can I have a drink before a work flight, fasting during team lunches, and more

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

1. Can I have a drink before a work flight?

I work for a large state government agency, and I travel often for my job. We most often drive rental cars, but in some cases we fly. One of my fairly frequent trips involves flying home at around 6 pm on Thursday or Friday evening. I like to have a drink at the airport or on the flight home to relax.

My spouse works for the same agency in a different division and feels that I am violating policy by having a drink because being under the influence while working is forbidden (of course!), and travel time is considered work time. I think this is a bit silly, since there is no expectation that I will be doing work while flying home or getting a cab home from the airport, and it’s not during working hours. It would be different if I were flying in at 1 pm and then going to the office, but that is not the case. I’m going home to bed.

Should I choose not to have a drink or to not count my flight time as work hours? (I typically flex my travel time by leaving early another day.) Or is this something I should just not worry about? I scoured the HR manual, and the language didn’t really clarify this for me.

You are fine. You’re on a flight taking you home at night, not going to your office. The flight is “work time” only in that you’re getting paid for your travel time, not in the sense that you are expected to be doing any work during it.

Saying “you cannot drink while you’re working” is not the same thing as “you cannot drink during any hours you’re getting paid for,” or otherwise you also couldn’t drink during paid vacation time. (Paid travel time isn’t the same thing as vacation time, of course, but my point is that not all paid hours represent the same type of thing.)

2. Fasting during team lunches

I work at a large professional services firm. I serve several different teams in my role. Often, I’ll be asked to join working sessions/lunch and learns/training with these teams. A large part of these functions is often a catered lunch. I have been practicing intermittent fasting for the better part of a year and find it massively helps my focus and health and to manage my weight.

How should I handle the (inexplicably inevitable) comments that I get during the lunch portions of these meetings? I’m fairly introverted and for some reason the word “fasting” invites all kinds of intrusive and personal comments, questions, or weirdly personal anecdotes. I find it emotionally draining to try to discuss my very personal eating habits with coworkers. I would never venture to comment or even really form an opinion on someone else’s food choices.

I’ve generally just smiled, held up my bottle of water, and said, “I’m all set now, thanks!” A few times I’ve even used a “stunt apple” to set in front of me to try to minimize questions. (But then I’m just carrying an apple in my bag all day, which seems silly.) Any advice for a quick comment I can toss in? I make myself as scarce as possible during lunch, but often this time is used socially or even to continue the meeting so it’s hard to do so.

Try “Oh, I brought lunch for later” or “I usually eat later in the day” or “Nothing for me — I had a late breakfast.” These aren’t true (except maybe the second) but they’re permissible in this situation because no one is being misled on anything that matters, and they’re polite ways to deter people who otherwise might worry that the meal isn’t meeting your food needs without opening up a discussion of your eating habits.

I like the stunt apple too though. (Or alternately, a set of fake plastic food that you could carefully arrange in front of you, thus making you an object of incredible interest and speculation throughout your office and beyond.)

3. We’re not supposed to tell other departments if we leave early

My manager has asked me to not tell other departments if we leave early. We are supposed to leave with discretion. Unfortunately, I haven’t been able to do this very well. Sometimes people will ask me if I’m leaving. Today is a holiday and one of my coworkers said we were going to leave early, and I ended up blurting out that my department was as well but at an earlier time, and now I feel guilty. I’m not sure why we can’t say goodbye to other coworkers, especially ones who are very nice and friendly, and on a holiday no less. Should I be concerned about not being able to be discreet? And why do we have this rule?

It sounds like your manager is concerned that other departments will resent your team if they find out you’re leaving early and that may cause issues (for your team or for their own managers). Or who knows, maybe she’s not supposed to let you go early and if it gets out, she won’t be able to do it anymore. It’s not great to have to hide it (it could put you in an awkward position with other coworkers), but it sounds like telling other teams about it could result in those early departures being stopped.

4. Employee is panicking while we’re renegotiating a contract

I’m a low-level manager and I work closely with a group of contract employees and their manager, Archie. Our contract with their agency is up for renewal, and both my company and theirs are playing hardball. They will all remain employed while the contract terms are negotiated, so there is no risk for job loss. The contract will not affect contract employees’ pay, hours, or services they provide.

My problem is that one of the contract employees, Veronica, has become emotionally invested in these negotiations and she’s convinced her company is going to lose the contract and she’ll be jobless. She is not personally involved, and is not invited to meetings or included on confidential emails. She constantly asks Archie and me for information and tries to invite herself to committee meetings, read emails over shoulders, or eavesdrops.

Archie and I have been working together to be transparent when we can, but the questions she’s asking we aren’t able to discuss due to confidentiality, such as how much the agency is getting paid and management processes. Even if we wanted to tell her something to set her mind at ease, she’s not very trustworthy and would shout it from the rooftop. I understand her fear about job security, but how can I tell her to calm down and stay in her lane? Her behavior is getting obsessive.

Since Archie is her manager, this should probably come from him: “Veronica, there’s nothing I can tell you at this point, but as soon as I have something I can share, I will. I know this is an anxious time, but repeatedly asking questions that I can’t answer, looking at other people’s emails, and trying to hear conversations that you’re not part of is becoming disruptive. I’m sympathetic to how stressful this feels, but I need you to focus on work and stop trying to get information that isn’t available yet.”

5. Is it weird if my husband and I keep working at the same companies?

A while back, I left my old job and found something that pays more and that I love. It’s challenging, and I really feel like it’s forcing me to step up my game, which is amazing, and there is tons of room for growth.

Before I quit my old job, my husband worked for the same company as me, though in a different department. He was laid off a few months before I quit, though that’s not why I quit. He’s been unemployed ever since, but my new company is constantly growing, and both my managers have suggested I have him apply to work in our office. There are other couples in the office, married and otherwise, so that wouldn’t be unheard of.

My question is, is it weird or unprofessional if my husband and I work for the same company twice in a row? More specifically, does it speak poorly on him if it seems he follows me around? I started at the previous company first, as well, and referred him there after about a year. I’ve forwarded his resume along to my HR team, but the more I think about it, the more worried I am it’ll look bad on both of us to jump from company to company together. Am I overthinking this?

Eh, I think it’s fine! I can see why you feel a little weird about it, but most people aren’t going to know the details of who followed who. If anyone ever comments on it being the second time you’ve worked together, you can reply that the first time showed you that you could do it without issue (since not every couple could!).

That said, there are advantages to being at separate companies, as you probably know — like that if the company ever has financial troubles, it’s safer if only one of you is tied to it. But I’m guessing that because you’ve done it before, you know how to weigh the potential downsides.

{ 340 comments… read them below }

  1. Eric*

    #1 AAM wrote: The flight is “work time” only in that you’re getting paid for your travel time, not in the sense that you are expected to be doing any work during it.

    I guess that is the deciding factor. I’m expected to work to the extent possible if I am traveling during normal business hours.

    1. Drew*

      If they want me to work in that torture chamber, they’re damn well going to let me have a drink first. (I like flying; it’s other passengers I loathe.)

    2. sacados*

      But in this case, OP mentions it’s typically a 6pm flight — so it’s not within normal business hours either.

        1. The Man, Becky Lynch*

          Unless she’s got a low tolerance because you do get intoxicated faster when you’re in a plane, this is why they’re very particular about giving out drinks and watching people from getting drunk. You cannot drink like you do on the land in the sky!

    3. Artemesia*

      Even if you are working on the flight, there is no reason to not have a drink (unless you are the pilot) This is just weird — the idea that you can’t have a drink on a plane on a work trip — what odd puritan thing does the wife have going that this would be something she would nag about? And as anyone knows who travels as part of work, you are NOT paid for that time. Yeah you get your normal salary but it doesn’t triple for the 24/7 away from home and without normal opportunities to live your non work life. That flight time comes out of your hide.

      1. Lulu*

        Actually the letter writer never stated their gender or that of their spouse so you may want to consider your biases :)

        1. Puggles*

          Me too! I read it as the OP being a woman and her husband was giving her bad advice to not have a drink before a flight after working hours.

        2. Wakeens Teapots LTD*

          Wow. I did the same thing.

          What does that mean? (that my husband would nag the crap out of me over stupid things until I finally start to second guess myself even though I know I am right to start with? Nah. ;) )

            1. Wakeens Teapots LTD*

              We got ourselves a Rorschach test here. Given that I am usually spot on at not assuming genders and not assuming opposite gender marriages, imma little freaked out about What That Means.

              Food for personal thought and back to work! :)

        3. TootsNYC*

          ditto–my husband is the worrywart in my family.
          And his worry would absolutely be based in the idea that if someone found out, I might get fired. (I’m also the sole wage earner, so me getting fired would be a much bigger deal.)

        4. TootsNYC*

          I did the same “assuming it’s a woman” thing, but I think for me it was fueled by AAM using “she” as the default instead of “he.”

      2. JSPA*

        Given how (firing-level and even legit illegal) serious it is to even have alcohol on the premises of (say) a government lab, this is way over the top and shame-y. (“Nags”???)

        1. Falling Diphthong*

          And “Yeah, I knew it was a rule, but I figured I was a special exception” is something that often doesn’t fly when your employer finds out you’ve been disregarding the rule. I get the spouse’s concern–even if I think the drink on the plane makes sense, if LW’s senior execs don’t then their opinion trumps that of everyone else.

        1. MommyMD*

          Me too. But whichever. Unless OP has an alcohol problem or is otherwise indiscreet, it seems rather controlling and overstepping of spouse.

          1. Librarian of SHIELD*

            I think it depends. It could be that the spouse knows more about the company’s policies or the higher-ups’ attitudes about drinking, and was trying to give the LW some wise advice. I know that with my organization, any drinking during paid time is not going to be looked on very highly. If I were to give someone else a heads up about that, it wouldn’t mean I was being controlling. It would mean I was trying to protect that person from some unpleasant consequences.

      3. Drew*

        My company explicitly tells us that travel time is on the clock. But they wouldn’t bat an eye at me having a beer or a cocktail on a flight, even so.

      4. Liane*

        Maybe OP’s wife IS the Loon who has a strange interpretation of this work rule, but the OP didn’t write that. OP wrote that Wife said OP shouldn’t drink on the flight home because it will violate the “No alcohol during work hours” rule.
        Given that OP also mentions that Wife is in another division, I wouldn’t be surprised if the Real Loon is Wife’s boss or grandboss.

        1. JJ Bittenbinder*

          Are we reading the same letter? There’s no wife mentioned, and the letter says:

          My spouse works for the same agency in a different division and feels that I am violating policy by having a drink because being under the influence while working is forbidden (of course!), and travel time is considered work time.

          The spouse is the one who feels that way. The spouse’s gender is unknown.

      5. De Minimis*

        Government jobs tend to be really strict about alcohol, that’s probably where the spouse’s concerns are coming from.

        1. kittymommy*

          I was thinking this as well. Though the travel does make it a little more allowable, especially with it being end of day travel. I think if it was like a wine with lunch it would be less acceptable, at least in the government jobs I’ve had.

        2. blackcat*

          My husband works for a government contractor. Both he and his government agency colleagues have joked about being on a plane as the only time they can 1) drink on the clock and 2) sleep on the clock. At least in his sector, drinking while in transit is considered fine. They’re actually explicitly forbidden from working on planes b/c laws around what they do.

      6. Ana Gram*

        I travel for work and am non-exempt, so I’m paid for travel time. Not being paid for travel time isn’t always true and, honestly, I wouldn’t even say it’s the norm.

    4. Lynca*

      That’s pretty much the direction that I’ve always heard. I work for a large state agency with a ton of overnight travel, conferences, etc. If the OP’s wife is in an agency that doesn’t do as much travel/conferences/etc. then she is probably just viewing this through her lens of her work experience and what the expectations on someone in her line of work would be.

      Basically if you’re outside your designated working hours, it’s fine. Just the standard caveat to remember that you are a public face when out of the office so don’t overdo it.

    5. MissDisplaced*

      For me, the issue is quantity. Having a cocktail at the airport or on the plane is fine. But really it’s not a good idea for anyone to cross the line into intoxication or being drunk when traveling for a host of reasons.
      And yes, if you were going from plane straight to a meeting, I’d probably refrain. Not because of being sloshed, but the smell can linger. Paranoid. Plus, alcohol tends to make me tired and I’d want to be on my A-game.

      1. Brett*

        Many government agencies have a zero tolerance policy. It is not about intoxication or incapacitation, but rather that any alcohol whatsoever is a violation of the policy.

      2. Ann O’Nemity*

        I agree with this. I like to have a drink before flying so I’m less anxious. I imagine most people, even government managers would understand that. But getting drunk on a work trip – even after hours – is almost always a bad idea.

    6. Governmint Condition*

      There are employers who specifically prohibit drinking while on any kind of work time – including while in travel status. Some government employers, for example.

        1. Fiberpunk*

          Yeah, my state government employer definitely doesn’t care about a cocktail on a plane. I guess some might not be as reasonable.

        2. Librarian of SHIELD*

          It really does depend, though. Your government agency doesn’t have a problem with it, but mine does. It’s a “know your workplace” thing, I think.

        3. Brett*

          Previous government agency absolutely forbid any alcohol while in overnight travel status if you had a car rental or pool car that day. It did not matter if you were actually driving the car at all that day. Violating it would get you barred from car rentals or using agency pool cars.

    7. Michaela Westen*

      I can’t work on trains or in moving cars – I get motion sick. I could probably work on an airliner once it gets off the ground, but I haven’t been on one in 15 years so I’m not sure.

    8. Sara without an H*

      OP #1 said he/she/ze had consulted the HR manual for guidance and nothing specific was said about this issue. Given that, I’d say OP’s occasional drink in flight is probably benign.

      While I’ve never worked for state government directly, most of my career has been spent in state universities. The drill there is usually that you’re expected to abstain while on university premises, and you will not be reimbursed for alcohol while traveling on university business. If you buy your own drinks and don’t do anything that lands you on the evening news, you’re OK.

      1. Hapless Bureaucrat*

        Having worked for both a state university and several state agencies, I’d say that in general the university had laxer regs on alcohol. There, at least in our college, a beer with lunch at a restaurant wasn’t an issue.

        At a state agency, it would be. The culture varies between agencies. The more public- facing your role and the more obvious it is you’re with the agency (uniform, branded car) the more likely the agency will want to put restrictions on your after-work time while in travel status.

        Still though, I’ve never worked for an agency that would have forbidden all alcohol whatsoever while in travel status.

        1. Sara without an H*

          You’re right about laxer rules at universities. As some wag once said, you don’t have to drink to teach college students, but it helps.

    9. Galahad*

      If the flight and travel are part of your standard 40 hours of paid work a week, and you are a government employee, do NOT drink! So many government (and contracting) agencies would treat this as a fireable offense. You are being paid to sit on that plane and NOT drink. Think of it that way.

      If you are exempt, and this is now hour 58 for that week, and you are on your way home, it should not matter at all. Unless you are flying on the corporate jet and the CEO has declared zero drinking on the corporate jet…ever..

      If you are on the way TO your business travel, I wouldn’t drink, regardless of personal versus work time factors. Alcohol dehydrates you so fast when you fly, and the dehydration alone will make you groggier, less capable, and interrupt your sleep (often already challenged by time zone changes). No one wants to be less than 100% for work when it could be fully preventable.

  2. Wehaf*

    LW2 – try something like “Oh, I don’t eat lunch – I find that works better for me.” or “I don’t usually eat lunch; I find I feel better when I do that.” If you get pushback, you can just reiterate that this works best for you.

    1. nnn*

      This is exactly how my parents actually live their lives. They aren’t doing intermittent fasting or anything, they just…don’t eat lunch, because they find it works better for them.

      1. MommyMD*

        This whole concept that healthy adults need three meals is antiquated. Kids, teens, yes.

        1. Michaela Westen*

          I need 3 meals and 2 or 3 snacks a day, and I’m in my 50’s. There’s a large variation in what works for people.

          1. Snark*

            But healthy adults, as a category, do not generally need three full meals a day, given our activity levels and metabolic rates. Some may, of course, but it was a categorical statement, not a particular one.

          2. fluffy*

            I use the hobbit life style: breakfast, second breakfast, elevenses, luncheon, tea, dinner, supper

            1. Michaela Westen*

              My breakfast pattern is like that. When I say 3 meals I mean my first breakfast is small pieces of the quick bread I make, toasted with sunflower butter, and tea. Not like eating at IHOP.
              After I get to work I eat again at my desk and it’s a little more although I call it a snack.
              So I basically have two full meals and several snacks. I couldn’t do the rest of the day hobbit-style: It’s lunch, afternoon snack around 3:30-4:00, another snack when I get home (habit), then dinner.

      2. wittyrepartee*

        I eat lunch at 3pm. I tell people I eat like a Spaniard (okay, dinner a little earlier than that, but similar).

        1. Snark*

          Last time we were in Spain, we’d fuel up on coffee, do stuff all day until like 2-3pm, stuff patanegra jamon and bread and sheep cheese and fuet sausages into our faces, have a beer, do more stuff, eat dinner at 9. GLORY.

      3. Clisby*

        There are several types of intermittent fasting – I don’t deliberately fast, but my natural eating follows one fasting pattern, where you eat only during one 8-hour window in your day. I eat lunch at 11 a.m. and dinner’s over by 6:30-7 p.m. Aside from a couple of cups of coffee in the morning, I don’t eat between 7 p.m. and 11 a.m. No medical reason for it – it’s just how I like to eat.

        1. Jenna P.*

          I am very close to this too. I have never been a breakfast person, I have a cup of tea and a cereal bar when I get into work around 8, eat lunch at 11:30 or so, then dinner around 6. Then I don’t eat anything until the next morning. I also need to go from smallest amount of food to largest amount of food during the day. Breakfast is tiny, if I have anything at all, lunch is medium sized and dinner is largest. Then nothing after dinner until the AM.

    2. Seeking Second Childhood*

      OP2 Because you say this is *intermittent* fasting, I’d suggest phrasing it that you *sometimes* just don’t feel like eating lunch. That way if your next meeting is at a place you’ve been dying to go to, you don’t get the same people following up and wondering why the answer changed.

      1. Seeking Second Childhood*

        And “Oh, I’m here for the people not the food” is another good deflection — it compliments your co-workers. This works especially well if you immediately start (or return to) a conversation appropriate to the event.

        1. Flash Bristow*

          Oh, I like that response! Although if a really decent lunch is being laid on, I guess it might sound like OP considers themself above the food / situation.

          I figure they just want to make sure OP isn’t being excluded (due to some religious or medical dietary requirements), and that they’ve catered for everyone. Much as I love your answer, it seems a bit handwavey.

          I think I’d go with “no honestly, I’m fine. The food looks great, I’m just not hungry right now.” or something that tells them that OP doesn’t feel excluded, they just don’t want to eat!

          And whichever way you handle this, OP – have some changes of subject so you can move on promptly. “Yep, it looks lovely but I’m just not hungry. Anyway, did you see the …” etc.

        2. TootsNYC*

          I hate that response, actually. It just feels sort of “there’s something wrong with being here for the food,” as if they are exclusionary.

          Like the people who say “It’s the marriage that’s important, not the wedding.”


          Just say you’re not in the mood to eat, or something; don’t start setting up value paradigms.

      2. Rusty Shackelford*

        This. If you don’t always avoid lunch, don’t say “I don’t eat lunch.” Saying “oh, I’m not eating lunch today” is fine.

        1. Glitsy Gus*

          I would even just go with, “I’m really not hungry right now, but thanks!”

          If anyone pushes all that hard after that they are the weird ones and you can just change the subject or go straight to, “no thanks, I’m going to eat later. This LnL sounds like a good one, don’t you think?” It’s not their business and after a polite deferral they need to let it go or suffer the consequences of feeling awkward.

      3. SKA*

        It depends on their intermittent fasting style. For some people, this means fasting some days, but not others, but it can also mean only eating 1 or 2 meals per day every day. For me, it’s only eating between noon and 8pm every day; but it’s still referred to as intermittent fasting.

    3. That Redshirt.*

      “I tend to nibble on food throughout the day.” It’s a sentence I’ve used with coworkers. Though I don’t make the choice to fast, my food consumption at work is minimal. People usually don’t press after hearing a polite response to their question.
      Using a prop apple is a great idea too! I actually have a prop apple in my lunchbox. It deflects curiosity about why I’m not eating much. And bonus points if I’m hungry enough to eat it.

    4. CheeryO*

      This is how I’d approach it. Deflecting with “I’m just not hungry today!” or something along those lines is too passive, and you’ll have to keep coming up with excuses every time you have a work lunch. The nosy coworkers will eventually get bored and accept that you don’t eat lunch if you give them the same direct answer every time.

      Also, as someone with a history of disordered eating, I’d get nervous if I saw someone bring only an apple to lunch and not eat it. Not nervous enough to pry or start rumors, but I’d much prefer hearing that you purposefully skip lunch as part of your meal schedule. Just something to think about.

      1. Sparrow*

        It’s the possibility of disordered eating that would nag at me, as well, especially if this is happening reasonably often. I wouldn’t say anything unless I was really close to the person, but if I noticed someone was making the point to look like they had food but clearly never ate it, I would be concerned. I think it’s possible some of these questions come from a place of genuine worry, not just nosiness.

        That said, I get OP’s annoyance, because as someone who gets full very quickly and therefore eats small amounts at a time, I’m definitely used to hearing a lot of, “Is that all you’re eating?” comments. Things like, “Oh, I’m generally not very hungry at this time of day. I may grab an apple later, though,” tend to work well for me. Once people realize that’s just a thing for me – I’m not hungry for a big meal mid-day – they stop asking.

        1. Exhausted Trope*

          This is a great tactic that I’ve used many times. “I’m just not hungry right now but I’ll have something later. ” If the food looks especially tempting and I’ve not brought anything from home, I’ll plate some and save it for when I do eat. No one ever minds.

    5. Mynona*

      I haven’t eaten lunch at work for 10 years–except for lunch meetings, which are infrequent. My coworkers know I don’t eat lunch. I tell them I don’t like to break up my day, which is true, but this explanation also avoids the endless discussions of diets, which I dislike. For lunch meetings with clients (where not eating at all would be weird), I order something small and eat 1/3 of it. Generally no one comments. If they do, I say I prefer a small lunch. That seems to work.

    6. Psyche*

      The OP could even go with “I’m not hungry right now.” It says nothing about your eating habits in general but should get them to leave you alone. They may be worried that they are always picking food you either dislike or can’t eat.

    7. Anonym*

      As a non-breakfast-eater, I’ve had decent luck with “Oh, I’m not a big breakfast person” and a bit of a shrug. Maybe this could work? It tends to deflect follow up, except for the occasional “Oh man, I LOVE breakfast! I’d be so hungry without it!” which gets a “to each their own!” +smile from me.

    8. SK*

      Something like “oh, I’m more of a grazer, not a meals person” could also shut it down. It’s basically the same thing as intermittent fasting but not really ‘interesting’ enough that it’d trigger follow-up questions.

  3. Drew*

    OP#2, we are SO weird about food. I’m sorry that you’re running into that.

    You could always try a deflection followed by a compliment, something like, “I’m really not hungry, thanks. It looks wonderful, though!” The danger here is that someone “helpful” will encourage (pester) you to take a plate “for later.” That’s where I would deploy something that I’ve used on my own mother before (sorry, Mom!): “If there are any leftovers, maybe put a plate in the fridge (that I am going to conveniently “forget about”), but don’t hold back on my account! Enjoy!”

    Truly, however, I think just saying, “Really, I appreciate it, no thank you” is best. Be boring and they’ll give up eventually.

    1. SpaceySteph*

      I do think in this case its not entirely just about “being weird” about food. Like if I am at an all day meeting and everyone is breaking out their lunch but one person, I’m not concerned with their diet but more that maybe they forgot lunch or if they don’t know the area I can recommend a nearby fast food place or if lunch is provided make sure they know they can take some, too.

      I do think ‘fasting’ would get a lot of unnecessary interest, so I do think the best way is to deflect with something bland about not eating lunch or having already brought something for later or having eaten an early lunch. But generally I don’t think the initial question comes from a place of malice or weirdness or undue interest.

      And the stunt food isn’t a terrible idea– if lunch is provided, maybe OP should try a stunt [whatever food they’re serving]. Grab a dinner roll or a bag of chips from the lunch spread and set that in front of them, rather than buy apples just to carry around.

  4. Lord Gouldian Finch*

    #1: I think the amount and type of drink also plays a bit of a role. Having one beer before a flight? That probably isn’t really going to affect most people. Having three or four glasses of something harder like scotch? You’re definitely under the influence and probably at risk of a public relations problem.

    1. MommyMD*

      Right. Be discretionary. No one should ever get drunk when representing the company.

    2. Tyche*

      I think it depends on how much you (general you) are affected by alcohol.
      I drink less than a glass of wine on an empty stomach, and I feel tipsy, so I tend to abstain in a work situation, but if it doesn’t anything for you, go ahead.
      Being a responsible adult is knowing your limits.

      1. TootsNYC*

        I went out for drinks w/ the office last night and couldn’t eat any of the bar food. So my two drinks over 3 hours hit an empty stomach. And the rum-and-Coke wasn’t a wimpy as I like it, so I was sloshed!

    3. Harper the Other One*

      Yes, and keep in mind that many people feel the effects of alcohol differently on a plane. If you’re not used to how you respond to alcohol in flight, estimate low on how much you can consume.

    4. Roscoe*

      I mean, unless you are flying with a badge that has your name and government agency you work for, I still don’t see how thats a problem. It still just comes down to being able to handle your alcohol and not being a nuisance on the flight, which is just good manners anyway

    5. MissDisplaced*

      Or falling asleep!
      But I’ll admit I don’t process alcohol very well, so what seems like too much to me might be perfectly normal for others.
      When I travel for work, I’ll typically wait until I get to my hotel and then enjoy a drink in the bar or lobby to relax instead of on the plane. But I think some people are nervous fliers and like a drink during the air travel.

    6. iglwif*

      This is so variable!

      I tend to drink very, very little in work-adjacent situations (conference receptions, etc.) because my alcohol tolerance is … not good. But I know lots of people who can drink two or three times as much as me (so like … two or three glasses of wine lol) and be virtually unaffected.

      But even for someone like me, when it’s one drink in a going-home-to-bed situation, I don’t see the harm?? That’s incredibly different from turning up tipsy to a work meeting!

    7. Dwight*

      lol when I used to travel twice a week getting to and from a project, I had lounge access, which had self-serve free-pour hard liquor. I never went home sober!

  5. Ella*

    LW #2, I think the word “fasting” specifically is something people find unique/interesting and is opening you up to more questions than you want. Obviously people shouldn’t pry into your business no matter what terms you use, but I bet you’d field fewer intrusive followup questions if you just said “Oh, I’m not a big lunch person” or “I’m going to eat later!” both of which are perfectly true.

    1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

      Yeah, I agree that “fasting” may be what’s prompting people to pry (although to be fair, people seem incredibly comfortable with asking invasive questions about food). I like the alternative scripts.

    2. Jasnah*

      Agreed, I think “fasting” sounds like a rule, and people are going to be curious about why you have a rule that goes against most people’s practices. Especially if you are eating together, they may worry about what they’re doing–have they prepared the right food for you, is there something they shouldn’t eat around you?–or what you’re doing–is it for religious or cultural reasons? Is it a dietary thing? An illness thing? A money thing? Are you OK, or do you need help?

      Ella’s suggestions reframe it as a habit or a personal choice. Most people can write those off as “OP is different than me” or “OP is weird but not in trouble”. I think that’s the best way to do it to avoid further questions.

    3. EventPlannerGal*

      Yeah, given the time of year I had assumed from the header that this letter was going to be about Ramadan. A lot of people might not know that people fast for dietary/weight-loss reasons, so using different phrasing might help.

      1. Trout 'Waver*

        Yeah, I had similar thoughts. Bugging people about fasting during the month of Ramadan is especially tone-deaf.

        1. Friendly Muslim*

          To be fair, I assume the likely reason they’re asking questions is b/c they are aware OP is not Muslim (as a Muslim who fasts in Ramadan, no one ever asks me questions – including why I am eating, which is good ,b/c that would be an awkward conversation)

      2. Big Bank*

        Agreed. Personally I’d go with “I’m following a special food plan so I dont need anything now, thanks!” If you were interested in discussing the topic, you could use the word “diet” instead of food plan. I think the word diet would open up the gates of inquiry, not necessarily because people are trying to be intrusive or judgy, but because they might be open to hearing about ideas for handling their own food habits.

          1. boo bot*

            Yes! I think the issue with fasting really is the specific word – it suggests either religious practice or potentially dangerous dieting, and those are both going to provoke curiosity. “Special food plan” or other obviously non-standard language is just going to have the same effect – you want bland phrasing that people already have a place for in their heads, and don’t have to think about.

            “I’m eating on a particular schedule,” or “I’m following an eating plan,” or “I’ve started eating lunch later in the day,” or something is probably fine.

            I actually think the decoy apple is brilliant, also. (Although really, I want you to go all-out with the plastic food, because that is beautiful.)

    4. JSPA*

      “I’m not really a lunch – eater” is unremarkable. “Fasting” conjures thoughts of hunger and intentional self – denial (and religion). Which is fine, if it IS religious — but incongruous if all you mean is, “i often don’t eat lunch.”

    5. PB*

      “I’m going to eat later” is perfect! I also like “I’m not a big lunch person,” but the effectiveness will depend on how OP’s intermittent fasting works. I know a few people who fast intermittently, too, and they skip lunch some days, and eat it others. I’d worry that saying “I’m not a big lunch person” and then eating lunch two days later would just invite more questions.

      1. TootsNYC*

        I think most people would just say, “Oh, today’s a lunch day.” They may comment, “Oh, I see you’re having lunch today!”

        “Not a big lunch person” doesn’t mean “I never eat it.”

    6. Rusty Shackelford*

      Exactly. Using the word “fasting” practically begs people to ask why.

    7. LegalBeagle*

      Definitely. There are 7 Jewish fast days a year and 6 of them are minor holidays where people still go to work and just…don’t eat or drink. I know it can be a weird concept for folks to encounter but it also leads to a lot of awkward questions. I’m not hungry, I brought something for later, I had a big breakfast – all good deflections.

      1. noahwynn*

        Greek Orthodox and we have all sorts of fast days as well, and explaining them can be super complicated. In general, no meat, fish, eggs, dairy, oil, or alcohol on most Wednesdays and Fridays. No food or drink from midnight forward on Sunday until after Communion is taken.

        I rarely do the strict fast like these, but I do follow the Lent fast practices and those bring up all sorts of questions because there are several days where you just don’t eat. Then it gets into how much you explain, but I generally just say religious fast and leave it at that.

    8. NW Mossy*

      Fasting is also having what trend-following types might call “a moment” – it’s really picked up in popularity over the last few years as previous diet/health regimes like low-fat and low-carb have faded somewhat. When you’re picking up a lifestyle that’s becoming more popular, you’re a lot more likely to find people that want to talk about either because they’ve considered trying it themselves or they’re already a fellow traveler.

      If the OP wants to shut down the conversation, more generic statements that acknowledge not eating at this exact moment but without implying anything about past or future eating (or not!) is a better bet.

      1. SKA*

        Yuuup. I made the mistake of mentioning to a coworker or two that I’ve been doing intermittent fasting for nearly two years (I’m ahead of a trend for the first time in my life!). And OH BOY did every dang conversation turn into diet talk for AGES.

        What’s worse is that I am doing it primarily for health reasons, but it just turns into weight-loss talk every time. I’d actually be fine with answering the occasional question about it from a health standpoint (only if asked – I have no desire to evangelize about this). But it’s only ever “I should do that, I need to lose weight” or “how fast did you start losing weight” etc. etc. etc.. I don’t like talking about weight issues with friends, let alone coworkers.

        1. MJ*

          If they get into it, switch it back to the health benefits. Start cited peer-reviewed research about all the benefits: cholesterol, triglycerides, CRP levels, etc. Personally I would find that interesting but most people just want a magic weight-loss bullet. Them: “I want to lose weight. I think I’ll try fasting. How to do that?” You: “I don’t know but I can tell you about the health benefits. Blah…blah…blah.” Fastest way to get them to drop the conversation.

  6. pcake*

    LW2, what I used to do is get an undressed salad with a few veggies for texture or steamed vegetables, then sit it in front of me. I might take a bite now and again – I felt undressed lettuce or broccoli kept the fast alive – and at other times push the food around the plate. This went over a little more successfully than the stunt apple – I guess most people want to feel that everyone is eating.

    LW5 – I’d say that how you and your husband behave at work is more important than that you both work at the same company. Treat each other like you’d treat any coworker, and I think you’ll probably be fine.

    1. OP5*

      That’s what we’ve always done. Our last workplace, most people didn’t know we were married until they saw us at the holiday party together!

    2. Rachel*

      As someone who used to have an eating disorder, getting plain lettuce and broccoli and pushing it around the plate would be a huge red flag to me. Obviously it should be no one’s business if OP has an eating disorder — just like it any other mental illness is no one’s business — but as Sparrow said above, “if I noticed someone was making the point to look like they had food but clearly never ate it, I would be concerned. I think it’s possible some of these questions come from a place of genuine worry, not just nosiness.”

      For whatever reason, I think not eating and mentioning that you just aren’t big on lunch would be less red flag-y then trying to make it look like you’re eating or only eating lettuce. (I think I have such a visceral reaction because eating plain lettuce AND pushing food around on your plate are two tactics that “pro-anorexia” blogs used to promote.)

      1. Rachel*

        To clarify, I by no means think OP has an eating disorder — by “it should be no one’s business if OP has an eating disorder,” I meant that even if people have suspicions based on her actions, it’s none of their business!

    1. Seeking Second Childhood*

      Reading pcake’s comment just above, I was wondering what kind of music “Undressed Salad” would play!

      1. Falling Diphthong*

        “Toniiiiiiiiiiiight! Live! It’s Undressed Salad and the Stunt Apples!

      2. Miss Pantalones en Fuego*

        Acoustic versions of heavy metal and rock songs but with the lyrics changed to be about vegetables. Enter Salad Man, Master of Broccoli, Smells Like Teen Lentils, etc.

    2. TootsNYC*

      nnn’s comment: proof that we are always playing Band or Album.

      Band or Album is the game that knows the truth. That every word or phrase in English could be the name of a band, or of an album, but not both.

      The single correct answer, in each case, is a reflection of the Platonic ideal that is Band or Album, neither opinion nor conjecture, often elusive, and only arrived at through the consensus of playing the game with others. Sometimes augmented by social lubrication.

  7. Gir*

    When I travel for work the flight home is either the second flight within 24-48 hours, or after a long week of training. My glass of wine before the flight home (or on the flight) is my treat to myself for having survived the trip.

    I’m hourly and once had a flight get delayed by almost two hours. I was talking to my boss on the phone catching up on what I missed and when she mentioned that the delay sucked, I shrugged it off saying that I was getting paid overtime to drink a glass of wine and eat an overpriced burger so it wasn’t the worst. She just laughed and agreed.

  8. Tigger*

    LW# 1 – you are good! One drink at the airport or on the flight will not raise eyebrows. I travel a decent amount for work as well and there are many times that my coworkers and I would grab a drink to discuss the trip and I have noticed that their are often many business people having drinks too.
    I have the same attitude about a happy hour or dinner during a work conference.

    1. LegalBeagle*

      Yes I really don’t think one glass of wine before a flight home from work travel is going to be a concern in most professions. You raise a good point that conferences and networking events often have a happy hour or cocktail hour included. Of course everyone needs to know their limits and drink responsibly, but a glass of wine seems innocuous.

      1. Anon for this*

        Oh of course! That is why I have a personal rule of one and done at work things (Christmas parties, conferences, flying etc). I know that I can probably get away with having 2 over 4-5 hours and be good but I don’t want to risk it. We only get one reputation after all :)

  9. MommyMD*

    I’d just quietly leave and not advertise it. I wouldn’t mention the exact time your department is leaving. Goodbyes to all aren’t necessary at work. Your manager is giving you a perk and asking you to lay low about it. If you don’t, it will probably go away. If someone sees you leaving or asks you about it be vague, say I’ll see you later with a smile, and keep going. If there’s a less noticeable way out, use it. It’s not wrong of you to mind your own business. Literally.

    1. Blue Eagle*

      Great answer. No need to go around saying goodbyes to everyone on days you leave early. Also leave more unobtrusively. Don’t make a bit show of getting your stuff together or putting on your coat, etc. Just leave quietly. Maybe take a different route to the exit that avoids your buddies.

      Also, learn to be a bit evasive. You don’t have to answer the question with all the details – you can answer that you have an errand (which is to go home) rather than outing your entire department.

      1. Beta*

        I agree with the above 2 posters. This perk will go away if you keep advertising it. If it’s not natural for you, Practice 1-2 vague answers to let it register in your mind, so it will be ready when you need it.

      2. CMart*

        I generally work 7:30-4:30 though am often in earlier in an office with flexible hours, and I still essentially creep out when I’m packing up before 5pm. It just feels impolite somehow to advertise to the world that I’m leaving “early” while everyone else is still plugging away at their desks.

        It’s not deceptive, it’s circumspect.

    2. Anastasia Beaverhousen*

      All other issues aside, saying goodbye to coworkers when leaving early is potentially disruptive – if they’re still working, let them work! No need to stop & chat about it.

    3. MusicWithRocksInIt*

      I gotta say, if I had this perk and you ruined it because you felt a need to say goodbye to everyone, I would be so annoyed. Please just do your best to be quiet about it.

      1. Quickbeam*

        This happened at my job. A couple people got permission to come in early/leave early daily in our corporate culture of quite rigid start and leave times. A few weeks of “so long suckers!” brought the whole thing to a halt and they lost it.

    4. Kathleen_A*

      The thing is, in just about any organization, different departments have different little perks and it’s best not to dwell on those too much. Your team, OP, gets to leave a little early from time to time. Another team goes out for really fabulous lunches, perhaps. Another has “business-related” golf outings. And so on.

      With these subtle little perks, everybody is happier if they don’t try to compare their department with other departments. If your organization is basically fair and sound, it all more or less evens out in the end and things are fine. But bringing the perk to the notice of others might make them resentful, which invites scrutiny – and that could spoil all perks for everybody.

      So just enjoy your perk quietly, OP – and let other individuals enjoy their perks, too. You’re not keeping a secret, really – you’re keeping the peace, and that’s a lovely thing.

    5. The Other Dawn*

      I agree. At my previous job my boss allowed me to use my judgement and let my team members leave early whenever I felt like I wanted to do that. Before holidays, after a really tough week, things like that. He just asked that I not announce it since we’re still paying them and he also didn’t want other departments to say anything.

      At my current job, we don’t have that luxury due to the timekeeping system we have (clock-in/out here vs. entering time manually at the last place). The department’s core hours are 8:30-4:30 with some flexibility allowed; however, I’ve been told that other departments are jealous and don’t like that we “get to leave early.” Um, no. We’ve all put in a full day, whether it’s 8:30-4:30, 7-3:30, etc. If they want that “perk” for their department, they need to speak to their own manager.

      1. Kat in VA*

        I ran into this, a long while ago. We had an actual punch-in, punch-out time clock at our office (it was the 90s). There were grumblings about how unfair it was that Kat got to clock out at 16:00 every day when everyone else had to stay until 17:00.

        No one seemed to ever hear the actual reason I clocked out at 16:00 every day was because I was there at 07:00, a full hour before everyone else, in order to work with a sales director who was in Georgia (and more often than not, my desk phone would be ringing at 07:01 on the dot).

        The fact that most of my directors were on East Coast time while we were on the West Coast also didn’t register. All they saw was that I got to leave “early” every day, even though I’d put in a full eight hours just like they did.

        It was just whining about a perk – that wasn’t really a perk at all.

        1. Quickbeam*

          I hear you. Many of my clients are on the east coast and I start at 0600 to catch shift change questions. After 10 years I still get evil looks when I leave at 1530. But no one ever ever comes in a minute before 0800.

  10. Heidi*

    OP2: Maybe switching the water bottle for a thermos or other opaque container will throw the food police off the scent. They might get the impression that it’s a meal replacement shake or soup.

    You could also avoid saying you’re fasting by saying something like, “I’m working on a different meal schedule, so I already ate.”

    1. Kathleen_A*

      I like that phrasing a lot. It’s the truth, and yet it’s vague enough to be fairly boring, which means that people probably won’t question it too much.

  11. periwinkle*

    OP #2 – Can you shift your fasting schedule, either regularly or temporarily, to align with lunch meetings? I’m on a 16:8 schedule and usually time it so the fast ends at lunch time. If my schedule is a solid block of meetings around that time – and it often is – I’ll adjust when fasting time starts so I get the 16 hours.

    Doesn’t always work, though. Recently, emergent meetings have resulted in a few unplanned 20-hour fasts, leading me to contemplate the nutritional value of whiteboard markers…

    If that doesn’t work for you, deflect and distract in a casual tone. “Nah, I’m good, I’ve got coffee.”

  12. Working together*

    #5 I don’t think it’s weird. My partner and I met at work when we were in the same department. We then both left within three months of each other (it was an awful place, I think I started a mutiny and six people left in total) and we went to new jobs. I loved mine, my partner didn’t love his. 18 months later, my company is recruiting. I send over my partner’s CV and he aces the interview and gets the job. We now work for the same company again.

    One benefit you have is that with each new company, you’re new to them so they don’t see your whole history of working together.

    The big benefit we have, is that we can now use a car sharing parking permit, which is 10% of the cost of a standard parking permit in this city.

    1. WonderingHowIGotIntoThis*

      You have pretty much explained mine and my hubby’s working & married life in the same amount of detail! (Including the car parking permit!)
      It’s probably even more common that we can attest to. You’ll be fine #5

      1. OP5*

        My new office is 30+ minutes’ drive/1hr his from my house, and our old office was five minutes. Both of us working at the same place would open up a whole new world of opportunity for commuting, seeing as we only have one car!

        1. Res Admin*

          My spouse and I have worked for the same employer for 20 years or so. It is the only significant employer in the area. One of the bonuses employers that we share our long commute and the cost of parking (which is significant). Our employer also passes along a cost savings on health insurance and other benefits when both spouses work for them.

          The only thing slightly negative that has ever come up was once when interviewing for a position, the director asked if I would have any problems working in the same unit as my spouse. I assured him that it would not be a problem and everything was fine (I ended up not taking that position for other reasons–and, again, no problem).

          On the really positive side, when spouse’s position was eliminated several years ago, everyone in my unit rallied around to help find a new position for spouse. That ultimately did not play a role in finding the current position, however the show of support was really comforting.

          Bottomline, spouses working for the same employer can really work out well. It is a matter of knowing yourself and your spouse. It sounds like your employer is very open to the idea as well. (Caveat: This would not work in an industry that is known for high turnover–where you could both get caught up in layoffs or something like that).

          1. OP5*

            My husband and I are in totally different departments (teapot testing bs. teapot marketing), and at our last company we just got double the insurance coverage and it was magical.

    2. Psyche*

      Yep. How many people will see both resumes side by side and connect the dots? It really won’t matter.

    3. SpaceySteph*

      My husband and I work for the same company, different departments. We don’t carpool as often as we should.

      Funniest moment is when I moved from one department to another and started working closely with someone who in his previous department had worked closely with my husband. Maybe 3 months after I started there he saw me and my husband walking in together from the parking lot and said to me “I just realized. Jane Smith. John Smith. You guys are married!” (Note our last name is not Smith, and it is not as common: there are 3 total people in our company sharing the same last name. The third is unrelated and works in a different state.)

      So yeah, people really don’t connect these dots unless you point it out.

      1. WonderingHowIGotIntoThis*

        People don’t always connect the dots even after you point it out…

        1. OP5*

          I actually kept my maiden name, so that’s not even an issue. At our last place, a bunch of people didn’t realize until the holiday party, and it was a pretty small office!

  13. FD*

    #2- I’m wondering if maybe you could say, “No thanks, I’m not much of a lunch person.” That would communicate the effect of the intermittent fasting without using the term (and I think you’re right that when you say ‘fasting’, people will comment on your diet).

    If asked follow-up questions, you could maybe use, “You know how some people don’t eat breakfast? I tend to not be hungry at lunch instead. Don’t worry about me though, let’s focus on [x].”

    The thing I like about this is that it sets the expectation that you normally don’t eat lunch (but if there’s a day your schedule’s different, it wouldn’t be weird for you to eat). Because it’s phrased more as a preference than as a diet, I think people will probably ask fewer questions about it.

    1. Carlie*

      I like that. I was thinking along the lines of “eating in the middle of the day usually makes me queasy”, because of how many people skip breakfast for that reason. But yours allows for the occasional eating of lunch, which is much more flexible!

    2. Miss Pantalones en Fuego*

      I think you should be able to just say “I’m planning to eat later” and leave it at that. Invent dinner plans if you must. Trying to explain that you just don’t like to eat lunch might end up inviting all kinds of invasive questions anyway.

    3. Rusty Shackelford*

      The thing I like about this is that it sets the expectation that you normally don’t eat lunch

      But that’s actually a flaw in this plan, because the LW doesn’t always skip lunch. And the people who ask why you’re not eating today are the people who are likely to say “but you ate lunch at the last meeting!”

      1. fposte*

        Then you add “these days.” It makes it clear that this is a development, not a permanent state.

        And it’s not the end of the world if somebody says “But you had lunch last time!” She can just say “Yeah, sometimes I do, but mostly I skip it.”

        1. Rusty Shackelford*

          None of this is end-of-the-world serious, but the LW considers these conversations “emotionally draining” and calls the questions “intrusive,” so anything that shuts it down rather than opening up further discussion would probably be preferable.

          1. fposte*

            Oh, absolutely. I’m meaning mostly that there’s no comment the OP could give that will shut down every single possible followup question, so you want to not overdrain yourself with trying to design one. And that followup is a pretty easy one that doesn’t have to go into her diet, which is what she really wants to avoid.

      2. Clisby*

        The OP didn’t say she doesn’t always skip lunch. She said she’s practicing intermittent fasting, which indeed might mean she skips every lunch. One form of intermittent fasting is to, say, eat breakfast around 7 a.m. and dinner around 7 p.m., with nothing in between. Another is to eat only one huge meal a day.

  14. Savannnah*

    #2- my previous two bosses never ate lunch and they just said ‘I don’t eat lunch’ and that was that. As we got closer I later learned on both occasions the reason why (boss 1 had been a refugee and was used to one meal a day and boss 2 made poor choices for lunch so abstained) but no one made a fuss at lunch meetings, of which we had plenty over the years. Might take away the mystery of fasting just to be blunt about it.

  15. Fey*

    #2: I’m a Muslim and currently fasting for Ramadan. My country is 15% Muslim and non-Muslims say nothing more when you decline food and drink in this period with the reason “no, thank you, I’m fasting” because they know what it entails. They even apologise for “forgetting”, which they really don’t have to because I don’t expect them to remember. Some even go so far as to apologise if they eat in front of those who are fasting (e.g. at their desk) – again, not at all necessary. I have absolutely no qualms outing my reason for not eating and drinking and explaining if asked, but I completely understand that it’s different for an introvert. I have no advice except to say that I sympathise and wish that people would not be so nosy about one’s food intake and food choices.

    P.S. There is more than one version of freedom and this is mine. No rude comments about my choice to have a religion, please. I’ve been a reader of AAM long enough to know the comments section here does not tolerate religion too well. :)

    1. The Grammarian*

      Just want to say “there is more than one version of freedom.” What an eloquent way to put it!

      This letter (about not eating lunch) resonates with me. I have a very small appetite due to medical issues and I feel very self-conscious when colleagues ask me why I’m not eating. I generally say, “I’m not that hungry right now.” There are usually no more questions after that. I personally skip dinner because I’ve had more than I can handle earlier in the day, so it makes team dinners and social nights out a little awkward for me. People in the US tend to push food and drink on people insistently.

      1. The Grammarian*

        I meant to say I liked how you phrased it when you spoke about your freedom to practice religion.

        1. Fey*

          Thank you!

          In my country, across all the different cultures, the second question people ask each other after “how are you?” is “have you eaten?” People here love to eat and love to see you eat, too. But still nobody pushes as far as what I’ve seen in US examples on AAM concerning food choices and eating habits.

          I’m glad your colleagues don’t push too much either! There needs to be more coworkers like yours. :)

          1. fposte*

            To be fair, you only hear about the problem children here–I really don’t hear much of that kind of thing in my U.S. life.

      2. Dragoning*

        We do, and it can be an issue, but it’s really because of the way American hospitality and courtesy manifest. People trying to push food and drink on people are usually trying to make them comfortable and feel welcomed and taken care of.

        Even if the person in question doesn’t want that.

        1. Dragoning*

          (and we aren’t the only culture that does it–think of all the Hispanic abuelas making sure you eat a third or fourth serving)

          1. CmdrShepard4ever*

            Yes growing up my parents always told us when we visited someone if they offered us something to eat we should always accept even it was a small token amount. This applied even if we literally just got done eating a big meal at home/restaurant. They didn’t want us to waste food so they also told us if we were not hungry to ask for a small portion, and when the host usually serves a bigger portion than you can eat to split it with someone else or put some of it back (before touching any of it).

          2. TootsNYC*

            I think EVERY culture does this.

            That’s what hospitality is–food and drink and a place to sit.

        2. TootsNYC*

          this is so funny to me, because in my many-generations-long American family, nobody pushes food.

          It’s offered, sure. But nobody bothers you..

          My European mother-in-law (Yugoslavian, which is much like the stereotypical Italian) ended up getting an intervention from me about how she needed to stop pushing food at me at the dinner table, since I was 35 and hadn’t died of starvation yet, and her constant pressure to eat more food was making me want to avoid coming to her house.


          The idea that this is unique to America is just funny to me.

    2. Laura H.*

      Ramadan Mubarak, friend!

      I hope I’m using the phrase correctly and apologize if not!

      Mentioning fasting (whether for religious purposes or diet reasons) weirds some people out for reasons I don’t understand. As a Catholic, I’m required to fast twice a year (to a much, much lesser extent than other religious requirements) to the extent of (at most) 2 small meals and one larger meal, and the two small meals combined cannot exceed the larger meal, and no snacks between meals.

      I usually err on the side of less because the spirit of this act of fasting is meant to be an act of solidarity with the poor.

      Having someone comment on it (which I’ve avoided but I bet it happens…) would take my focus elsewhere and that’s not at all a good thing.

      Hoping and praying to ur month is spiritually fruitful for you, Fey!

      1. Iron Chef Boyardee*

        “Mentioning fasting (whether for religious purposes or diet reasons) weirds some people out for reasons I don’t understand.”

        I would guess that one reason could be that in our food-based culture, the idea of having to refrain from eating (as opposed to doing so voluntarily) is not a concept one can easily deal with.

        1. TootsNYC*

          also, the US is heavily Protestant, and most Protestants rejected some of the “showier” aspects of the Roman Catholic practice (confession, fasting, the rosary, some others).

      2. Fey*

        Thank you, Laura! And yes, you’re using the phrase perfectly.

        To be in solidarity with the poor is one of the reasons why we fast in Ramadan, too. We have so much more in common than we think. :)

    3. Kesnit*

      At my last job (5 people, 1 of them at an off-site office), the boss and office manager (boss’s wife) are Muslim. I was there through 2 months of Ramadan. I always felt weird eating lunch in the office when I knew they were fasting. It didn’t stop me from eating lunch, but I did try to take my food to the microwave when neither were in a place to see me, and I closed my office door to eat.

      I have always been impressed by people who do fast, especially in the longer days of summer.

      1. Fey*

        That was very thoughtful of you to refrain from eating in front of them. I’m sure most Muslims would rush to say that you didn’t have to, me included. After all, fasting is not so much about making sure there is an absence of food/drink, but to carry on resisting despite the presence of it. But reading what you wrote about feeling weird, maybe it’s nice to let people choose to be respectful, or to do whatever they’re comfortable with. Yeah, maybe I’ll start doing that actually…

        I live near the equator, so dawn and sunset times are pretty much the same throughout the year. I can’t even imagine fasting for more than 13 hours. I take my hat off to those who fast for upwards of 17 hours a day and in the heat of the summer too. It can’t be easy. Three Ramadans ago I went to London on a work trip and I totally chickened out of fasting. (Though I was exempt anyway, as travellers are exempt from fasting.) Ramadan does go up by 11 days every year though, so in a few years Ramadan will fall in the spring, and gradually winter, and then those northern hemisphere folks will fast for less than 10 hours!

        1. Friendly Muslim*

          As an East Coast Muslim, it’s not great, but I will say Allah has been great on cutting me breaks when I needed it – including making sure that I wasn’t fasting on my first week of work + moving

          1. Fey*

            Our breaks always come at a time we need them, sis. ;)

            Ramadan Mubarak to you! May Allah ease all of your affairs and accept your fast and good deeds this Ramadan, ameen yra.

      2. Friendly Muslim*

        I promise you, most Muslims don’t mind if you eat in front of them! We know food exists, we’re gonna be hungry anyway, it really, really doesn’t bother us.

    4. Sharrbe*

      I can only speak for myself, but I respect other’s choice in religion. The problems start when some try to impose their religious values on others, and harshly judge those who do not share them. You did not do that here. In fact, you go out of your way to explain that your faith doesn’t compel you to impose your practices on others. You are very gracious and kind to those around you who don’t practice the same way, and you don’t seek to make yourself the center of attention. That is, honestly, is what faith is all about. Although I am not a religious person, I can completely respect and honor that.

      1. EOA*

        As a person of faith, the problem often comes in (here at AAM and elsewhere) is that as soon as you say you practice any faith, the immediate assumption is that you are “trying to impose your religious values on others.” So sometimes you have to jump through a few hoops preemptively, as Fey did here, to say “I’m not that kind of person of faith.” It’s tiresome.

        1. Fey*

          Yeah, I’ve seen the phrase “virtue signalling” bandied around, and it completely baffles me! How is my, for example, choosing not to drink alcohol for personal reasons (religious reasons fall under personal reasons) virtue signalling?! There are definitely people who do impose their religious values on others, but there are also people who choose to feel the heat when there is no heat directed at them. Oy.

          1. Jennifer Thneed*

            Virtue signaling isn’t actions, it’s talk. It isn’t the fact that you do something (or refrain from doing it), it’s that you announce to people that you do it (or refrain from doing it). (Well, I can think of one action that I’d call virtue signalling, and that’s when you use a literal signal: a t-shirt with a slogan, or a BIG religious symbol pendant.)

            If you were boasting about not drinking, that would be very different from just declining an offer of a drink. Does that make sense?

            1. Fey*

              Yep, makes sense. I, for one, stop at “no, thanks, I don’t drink” and don’t care that other people drink. I don’t feel uncomfortable, I don’t slyly ask,”How many drinks have you had tonight?” or whatever. I actually do not care. It’s definitely annoying if one were to do that.

      2. Fey*

        The problems start when some try to impose their religious values on others, and harshly judge those who do not share them.

        THIS. People really need to start realising that people have their own thing, and to let people be!

    5. Larz*

      I’m lucky to work in a place where several people are fasting for Ramadan and it’s no big deal!

    6. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      When I saw the letter, I honestly just thought “Well it’s Ramadan”, then realized that people fast for other reasons as well of course.

      People are frigging weird about food. Their food. Other people’s food. All the food! I have massive food issues stemming from ED as a teenager. So I just like when people don’t talk about it. Thankfully I work with adults who may say “Oh not hungry?” in passing if we’re having a staff lunch and then go about their life. Even that can be an issue for some people but at least it’s not pestering or digging at “Why u no eat the fud?”

  16. Ella Vader*

    When I worked for a different government, there was some policy and also some not-explicit expectation that we shouldn’t give any members of the public unnecessary reasons to complain about us being unprofessional, slacking off, or drinking on the taxpayer’s dime. So, not being obviously drunk or being a jerk about it on the after-hours flight home, but also not mentioning in the airport bar who we worked for, putting away our business-card luggage tags, etc.

    1. NYWeasel*

      The part about working for a state agency struck me too. There are often much stricter guidelines for those employees than out in the public sector. But that said, I know some state employees here that regularly host events that include alcohol. So it’s probably a YMMV situation.

    2. CheeryO*

      Yeah, I work for a state agency and don’t fly for work, but we try to be low-key when traveling in general. Don’t park the marked car out front at a brewery or fancy restaurant, don’t wear your logo gear after hours if you’re going to be drinking, etc. Everything is always on the up-and-up, but it’s easier to not give anyone a reason to get all “muh tax dollars!”

      1. Ali G*

        It’s so weird to me because every person I know who works for the government can’t expense alcohol! So it’s their own money! I guess you could argue that someone could go really cheap on meals and use their per diem to cover drinks, but really? Per diems in most cities are like $60. That’s barely enough for nice dinner and a glass of wine, let alone a whole day of meals and incidentals. No one is getting drunk on your tax dollars!

        1. Rusty Shackelford*

          I guess your average taxpayer doesn’t know that, though. Optics. :-P

          1. Observer*

            I’d go further – your average taxpayer absolutely does NOT know this. And given all the stories about mis-spent funds, it’s not surprising.

            1. Hapless Bureaucrat*

              And those stories won’t go out of their way to point it out, either.

          2. EOA*

            Your average taxpayer will often believe that “they pay your salary,” therefore they get to dictate all of your behavior.

        2. CmdrShepard4ever*

          I feel like a lot of people in the US think that government workers should all be low paid. Thus if a government employee can afford to pay for drinks or a fancy dinner on their own it means they are being paid to much. This is not right and I don’t agree with it, but I think that is the logic behind people who say “my tax dollars, or we pay your salary.”

      2. Environmental Compliance*

        I’ve worked for a couple state agencies and a county agency. One was in very much northern WI, where the presence of bars is….well, there’s a lot of bars. And a lot of them have really good food. And when you’re out in the boonies and want to get lunch, sometimes the only thing within 20 minutes is a pub. But we’d park about 2 blocks down, since our truck was logo’d up. Otherwise we’d get a phone call to the office within about 2 hours of “tax dollars at work!!1!” Dude, it’s noon. We wanted a burger and curly fries. Neither of us really even drink, let alone at noon on a Tuesday. If ya’ll could spend that same energy calling in the absolutely wasted boaters at the boat landing a good 25 feet away, that’d be nice.

        However, I will say one of the funniest phone calls I’ve ever accidentally overheard was a call-in to (at a different agency) our director, in which apparently one of our staff members was caught parking the state car outside an adult store….for a couple hours. Director just put his head on the desk for a few minutes.

    3. just a random teacher*

      Yeah, government jobs can be really strict about these things. Both the optics of “lazy government workers getting drunk on the taxpayer’s dime” and, in some cases, issues of some of the state’s citizens having a moral objection to alcohol and wanting “their employees” to also follow their moral guidelines on (and possibly off) the clock.

      As a teacher, we get a lot of that “everyone else expects us to live a ‘moral’ life” kind of issue. When I lived in a smaller town, I would not even buy alcohol at the grocery store in the town I lived in but rather drove to a nearby larger city. Now that I teach in a larger and less-conservative place I don’t worry about that, but it’s amazing how much control some people think they should have over the private choices of government employees.

      1. singularity*

        I’m a teacher also. I’ve made all of my social media difficult to find and have set my privacy settings as high as they will go, just so that students or parents won’t track me down that way. Thankfully, I live in a large enough area that I don’t have to worry about running into students at the grocery store. Teacher’s are held to this very elevated moral standard in the private lives. I had a (former) co-worker that parents would say such terrible things about because she drove a nice Mercedes. Her husband had a much better paying job, but that didn’t matter… How dare she have a luxury car?! She should be spending her salary on extra supplies for her students!

      2. blackcat*

        Yes, this. I think it’s a combination of holding some people (teachers) to higher moral standards, and also having a sense of entitlement over the lives of people whose salary you “pay.”
        I taught at a private school that was generally pretty liberal about a lot of things (despite being in a conservative-ish area). One parent found out I lived with my then boyfriend and FLIPPED OUT. Stormed into my boss’s office and went on a tirade about how the school was funding my sinful lifestyle. My boss thought it was funny, but did tell me as an “FYI if you hear from this Dad, send him to me immediately. Do not speak to him without me present because he is looking for a way to take you down.”

  17. lufthansa sommelier*

    Ghod forbid a business traveller in business class partake of on-board Rioja. That would never happen.

        1. OP#1*

          So true! Definitely not in business class, and the state does not reimburse for alcohol, of course.

  18. Asenath*

    OP 4 – There’s really not much you can do other than say nothing has been decided yet – and I say that as someone who regularly panicked during part of the time I was working on contract. It was during a period when I had a series of annual contracts, I would have to return to the worst job of my life if my contract wasn’t renewed, and sometimes there were tensions beyond my control between the organization I worked for and the one that issued the contract. The fact I was convinced I’d have to return to the old job that was so terrible for me, and that I didn’t have any control at all over the outcome contributed largely to my worry and stress and fear, and both were my problems, nothing my managers could help with, although they did try to calm me. They weren’t at a level to control the outcome of the negotiations. I let myself get into a bad frame of mind – obviously, I didn’t have to return to the hated job if worse came to worst; there are others, but I wasn’t thinking rationally and couldn’t have been argued out of my fears. Later contracts, which I handled myself, were less stressful since I knew in advance they were going to be for a certain period, so I didn’t go through the ups and downs of wondering if they were going to be extended, and I knew could take the initiative and apply for new ones. But really, I’m best suited for a more steady work arrangement, and maybe Veronica is too. Right now, she needs to know that there aren’t any answers yet, and she needs to figure out how to calm herself down.

    1. OP4*

      She wants to keep her job, as far as I know, and she will. Her agency performs a very specific service for my company which is why we can’t drop them — even if we found a similar agencies the processes are so enmeshed it would cost more to start over.

      1. Asenath*

        It sounds like she has more job security than I did in a similar situation, which makes her anxiety harder to understand. I suppose all a manager can do is repeat what you’ve said – unless her anxiety is reaching such a pitch that it might be appropriate to suggest seeing someone at EAP or something like that.

      2. Beta*

        Anytime Veronica comes to me asking for update, I’d just say ‘I understand you want to know this, but we can’t disclose anything until final decision has been made. Please talk to your agency’.

      3. Sara without an H*

        Hi, OP4, thanks for the additional information. You need to urge Archie to have a heart-to-heart with Veronica before her panic spreads to her co-workers. While I understand, and can certainly sympathize with how nerve-wracking this must be, the level of anxiety you describe is contagious. I can’t improve on Alison’s script, but I really think the conversation needs to happen quickly.

      4. Observer*

        Is it possible that SHE could lose her job for any reason even if the contract stays in place?

        Because while it’s nice to give her whatever reassurance you can honestly give her, she NEEDS to back off. It’s not just exhausting, she’s wildly over-stepping in trying to read over people’s shoulders and eavesdropping. It might be a good thing for her manager to make her realize that her behavior is a far greater risk to her job, than the negotiations going on now.

      5. ManderGimlet*

        But you can’t guarantee that; as you say you have little involvement in this negotiation. While I think you should say something to the effect of the advice given, you are being glibly naive as to what a failed negotiation can result in for your employees. Many, MANY experienced contract workers are let go all the time (read the archives) even if the costs seem greater. You cannot in any way guarantee this woman’s continued employment, so be compassionate about her (very real) fears when managing her behavior at work.

  19. Akcipitrokulo*

    OP3 – “Should I be concerned about not being able to be discreet?”


    Regardless of what it’s about – regardless of whether you think it’s reasonable or not – your manager asked you to be discreet and you “ended up blurting out…”. That is a problem, and I think it reflects well on you that you’ve recognised it!

    It is a problem. The subject matter doesn’t matter; your discretion does, and I hope it goes well trying to tackle it!

    One starting point is to try to avoid situations where it may happen – for example, going round to say goodbye to everyone. It might also be worth practicing casual redirection.

    1. Build Trust*

      Yes, as a manager I’d be very concerned about a lack of discretion in this case carrying over into other situations. Red flag for me.

    2. Hey Karma, Over Here*

      This. It’s work, not a neighborhood get together. …here’s the thing. If you are salaried non exempt, your boss can’t really let you leave early, but may choose too. If you are willing to get her reprimanded and have your department lose this little privilege because you want to say goodbye to your friends, I really question your judgment.

      1. fposte*

        I think it’s mostly just not getting that she can’t have both. Sometimes it’s not always immediately realized that advantages you’re enjoying can’t be universal.

    3. Colette*

      Yeah, if you can’t be discreet you can’t work on products that aren’t common knowledge, be in a management position where you provide feedback on performance, or be in the loop about budgets/layoff plans. Being discreet is important – just because something is true doesn’t mean it has to be general knowledge.

        1. Akcipitrokulo*

          Very much so. You need to be able not to gossip about things. Sometimes it’s minor – sometimes it’s not – but having a reputation for being trustworthy and discreet is important.

  20. Asenath*

    OP 1 – I see nothing wrong with a drink before a flight, even if you are working. Some people work on the plane, but it’s not usually required (and I, for one, wouldn’t be able to do it!), and it’s not as though you were getting drunk in public and embarrassing yourself and your employer.

    OP 3 – Best not to mention exactly when you’re going home or to go around calling attention to your departure by saying “good-bye” to everyone – I’d suspect that your manager has her reasons, and they probably involve something like her being ordered to keep you until official closing time, if people in other departments complain that you’re getting something they aren’t.

  21. AvonLady Barksdale*

    #1: It just occurred to me that before every flight home with my boss, he and I have gone to the airport early and hit the wine bar. And he charges it to the company. So in my opinion, you’re just fine.

    1. Ali G*

      Yeah I’ve had drinks at the airport bar with my boss, CEO, Board Chair, etc. too many times to count. I typically try to get to the airport a bit early to eat (to avoid eating on the plane), and if the timing is OK, I’ll have a drink with my meal. It’s no big deal.

      1. CmdrShepard4ever*

        I work for a non-profit they will not reimburse for alcohol due to the optics, but my boss has mentioned grabbing a drink before the flight and/or during the flight sometimes. They usually don’t work during the flight especially if it is an off hours flight. But even grabbing a drink and working on the plane during a work hours flight I think would be okay.

        1. De Minimis*

          My former non-profit employer sponsored a lot of events with alcohol. We just didn’t use any grant money to pay for alcohol, we’d use our unrestricted funds.

          1. CmdrShepard4ever*

            Yes we have fundraisers and other events that do have alcohol, that the non-profit pays for or gets donated. But on a day to day basis for a team lunches, someone traveling etc they will not pay for alcohol. We are free to pay for our own if we want. My feeling is that even not using grant money, they don’t want the optics of unrestricted donated money to pay for employee drinks.

      2. Psyche*

        Yeah, I tend to get the airport early because I am nervous about how long it will take to get though security. I then use that time to eat and grab a drink (unless security actually did take a long time).

    2. TootsNYC*

      I don’t think you can use your example as evidence for our OP. Our OP works for government, and has explicit rules.

  22. Luna*

    #5: I can see why you’d think it’s weird, but since your employers are the ones who brought up your husband potentially working for the company in the first place, I don’t think there will be problems. I could see your point, if *you* were the one to bring up giving your husband one of the open positions.

    1. OP5*

      He actually received a call from our HR department this week, so clearly they don’t mind at all!

      1. Hey Karma, Over Here*

        He’s a known quantity. That’s 50% of the interview process right there.

    2. Gene Parmesan*

      My husband and I have worked at the same place before, and it’s never been a problem. We were Peace Corps volunteers together (it would be very unusual for married spouses to not be PCVs together!). We’ve also worked at the same employer/department for a couple years, where I was in something of a long-term temp position, and it went fine. We’ve been at separate employers for several years, but I’m going to leave my position in about a month and start a new job at his (very large) organization, but in separate departments. I like working at the same place because we can drive together sometimes and eat lunch together.

      1. OP5*

        It’s super convenient. Our last job was a five minute drive; this new one is 30+ minutes, so being able to commute together would be delightful.

  23. Roscoe*

    #3 . Why do you find it so hard to be discreet about leaving early? Like do you feel the need to say goodbyes to everyone on your way out at all times? That is probably just distracting to others. Also, how do you just blurt out that you are leaving? This seems like you may just not be able to keep your mouth shut about anything.

    It doesn’t matter WHY your manager asked you to keep it quiet, just do it. Or else you may lose a perk for everyone on your team, and that will make you an outcast

    1. CMart*

      Yes, the “ended up blurting out” part stuck out to me as well. Because… how?

      Alternative ways to respond to a colleague who says “we’re getting to leave early because of Holiday!”

      – “That’s awesome!”
      – “Oh how nice. Have a great Holiday/weekend.”
      – “What are you going to do with your extra time?”
      – And if they ask if you are leaving too, “we sometimes get to, so maybe!”

      And if on a different day when it’s just your department, if someone sees you leaving and asks “hey, are you leaving already?” you can channel your inner Midwesterner and say “yep, just sneaking out.”

      There is zero need to get into detail!

  24. Tehmorp*

    I recommend the amazing book “You Too Can Have a Body Like Mine” by Alexandra Kleemann .

    You’ll know why it’s relevant after you read it, but I’m pretty much always looking for a reason to recommend it. If you didn’t like her short stories, please don’t let that deter you; neither did I!

    1. Hey Karma, Over here.*

      Is this for OP 2 and the fasting? Because that’s kind of awesome.

    2. IF*

      I don’t think this follows community rules. If I’m reading your comment correctly based on my knowledge of this book, this is to insinuate that OP is starving herself. If that’s the case it’s a really unfair characterization and you shouldn’t food shame people. If I misunderstand then I apologize

      1. Tehmorp*

        No! It’s because of the awesome but fantastical (not realistic to do) plastic food suggestion! That book’s not a metaphor for anorexia or something, it’s a surreal fantasy!

  25. hbc*

    OP1: If you’re not finding your answer in the letter of the law, then I think we can look at intent. The rule about not drinking during work hours is so that no one is too impaired to do their job well and for appearances. So as long as you can still do your work (i.e.: get on the plane and travel home) and you’re no where near causing an appearance problem (buying shots with Govt Dept credit card, drunkenly handing out business cards, smelling of booze as you head into the office, etc), you’re in the clear.

    1. Angwyshaunce*

      I like to look at this question from another angle. Is it inappropriate to nap on a plane during a work trip since they presumably shouldn’t be napping at the office? I should hope not.

  26. deskjockey*

    #5: It may not be common in your field, but it happens all the time in academia and medicine

    1. OP5*

      I’m not sure it’s uncommon; my industry is relatively small, and I know a number of people who work or have worked with their patterns. I was mostly worried about the optics of him following me from one company to the next. But everyone’s positivity has certainly put my mind at ease.

  27. ThisColumnMakesMeGratefulForMyBoss*

    #1 – yes your husband is being ridiculous. As you said, unless you’re expected to work on the flight, you’re perfectly fine to have a drink to unwind.
    #2 – I would just stick to “I’m fine, thanks”. Once you say it enough, people will stop asking. This falls under the “No” is a complete sentence IMO (and when I say that, I simply mean no explanation is needed, not necessarily that you just say the word NO). You don’t want to share you eating habits, and your colleagues are not entitled to know more than you’re willing to share. If you use an “excuse” or “reason”, you’re inviting people to ask more questions.

    1. bonkerballs*

      I think when the meal is catered as OP describes, just saying “I’m fine, thanks” would open up discussions of whether OP has dietary restrictions that aren’t being met by the food provided. I know that would happen at my office if we catered a lunch and one person wasn’t eating and then things would get more awkward as our ED or whoever put on the lunch tried to come up with options for you to eat. I think you’ve got to make it a little more clear that you’re not eating because of the timing of lunch (not hungry, have a meal planned for later, etc) rather than because of what food is bring provided and just saying “I’m fine” will have people thinking it’s the latter but you don’t want to complain.

      1. vampire physicist*

        Eh, as someone who’s had to turn down work meals for a whole variety of reasons (allergies and religious reasons) “I’m fine, thanks” said politely shuts things down more often than not in my experience. If someone pushes back or asks how they can accommodate you then you can get into specifics and indicate the problem is the timing, and there will always be people who truly cannot fathom that you are in fact fine, but no use catering (pun…kind of intended?) to those outliers.

      2. ThisColumnMakesMeGratefulForMyBoss*

        Then you shut it down, with another, “Nope, I’m good”. OP does not need to explain herself to make her colleagues more comfortable with the situation – if they’re uncomfortable because she’s not eating, that’s their problem.

  28. Death Rides a Pale Volvo*

    #5: HA! That’s nothin’! My husband and I worked at the same company four times in a row! It’s not weird, although you will get the inevitable question: “Aren’t you two sick of each other yet?”

    1. OP5*

      I’ve already been asked that by coworkers in company #1! At the time we also rented rooms to two other colleagues, as well, so our house was the unofficial company house.

  29. quirkypants*

    I wish more people took OP2’s approach:
    “I would never venture to comment or even really form an opinion on someone else’s food choices.”

    I collected these from friends recently…
    Vegan? Sick of being asked about it and people acting like it must be SO HARD. Also, there’s no need to apologize for eating meat in front of me, I promise.
    Celiac? I’m sick of talking about food all the time, and especially the question “What happens if you have gluten?!” (I don’t want to talk about it).
    Not eating? I’m fasting. I’m sick of talking about it. Also, tired of people acting like it must be SO HARD.
    Not eating? I’m nauseous and feel like I’m about to vomit. I really don’t want to talk about it!
    Eating something low-cal or healthy? I might be on a diet. Or I might just prefer this food. I don’t want to get into a talk about calories or be praised for eating healthy.
    Eating something a bit odd? It’s a weird pregnancy craving. But I don’t want to tell people I’m pregnant yet.

    The list goes on…

    Just let people eat!

    1. Delta Delta*

      I took an etiquette class once (and I loved it!) when I was a kid. A lesson I remember was that if you’re eating something, or going to have a piece of gum or candy or whatever while with other people, you always offer some to the others. People are free to accept or decline. Then you eat your food/candy/gum/coffee/cigarette (that’s how long ago this was) and you move on with your life.

      tl;dr – offering is polite, and when someone declines, take them at their word.

  30. Delta Delta*

    #1 – Having a glass of wine at the airport before boarding the flight home seems entirely reasonable. By the spouse’s logic, the business traveller could not have a drink at all during a business trip. That seems unreasonable, as there’s plenty of downtime/after-work time when someone might have a drink with a meal, etc.

    #2 – I am in love with the phrase “Stunt Apple” and I imagine it will be only moments before a regular commenter uses that as their name, and “Stunt Apple Training” becomes a new job example. (grinning)

    #4 – It seems like the manager should do what is possible to quell the employee’s (likely legitimate) fears about having continued employment. I worked somewhere once that was highly dependent upon a large government contract. Management was unhappy with its terms and, in “negotiation” postured that the contract would not be renewed if the government didn’t make it bigger. Newer employees knew about all this and were absolutely panicked. Management said everyone’s jobs were safe, but they were still really worried. Realistically, they knew that if a third of the company’s income went away because management did not re-sign this contract, that there just wasn’t enough money to pay people. Two people started actively looking for new jobs because a) the real possibility they’d lose their jobs anyway and b) the stress of not knowing wasn’t worth it. So, although this situation might be different, I totally understand where Veronica’s panic comes from.

    1. Murphy*

      I laughed really hard at “Stunt Apple” and now I’m tempted to change my name to Stunt Apple.

    2. Weegie*

      I know! ‘Stunt apple’ really made me laugh this morning – it’s total genius.

      I did also start thinking of other film-related terms: ‘lunch double’ or ‘stand-in apple’ came to mind, but they are nothing compared to the mighty stunt apple.

      1. That Californian*

        “Lunch double” makes me picture LW sending in some dude wearing a wig to look like their hair to the meeting to eat the lunch, and then switching back like nothing happened once lunch was over, which is a very enjoyable image.

      2. emmelemm*

        I loved it too! “My stunt apple absorbs all the food-related punches other people throw at me.”

  31. Hazelthyme*

    #1, I think my approach to drinking on work flights is similar to yours. I almost never drink on the way to a client site, even if there’s no chance of my still being under the influence by the time I got there (i.e., one drink at the start of a 5 hour flight). One, I’m usually working on flights to work; two, I don’t want to risk spilling some on myself and then showing up at work smelling of wine; and three, I have family and personal reasons to be mindful of how often and under what circumstances I drink alone. I might make an exception if I’m flying on Sunday night and am mostly done working by the time the cart comes around, but otherwise I abstain.

    Flights home on Thursday or Friday are different. At that point, I’m not going to see any clients or colleagues or even take any calls till at least the next day, and maybe till Monday morning. And one of the results of front-loading my hours for the week is that I’m usually done working by the time I get on the plane, or at least within the first hour of the flight. At that point, if I feel like enjoying an adult beverage while I watch Bohemian Rhapsody, so be it.

    1. Delta Delta*

      re spilling – I had a flight attendant catch her foot on a seat near mine and stumble, and while she did, ended up spilling about half a bottle of white wine on my pants. During the first hour of a flight. From New York to Japan. Fourteen hours later my pants were still damp and I smelled like wine. It was a total mistake, but stuff like that happens. In that situation it was someone else’s mistake, but I could also see spilling all over myself and having to deal with it for the rest of the day.

  32. Magna Carta*

    This is not important at all. But I am loving the use of the name “Archie” here, especially since the Game of Thrones name post. Not sure if it was meant to slyly refer to Prince Harry and Duchess Meghan’s new son Archie. I think that could be a new way to put names in – “Our CEO Liz never does anything! But her pick Charlie expects to take over from her! The next level down, Bill and Henry, are playing the publicity game. Everyone LOVES their teams, but Henry just has a certain appeal that Bill lacks, and now Henry has Archie on his side! Should Georgie, Charlotte and Louie on Bill and Katie’s team do anything?!”

        1. fposte*

          Oh, I bet you’re right. I always forget about that, but I have colleagues who are obsessed.

  33. hbc*

    OP3: You have that rule because those very nice, friendly coworkers are going to go to their manager and ask why your group gets to leave early all the time. (Or maybe not them, but their less friendly colleagues who overhear.) . Then their manager gets annoyed and talks to your manager about how this (apparent) unfairness is causing problems in her group.

    Or you’ll get known as the department that always leaves early, and any time something doesn’t get through your group quickly, it’ll be perceived that it’s because you guys never put in a full week’s work. Or if there’s talk of layoffs, everyone figures your department is overstaffed. Or your manager gets a reputation for being the softest, and people start treating your department as a dumping ground.

    Perks are nice, but being known for getting special perks generates resentment.

    1. Trout 'Waver*

      100% agree. There are lots of reasons why one team might not enjoy the flexibility to leave early. I’ve been on a team where I couldn’t leave early because my boss was a jerk about it. It was annoying, but it would have been even worse if the people who could leave early announced that they were doing so every time they did.

      On the flip side, some jobs require coverage so people can’t leave early. Sometimes people on those teams can get a bit jealous of people working jobs that allow them to leave early. You’re minimizing the friction by being discreet. There’s a big difference between being intellectually aware of something and having it waved it your face every day.

      1. Roscoe*

        Exactly. I had a job where I was in sales. Trying to talk to people right before a long weekend was basically pointless. So our manager would let us go. Our tech support people though still had to stay because we were still open for support (Even if almost no one requested it). Different departments have different needs.

  34. LaDeeDa*

    I am not a big eater, I often only have a protein shake for breakfast and one some time in the afternoon. When there is a team lunch I always make a small plate but I tend to just “pick”, and the comments that gets! When will people just stop commenting on people’s eating habits and their body?

  35. Rusty Shackelford*

    (Or alternately, a set of fake plastic food that you could carefully arrange in front of you, thus making you an object of incredible interest and speculation throughout your office and beyond.)

    Someone please do this.

  36. an infinite number of monkeys*

    At my state government agency, that would be strictly forbidden. You could, technically, drink, but then you wouldn’t be allowed to claim your travel time.

    Also, I initially read this as “Can I have a drink before a work fight?” and was thinking – well, how could you not??

    1. Clisby*

      What do you mean by “claim your travel time?” Something with hourly employees? For an exempt employee, you get your salary no matter how the travel time is classified.

      1. an infinite number of monkeys*

        I think government agencies handle it differently. I’m exempt, but everyone (up to and including the Executive Director) fills out a weekly timesheet with all their time coded to the appropriate tasks, projects, appropriation, etc.

        Exempt employees get hour-for-hour comp time if they work over 40 hours in a week, and if we don’t use it within a year, we lose it. Non-exempt employees get 1.5 hours of comp time for every hour over 40 they work in a week, and if they don’t use it within a year, it’s paid out.

        Anyway, the OP’s agency probably has a written policy regarding alcohol somewhere. Even within my own state, different agencies have different rules about it, and mine is probably one of the strictest. If you drink, you’re not working, and vice versa. (No restrictions against napping on the plane, however!)

        1. Clisby*

          OK, I can see that with a comp time policy. In my exempt jobs, we got comp time only informally – not hour-for-hour over 40 hours. (Is it actually legal to give non-exempt employees comp time instead of overtime pay?) The OP was talking about having a drink around 6 p.m., which to me means not even in normal working hours.

          1. an infinite number of monkeys*

            My understanding is that government agencies are legally exempt from overtime laws in very specific ways, though it’s interesting for me to see how differently these issues are handled in different agencies/government branches!

            In the case of a 6 PM flight, my choice would be between remaining “on the clock” and accruing some comp time while traveling, or having some wine and not claiming that time. Nobody would have a problem if I did that, and the issues Brett brings up below about per diem aren’t in play for my agency at least. However, if the flight were during normal working hours and I wanted to have a drink, I’d need to actually take time off (use my accrued comp or vacation time). I’m not sure how that would go over, to be honest! I frequently take an hour or so of comp time on Fridays to go to happy hour, but it might be regarded a little differently if I were on travel status.

      2. Brett*

        Travel time affects your per diem.
        You still get your pay, but your per diem for that day is cut or eliminated if you do not have travel time that day.
        You also lose any comp time (something that only government exempt workers get) and lose your mileage reimbursement.
        It can add up to a pretty significant penalty even if your pay is unaffected.

        1. Clisby*

          But if the OP is having a drink around 6 p.m., it sounds like he’s already worked a full day, so why would the per diem be cut?

          1. OP#1*

            We actually don’t have a per diem, we get reimbursed up to a daily limit, which doesn’t vary as long as you’re traveling/off-site at least half the day. Alcohol is not eligible for reimbursement, so that cost is beside the point.

            We can get comp time for hours over 40, but if possible, we’re encouraged to just flex the hours so we don’t accrue time we’ll have to take off later. So it’s typical if you travel Monday-Thursday to just take off Friday afternoon.

  37. LQ*

    We have this happen quite a bit. It especially happens with a divide between hourly staff and salaried staff. The hourly staff have no idea that the salaried person may have been in until 8 (unheard of here) the night before and got through a big thing and is leaving early because that work is done. It can happen when someone just decides that how they are going to spend their vacation hours is leaving an hour early for a week.
    Should it happen? No. Is it logical or rational? No. Does it happen? Yes. Does it create a whole bunch of noise for people to manage? Yes.
    You seem really like you want to be nice and friendly so I’d suggest you look at this as you don’t want to be the person who reminds them of how many hours they have left, how much sunlight/time with loved ones/sleep they are missing out on.
    Should we all live free of ego and entirely outside ourselves? Sure. But here in the real world you might be picking at someone’s scab of not being able to leave early to spend time with a loved one and making their heart ache. Or just would like to enjoy the longer days. Why would you want to do that? Think of it as a kindness to not poke someone when they are sore, especially on a holiday or weekend.

    1. CMart*

      Being kind to your coworkers who aren’t leaving/can’t leave early is a great way to frame this.

      I have a colleague who works 6-3. I know those are the hours he keeps and I will often glance up as he walks by my desk on the way out the door most days at 3pm. I personally would not want to be in the office at 6am so intellectually I do not begrudge him for leaving a couple hours before me at all.

      But if he instead every day knocked on my desk to cheerfully say “bye! I’m off! Hope the TPS reports don’t give you too much grief this afternoon!” I would rankle, jealous that he was off to enjoy the late afternoon and not have to rush to get his kids before the daycare deadline and then have a mad scramble at home to cook dinner/get to bed etc… I would feel like he was rubbing it in my face. It would not feel nice.

      And that’s a situation where he’s not actually leaving “early”. Just earlier than I do.

  38. Sharrbe*

    “Stunt apple”, hahaha! This is going to be the name of all the healthy food I buy but never eat. “Honey, can you get me my cupcake? It’s in the fridge behind my stunt salad.”

  39. Rusty Shackelford*

    I find it interesting that yesterday, several people thought it was perfectly fine to have a couple of glasses of wine at lunch and then drive back to work. And today, several people think it’s absolutely not fine to have a glass of wine before boarding an airplane on your way home. What’s the difference – is it because it’s a government agency?

    1. fposte*

      Yes, it’s because it’s an agency in a realm where that can be strictly forbidden by your boss. In yesterday’s post, the boss was very clearly on board. (Though I don’t think anybody said that it was fine for him to drive–I think they said he could be under the legal limit, which is a different thing.)

      1. CMart*

        Yes, the “workplace” (or even legal) norms are the salient points here.

        Small private business with a boss who greenlights having a few at lunch? = it’s okay to have drinks at lunch, “on the clock”

        Government agency where it’s expressly forbidden to consume alcohol while on the clock? = maybe don’t, and really scrutinize if time at the airport/on the plane count as being “on the clock”

        It’s not the levels of intoxication – it’s whether or not your continued employment would be in jeopardy.

    2. LaDeeDa*

      Yeah, I noticed that too. I have no idea. I almost always have a glass or two of wine before boarding the plane.
      Most of my flights are 3+ hours, so if I have 2 glasses of wine before getting on the plane, by the time I land, make it out of the plane, get my bag… it has been 5 hours. I am perfectly sober, my BAC would be 0.

      I also tend to work on my flights, I usually have my laptop up and working on a report or a presentation.

    3. iglwif*

      I can’t speak for anyone else but I am 100% in favor of a glass of wine before boarding an aeroplane (as a passenger!) and 100% opposed to getting behind the wheel of a car after a couple of glasses of wine.

    4. CmdrShepard4ever*

      In government agencies people have to be aware of the optics to tax payers. I personally have no problem if a government worker decides to have 3/4 drinks before and/or during the flight that they pay out of pocket on their way home after a work trip. I would expect them to follow general etiquette and not be sloppy drunk, but I would also expect Joe Smith a civilian to not be sloppy drunk.

      But in a private business if the owner decides they are okay with employee drinking that much it is their money and their choice.

    5. Whoop*

      Because presumably the LW today is not flying the plane?

      I wouldn’t want to be a passenger in a plane when the pilot had had a drink either, but that’s not the situation here.

      The problem isn’t the drinking. It’s what the person who has a drink is then going to do. Sit in an airplane seat? Cool. Drive a vehicle (with passengers)? Nope.

  40. Observer*

    #1- Is it possible that your wife is dealing with a supervisor with stricter expectations (whether reasonable or not is not the question)? Or Or that she’s reading the culture more accurately than you are in that the expectation is there, whether in the rule book or not?

    Also, is is possible that some of the concern is not whether you get work done but how someone might behave? I don’t know if “under the influence” is your phrase or that of your personnel manual, but it makes me think that that might be a bit of a concern here. When you are on vacation, that’s one thing. When you are actually traveling for work there is a perception that you are “ON” and if you misbehave that’s going to be a problem for your employer.

    And, while it’s pretty clear that you’re not getting drunk or acting out, I can see the concern (even though it’s probably over-blown.) Given the number of stories you see about people who misbehave in these situations, I could see a very, very cautious approach taking hold.

  41. voluptuousfire*

    For OP#2, I’m half hoping that they follow Alison’s advice about putting a plastic piece of fruit in front of them as “stunt apple.” I say go one step up– a plastic or rubber pork chop. Hell, even buy a dog toy that looks like a steak and see what people do. That would be amazing.

  42. stitchinthyme*

    #5 – my husband and I worked for the same companies twice, and it wasn’t a problem (aside from the usual anxiety about putting all our eggs in one basket). We didn’t work in the same department in either place, and it was nice being able to carpool and occasionally have lunch together. At one of them (the smaller one), everyone we worked with knew we were married and it just wasn’t an issue; the other company was much bigger and we weren’t even in the same building, so I’m not sure if management knew since we have different last names. If they did, they certainly didn’t care.

    1. OP5*

      I kept my maiden name and our jobs are functionally very different (teapot tester vs. teapot marketer) so it was never much of a problem except for deciding whose team to eat with during the holiday party!

  43. LaDeeDa*

    Letter 1- it has been interesting seeing all the comments who read it as LW = wife, Spouse= husband, and the opposite, and how few noticed genders were never mentioned. I have no idea what this means/says– I just found it really interesting!

    1. OP#1*

      I find it very interesting, too, and it was intentional to be non-gendered! But, for the record, my spouse and I are both women. I think the only difference between us is just that she is more of a rule-follower than I am.

      1. CMart*

        As a rule-following stick-in-the-mud who also very much enjoys the little luxury of having a cocktail at an airport bar I would probably ask someone above me in the hierarchy and then be verrrrrry disappointed if the answer was “it is technically against the letter of the policy” even if the spirit was up to interpretation.

        1. OP#1*

          I haven’t asked about this specifically, but it is very common in my workplace for folks traveling together to go out for a drink after work or over dinner, and special occasions are usually marked by a happy hour. I’m pretty sure my boss would say, “Oh, don’t be ridiculous!” But I don’t particularly want to risk finding out.

      2. a heather*

        I also find this so interesting!

        In reading it my mind thought you (OP#1) were male and the spouse was female. I am female, and more of a rule follower, where my husband is more lax.

  44. TootsNYC*

    #2–not wanting to go into detail about your eating.

    So many people write in with questions to which the answer is: “It is not necessary to tell everybody the full answer.”

    We are under no obligation in our ordinary lives to tell the truth, the WHOLE truth, and nothing but the truth. (In fact, the oath we take in a court of law is a confirmation of that.)

    So sure, I can get that it’s awkward to be asked, but by the second time someone asks you, come up with a lie. An easily sustainable one. A partial truth (“I don’t usually eat at this time of day,” or “I had a big breakfast” or “My food patterns are off today”) works best, of course.

    The other alternative people don’t use enough is to just not answer at all. “No, I’m fine.” then they say again, are you sure you don’t want a sandwich? and you say, “No, I’m fine.” Throw in a “thank you” for politeness sake. Say it a third time, and they will feel awkward, so that’s fine too.

    You don’t owe people an answer. You don’t owe them all the details. You don’t even owe them the truth.

    And while honesty is a virtue, so is discretion, which means a truly honorable person has a tougher job threading the needle, or making decisions about “is this the time it’s crucial to be honest?” That comes with adulthood.

  45. Cattiebee*

    OP 1: Heh government worker here and this reminds of times when we leave conferences and do the extended goodbyes, the “it was so nice to meet you; I look forward to following up on x, y, z”, the promises to arrange phone calls and meetings, the exchange of business cards, all that jazz, then I’m fiiiiiinally are able to go to the airport… and run into all of the same people I just spent an hour saying bye to at the airport bar.

    I’m extremely careful about drinking on the job, for both my work performance and people’s perception of me. I usually won’t drink even at events, work dinners, celebratory functions, etc. And of course as a government employee I would never be able expense alcohol. I wanted to give you a sense of how I approach drinking at work so you’ll understand where I’m coming from when I say it’s not a big deal to have a drink on your own dime at the airport before your after-hours flight home when it’s understood you’re not going to be working and aren’t going to drive. I do it; a lot of people do it and it shouldn’t raise eyebrows.

    But if not knowing for sure is going to stress you out, why not try running it past your supervisor to see what they think?

  46. Jennifer*

    #1 Whoever told you that seriously needs to get over themselves. Reminds me of the person who complained about the vet that took home $6 worth of supplies to care for a friend’s sick animal. I really don’t see how overly stringent rule following over things so trivial helps anybody.

    1. Observer*

      That’s all good and fine. But the reality is that in some places those rules exist, and not following them can have fairly serious repercussions.

      I don’t know if the OP’s spouse is right or wrong about this, but there is a really good chance that they are responding to a genuine issue. Not that the OP is objectively wrong, but that it could present a problem anyway.

        1. Observer*

          How do you know that? It’s a government job, and this is VERY common in government.

            1. CMart*

              Alison’s answer is speaking in generalities about what “work time” typically means.

              I think it’s a very important distinction that it’s a state agency, and since Alison isn’t in HR for that agency her answer is not definitive for the OP specifically. The answer is a very good one as far as understanding the general concept/spirit of what it means for being paid for travel time, but you cannot say it truly reflects the actual OP’s actual situation. The speculation/debate about the differences between private and public positions is fully relevant.

            2. Observer*

              I did. And while what she says makes a lot of sense, it simply doesn’t address what the specific reality of the OP’s may be – or not be.

              Teachers have been fired for posting pictures of themselves *on vacation* with a glass of wine. People here have posted about the policies of workplace they know of. This stuff exists. And the OP needs to take that into account, to the extent of finding out if it applies to THEIR workplace. If not, then it’s reasonable to take Allison’s advice.

  47. ohdear*

    #2 – Can you just make yourself a plate and say that you aren’t very hungry now but will have it later? I fast (usually no dinner so it doesn’t cut into work) but I am also uncomfortable with a dynamic of one not eating and everyone else not which I think is a part of the problem. This at least makes it less obvious that you aren’t eating when everyone else is.

  48. Lepidoptera*

    #3 is similar to my frustration about having to “hide” remote days because people in departments where that isn’t feasible want to spoil it for everyone. Instead of addressing it by telling them to grow up, we’re supposed to skulk around to protect their fee-fees. If I remote into a conference call and the project manager scolds me for being “too lazy to walk over to the meeting”, now I have to decide whether to let him think I’m a slacker, or admit ( against my boss’ wishes) that I’m at home. It’s crappy to put your employees in this position.

    1. LQ*

      I don’t entirely disagree, but you’re protecting your own fee-fees here too, your fee-fees are wrapped up in someone thinking you are lazy or a slacker. Why do you care if your boss knows the truth? Because you are human and so are the other people.

      I’d say it’s more like saying to someone you know can’t work from home and lives further away from work than you do, “Ugh it’s supposed to snow like crazy tomorrow, I think I’ll work from home.”

      (Don’t get me wrong there are 100% things like this I occasionally rub in the nose of my friends who will return the gesture, but then you get to be called a slacker from working from home and you laugh and all move on with your fee-fees.)

      1. Lepidoptera*

        Damage to my professional reputation =/= fee-fees. “Your boss knows the truth” is a pretense of a microcosm that doesn’t really exist.

  49. We DO NOT comment on that*

    LW #2 makes me so grateful for the food culture in my office. I work in an office full of people with strange and specific food issues (some very real some I’m sure must be imaginary). We had new person start a few weeks ago who is loud and comments on every thing. We tend to eat in a sort of rolling shift because our break room is very small. One day this new person started to comment on a coworker’s lunch, something along the line of coworker was already skinny why was she trying to loose more/that couldn’t be healthy to eat the same thing every day (coworker eats the same meal shake and applesauce for lunch every day due to a gastro issue, apparently it’s one of the few packable lunches that is guaranteed to agree with her). Supervisor was in the break room at the time and shut it down so fast with a frosty “We do not comment on others food choices here!” And a pointed look at the commentor’s lunch (it was nothing particularly remarkable just a reminder that anything can be food for comment).
    I was so happy to hear my supervisor shut this down because I am currently on a fairly restricted diet trying to figure out some new food trigger that has popped up so my meals look a little strange even to me right now and I really felt like she has my back on this.
    I think that if other strategies for stopping comments don’t work getting a manager or someone in charge of the meeting involved to remind the commentors that others food choices are none of their business could work but it’s a know your office situation.

    1. TootsNYC*

      Supervisor was in the break room at the time and shut it down so fast with a frosty “We do not comment on others food choices here!” And a pointed look at the commentor’s lunch

      I aspire to be your supervisor!

      This is how it ought to work.

    2. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      This pleases me to see a supervisor stepping up like that.

      In my older years, I will shut it down as well because I’m not dealing with food or body shaming/policing.

  50. ShortT*

    This is a bit of a sore spot for me. I have a student in my class with a rare genetic condition that affects blood sugar levels. I have to administer medication through the child’s gastrostomy tube once per day during attendance. I can’t begin to count the number of times people have commented about the child’s not eating along with the rest of the children and tried to get her to eat the school lunch, which she can’t because, if her blood sugar gets out of whack, she could end up in the hospital. There are people who don’t seem to grasp that different eating habits are OK, can even be necessary, and not have to be publicized just to make a third party feel better. The last time someone pressed for a reason after I’d said that my student was well, I gave a gentle, “Even a child is entitled to some privacy.”

    1. Observer*

      Thanks for that advocacy. Beyond the obvious issue of this poor kid’s medical stuff, reminding people that “kid” does NOT mean “public property” is a really good deed.

  51. sunshyne84*

    #1 you won the argument this time lol

    #3 maybe you can make it seem like it’s just you leaving, if someone catches you off guard try to make it seem like you have an appointment or something so it doesn’t tip anyone off that all of you are leaving

    #4 being a contractor during negotiations can be stressful especially if its your first time, if there is a policy that the current employees have to be asked if they want to continue their employment first that will be helpful to know and ease fears

  52. anon for this*

    The stunt apple makes me laugh because I am friends with a family that includes a young child who is fed by inter-abdominal tube. She doesn’t take any food or drink by mouth, but she has loads of toy food. If the family is eating out/going to a dinner party, it’s common for her to choose some toy food to bring that fits in with the anticipated meal.

  53. LoV*

    “stunt apple”

    Stay back, I have an apple! Actually, I think that’s a really good prop and if it works, it works. I really sympathize being asked why you’re not eating. It can be hard enough to eat right, so I wish people would just assume that adults know what they’re doing when it comes to eating.

  54. Emily*

    #5 – I don’t think it’s a big deal as long as you know you can maintain a professional relationship at work, especially since you’d be in different departments. My parents worked at the same company for most of my childhood (on different teams, as far as I’m aware) and are now both working at another company (still on different teams). It’s never been an issue for them, although I will say that both companies are large and that it might be different if they were actually working together as opposed to just working at the same place.

    1. OP5*

      Husband and I worked together for three years at a smaller company than where we’d be working now so I’m not terribly concerned about that!

  55. tinyhipsterboy*

    I LOVE the idea of OP2 bringing plastic food and setting it up every time there’s a team lunch. It’s perfect chaotic energy and the mental image is cracking me up!

  56. Noah*

    “The flight is “work time” only in that you’re getting paid for your travel time, not in the sense that you are expected to be doing any work during it.”

    Well, isn’t that quaint. I’ve never had a job where the expectation (literal or practical) is anything other than, “of course you’re going to work on the plane. That’s hours you have to make up all the work you couldn’t do because you were doing the travel-related work while you were traveling.” Is it not that way for everybody?

    And, STILL, nobody would object to my having a drink or two on the plane as long as it did not affect my work. Then again, an evening beer while working has never been frowned upon anywhere I work. I think Wife is perhaps confusing having a drink (totally okay) with getting wasted (not okay). Does wife seriously think it’s against the rules to have a beer at lunch on a workday? Because, in general, that is not so for people with office jobs.

      1. OP#1*

        Oh, it’s SO against the rules to have a beer at lunch on a workday. That’s something HR is pretty clear on. I wouldn’t even consider it if it wasn’t at least 4pm and I was going home afterward.

  57. Ann O’Nemity*


    As a manager I can completely understand not wanting my employees to broadcast leaving early or other perks I give at my discretion because it can cause jealousy or morale issues that their managers have to deal with. That doesn’t mean I want my employees to lie though!

  58. Nrhysling*

    It’s important to look at benefits too. My company will only make a contribution to one HSA and 12 weeks of FMLA would have to be shared if you need that for say parental leave.

    1. OP5*

      I am lucky enough to be in Canada, where that is not a concern, but I hope it is helpful to someone else :)

  59. The Man, Becky Lynch*

    If you enjoy working with your spouse and they’re happy to have couples working for them, that’s an awesome setup! I had no issues working with my partner but sadly in the end our bosses were totally weird about it…despite knowing the setup before hiring him. The bosses were also just bad at their jobs and failures in business, so they decided to “we” were the problem. Despite both being great employees. Sigh.

    Yes, it can be weird for some folks, yes some folks need that space and like keeping work/home separate, which is cool too! So it’s all about how YOU feel since the fact is that your employer is actually saying they’re happy to look at hiring him.

    1. OP5*

      Husband and I worked in a smaller company together for three years and it worked out great!

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