’t have a smartphone until 2014, and before that I’d gone without a cell phone for 3 or 4 years (couldn’t afford it). Living a less connected life can definitely be done!

            1. blackcat*

              My parents’ landline phone has one built-in, like what you’d expect in an office phone. Isn’t that common for modern land-line phones?
              (IDK. I don’t have a land-line phone, and haven’t since college. Well, I do, but it is purely decorative. It’s in the kitchen, on the wall, a relic from the previous home owner. I’ve just been too lazy to fix the discoloring/holes underneath the phone. We have no service to the line. But I also held out with my Nokia brick phone until 2014.)

              1. Kate R*

                I have a landline phone, and it has a voicemail service provided by my phone company just like cellphones do. I actually thought this was more common than a phone with an answering machine with the difference being that an answering machine stores messages locally where as voicemail is stored on a server somewhere. But I am pretty much the only person I know who still has a landline, so who knows?

          2. LQ*

            My mom kept an old answering machine for a very long time because it had a recording of a message her father had left her that was very sweet and a few other gems on it. We finally moved those tiny little cassettes digital.

            1. OlympiasEpiriot*

              I liked the less-tech aspect, but, there’s things I would not want to go back to. One of the biggest reasons I got an answering machine when I could afford it was not for employment but so I didn’t miss ANY calls from friends. Too many people I knew — even just people who worked in stores I went to whose names I wasn’t even sure of — just disappeared one day and then I’d learned they’d died of something related to AIDS/HIV.

        3. Oryx*

          My mom refused to get an answering machine for the house. I think I was the only one among my friends who didn’t have one, and my mom’s reasoning was always “If it’s important, they’ll call back.” I didn’t understand it at the time but now as someone who hates seeing the voicemail icon on my cellphone I can better appreciate her reasoning.

          1. Triplestep*

            In the 70’s, my father and step-mother were attorneys whose clients called them on weekends. We did not have an answering machine because they preferred to just not to answer the phone. The demanding clients would have expected to have been called back had there been an answering machine. There was an unlisted second line for friends and family.

      5. LavaLamp*

        Yep think tape recorder with tiny tape inside that you’d have to replace when it got full. Not dissimilar to the original caller ID which was also a LED box you plugged into the phone.

          1. MassMatt*

            You could only do that a few times before it would quit completely (of course destroying the one message you really needed) and then you had to go to radio shack to get the replacement micro cassette. It’s a wonder we survived that barbarous age, really.

      6. Detective Amy Santiago*

        Well, this thread makes me feel like I should be looking at moving into Shady Pines.

        1. londonedit*

          Me too. Hadn’t even occurred to me that there would be adults who were too young to understand how an answering machine worked, but of course there must be! Now I feel ancient.

          1. JamieS*

            Well I mean I know what an answering machine literally is. I just wasn’t sure how it “communicated” with the phone since they were separate things.

      7. iglwif*

        The other cool thing that I haven’t seen mentioned in other people’s explanations is that with at least some machines, you could “screen” your calls by waiting for the person to start talking and then, if it was a call you actually wanted to take, picking up the phone! Because unlike voicemail, an answering machine would let you hear the person talking when it picked up.

        Of course there were people who haaaaated talking to answering machines. My bio father was one of those, and instead of leaving a message he would keep calling back … but he never quite managed to hang up the phone before the machine picked up, so I’d get half a dozen blank messages, 10-15 minutes apart, followed by a very resentful message. It’s hilarious to me how, without ever having seen or spoken to a literal answering machine / answerphone, my teenage child hates talking to voicemail in exactly the same way!

        1. ThatGirl*

          So, I work for a company that has a fair contingent of older customers who primarily call instead of using the Internet to contact us, and many times when we return voicemails we do get answering machines that are screening calls – we start talking and then “hello? hi!”

        2. cmcinnyc*

          I so wish you could still do this! Although, I remember it usually being a feature of increasing petty fights with boyfriends and lot of yelling, “PICK UP! I KNOW YOU’RE LISTENING!” So… not really a professional feature.

        3. PhyllisB*

          I was a long distance operator when answering machines came on the scene, and NOBODY wanted to talk on them. And there’s no fun like trying to explain to a customer that yes, you do get billed for a call when an answering machine answers because it IS an answered call. This was for station-to-station calls (how’s that for old terminology!!) or direct dialed calls. A lot of people started placing person-to-person calls to avoid that, and others learned to lie and say they reached a wrong number. When we offered to dial it for them at the direct dial rate they would stammer and say they needed to double-check the number or just hang up. We knew what was what, but if they said wrong number we had to take them at their word.

    5. Jennifer*

      I lost out on a job bc I didn’t call back by 4 pm. I was at school. It was the early 2000s so a lot of people had cell phones, but not everyone.

    6. PizzaDog*

      Thank G-d my mom would check the called ID regularly, otherwise I don’t know how many messages I’d have missed.

  5. Lilith*

    Not precisely for #5, but back in the olde timey days we learned about job openings by reading about them in this thing called the want ads in the back section of the newspaper. Pardon me while I go yell at some kids to get off my lawn.

    1. RUKiddingMe*

      I remember ads that would be something like “respond to ad #3343 at this publication.” So we sent a resume to that ad number at whatever newspaper and then maybe someobe would call or mail (snail mail y’all) back to arrange an interview.

      1. Maria Lopez*

        I remember when the want ads were separated by Male and Female, and of course the male jobs paid more and were always more interesting, but all the jobs listed the pay.
        They would advertise for a secretary and say, “blondes preferred, must be comely and not older than 23”. Seriously! Nothing about typing or secretarial skills.
        One ad I remember was looking for a couple for a private home, and said “Philippino preferred”.
        Ah, the good old days.

        1. RUKiddingMe*

          I can remember seeing the male/female ads when I was really young. Like way too young to be looking for a job. I was an early newspaper reading kid. We got like five papers a day at home. I can remember apartment rentals saying “no lids/adults only” too.

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

            “I can remember apartment rentals saying “no lids/adults only” too.”

            When we were advertising our spare room for rent, we definitely put “18 and over only” in our ad. My house is not nice or fancy or full of expensive stuff, but it is still not child safe or friendly, and our pets (rescued feral cats) would be terrified.

            It should be up to a landlord or property manager to be able to decide if they want to rent to people with children or not. Not everyone wants to deal with the damage or liability from minors. Not everyone wants to live around people with kids. If people under a retirement age can be legally restricted from living in a senior community, why can’t people under 18 be legally restricted from living in an adults only building? I truly don’t understand what makes one situation of age exclusion OK and the other one not OK.

            1. SarahTheEntwife*

              Because someone shouldn’t be evicted just because they have a baby. Plenty of kids won’t be a liability or cause damage (if it’s someone renting your spare room, that’s another story — you should be able to decide who you live with and they don’t have as much freedom to make sure the space is safe for young children) and this is also a great way to discriminate against young adults becaus everyone knows 20-somethings are just going to smoke and party all the time.

              1. Jessen*

                And it is legal in the US to make decisions like that if you’re renting out a room in the same space you live in, or a lot of places if you’re only renting out a very few units. What we’re trying to avoid is, say, a situation where single mothers can’t afford housing because no one wants to rent to them.

                1. RUKiddingMe*

                  And that’s one of the renting it’s not legal to do that anymore except in very specific situations like renting a room in one’s hone, senior communities, etc.

            2. OlympiasEpiriot*

              If you are a landlord, you can’t limit just to adults. What are you going to do if someone gets pregnant? Tell them to get an abortion if they don’t want to move?

            3. Brandy*

              I remember growing up, we had apartment complexs here that were adult only. It was late 70s early 80s. I remember thinking Id like to live there as an adult but i sadly dont see those anymore. Just googled this and saw a # of articles from 1980s saying those days are over.

              1. Beach Lover*

                I think the age requirements only apply to Senior Housing or communities. Most of those have an age limit of 55 (Yikes! not sure if you would call that senior these days!)

            4. RUKiddingMe*

              Because it leads (and did) to unfair discrimination. I mean take it further and if the landlord can decide just what kind of people are allowed shelter that opens up ALL kinds of limitations for anyone the landlord deems unacceptable.

            5. Clisby*

              Are there states/cities in the US where you can’t put restrictions like “18 and over” when renting out a spare room in your house? I was under the impression landlords could be a lot more picky when renting out rooms in their own homes. Way different from renting out units in an apartment building you happen to own.

            6. A Stack of Three Goombas*

              So small animals are OK but not small humans? Those are the same level of risk of damage/liability, from a landlord’s perspective. That sounds like a wonderful way to force people to have to move when they become pregnant (on purpose or accidentally) and force a lot of low-income pregnant women on the street because nobody wants to “deal with minors” or “live around people with kids.” It’s one thing if it’s your own house, but I don’t think that is a good policy in general.

    2. LoopyATX*

      I remember the want ads, circling prospective jobs, and “pounding the pavement.” Filling out paper applications and leaving them with the receptionist. Sometimes you’d get lucky and get an interview on the spot. Fun times hunting for jobs all over town in heels and hose! Especially if it’s hot outside!

      1. RUKiddingMe*

        Oh god!!! Yes hose and heels in August, in the heat, in San Jose where I spent my entire childhood and early adult years (~30 years) in a constant quest for shade.

      2. Sack of Benevolent Trash Marsupials*

        This, exactly. I lived in Central FL and ‘pounding the pavement’ in hose/heels/nylon dress was the worst, because it’s always a million degrees and 110% humidity in Florida :-) Or pouring down raining.

        On an unrelated note, it’s great to see that there is a robust 50+ cohort on this site. I’m also glad to see that apparently we all say stuff like, “Back in the Cretaceous era, when dinosaurs roamed the earth and I had my first job…”

        1. LoopyATX*

          Central Texas here and I didn’t have AC in my old Buick. Having to fix my makeup between places. Looking for a job back then was truly a full-time job! Get up early, do hair and makeup, make sure your dress was ironed, no runs in your hose, grab your paper, city map, make sure gas is in the car… I am exhausted just thinking about it. Lol!

          1. Sack of Benevolent Trash Marsupials*

            Oh yeah I ran out of gas on a job run once and had to hitch a ride to a pay phone, haven’t thought about that in years. I also remember driving with the map folded over the steering wheel. Totally unsafe, and I probably wasn’t wearing a seat belt. Thank goodness for airbags and Google Maps!!

            1. LoopyATX*

              Yes! I remember those little plastic eggs with the pair of hose in them kept at least one in my purse. Putting on hose was a pain to begin with, forget having to do it in a car!

    3. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      I’m from a rural area do I’m only 35 and classified ads were the only place to find jobs when I was 19. Or of course look for the “help wanted” advertisements in windows.

      You could also go through the local labor department,that’s when companies actually used their services to post job openings.

      I had an email address and had it on resume but nobody used it much. Even though I ended up working where I had to use email. We only used it to send remittance advice for the dozens of wires being sent to vendors.

      Wires I had to personally call the Wire Room at the bank to process each one took forever rambling off the account numbers.

      Then I went through a temp agency so they called. Thankfully we had cellphones well circulated by then. The reception in our area was spotty.

    4. Free Meerkats*

      And if you were looking out of your local area, spending hours at the library looking at newspapers from the area you were looking. Then postal mail to get an application sent to you, which you returned by mail.

  6. RKMK*

    Oh, man, LW#1, I am Sansa (not literally). I’m a chronic bad sleeper with regular bouts of insomnia, and if I need coffee before I even walk in the door to be functional. And no matter how hard I try to get it together, traffic/transit delays, lines at the coffee shop, whatever, I’d be sliding in a few minutes late twice a week. Sure I could try getting up earlier… but when you regularly finally fall asleep at 2 or 3am, pushing yourself to get up even earlier gets weighed against getting a bare minimum of shut eye, and triggers a subconscious snooze button reaction. My employers never get the short end of the stick, tho. I optimize my sleep, my coffee makes me functional, and as habit I take short lunches and stay late as needed. I think practicing compassion is a good move here; not everyone is a morning person, and those of us who aren’t “lazy.”

    1. Gir*

      When I have a firm start time, I am late almost every day by about 5-10 minutes. I joke (sorta) that there’s a time warp in my living room. I can walk into the living room with enough time to be at work 10-15 minutes early. But the time I put on my shoes and grab my lunch and get to my car? I am already 5 minutes late. Every time. Without fail.

      I will forever be grateful for bosses who aren’t sticklers for being in the office on the dot.

      1. KR*

        Oh my God this is me. I will be up early and ready to get out the door and be at work early and then oh no, the dog needs to go out and before you know it I’m a half hour late.

      2. Beth Jacobs*

        I’m a bit amused, because I used to work a job that had a (9.30 !) firm start time and I was late almost every day. Nobody cared, but every morning I was stressed running through the transfer corridors in the tube (a move that saved me a whole three minutes).
        Now I have flextime, where we can come in any time between 6 and 10 am. I usually come in between 8 and 9 :D Somehow, the lack of a firm start time to aim for actually gets me there earlier. Good for me, it means I get to leave a bit earlier in the evenings :)

        1. Karo*

          My job has a firm start time and a firm end time (8-5), so if I get in at 7:00, I still have to stay til 5:00. Which means if I get up earlier, I’m not going in earlier, so I find myself having time to wait around the house, which means I get distracted, which means I wind up late.

        2. CMart*

          For me, something about the prospect of being able to scoot out 10 minutes early to avoid the huge crush of everyone leaving at 5pm really motivates me to leave early in the mornings. Flex time is fabulous.

      3. Sam.*

        This is me. In real (non-work) life, I’m actually quite punctual, but in every salaried job I’ve ever had, I consistently arrive 5-10 minutes after the official start time. I think it’s some combination of sleep deprivation (yay insomnia), not being a morning person, and probably some subconscious “I don’t want to go to work” feelings. Fortunately, I’ve never had a boss who got cranky about it, because they knew I did good work and it wasn’t worth nickle-and-diming me on this. I fully agree with Alison that I’d be extremely bitter if that changed.

        1. Super Dee Duper Anon*

          Im the same way! Anything one-off, or not regular (as in not 5 or more days a week) I’m generally very punctual, but when it comes to work – it doesn’t matter what my start time is, I’m just not able to be perfectly on time, most of the time.

          But you know what, I definitely make up for it by being the default person for late in the day or after hours stuff. If something comes in 10min before our official end time I grab it (which co-workers might or might not notice). If something comes up after hours (which happens 1-2xs a week) I’m the person who gets the text or call and logs in to deal with it (and co-workers have no idea how often or how long it takes me). When something was going to have to be taken care of at 2 or 3am I said “sure, no problem, I’ll wake up and handle it” and didn’t mention it to any of my co-workers.

          Yeah, I roll in 10-20min late about half of the time, but the time I put in after hours far exceeds the amount of time I’m late (and we’re all exempt anyway). I’d be pretty offended if a colleague tried to call me out or complain about my arrival time. You better believe I’d be sending them the next 2am request.

          1. RKMK*

            Yep! Same here. I’d be curious if LW1 also takes time to note Sansa’s other work habits outside of this pet peeve.

      4. TheRedCoat*

        Same. One of the best things about my job currently is a boss that said that unless we are hours late, she trusts us to manage our own time (so don’t call the call out line to let the whole office know you’re gonna be five minutes late).

        My job isn’t great, but my boss is top notch.

      5. AMS*

        Yep, I am late every day 5-15 minutes. Even days where I manage to leave the house 15 minutes earlier than normal are inevitable fouled by unusual and unforeseeable traffic. Luckily my bosses have never had an issue with this (my start time is 8:15, and after twice being late for an 8:30 meeting – far far too early IMO – he just emailed me saying he didnt care what time I came in but please be on time for the meetings).

        And frankly, I come in 15 minutes late and am working within minutes – usually I am ready to work before my computer is fully awake and I wind up waiting for the computer to catch up. So I walk in at 8:25 and am working by 8:27, but feel like I’m ahead because there are coworkers who come in at 8, get coffee, make oatmeal, have a chat, and are still eating breakfast at 8:30 but not working yet -so I dont worry about my 10 minutes late.

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

          “Even days where I manage to leave the house 15 minutes earlier than normal are inevitable fouled by unusual and unforeseeable traffic.”

          This happens to me EVERY SINGLE TIME I am actually running early to some appointment. EVERY. SINGLE. TIME.
          It almost NEVER happens when I’m running late all on my own.
          It’s like the Universe has decided that something’s wrong if I’m not running late so it decided to help me out so as not to risk breaking the pattern.

      6. JulieCanCan*

        OMG what is it about time passage in the morning that makes it absolutely pass at a faster rate than any other time of the day? I’ll wake up 2 hours before I need to leave for work, PLENTY of time to walk the dog, shower, eat something, do makeup, etc etc. Yet somehow EVERY SINGLE DAY I’m running late and rushing out the door 20 minutes past the time I need to leave in order not to be stressed out during my commute.

        Seriously, if I could figure out a way to make my workweek hours in the office pass as quickly as my pre-work morning hours, I’d be a millionaire. The time would pass in the blink of an eye and work would be a breeze!

      7. The Other Dawn*

        I thought it was just me! I fought it for many years. I was perpetually 10 to 15 minutes late almost everyday (boss didn’t care, though). Then, at my last job, I decided I was going to go in at 7:30 rather than sticking with the 8 to 8:30 timeframe. Surprisingly that did the trick. I have no idea why, but telling myself I’d LIKE to be there by 7:30 (my own desire, not my employer’s), not HAVE to be there by 8/8:30 suddenly made me be on time everyday. I hardly ever got to work after 7:30 unless I had an appointment or something similar.

    2. Shannon*

      Yep. I haven’t been “on time” to work on a normal non special event work day in 10 years. But my ass works “late” every day and I work every special event, every night meeting, etc. My boss doesn’t care nor should he.

    3. Gigi*

      Exactly this….you make up the time with shorter lunches and later stays when needed. Managers who nickel and dime minutes end up with demoralized staff! Op1 writes Sansa’s job doesn’t require her to be there at 9:00 so who cares? Op1, if you are on the manager track you need to work to let go of pet peeves and learn to focus on the tangible activities and behaviors that matter….what moves the dial with performance and productivity.

      1. 2 Cents*

        Seriously, I’m not a morning person either and every salaried job I’ve had, I’ve been 5-15 (on the worst days) minutes late. But I either don’t take as long of a lunch or I stay the equal-or-more amount later at the end of the day, when it was quieter and I was more alert. If someone tries to nickel-and-dime me even though I’m doing excellent work, I don’t work overtime (bc it’s always unpaid) and I definitely only work my exact hours.

    4. Karo*

      I am also a Sansa! I, too, have troubles with sleep and truly need coffee in order to function. If I don’t stop for coffee on my way in, I’m going to make it until about 10:00 and then have to leave to get coffee.

      While I prefer going to locally owned coffee shops, I’ve made it a habit to go to Starbucks because I can order online, which means it takes me a grand total of 2 extra minutes to get my coffee. When I’m late it’s because I’m struggling to wake up on time, not because I stopped for coffee.

      1. RKMK*

        Yes, this! Being able to order while I’m on the streetcar has helped minimize getting stuck in a line.

        (Also LW#1, I’m not sure if your office has coffee or not, but I’ve stomach problems too, and couldn’t have the Office Coffee. Stopping for Starbucks on the way in is less disruptive and time-wasting then arriving for 8:55 to “clock in” and then leaving again to get a coffee.

    5. TurquoiseCow*

      My first full-time office job, I stopped at Starbucks for caffeine and breakfast every morning on the way to work. I tried to buffer my commute times so that I still got into work on time (at 8:30) but sometimes I’d run a few minutes late, probably because I’m not a morning person and I slept later than I should have. I stayed late in the evenings (and was salaried so it didn’t matter), but the higher ups were the type to walk through at 8:29 and note the people who were “late” and therefore had lower work ethic.

      Because of the nature of that office, I was always terrified that someone saw me like OP1 sees Sansa – five minutes late because of coffee! How dare she! What an insane indulgence!

      But here’s the thing – my coworkers got in at 8:30 and went to the cafeteria for breakfast (where they’d wait 10 minutes for a breakfast sandwich) or went to the coffee machine and to heat up some breakfast they’d brought from home – where they’d chat for a few minutes with their coworkers and wait for the microwave. They were still using the time. They were still wasting ten minutes or more on breakfast, they were just doing it on the clock. I got in, sat at my desk, and got right to work, usually by munching on a pastry and sipping my drink. The others got in and got to work 15 minutes later, after they’d gone through their breakfast routine.

      Don’t get into minute-based clock-watching, OP. It just generates resentment and paranoia amongst your workers. If Sansa is getting her work done in a timely manner, who cares if she’s ten minutes later. Are you going to clock her bathroom breaks now? If she’s not getting her work done or she’s late to morning meetings or something, address that. You don’t even know if the coffee is the culprit. She could get coffee next to her house and then hit traffic later. Don’t start suspecting people you need to work with – it makes it harder to trust them when you need them to do work.

      1. Fergus*

        Yea I worked at a govt agency in DC. I was a contractor sent there by my company. Someone walked around the office at 8:31 to see who was there or not there. My job did not depend on what time I arrived. I didn’t work there long, because I did NOT want to work there.

      2. Rachael*

        I would also like to point out that common misconception of people who are “senior” to others in their workplace that they have the authority to tell someone when they disapprove of something that they are doing (I’m talking about non executives). I have a coworker who will look up someone’s start date and if she sees that her employment started earlier would feel justified in making comments that are none of her business (or examine the title of the person). It is up to the manager of the employee to bring up anything regarding performance, period. It doesn’t matter that you have a more senior position. It would certainly get my goat if my manager didn’t mind me being 5 minutes late and someone complained just because they didn’t like it.

    6. :(*

      No matter how early I get up, I am always 5-10 minutes late. I suffer from severe PTSD which mostly manifests itself as depression and anxiety. The depression makes it really hard to get out of bed or to start getting ready. And I find that my anxiety tends to just eat up whatever extra time I leave in the morning (or any time I have to leave the house) until it reaches a pinnacle 15-20 minutes after I should have left and I throw myself out the door hyperventilating and sweating. No one I work with would know I suffer from either because once I actually get out the door, the anxiety goes way down and in general I cover well. I had a boyfriend in my pre-assault days who had almost the exact same anxiety issues getting out of the house. I wish I had been more patient with him.

      1. L. S. Cooper*

        Does structure help you at all? I have ADHD and depression, so not quite the same thing, but I set up alarms on my phone for my entire morning routine, and, somewhat counter-intuitively, I’ve scheduled myself *just* enough time to get out the door. (I give myself exactly 45 minutes, since I eat breakfast at my desk. 25 minutes in the bathroom for hair/makeup/toothbrushing/facewashing/etc, 10 minutes to get dressed, 10 minutes at the end to get all my ducks in a row and get everything in the car.)
        I’ve tried leaving myself extra time, and, bizarrely, I find I always take longer if I have longer to get ready. If I’m going to the airport in the very wee hours of the morning, I can get ready in 30 minutes– full face of makeup, dressed, suitcase in car, breakfast ready, all that jazz. Give me more than an hour, and I’ll be horribly late.

        1. :(*

          I’ve never tried setting alarms like that, I don’t know. I agree that when I have lots of time I will almost certainly be running very late because I get in the mindset that I have time to waste or take a long time putting on makeup/being a perfectionist about things.
          But it is more that I get caught up in decisions. What to wear is usually the biggest culprit, so deciding the night before can help more than almost anything else. But I still manage to misplace things, forget where I put my keys, etc.
          Maybe I will try that technique though. My boyfriend has ADHD so he does something similar to force himself to actually go to bed. I never thought to try it with my morning routine.

          1. Batgirl*

            Again, ADHD may be different but…Having all your morning stuff in a morning ‘spot’ takes care of that problem for me.
            I find it’s faster and easier even than putting my clothes out, because I put my work bag, keys, lanyard in the ‘spot’ almost as soon as I get home; voila – done.
            Then, it was phone and glasses that were tripping me up because I use them throughout the evening so I got a wireless charger for the spot (the phone goes there when it runs low later on), spare glasses for home only use and a proper alarm clock.

            1. TootsNYC*

              really great thinking!

              Sometimes we get into restrictive thinking, that “these are my glasses” without realizing we could have more than one pair, etc.

              I think it’s best sometimes to NOT fight ourselves, our habits, and to simply go around them.

        2. Hope O.*

          This is exactly what happens to me! I have depression, so getting out of bed is difficult. One of my main symptoms is executive dysfunction. I CAN’T make decisions on anything until I’ve been up for 2 hours. Something as simple as picking out an outfit can make me collapse back into bed in tears of frustration.

          Restricting the amount of decisions was what helped me stop being late. I set out my lunch and outfit the night before. I only buy 1 kind of breakfast food. I do simple makeup the same way every time. I even pick out which Netflix episode I’ll watch on the treadmill – morning runs have become attainable!

          My whole routine takes about 90 minutes. I like to think of it as automating my mornings.

          Sometimes I’ll still be 10 or 15 minutes late o the office, but I used to give up and work from home so that I could start on time 2 or 3 times a week.

        3. Pommette!*

          I’m a chronically late person with depression and anxiety (but no PTSD, so this may or may not be useful for :(). The approach you describe works really well for me.

          The first time in my life that I ever managed to be consistently on time for anything was when I was working in a job that had a 6:30 start. I am not a morning person. I had to leave the house at 5:25 to catch my bus. I had three alarms set (1-get up now; 2- stop whatever you are doing! you are going to go out looking like you’re looking now because the time for getting dressed is up; 3- get out!). That gave me twenty-five minutes from start to finish to get everything done. It was surprisingly relaxing. I would show up at work feeling good about myself, and good in general.

          I’ve since realized two things made the situation work: 1- I had no possibility of getting distracted (I am ridiculously easily distracted); and 2- There was no time to waste thinking about anything or trying to do a good job of anything (I am a perfectionist who will think and rethink the simplest decision, and feels deeply guilty and inadequate if I haven’t gotten everything (the house, myself, ideas and things that I should be bringing to work) exactly right before I leave the house).

          It was eye-opening, and I’ve kept some of the tricks up since.
          As luck would have it, I now work in a role with a really flexible schedule, and am always running behind, always trying to catch up, and always feeling guilty for not doing more.

      2. only acting normal*

        I’m currently battling some major diurnal depression – getting up-and-out in the morning is So. Damn. Hard.
        I have flexible working hours, but getting in at 10:15, 10:20, 10:30 as the week progresses is still not the best, not least because then I need to work really late to make my hours.
        Plus, the other day, to my horror, I was late for a meeting (internal only luckily, but I’m usually very punctual for actual scheduled things, so I was very embarrassed).
        Depression SUCKS.

    7. Budgie Lover*

      Another chronic insomniac here. I pretty much never stop for coffee anymore both because it’s not worth the expense when I have a mini coffee maker at home and it messes up my schedule.

      Currently doing sleep deprivation as part of CBT and while its often a b*tch it is also a relief to actually have time in the mornings.

    8. noahwynn*

      If I absolutely positively have to be at the office at 8am I can be. Normally though I come in anywhere from 10-15 minutes later than that though. As a general rule everyone in my office never schedules 8am meetings, so nothing starts really until 9am and before then it is just everyone checking emails and getting work started.

      For whatever reason I just don’t move quickly in the morning. I wake up in plenty of time, generally go on a run, shower, get ready, and eat breakfast. So it is not that I’m waking up at the last second and rushing out the door.

      None of my managers have ever been bothered by it. I generally also stay 15-30 minutes late and get my work done. Staying late also helps with traffic so it is really a win-win there too.

    9. RS*

      OP#1 doesn’t note if they’re aware of when Sansa leaves every day. Is it 5:00 on the dot? Or does she regularly stay an extra 5-10 minutes to wrap up what she’s working on? I completely agree that none of this is OP#1’s business since they’re not Sansa’s manager, but I think it’s interesting that they only focused on Sansa’s lack of punctuality on arrival, with no mention of whether those habits were also in play at the end of the day.

    10. annalisakarenina*

      I mean I sometimes roll in 10 minutes after 8 because…it’s 10 minutes. We also don’t have firm start times, so it’s usually because I took a bit too long in the shower, or I changed my mind about my outfit, or I wanted Starbucks, or, or, or…

      I also stay late some days, or I come in an hour earlier, or I eat lunch at my desk because I have work to get done. I do my job well so the 10 minutes really aren’t important. My employees function the same way.

      I’m a stickler for punctuality when it matters or when there are consequences for not being on time: meetings, deadlines, appointments, getting to the movies before previews, etc.

    11. lifesp*

      you and I (and sansa), we are the same. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ my last review was glowing and my raise was higher than I thought to ask for, so I think my manager is cool with it.

    12. c56*

      Same here. I am chronically 5 minutes late in the morning. It hasn’t mattered at my last 3 jobs, except for the fact that my managers cared. Luckily at my current job it’s not a problem with management, and I have to say it’s really nice to not be stressing out when I hit traffic.

    13. MoopySwarpet*

      I always roll in late because I always roll out late. I have a much harder time controlling when I leave than when I arrive so I don’t rush to be on time/early knowing there’s a better than 50/50 chance I’ll be staying 30 minutes late and/or working through lunch.

    14. Ruthie*

      I’m the exact same. Our office opens at 9, but I start my workday at 9:30, and I am usually actually in at 9:40. Often with a coffee. But I stay late every day and am a top performer. So my chronic tardiness on top of my delayed start time is accommodated without the bat of an eye.

      1. Recovered Perfectionist*

        I am the same in the morning- wake 2 hours before I have to leave and still run 5-10 mins late, even if I did happen to sleep well, shower the night before, etc. It’s depression and anxiety. What I find interesting about all of the discussion around this “issue” is that most jobs are not life or death, yet we treat being on time for them as if this were the case. Are you a pilot or surgeon? Punctuality necessary. Do you sit at a desk all day, work retail, or some other non-life saving task? Five to fifteen minutes ain’t hurting anyone, and it usually works itself out in the wash.

  7. DC Cliche*

    My mom went to a massive career fair when she graduated and set up basically Interview Week in the Big City via some in-person connections and snail mail.

    1. Wouldn't you boys like a Pepsi*

      Yes, I remember going to job fairs with my resume on fancy paper and talking to the companies. I would sometimes get an interview scheduled at the job fair.

  8. Vanna Bright*

    I’m a 5 – 10 minute-late person who waltzes in with coffee. Trust me when I tell you that it works out better for my employer that way, since I’m not sucked into the 30 min coffee klatch/water cooler chat in the kitchen that happens first thing in the morning, as everyone arrives and congregates around the communal pot!

    1. Safetykats*

      I’m also the habitually late employee – but I also stay late. My manager thinks it’s great – because everything seldom goes to hell in a handbasket thing in the morning. It’s always practically at the end of the day. While all the time stickers are rushing out on the dot of quitting time, I’m on the phone with the shift office fixing whatever has gone awry. My manager has said (often) that it’s a good trade.

      1. Maggie*

        Safetykats, I feel you. I’m usually the last one in, but I’m also usually the last one to leave. It’s much more productive for me to get work done at the end of the day when the building is silent and my gears are already going and everything’s firing at full blast. When I’ve had to work under the LW1’s of the world, well, I’ve gotten fired or always wanted to quit. Let me have my peace of mind in the morning! Your five minutes does not matter when I work an hour after you!

      2. Jules the 3rd*

        Yes, my old team lead and I would split our coverage by a couple of hours when things get hot, it was very helpful. Though Friday afternoon firedrills were (still are!) a real pain.

    2. Bagpuss*

      We have an employee who is typically 20-30 minutes late evey day.
      I do find it irritating

      However, I haven’t said anything or tried to make her show up on time because although I personally find it irritating, it doesn’t actually matter much from the point of her doing her job effectively, (she does have client meetings, so it would be better to know what time she was going tobe in, but it is possible to work round that by assuming she won’t be in on tim, and ignoring the rare ocassions when she is, and she noramlly stays late ,so sheis actually working the amount of time she is paid for) so I remind myself that it is a ‘me’ issue, not a ‘her’ issue.

      It is a bit grating when she comments about others leaving on time and her ‘staying late” when all she is actually doing is making up the time she missed in the morning…

      1. Mazzy*

        For me it’s not the lateness but the reason. If someone doesn’t know that they can or should build contingency time into plans, you start to wonder if they’re having a lapse of logic somewhere in their work. And it can show a sense of entitlement if someone expects any sort of thing that will cause lateness should be on company time, not theirs.

        1. Jules the 3rd*

          meh – if she’s putting in the time / doing the work / getting work done on time, why does the time of day that they do the work matter?

          I’ve worked with a lot of programmers in my time, and expecting 9-5 / set hours is how you lose the good people.

          1. soupcold57*

            I don’t think it’s unreasonable for managers to expect people to be present during some set of “core” business hours like 9-4

            1. Oxford Comma*

              Except the OP is not Sansa’s manager. It’s possible Sansa is salaried. It’s possible Sansa has made arrangements with her manager and may make up the time elsewhere.

              I, too, have been a Sansa in terms of getting to work at my starting time. I am salaried. I often work through my lunch. I have done work after hours. I have discussed this with my manager and she’s fine with me not always being here on the dot.

              Now if Sansa is inconveniencing the OP by her lateness, that’s an issue she can take up with Sansa’s manager.

              1. Someone Else*

                Right, I think it’s too sets of things:
                Does have OP an OK reason to be vexed? Probably.
                Does OP have standing to say or do anything? Nope.

                If OP were the coworker’s boss she could talk to her and figure out if it’s a “if I take X train I’ll be 5 minutes late every day but my alternative is 30 minutes early” or if it’s “I didn’t think it mattered” or who knows what else, and then OP could decide if it’s worth it to push back given the nature of coworker’s work.

                But since she’s not, it’s none of her business and she can continue to be vexed if she wants, but it’s probably not going to change and until or unless it affects OP’s work, she’s better off trying not to notice. She can mentally decide if she’s ever hiring she’d not want to hire this person, but beyond that, nothing to be done.

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

                  I don’t think she even has on OK reason to be vexed: she is not Sansa’s manager or supervisor, and it’s not affecting her own work. Therefore it is ENTIRELY None Of Her Business and she is vexed over NOTHING.

            2. SusanIvanova*

              That’s not core, that’s practically all of them. Core is more like 4 or 5 hours, starting an hour or two into the work day – 11-4 would be a fine core range. Your morning people are happy, and your non-morning people are also happy.

        2. Observer*

          If someone is putting in the time, calling this an indication of a sense of entitlement is really way off base. I mean, is expecting a bit of flexibility REALLY so “entitled”?

          Obviously that changes if this is a position that has high coverage issues, but for the rest of stuff? Please.

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

            I’m going to go even farther and say that if Sansa’s manager has zero problems with the time Sansa’s comes in, then Sansa is not actually even coming in LATE. She’s coming in when she’s EXPECTED TO, and that is perfectly fine.

      2. iglwif*

        I once had someone who was anywhere from 15 minutes to an hour late for her self-chosen start time every day. Which irritated my boss but didn’t bother me, until the real problems began:
        1. she was already starting/ending significantly later than nearly everyone else in the department, so this thing started to happen: “I need X, where’s Sansa?” “Oh, she’s not in yet” “Well, when will she be in?” “…”
        2. she came late to all-staff meetings, meaning that she couldn’t manage to be on time for a 10 am meeting *once a month*
        3. she turned out not to be good at meeting deadlines or following up on things she’d said she would do
        4. she went on holiday and in her notes said she had done X, Y, and Z, after which we discovered that she had in fact done part of X, a little of Y, and no Z at all

        IOW, I don’t care about punctuality and time-keeping for their own sake but a lack of them *can* be the tip of an irresponsibility iceberg. The key is, as Alison says, to focus on the work impact, and if there isn’t one, then lack of punctuality becomes a non-problem.

        1. soupcold57*

          It’s very frustrating trying to schedule meetings when one person is come-early-leave-early , someone else is come-late-leave-late and you end up with just a few hours in the middle of the day and have to schedule around lunch time.

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

            So you schedule meetings around lunchtime them. I don’t Under why this is an issue.

      3. JJ Bittenbinder*

        It is a bit grating when she comments about others leaving on time and her ‘staying late” when all she is actually doing is making up the time she missed in the morning…

        Oooh, that would get my goat.

        My last job was working for a manager who nickled-and-dimed me on time, despite the fact that I am salaried, and it was a big contributor to my only staying a few months. I’ve been working for 30+ years. I know how to get shit done, and you hired me for my ability to get shit done. Don’t ask me if I’m staying until 5:15 if I didn’t make it in until 8:45.

        She would also do what your employee does and say, “I was here until 6 last night!!” Yes, well, you come in at 9:30 most days, so it seems fair to me…

        Glad to be out of there!

        1. AnonACanada*

          One of my previous managers used to say that in order to be on time you needed to have arrived, put your coat away, grabbed your beverage of choice, and your computer should be turned on with you sitting at it. If you were still doing those things after 8am you were late (if it makes a difference, we were all salaried. No one was paid hourly). This worked fine for most of us who were in the office 15-20 minutes early every day, but one employee was always in between 8:10 and 8:20 every morning, and after lunch would get in 1:15-1:30 every day. When I asked my manager why nothing was done about it, he said the employee stayed late sometimes so it was fine, and also none of my business. For the 5 years I worked there I only saw this employee stay late maybe 6 times total. I think my manager didn’t say anything because they were friends, but if any of the rest of us weren’t at our desks (not just in the building) at exactly 8am all hell broke loose.

      4. Parenthetically*

        “she comments about others leaving on time and her ‘staying late’ when all she is actually doing is making up the time she missed in the morning…”

        This is the issue IMO! She’s being churlish and I don’t know if I could bite back a “Well, everyone tries to get their core hours — Bob and Fergus were here at 8.”

      5. SarahKay*

        Bagpuss, some of that does actually sound like a ‘her’ issue and not a ‘you’ issue, though.
        If she’s coming in late for client meetings that sounds far from ideal, and her comments about her ‘staying late’ are *way* out of line.
        I’m an owl in an office that’s mostly larks, so I’m often here an hour or more after the rest of the office is empty. But if production staff make sympathetic noises about me being here late (some production staff work evening shift rather than day shift) I always point out that I started much later than everyone else. Oh, and I’m always on time for my first meeting of the day.

    3. MicroManagered*

      This is a great point. I might waltz in 10 minutes late with coffee, or breakfast, or whatever. My coworker/counterpart is usually here smack dab on time, but makes an entire pot of coffee and usually takes a personal call to her home country. This whole routing takes roughly half an hour (I can hear her brewing and chattering as I type), but darnit she was here right at 8 o’clock!!

    4. BTDT*

      I was just going to say, every office I’ve ever worked in had a coffee pot that ppl would spend at least 5min at in the morning. Is coming a few min late with coffee different from coming on time and spending a few min getting office coffee?

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

        Apparently to some people it is! But I’ve also known people who think that if you are not at your desk with your computer on and all your work materials ready right on the dot of Start Time, that you are still technically “late” or “stealing time” even if you were clocked in when you were supposed to.

    5. Allison*

      This is a good point. There isn’t that much difference between getting coffee at Dunks and being 5ish minutes late, and getting to work on time but then taking 5+ minutes to make your coffee and chat in the kitchen, and/or with coworkers on the way to or from the kitchen. One happens outside the office and one happens in the office, but that’s still 5 minutes where work isn’t getting done.

      5-10 minutes isn’t really worth kicking up a fuss over, because very few people start work at the exact time the workday starts, and works consistently until lunch, taking exactly an hour, and then working consistently until the time the workday ends. We all take some time to get coffee, eat a snack, chat with a coworker, take a dump, smoke a cigarette, take advantage of that flash sale, read a news article, etc.

      That said, I can see how someone who busts their hump to get in on time/early, works non-stop through the day, barely finding time to eat, and usually staying late because they have so much to do, might feel a little resentful of a coworker who can be a little late, who can take those breaks, or who can leave a little early or right on time, and still stay on top of their emails and impress everyone with their work. It can definitely make you wanna say “Hmph, must be nice . . .”

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

        And it *still* remains the problem only of the Hmpher, not the late but competent person.

  9. Maya Elena*

    For #5: well there’s how Jane Eyre got her main job – put an ad in a paper, and checked mail under her name at the local post office every few days, until an inquiry came for her.

    1. Undine*

      And, if I recall correctly, she had written letters of recommendation from her teachers. So perhaps if OP 4 wants to be a governess…

      1. Maya Elena*

        I really like 19th-century literature and the window it gives into how common-place things got done.
        With letters of recommendation, or introductions generally, you can see how it’s important because you can’t actually do an easy background check or Google someone; someone else vouching their social credit was really the only vetting mechanism. For example, In Pride and Prejudice, there’s a point in which Elizabeth is reviewing all she knows about Wickham, and realizes that nobody actually knew him that well, including the person who introduced him to Hertfordshire society; and that Wickham’s good looks and engaging manners made people overlook this fact.

    2. Sorrel*

      I’ve always wondered though – everyone seemed surprised at her doing that. is that because it wasn’t the way people did it, or was it because they thought she was all meek?

      1. Cat Wrangler*

        I don’t think Jane Eyre was meek at all…. but that aside, I think that was how things were done then. Remembers that there might have been several postal deliveries a day, unlike today so lots of opportunities for offers to come in. Nowadays, Jane would have LinkedIn or similar.

        1. Clisby*

          Yes, it was really eye-opening to me to read British novels (and heck, might have been true here in the US) describing how mail would be delivered something like 3 times a day. I’ve read a number of books where people are sitting down to breakfast and reading the mail that’s already come. (And these are books written reasonably near the time when this would happen, not some latter-day historical romancer getting stuff wrong.)

          1. SusanIvanova*

            The Nero Wolfe books were written between the 30s and 70s and set in New York City – there were definitely 2 or 3 mail deliveries per day in some of them.

      2. Bagpuss*

        I think they were surprised at her having the initiative to go out and do, and to work out what to do, given that she had been institutionalised most of her life up to that point.
        The way of doing it was normal.

        1. Lucy*

          Agreed: that’s how you got a job. But they had no idea she was looking for a job, because she would have had a job for life with them anyway.

        2. BadWolf*

          Clearly, she was supposed to stay at Lowood and teach for room and board (but probably with a roommate) forever and ever.

      3. deesse877*

        It was that she was totally independent–no parent or clergyman looking out for her, no one watching what she sent or received. The post office arrangement, and stamps that the sender paid, were relatively new at the time that the novel is set, and just like some people find social media a little mysterious and scary now, people then found the anonymity and control that the post office gave to regular people, especially young women, a little suspicious. Who knows what could happen?

    3. Maya Elena*

      Well in 1880s (ish?) London Mr. Sherlock Holmes often resorted to ads in the paper to find people or attract a specific person – e.g. “found, gold ring with [description], inquire are 221B Baker Street” or something.

      1. Hardcore parkour*

        He also had a network of children that ran around London doing errands for him. I guess he found them by word of mouth. And since he knew everything about someone by observing them, the interview process must have been lightning fast.

        1. Nana*

          Not even finding them by word of mouth. Urchins were around in both residential and business areas, hanging around hoping to earn a bit. Open the door…shout “You, there, boy” and someone to do your bidding.

    4. Batgirl*

      Or you could use Lucy Snowe’s method: Travel to a foreign country on the basis of a rumour that your gender plus language are in demand.
      Upon arrival, realise that knowing the local lingo would be handy. It’s dark and you have no idea what happened to your bags, but a gentleman gives you some helpful directions. Unfortunately you get lost but you spot the type of workplace you are looking for. You go inside and ask for a job from someone who does not speak your language.
      The employer is not keen on taking you without references but she can’t be bothered waiting for the invention of the telephone, so she agrees.

  10. MK*

    In my first job search, 20 years ago now, the phone screen sort of happened when you first contacted the employer. I would call in answer to the and and the hiring manager would ask some questions then and there and usually schedule and interview.

      1. Lynn Marie*

        Well, not really gumption. That’s what you did if they requested you to apply by phone in the ad – not unusual for an entry or mid-level job.

  11. OperaArt*

    I’m 61. My interviews, sometimes over 1500 miles away, were arranged entirely by snail mail. No email, no voice mail, answering machines were not a given. Then I would travel to the site, spend the day, and fly home the next day.

    1. KarenK*

      I’m 61, too. Most of the interviews back in the day, for me, anyway, were arranged by the employment agency I worked with, which also doubled as a temp agency. I never got any of the jobs I interviewed for. Apparently, I don’t interview very well. I got a lot of offers from temp jobs, though.

    2. JJ Bittenbinder*

      Out of curiosity, were your travel expenses covered by the prospective employer, or by you?

      1. OperaArt*

        The travel expenses were covered by the prospective employers. They made the travel arrangements, so I didn’t need to be reimbursed for much.

  12. Gir*

    #1. Her manager may be aware that she is “late” every day and doesn’t care. And there may or may not be reasons for that.

    I have an unofficial start time that is 30 minutes to an hour later than the rest of the team. If you asked certain members of my team, I’m sure they would tell you I am late every single day. Sometimes I have food and/or beverage with me. What they wouldn’t tell you (and may not necessarily be aware of as they have a different role than me) is that my manager and I discussed this and she agreed to it, I am a high performer in my role, and I regularly stay 2+ hours later than them because there are certain tasks that are easier to complete when the office is empty. Plus traffic is so much better coming in/leaving an hour later.

    If my boss started requiring me to be at work at 8 like everyone else, you can bet I’d be out of there the moment I worked my 8 hours. I gladly put in overtime and take on more tasks/responsibility because of her flexibility.

    1. Jen RO*

      Exactly. We officially work 9 to 6, but I generally get in the office around 9.30, coffee in hand. I also generally take less than an hour at lunch and work until 7 if need be.

    2. cncx*

      Yup, this is me too. I am salaried and basically allowed to come in any time before ten, and usually come in from between 845 to 915 depending on which bus, and depending on coffee. In an office where the culture is most people start no later than 830 and usually closer to 745. This was completely signed off on by my boss because my tandem is in a time zone six hours away to the west, so if i’m at work at the crack of dawn to save appearances and put my eight hours in, then i leave before they get in. so my staggered working hours means i can get in at least four usable hours with my coworker in the other office. i would be really aggravated if i had to pull twelve hour days to make everyone happy.

      And of course everyone is like why so late but at 430pm, i kid you not, i don’t see a soul. at 615 last night i was one of only two people in the office.

    3. I Herd the Cats*

      Yup. I have kids and a longer commute, and when my boss started (I already worked there) we discussed whether it would be okay if I rolled in half an hour later than most people, because the difference in traffic is significant. And he was fine with it, with the understanding that of course if there’s a reason I have to be there at 9am sharp (or earlier) I will be there. I’m sure there are people who are giving me side-eye for showing up “late” and/but I frequently start my morning off at 6:30 am by looking at my work emails while I drink my coffee.

      1. CMart*

        I’m the flipside (to avoid the horrible traffic I come in early and leave “early”). So no one ever sees me come in, but everyone sees me leave 30-60 minutes before anyone else.

        I have my own personal unofficial start time of 7:30 but I’m usually here between 6:45 and 7:15 just because I have more flexibility in the mornings. So I’m in the office more than my “fair” share usually, and will stay later if there’s a 4pm meeting that’s running long when I need to. But all anyone really sees is me running out way before everyone.

    4. Peachkins*

      Same here, except I go in earlier to beat the traffic. Our office hours are technically 8-4:30, but we have people that come in both earlier and later than this for various reasons. As long as we give our manager a heads up and try to stick to whatever schedule we set, she’s fine with it.

    5. RandomU...*

      Hah… I used to have what I called ‘baseball hours’. I told my boss that my commute used to have me driving in baseball traffic past the stadium. So on days where there was an afternoon game I’d stay late to miss the all of the added traffic at 4:30/5 and on days where there was an evening game I’d leave early to miss all of the added traffic for the 7 pm games.

      It more or less worked out in the end and it was easier than having to keep track the day before what times the ball games were to come in early or later to make up the time.

    6. Emily K*

      Similar deal for me. I don’t even attempt to get into the office “on time.” I work from home early in the morning to tackle anything that is super time-sensitive before most of my colleagues have even started work for the day, and I leave my house after rush hour so that my commute takes half as long as it otherwise would. On the other end, I leave between 4:30 and 5:00 90% of the time, though I do very occasionally stay late when I’m in the middle of something I don’t want to have to work on at home. The nature of my role means that I’m often answering emails in the evening or working on miscellaneous tasks I find hard to complete during the day when I’m frequently being interrupted by calls and meetings, so in a typical day I’m putting in easily 8-9 working hours, well beyond what is required of me (our contractual workday is 7 working hours plus an hour paid lunch).

      If you’re not one of the people I’m regularly emailing at 7:00 am or 9:00 pm, you could easily get the impression that I’m rolling in at 10:30 in the morning and ducking out no later than 5:00 every day and thus barely working 6.5 hours. Luckily my team’s culture supports this kind of time management as a general rule/where possible for a role, and I’m far from the only person flexing my hours in the way that makes most sense for me personally. Other people flex their hours to accommodate childcare pickup/dropoff times or to get to the gym in the middle of the day when it’s empty and they aren’t tired yet like they would be after work or barely awake like they would be before.

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

      I’m going to even farther and say that if her manager knows and does not care, then Sansa is not actually even “late”- no matter WHAT the “official salary time” actually is.

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

        *official start time


    8. A Stack of Three Goombas*

      This sounds like a problem that could be very easily solved by just… telling everyone else you’re on a different schedule. Then you wouldn’t be perceived as late/a slacker, people could consider your work hours when scheduling meetings… Maybe if this was communicated others who need flexibility would learn it’s an option for them too.

  13. Maya Elena*

    Foe LW2, a lot of people, not all of them old, still like to perform, receive, and even expect these small courtesies. I don’t think it appears out of touch to allow a man to render you such a one.

    1. Tim Tam Girl*

      On the contrary, it most certainly does. What you like in your private life is up to you, but gender-based ‘little courtesies’ at work fly in the face of work equality for all genders (and enforce a gender-essentialist world view to boot). Treating someone/ being treated differently in the workplace on the basis of real or perceived sex or gender is inappropriate and wrong.

      Chivalry is just misogyny with a bow on it.

      1. MassMatt*

        This is well put, it is hard to reconcile true gender equality in the workplace with things like men opening doors for women etc.

        Everyone should expect the same basic courtesy at work.

        1. sacados*

          It doesn’t appear out of touch to “allow a man to render you small courtesies” as long as everyone in the workplace is rendering each other small courtesies equally and irrespective of gender.
          For example, at my office people are all pretty good about holding/opening doors when you notice there’s another person coming up behind you no matter whether it’s a man or woman doing the opening or being opened for. Which is really nice!

        2. Camellia*

          Agreed! At my work, it’s the elevator ‘little courtesies’ that drive me crazy. If I approach our bank of elevators and a man is standing, for example, five feet in front of the door, I will stop about 7 feet back, a little to one side, because American. BUT when the door opens, often the man STEPS BACKWARD and gives me a waving-forward-after-you motion. WHY??!?! If you truly want to be courteous, jump into the elevator for me (and all the other people that are rushing up behind me) and hold the door open for all of us! Sometimes the door almost closes before I can get in, while he’s just standing out there! Doing nothing but being ‘courteous’!

          And no, these men don’t do that when it’s another man. As I often see when I’m still coming up the escalator.

          1. Gaia*

            Ughhhhhhhh I hate that. Just. Get. In. The. Elevator. I’m not a dainty flower who will wilt if you dare get in before me. But I might be crushed by the door while I trek from 7 miles behind you and you stand there, just outside, waiting for me and not inside holding open the door like a normal person.

          2. MarfisaTheLibrarian*

            Or the people who insist on holding the door open so you can go through…but holding the door open involves standing IN THE DOORWAY so you have to squeeze by and make sure you’re not hitting them with purses/bags.

            Not to mention the chivalrous patron who ripped a box of archival materials out of my arms because it wasn’t right that I, a female, should carry something heavy to his table. Even though that’s my job. Even though patrons are not allowed to carry boxes and I’d told him that all. damn. day.

            1. Countess Boochie Flagrante*

              Ohhhhh, the in-the-doorway thing is my worst pet peeve. Get out of the g**d*** way!!

            2. anon today and tomorrow*

              I once had a man (a stranger!!!) who insisted he should help me carry a 12 pack of seltzer up a hill. I wasn’t struggling or asking for help, but apparently I’m so weak and dainty that I couldn’t manage to carry a 12 pack of water. Okay. Right.

          3. Spencer Hastings*


            Even worse: when the person closest to the door won’t get out until you do, but you’re trapped behind several other people, including him.

          4. bonkerballs*

            For me, it’s dudes who won’t take a seat on a crowded bus. I have been on so many crowded buses where a whole bevy of dudes will stand around an open seat, their male pride refusing to let them sit, but the bus is so crowded there’s no way for anyone who isn’t ridiculous to push through and take the seat. So they’re just making the bus feel even more crowded.

            1. Ico*

              I think you are reading way too much into that. I like standing on the subway normally and it has nothing to do with my “male pride”. Also the seats are usually for people who are disabled, elderly, with a small child, etc. I don’t want to have to be constantly evaluating whether I still “deserve” a seat as people get on and off, so standing is easier.

      2. LCL*

        I get what you are saying, but for reasons opening doors is one of those things that there can be some confusion around. I just shrug and say thank you, or open the door myself. I don’t really think less of anyone for hesitating around this.

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

        “Chivalry is just misogyny with a bow on it.”

        What a perfect description.

    2. anon today and tomorrow*

      No. It’s extremely out of touch and I’d have serious reservations about working with someone who expected people to uphold misogynistic gender roles.

      People should hold doors open for everyone instead of making a decision to do so on the basis of their gender. There’s nothing courteous about going out of your way to treat one gender differently.

      1. Safetykats*

        This. Where I work, whoever gets to the door first opens and holds it for whoever is next, regardless of gender. It would be pretty weird to get to the door first and then just stand there waiting.

        1. anon today and tomorrow*

          The only time I think getting to the door first and waiting is if you see someone is carrying something or may need help opening the door. Otherwise, it’s going to look weird if you rush forward just so you can open the door for someone.

      2. Countess Boochie Flagrante*


        It’s been driving me up the wall that so many men at my office do this. Especially the ones who have to make some big production out of waving or bowing (!!!) me through the door. Yuck!

        1. JokersandRogues*

          Ugh, at one place, the guy actually did the bow thing and said “M’lady”. I’m a bad person sometimes so I went home and made fun of him for hipster nonsense.


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

            My friend and I STILL make fun of the retail employee (of a store I worked at a different location) who bowed (with a flourish, even) to let us go down the aisle before him.
            That was TWENTY YEARS AGO and we STILL laugh about how ridiculous it was.

        2. Spencer Hastings*

          If a stranger does this to me, I either stop dead in my tracks and play chicken with them until they give up, or go around the building to another door. Return awkward to sender, as they say. If people did this to me who I actually had to maintain relationships with, I think I’d go nuts.

    3. Akcipitrokulo*

      Oh, it absolutely does.

      I think she’s probably OK because it may not have registered that’s what happened, or it can be put down to a nervousness blip that isn’t gendered… but if she gave the impression that she would expect gender-based courtesies as a matter of course? That is a big deal in a workplace.

      1. sacados*

        Yeah, I totally agree that OP probably has absolutely nothing to worry about in this case, I doubt the interviewer really thought anything of it out of the moment.

        1. Lance*

          Yeah, I’d be thinking something along the lines of Alison’s suggestion: that the interviewer is the ‘host’, and it’s their workspace, so it could be the good thing to do to lead the way out, including by getting the door. I wouldn’t worry about it for this case… but I’d try to at least be conscious of it in the moment, and not let it be a regular thing.

          1. Falling Diphthong*

            I’ve also gotten lost in enough doctor’s offices, left to figure out how the heck one gets back to reception…

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

              Where I go, someone will always walk you out or point the way in buildings where it is easy to get confused in.

      2. Boone9*

        With the OP – I think it’s courtesy to NOT open up your interviewer’s office door and let yourself out, whether you’re male or female, so long as the interviewer is up and walking toward the door. It’s kinda that awkward moment of “this is your office, and I’m your guest, so…you open the door.”

    4. Project Manager*

      I agree with you, and I’m 36. The example someone else gave below of asking for opinions at a meeting and saying “ladies first” would NOT fly in my office (and shouldn’t fly in any business context), but a purely social exchange in the lobby isn’t necessarily subject to the same rules.

      This is definitely a know your culture/audience situation, though. I’ve been at the same place for over 15 years, most in the same building, and we have pretty low turnover, so we’ve generally all known each other ten years or more. By now, I certainly know which of my male coworkers will automatically get the door for me, and I automatically adjust my pace and let them do it. We all know (without anyone explicitly saying anything) that I like the courtesy and they like showing it. (Of course I smile and thank them graciously.) This has not made any difference in my career.

      With the coworkers I don’t know or in other buildings, I stick with the more modern approach. The rest of the replies here should show why I do that.

      As for the LW – I wouldn’t worry about it. It probably came across as letting the interviewer take the lead. Make sure it’s a one-off and you should be fine.

      1. Gaia*

        Sorry, but hard disagree. This is wildly inappropriate in the workplace even if “everyone is ok with it.” Everyone might NOT be okay with it and may just be really uncomfortable rocking the boat. Or someone new could come on and be really un-okay with it. This is creating an environment where treating people differently based on gender is acceptable and it is really really really not okay in the workplace.

        1. anon today and tomorrow*

          This. I’d go into that environment be wildly uncomfortable, and then worry that saying I was uncomfortable would cause me trouble among the established workforce.

          The “everyone is okay with it” justification is why casual misogyny and stereotypes still exist.

      2. LunaLena*

        I completely agree with Project Manager that it’s a “know your workplace” kind of thing. I wouldn’t have believed it myself if I hadn’t worked in a place like that, although, granted, the company was in Indiana, aka the Mississippi of the North (no offense to Mississippians). I worked in an office that was on the second floor of the building, all of the office staff except for one person were women, and most of the warehouse staff were men. When we moved to the offices on the first floor, everyone packed up their desks and then waited for the warehouse staff to move it for them. I was the lone exception – after packing up my desk, which wasn’t much (my computer + a medium box of stationery and other miscellaneous things), I simply stacked them on my desk chair and wheeled the whole thing over to the elevator. Everything was light enough that I, easily the smallest woman in the place with little upper body strength, could have carried them with no problem, but I’m also impatient and lazy and wanted to do it in one trip. Consequently I had my desk set up and was already working by the time the rest of the staff got their stuff.

        What boggled my mind was that every single one of my office mates told me “you shouldn’t do that yourself! Have one of the men carry it for you!” while I was wheeling my stuff to the elevator. They kept saying things like “men are strong!” and “this is what we have them for!” and “just wait a few minutes, someone will get that for you!” even after I reassured them that it wasn’t heavy or difficult to carry, and even pointed out I wasn’t carrying anything, simply pushing my chair. I was raised to do things for myself and others regardless of gender, and to ask for help only if I absolutely needed it, so this attitude was completely baffling to me. I only lived in Indiana for a few years, but my experience was that this was a pretty prevalent attitude there.

        1. LunaLena*

          I should add that this happened just a few years ago, and while I was the second-to-younger person on staff at the time, most of the others were only a couple of years older than I was, so it wasn’t just a generational thing. And that wasn’t the only time I was the odd-woman-out in the office; I also got patronizing remarks because I am a lifelong video gamer (“isn’t that for boys?”), and my maturity was occasionally questioned because I don’t have kids nor am I yearning to have any.

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

        I’m 52, and I would be insulted if a man thought he needed to open the door for me simply because I am a woman. And I sure as hell wouldn’t let them do it just to protect their poor wittle man feelings so they feel like big stwong manly men.

        Of course, I’m a couple inches taller than the average American male, and many of them are too intimidated by my height/appearance to pull this kind of shit*, so it’s not an issue I deal with very often.

        *When men treat the petite, feminine, conventionally attractive women in the room differently than the giant, rough, UNconventionally attractive one, believe me, it’s noticeable. And it REALLY shows up “chivalry” and “gentlemanly behavior” for the crock of sexist crap that it is.

      4. Old and Don’t Care*

        I agree with you (and could have written your post). Sorry if that makes some folks “wildly uncomfortable”.

    5. Falling Diphthong*

      When I started college in the 80s, I observed that in the mountain west, where I had grown up, people routinely held the door for other people. In New England, where I was in school, people did not do this and a lot of doors slammed in my face while I adjusted to the different rules and learned to speed up and grab them.

      Even then, decades back, it wasn’t gender based. Alison is right that it might come across as host-based, which is okay, but hanging back to let only men have the chance to open the door for you is likely to look like you are enacting something from a 1950s musical and everyone may start tap dancing at any minute. And in New England, you’ll never get anywhere.

      1. Spencer Hastings*

        Yeah, as a Northeasterner I have the opposite of this. For me, the default is that if people are very close together, each keeps their hand on the door until the next person grabs it, but they file through in the order they were originally walking. (And it’s rude not to grab the door as you go by — i.e., what are they, your butler?) The thing where the person who arrives first goes in last is done in very rare cases: when the other person clearly has a mobility issue, or their hands are full, or they’re wheeling something on a dolly, or the like. The idea is that if you have a hand free, you can grab the door yourself (as you would if there were no other people around).

        But weird male chauvinists do show up here, as they do everywhere. My favorite recent example was the time when I was approaching a public building carrying only a backpack, with both my hands free. When I was maybe 20 feet away, this guy came out of the building holding a large box. There was nobody else around. But as I continued to approach the door, he held it open for me…with his foot. Yes, a guy with zero free hands got it into his head that he had to hold the door for a woman with two free hands.

        1. Batgirl*

          Ooh I hate it when people won’t relieve you of the door you’re trying to pass them! I work in a boys’ school and commonly have students sailing me past me like I enjoy holding the door for them. Then another staff member will sarcastically say “such gentlemen!” I don’t want them stuck holding the door open for me either.

      2. Parenthetically*

        Yeah, I guess this conversation feels a bit odd to me because I also grew up in the mountain west, and experienced that same dynamic. I live in the midwest/South now, and open doors for people all the time — I live in a building with a good mix of men and women, and we all indiscriminately hold the main door for each other whenever we can, regardless of gender, because it’s a nice thing to do. Even the school where I taught which was very “traditional” encouraged boys AND girls to hold the door for each other and the teachers.

    6. Guacamole Bob*

      I think the bigger problem is that society still hasn’t completely transitioned away from them, and it leads to missteps. When everyone expected these gender-based things, everyone could move around according to the rules without awkwardness. If everyone always acted in a gender-neutral way it would also be fine. But I find myself (as a woman) occasionally doing an awkward little dance when I expect gender-neutral treatment and the men I’m with wave me out of the elevator first or try to open the door and there’s a bit of a hitch in how we’re all moving around each other. And occasionally it’s the opposite, where even though I don’t like it I’m used to men in my agency who are over a certain age expecting me to get off the elevator first, and when they don’t it’s slightly awkward.

      LW2, this stuff happens to me all the time, in both the expecting-and-not-getting and the getting-when-not-expected directions, and no one is going to remember or care. It’s common small hiccup in how people move around each other.

    7. Karen from Finance*

      I don’t think it’s out of touch to ALLOW chivalry from a man, but I do think it’s out of touch to EXPECT it.

      I had a new boss once who was (is) a Boomer who’d been out of office settings for a while before joining the company. Shortly after he joined one time we were in the elevator together and he held the door open for me. As a millennial I’m so not used to it that it took me a few seconds to understand why he was just standing there with his arm outstretched, and I just stared at him until I got it.

      I was mortified later because though I don’t agree with these type of chivalrous customs, I understand he was trying to be kind, so it’s only kind to accept them, yeah. But doing the opposite, standing there and expecting courtesies, is a bit weird as well, not gonna lie.

      Either way, OP, you’re fine. I doubt this is going to be a dealbreaker for any reasonable employer.

      1. Lucy*

        I ended up having a standoff with someone at OldJob because he believed in holding doors for women, and I believed in holding doors for one’s superiors/elders.

        I think LW is fine.

        1. BadWolf*

          Similar happened to me when I started working. I was used to holding doors open for men or women (fresh out of college — you held the door if you were first, either for the next person to grab it or letting people ahead of you). Some men in the office would dive for the door to get it for me. Or try to awkwardly let me through it first. I did adjust my behavior with some people simply so it would be less weird and awkward.

          This has improved because now the only doors I walk through with coworkers at work are badge access doors and that’s more of a badge and walk through and hold it only if you know the person badging next so it trumps awkward door holding attempts.

      2. EMW*

        I love the double doors at restaurants, because if the man grabs the first door, I can grab the second door and hold it open for him. I WILL NOT let a man take over holding that second door open for me. Anyone I travel with regularly for work now knows to give up on trying to make me go first. I just ask “why?” and it usually shuts them up.

        My husband sometimes waits for me to grab the door first so I can hold it open for him because he knows how much I hate the “Men holding a door open for a woman” thing. People should hold doors open for people.

        1. BenAdminGeek*

          I love the double doors as well! Everyone gets to be moderately polite by holding a door, no one has to feel like it’s a weird gender-based thing.

          “People should hold doors open for people” is the perfect phrase.

    8. I See Real People*

      I’m with you Maya. It’s a nice gesture whomever is opening the door for you. There are a lot more criminal things going on in the world today!

      1. Boone9*

        Yes, like earning less because I’m a woman. Or being assigned clerical work because I’m a woman in a non-clerical role. Or not being able to walk my dog without being cat-called because I’m a woman. Or not being able to open my own doors because I’m a woman.

        1. A Stack of Three Goombas*

          We can choose to prioritize some battles and not others. Choosing not to pick this fight doesn’t mean caving in on all others.

    9. JJ*

      I’m from the northern US, where expecting a door to be opened for you anywhere would be out of the norm (even by your spouse), but now I live in the south, in an area where it’s extremely normal for men to open doors for women, even at work. It took me a while to get used to it and accept it as a “southern manners” thing. I’d never wait for someone to open a door for me and always hold the door for whoever’s behind me, but especially if you’re in the south I wouldn’t worry about it. Nobody seems to think about it or add extra layers of meaning, it’s just an automatic nicety thing, like offering to take your shoes off in someone else’s home.

    10. Boone9*

      I am a woman who works with men, who refuse to walk through a door that I have opened. It puts my gender on display, front and center, and it does not belong, at all, in the work place.

    11. Rebecca1*

      In my experience, it is common for the senior person/ interviewer to open doors for the junior person/ job candidate and that sort of thing. LW2’s scenario was an interviewer opening a door for a job candidate, so I don’t think there’s anything to worry about.

    1. Kisses*

      I hated Nescafé too, but I just wanted to point one thing out- I worked in a daycare center that provided whole milk to our infant classroom, and my co-teacher used it to warm up and mix the Nescafé with that. (We were allowed! We got a kids lunch and access to whatever drinks) but it provided a much richer coffee- very good!

      1. Kisses*

        Sorry, quick add on- the Dunkin donuts around here will refill your coffee for $1.07. You can take any random cup/mug even having not gotten a first fill coffee.

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

          Makes sense- it’s the cup you are generally paying the high price for in fast food, not the actual drink itself.

    2. Lilith*

      I guess I was wondering as I have been to a Starbucks just 3 or 4 times in my life and I know that’s not where everyone buys coffee, but if the regular cup was $4.00, that would be $1040/year. If coffee is $5, it’s $1300 (no .missed days ; no bad math). That’s not counting gas to get there, getting up earlier, creating more trash. I’m trying to wrap my head around the daily attraction (& multiple trips?!). I suspect places must be far, far cheaper.

      1. Quoth the Raven*

        Usually when I go to Starbucks it’s because I crave something in particular, like a frap, or one of the seasonal drinks — so sugar masquerading as coffee, and I do it as a treat to myself, so that’s the attraction to me (I seldom go; maybe once a month if at all).

        Since I work from home I usually make my own coffee, but if I want something like a cappuccino or a latte I go to other places that TEND to be cheaper, but aren’t always.

  14. CDNRx*

    LW 1: I work as a professional in a retail setting – pharmacy. I have to clock in and out. I am always at least 5-10m early. what bugs the hell out of me is that even if I punch in at 7:50 for my 8:00 shift, ie, 10m early, if I leave at 3:59 I am docked a minute’s pay. Talk about nickel and diming…

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      Are you getting paid for that extra 10 minutes in the morning? If not, that’s illegal. They can round, but they can’t do it in such a way that it’s always to their favor.

      1. MassMatt*

        this kind of “wage theft” is extremely common. Tons of retail and restaurant employees especially are expected to show up early and/or stay late to prep, clean, restock, etc. It is a major problem and it seldom receives much attention.

        1. Kisses*

          They loved to do this in restaurants I worked. Show up at 10, the restaurant opens at 11 but we had to roll silverware and cleaning for the same 2.13 an hour we would get while actually serving and making tips. Once you were cut for the night, it was the same thing- finish what could be hour long side work (Uuggh the salad dressings!) while only making the lower “tipped” wage. And trust me I’ve rarely heard of any server being comped when the hourly wage plus tips didn’t add up to actual minimum wage.

      2. min*

        I was shocked when I moved to the UK and my first job here had a time clock with no visible clock so you had no idea what time it showed, but it only rounded in the company’s favor. If you clocked in at 7:46 it counted as 8:00, but if you clocked out at 3:59 it counted as 3:45.

        You had to make sure to be a few minutes early on arrival and a few minutes late on leaving in order to keep from having your pay docked. It infuriated me beyond belief.

        1. Sorrel*

          That’s illegal in the UK too – I used to enter everyone’s timesheets into a computer (about 7 years ago) and did a lot of research then. My boss used to really randomly round up and down – usually in favour of the employer. I used to type in the exact time because… why not…