intern doesn’t flush the toilet, antipathy toward fonts, and more

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

1. Our intern doesn’t flush the toilet

We have a new summer student in our department. He’s working with my team and reports to my boss, however I have had no interaction with him beyond being introduced to him on his first day. Twice now I’ve been the person to follow him in using our bathroom, and I’ve discovered he subscribes to the ole “if it’s yellow, let it mellow” philosophy and doesn’t flush the toilet after using it. While I appreciate the philosophy and sometimes follow it at home, I think it’s inappropriate (and frankly really gross) at the office to have to look at someone else’s pee. Am I wrong here? Should I say something? Should I ask my manager to say something? Should I get over it for the good of the planet?

Gross. He’s welcome to do that at home, but at work, he needs to flush the toilet.

So yes, say something. If you can swing it, the most direct way to handle it would just be to say to him the next time this happens, “Dude, can you flush after using the bathroom?” (If you feel ridiculous having to say this to a coworker, to get yourself in the right frame of mind try pretending for those 30 seconds that he’s a roommate, which somehow feels like it makes it easier.) And if he argues he’s being environmentally responsible, you can respond, “At work, you need to flush.”

If you cannot see your way to doing it that, which would be understandable, then you’re completely allowed to talk to whoever manages the intern program (if such a person exists; otherwise, his manager) and ask them to explain this to them. This type of uncomfortable conversation is part of the joy of managing interns.

(I’ve talked here before about how I once was the live-in staff member overseeing a house of interns. One of the many weird parts of that role was having to have this conversation more than once.)

2. Antipathy toward fonts

This is not an earth shattering issue, but it is one that has come up in conversations with my son and his girlfriend in regards to designing our mutual eCommerce website and other communications.

We are all in agreement that Comic Sans should never be used in professional environments or really anywhere, other than preschool announcements. And I get annoyed when there are more than three fonts used in an advertisement or web page. Use the same font, people! Just change size, or bold or italicize.

However, I do not understand my millennial son’s antipathy to Arial and Helvetica or his Gen Y girlfriend’s hatred of Calibri. Her antipathy to fonts is such that she won’t reply to job postings using fonts she dislikes. Any thoughts on the “best” or least offensive font?

You can google “hate (insert any font name here)” and you’ll find lots of treatises ranting against pretty much any font you choose. Arial and Calibri are popular to criticize because they’re seen as generic and over-used. (Lots of designers love Helvetica, though.)

There’s no “best” font because it depends on the type of project you’re doing, your audience, what you want to convey, the rest of your design, etc. If your son and his girlfriend are arguing there is a best font without taking those things into account, they’re sort of giving away their lack of expertise.

And if the girlfriend really means it that she doesn’t reply to job postings that use Calibri or other incredibly common fonts, she is ridiculous and she no longer gets any input into anything design-related.

3. Our Christmas party is looooong

I started a new job several months ago, and while I’m really happy with the position, I’m already dreading next Christmas, because the office Christmas party goes on FOREVER. The last Christmas party, my first with the company, involved lunch at a restaurant’s private dining room, then a gift-swapping game, then trivia games, then drinks … I finally bailed in hour six, saying that I had a headache (I didn’t, I was just exhausted), but the party went on for a few more hours after THAT, and I know from talking to coworkers that this is the norm. I’m fine with a party that lasts an hour or two, but all afternoon/evening? No thanks! How can I reasonably bow out next time?

A Christmas question in May! You are my kind of over-planner.

That is a seriously long Christmas party. It sounds like it starts in the middle of the work day (during lunch), so unfortunately you may be stuck for three or four hours — because this is taking the place of regular work that afternoon, and leaving two hours in would be like leaving work at 2 pm because you just didn’t feel like being there any longer. But you can absolutely leave once it’s close to the regular end of the work day, explaining that you have an obligation right afterwards. (Given the time of year, it’s easy to say you have a family thing or need to pick up someone from the airport. Or you might just have an appointment that you couldn’t get out of. But throughout December, a vague “so many family things at this time of year!” will usually ring true.)

If you really want to leave sooner than that, you can of course have something else scheduled for that afternoon that you’ll need to leave early for, expressing your regrets … but if you’re going to be at the company for years to come, you can probably only do that one year in three without people catching on.

You’re probably better off just mentally reframing this in your head to remember that it’s work — it’s work with trivia games and gifts and food, but it’s work — and so you should plan on being there for the work hours portion of it, and leave when work hours end.

4. The person who fired me now works at my new company

A woman who fired me at a previous job three years ago is now working at my current organization. I don’t have particularly strong feelings toward her — it was a bad job, I was bad at it and I was planning to quit soon anyway — but it’s still awkward. As much as I’d prefer that we continue pretending that neither of us sees the other, how do I handle the inevitable moment when we run into each other? (She will not have any influence over my current role.)

Pretend the firing never happened, and greet her the way you would any other distant acquaintance. In other words: “Hello! It’s nice to see you again. How are you liking it here?” or so forth.

That’s going to be far less awkward than any of the alternatives, and will make you look pleasant and professional. It’ll also set it up for her to respond in kind — and it’ll probably be a relief to her, since she may feel just as awkward about it as you do (if not more).

Polite fictions can be very useful.

5. My interviewer hasn’t gotten back to me — should I go to an event where she’ll be?

Last month I had an interview for a job that I really, really want and am qualified for. At first the interview was rocky because the interviewer was going to blow me off because I didn’t have experience in one tiny aspect (which is quite easy to learn, to be honest) but I managed to turn it around and we had a great 45-minute interview. She told me she wanted to hire someone soon because she had so much on her plate and this position is to help with that.

Two weeks after the interview, I emailed her for a status update and she said she was out of town and would make a decision when she got back in three days. It has now been almost two more weeks since that last email and I don’t know if or how to follow up on the this job. I considered attending a public meeting where I know she will be and would see me, hoping that would cause her to contact me but I’m worried that may seem a bit stalker-ish. Would it? What should I do?

Noooo, do not do that. It will absolutely look stalker-ish.

You’ve already followed up once, and she knows you’re interested. If she wants to hire you, she will get in touch.

The best thing you can do for yourself is to decide you didn’t get the job, put it out of your mind, move on, and let it be a pleasant surprise if she does contact you.

{ 318 comments… read them below }

  1. Ask a Manager* Post author

    Please resist the urge to post comments that are just about what fonts you do or don’t like … or to try to establish the “best” font, since there’s no such thing. Thank you!

    1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

      Absolutely. If I saw someone at a public event who was a candidate, I’d probably write it off as a fluke (assuming they weren’t radiating anxious energy). But it wouldn’t make me feel any urge to contact the candidate because of the sighting.

      If I saw someone at a public event who only came to the event so I would see them and think of their job application, it would feel a little SWF to me. Alison’s approach is the safest and has the lowest likelihood of backfiring.

    2. Seeking Second Childhood*

      On the flip side, if you are interested in that industry event FOR YOURSELF, don’t avoid it for just this reason.
      But for the love of bacon pants, if you do bump into her, just say hello & ONLY talk about the presentation. To avoid stalker appearance.

      1. Kira*

        That’s what I was going to ask about – is it okay to go to a general industry event where the interviewer might be? When I was in a similar situation I might have gone anyways.

        1. Seeking Second Childhood*

          If you’re a member of your job’s association feel free to go to the professional development day even if interviewer might be there.
          But if you’re interviewing as an engineer and go to an HR organization’s development day because the HR interviewer is presenting, that would be odd.

    3. Falling Diphthong*

      LW’s instinct that it might seem stalkerish is a dead-on instinct.

      Not only “seem”, if you attend the event solely to run into your target.

    4. Not Tom, Just Petty*

      Alison, please creat one of those flow chat things. Top box, should I contact my interviewer? > did you send a follow/up thank you > yes> don’t contact > no > yes. Send the note.
      Did you apply thru normal channels? > yes. > don’t contact > no> don’t contact
      Did you have the greatest interview ever where they practically offered you the job? > yes> Just send a thank you follow up

      1. your favorite person*

        I bet there’s creative folks in this comment section who could do that!

    5. Jojo*

      The most you should do if you run into her is ask if she knows of any other jobs thst you could apply for that are of that type. Or that you might be qualified for. That way she knows you are still looking. She might know of something you don’t.

      1. Half-Caf Latte*

        If I were hiring for a job, and “ran into” a candidate who asked me for names of other orgs to apply to, I’d assume they’d decided they weren’t interested in my position, and probably wouldn’t move them forward in the process.

        Or that they were so scatterbrained and disorganized that they didn’t remember they interviewed with me, and probably wouldn’t move them forward in the process.

    6. tamarack and fireweed*

      I think it depends quite a bit on what the industry looks like in your location. For example, I’m in a small-ish college town, with the next comparable city several hundred miles away, and I’m applying for jobs at said college. I’m familiar with many potential hiring committee members, and am even on a first-name basis with several of them. I know the constraints of the hiring process and am privy to some of the other projects or initiatives people are involved in that are putting constraints on their hiring schedule. This doesn’t make it necessarily easier or harder, but it does mean I run into hiring managers if I go to any related event (or potentially at the hairdresser). We say a cheery “hi” and “how are you”. What I don’t do is bringing up my applications. (Except once, when a job I was waiting for was finally posted and went to a public talk of a person involved in the larger project. I asked her if she’s on the hiring committee. She confirmed she was. I told her I planned on applying. She was a little surprised at the cut-off date the job had been posted with as she didn’t think it realistic to start review by then, and told me so. Cross your fingers for me.)

      So I’d apply this test: If the hiring manager seeing you at the event might say “huh, what is this candidate doing here?” and just MIGHT think you’re stalking them, don’t do it. But if it’s a natural thing to do, like a talk series you’d be going to anyway, or for that matter the local symphony orchestra concert, no reason not to.

  2. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

    OP#2, I suspect the girlfriend is over-exaggerating about not applying to job postings that appear in Calibri. But speaking only for myself as an old millennial, I find Arial, Helvetica, and Calibri to be incredibly over-used, and their ubiquity gives me an irrational streak of annoyance in the design context. (I also don’t like Times New Roman and would never use it for web design).

    My understanding is that younger (i.e., under 40) designers also don’t love Helvetica, but folks who are a little older really love it. (See debates and explanations here, here, and here.)

    Folks aren’t going to agree about whether or not to hate specific fonts. But as Alison notes, it could be helpful to know that some fonts do read as blah to some subpopulations by age/generation, and depending on your target market/audience, it may be helpful to explore a wider boutique of font options. Are your son and his girlfriend representative of your target market? If so, then their generalized font feedback—along with a lot of other considerations—might be helpful.

    1. SS Express*

      I think part of the issue people have with those very common fonts like Arial is that, because they’re often the default option, they can come across as amateurish – it’s not seen as a real design choice so much as a lack thereof.

      1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

        I also think it encourages folks to “tune out” visually. If I’m hit with a wall of Arial, it makes it harder for me to focus on any written content.

        1. Dragoning*

          Serif fonts tend to be easier to read in large chunks–the shape of the letters is more differentiated, so the brain can parse them better. Sans serifs are often used especially to draw attention, which is another thing to consider.

          As a younger millennial, I also hate Helvetica, Arial, and especially Calibri. And I view Arial and Calibri as “cheap knock off Helvetica” as well.

          Of course, most internet browsers will let you set default fonts for serif and sans serif notations in html coding, so it’s not that hard to change the fonts away from one you, personally, hate.

          1. Perpal*

            I am a… well I don’t even know, 30ish person and the only font I have any feels for is comic sans; and actually I think it’s a fine font (it looks like a comic book, it does!) just it does give my that “lol comic sans ” ping when I see it on anything professional. Beyond that, I don’t notice usually

          2. sam*

            I think this also depends on context – serif fonts tend to be easier to read in printed materials, but can be too ‘busy’ or crowded on the internet (depending on context of course).

            In addition, specialized/bespoke fonts are often not free, so you can go out of your way to design your website with a gorgeous, bespoke font, but if the end-user doesn’t have the font installed on their system, they’re going to end up seeing the whole thing in whatever secondary or tertiary font that is actually browser friendly for that user (this is why inside the HTML/CSS coding for most websites you’ll see a hierarchy of preferred fonts, usually ending with Arial (for sans serif) or Times (for serif) so that the site will render in…something.

            1. Lime Lehmer*

              While coding will help make sure that the site is visible in something, I think it is less glitchy to choose a web friendly font to begin with and there are number of them.

            2. That Girl From Quinn's House*

              I worked for a company that used a Bespoke font. We all had to download it on our computers to use at work, and they had a designated Email font, one that was generic and would display correctly in emails, etc. I promptly popped my resume into Email font, to visually cue to hiring managers that I “belonged.”

          3. nnn*

            That’s so weird, because since my head injury I find serif fonts more difficult to read. The serifs kind of . . . get in the way.

            1. Venus*

              Visually impaired people often have problems with serif fonts – the added ‘clutter’ makes it more difficult to differentiate the letters. I often

              If someone (the OP) is keen to use calibri or arial and wants an excuse… accessibility is a good one. For someone who has trouble reading, consistency is valuable (I have a friend who does beautiful calligraphy writing, and I’m reluctant to tell them how hard it is for me to read anything of theirs, although I can appreciate it as artwork).

              1. Jojo*

                A woman i work with sends out all her email in calligraphy. Very difficult to read. In think it is rather unprofessional. Especially as we work government contract. But, that is my bosses problem, not mine. I like garamond myself.

                1. Skeeder Jones*

                  Ugh to that. I’ve also seen people who set up their email signature with every letter a different color and sometimes a mix of upper and lower case letters. I’ve forwarded those emails to their supervisor and suggested that it is really unprofessional and childish to set that up as your auto signature. Fortunately, where I work now, our department tells us how to configure out auto-signature so none of that nonsense is happening.

                2. Zephy*

                  The most senior person in my office has her Outlook set to send messages in hot pink Comic Sans. It seems like she only does this for internal emails/Skype messages, at least.

              2. Mitchell Hundred*

                I do volunteer work as a literacy tutor, and the learner I’m paired has alluded a few times to the fact that she may have dyslexia (although she doesn’t have a formal diagnosis).

                Anyway, she had some difficulty reading the exercises I printed for her when I used the default font of Times New Roman. I switched to Comic Sans after reading that it was much easier for people with dyslexia to follow, and since then she’s had zero problems reading the words.

                Now whenever I see someone talking about how terrible Comic Sans is, that’s immediately where my mind goes.

                1. Human Sloth*

                  Wow, that’s interesting. I half joked I maybe borderline dyslexia and prefer Comic Sans, too.

                2. Normally a Lurker*

                  I was actaully coming here to say this. As a dyslexic, I often use Comic Sans bc it is SO MUCH easier to read.

                  And like, I get it, not everyone likes the font. Fine.

                  And also, I really wish we would get away from “this font should never be used period bc it’s horrible”. It turns out, it’s REALLY useful to a chunk of us with LDs.

                3. Jadelyn*

                  There are also other fonts specifically designed for dyslexia. Dyslexie and OpenDyslexic are both nice-looking.

          4. Katy O*

            My company sent out new branding instructions a few years ago, that includes the referred font for all company communications & email. Calibri… While I don’t have an issue with that font, it’s not as easy on the eyes as some so I refuse to use it. If I have to process 300 emails a day, I want my eyes to be able to focus without strain.

        2. Font Greek*

          Font people almost universally despise Arial as a poor imitation of Helvetica. It’s not Comic Sans-level bad, but it’s still bad. Calibri is not inherently a bad font, but it often screams “couldn’t be bothered to change the default font in MS-Office.”

      2. BurnOutCandidate*

        I admit, I set resumes aside and didn’t give them a second look if they were in Garamond, because Garamond was the default font used by Microsoft Word’s resume template.

        1. ContentWrangler*

          So if they use an easily accessible tool to format their resume, they aren’t worth looking at? That seems like a bad policy.

          1. GreyjoyGardens*

            It could be that the interviewer has so many applicants that they can use the little things just to thin the herd. But I agree it does seem petty.

        2. The Tin Man*

          Is this for designs positions or a design company? I assume so because if not this is an absurd policy akin to throwing out an application because someone attached a cover letter instead of putting it in the e-mail body when that preference has never been stated.

    2. Lime Lehmer*

      OP re font here (because of the intern letter I hesitate to say OP #2)

      The target audience is boomer and predominantly male. Boutique fonts are fine for printed materials, but web fonts are more limited and have to readable across platforms.

      1. Maria Lopez*

        Also, I find the color to be much more important than the font. Yellow print on blue background or vice versa, for instance. That is much more important than font. Guess my age is showing, because I see NOTHING amateurish about printed letters on a page be they arial, calibri, Helvetica, etc. Color contrast is where you lose the audience over fifty, or even forty.

        1. Vendelle*

          I agree with you on the colours! As a colourblind person, it always annoys me when people get fancy with colours, because it makes it so much harder for me to read the text, that I sometimes just give up.

          1. 'Tis me*

            I recently did some process mapping. I was originally going to use swimlanes to show the different actors but quickly realised that would be visually appalling… Then I used some of the default colour selections… Then it occurred to me that blue, green, aqua, teal, orange and red, at similar saturations, may not be visually distinct to people with colour-blindness. The three guys I sent it to confirmed they could differentiate 2 colours… I did a bit of research, managed to find a site that you can upload pictures to and see what they will look like with different types of colour blindness… My real users could then differentiate the 6 different colours (and I should be able to get there much faster next time) :)

            1. Venus*

              Where is this site?!! I use colours to differentiate things (charts to display data), and this would be very useful – I try to use other clues like dashed and dotted lines, or shade (so they can be differentiated in black/white printing), but this added dimension would be valuable… Thanks!

          2. Lime Lehmer*

            Color was another issue.
            94% of our customers are male, so I know that at 8% have color visibility issues.

            The “graphic designer” kept giving me content differentiated by red and green. “Why are you giving me images that roughly a10% of our customers will have problems visualizing?” And Adobe even has a tool to address this.

            1. Observer*

              Fire that “designer”. Anyone who can’t handle the most basic accessibility design issues is going to cause you some significant problems.

        2. TardyTardis*

          I remember a couple of people who used a light green script font on yellow paper. I do NOT remember them fondly.

      2. only acting normal*

        Wildly off topic (sorry), but what are you defining as Gen Y vs Millennial? Because I thought they were the same thing, and now I’m curious!

        People are weird about fonts; we all have preferences, but really they all have their different uses. Hopefully the not applying for jobs thing was hyperbole.

        1. nnn*

          That is exactly what I came here to ask! I’ve always thought Gen Y and Millennial were perfect synonyms.

          1. Ego Chamber*

            Yes, “Gen Y” is what they were calling us before they decided our real name (well after the window for being born into the “Millennial” generation had closed btw).

            I assume the gf is Gen Z, which should get a proper name around 2025 or so, after someone publishes a critical and haphazardly-researched book about how they’re making all the same mistakes every young generation has always made at their age and are therefore completely hopeless.

        2. Corporate Goth*

          Noooo. Definitely not the same, but highly controversial as to when Millennial “starts.”

          It was all “Gen Y” until the term Millennial started being used, initially to indicate people who graduated high school on or after the year 2000.

          Then came a whole lot of confusion over when it really started, which is different in nearly every so-called definition I’ve seen. Gen Y essentially disappeared in the mess, so everyone in the blurred border area now gets tossed around between very late Gen X and Millennial. I’ve seen Gen Y make a very slight comeback in the past year or two. Again, no one agrees exactly on where the lines are – you can cite your preferred source, and guaranteed, I can find you a different one.

          As someone who emulated a much older sibling, was born in the early border zone of years, grew up as Gen Y, graduated before the year 2000, but apparently looks younger than my age, let me tell you how annoying it is to be lumped in with every poor stereotype of a generation I’ve never been a part of, in reality or mentally. (Which increases my sympathy to those of that generation.)

          Over the past ten years, I’ve found just about every way there is to tell the greybeards I work with that I’m older and more experienced than I look, from slipping cultural references into conversation to bluntly telling people outright. They’re convinced experience equates to expertise.

          All that said, I really don’t feel strongly about fonts in general. I think I’d notice is if a book title’s font didn’t match genre, but even then I would only notice if it was way off.

          1. That Girl From Quinn's House*

            My thought is that the 80s babies (also known as Xennials, and the Oregon Trail Generation) took Gen Y because they didn’t feel they had much in common with the 90s babies.

            1. boo bot*

              I feel like this helpfully illustrates one of the problems with all the generational stereotyping, in fact – generations span about 20 years, meaning that people at various points within it definitely *won’t* have much in common with one another. It’s really for looking backward at broad historical demographic trends, so using it to categorize people in the present has limited utility.

              The statement, “many millennials entered the workforce during the recession,” contains useful information about that population. “Millennials are ruining kittens,” on the other hand – well, it’s really too soon to tell, isn’t it?

              /end of rant, gotta go caulk up the wagon to cross this river!

              1. GreyjoyGardens*

                I agree that the generational stereotyping has gotten way out of hand (especially the “Baby Boomers Are Evil” one). Same with the nit picking about when a generation begins or ends – one of the biggest internet slapfights I’ve ever witnessed was over “is Obama a late Boomer or early Xer?” boy howdy did things go downhill from there.

                Lately, it seems that “boomer” is just another word for “old person, especially an annoying one” and Millennial just means “kids these days, especially annoying ones” and have become more terms of opprobrium than actual demographic descriptors.

          2. Edith*

            “Noooo. Definitely not the same”

            I’m sorry, but that is just incorrect. Gen Y and Millennial are two terms for the same generation. It’s difficult to name a generation while it is still forming and while its members are still children, before it has had time to coalesce, if you will, but there’s also a need to call the youngins something. Gen Y was what the generation after Gen X was called before it was clear how transformative the digital revolution around the turn of the millennium would be. Search for “Gen Y” on Wikipedia and you will be redirected to the millennials page.

            We’re seeing something similar with the next generation, the oldest of which are finishing high school and beginning college. They’re currently being called Gen Z, but there’s a very good chance that will change as more of them reach adulthood.

          3. biobotb*

            You say they’re not the same, but then describe them as being… different terms for the same thing? (Which I’m pretty sure they are.)

          4. Betsy Bobbins*

            It’s ironic that you are annoyed at being lumped in with a poor stereotype of a generation while simultaneously stereotyping a different generation by referring to them as ‘greybeards’. As Lime Lehmer so eloquently said in a different comment thread below: “Race is not the only component of diversity. Age is also an aspect of diversity.”

        3. Lime Lehmer*

          “sorry It was a typo. GF should properly be Gen Z. I do find that there are generational differences. I was an older mom (39) so sometimes viewpoints are further apart on the timeline.

      3. Kittymommy*

        Female gen x here and honesty to God I cannot tell the difference between most fonts. Sure there are some that are obvious (comic sans, all the loopy ones) but for the most part…nope, but going to notice. And I would imagine if the general audience are boners the biggest factor needs to be readability.

        1. Southern Yankee*

          I’m seriously LOLing at the mental image of an audience of boners. Or maybe boomers with boners? BEST typo ever!

    3. Engineer Girl*

      I hope people realize that there are accessibility issues at play too. Some of these so called “boring” fonts are boring because they are easier to read. That means you can attract a wider audience.
      While it’s nice to have both, function needs to override pretty.

      1. On Fire*

        ^ this. I design pubs for my employer, as well as a few side projects. I adore playing with fonts, but there are some gorgeous options that I avoid because they’re (objectively) not easy to read.

        1. Seeking Second Childhood*

          Interesting study many years ago that I have not found today– there was a difference in information retention for series & nonserifed fonts, but it wasn’t the SAME difference for everyone in the study. Roughly the split was dependent on what you were used to. People who were used to seeing sans-serif fonts in their texts & work papers (engineers and software developers for example) had better retention with sans-serif. People who were used to serif fonts (newspaper publishers, lawyers) were the opposite.
          I’d love to see that updated, because 15 years changes a lot.

        2. Falling Diphthong*

          Huh. I see it the opposite way–especially if you’re trying to distinguish l, i, I, and 1.

      2. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

        I could be wrong, but there seems to be disagreement whether serif or sans-serif fonts are better for folks with low vision (apparently because there’s a lack of data/studies?). The only consistent advice I’ve seen for screen-based design is about font size, contrast, and proper use of alt-text, labeling, and transcripts for multimedia.

        But I agree that accessibility trumps using an “interesting” but less accessible design.

        1. Venus*

          My information is anecdotal, but based on the comments of quite a few visually impaired people their preference is for non-serif. I also realise that the impaired community is not homogeneous, so it could be that our particular impairment has a preference which is different from others’.

          I’m tempted to ask my optometrist next time I see them, as they are quite knowledgeable about such things.

      3. Dragoning*

        This also applies to Comic Sans, which already got dismissed–it’s far easier for people with Dyslexia to read (as is light text on a dark background–night mode).

        1. Book Badger, Attorney-at-Claw*

          There are some less quirky fonts that are accessible for dyslexic people without resorting to Comic Sans, though. Verdana, for example.

          1. Dragoning*

            I guess I just don’t hate Comic Sans enough to avoid it (I also tend to hate Veranda)

      4. Wintermute*

        I was going to say this! For all the hate it gets, Comic Sans is considered especially friendly for dyslexics and people not used to the latinate alphabet (native Japanese or Korean speakers for instance).

        Every font has a place!

        1. Grace*

          Comic Sans is also the go-to for pre-school announcements (as the OP said) because it’s one of the few fonts that have the letter shapes they want children to emulate. Rounded letter shapes, a single-storey “a”, and a single-storey “g” are all needed – and very few readily-available fonts contain all of those things.

          (Anecdotal source – my mum has taught pre-school for thirty years and has been making signs and activities since the dawn of the cheap word processor. Comic Sans is the favoured font for a reason.)

      5. e271828*

        This. All the fonts they’re averse to are highly legible on-screen and render reliably across a large range of browsers and devices. If they’re actually trying to sell stuff, legibility beats fancy.

        I got fed up with twee web font choices awhile ago, so everything I see is rendered by my browser in my choice of readable fonts, with an override to black on white if the “designer” color choices are terrible.

      6. Madame Curator*

        Ontarian here! The provincial government introduced legislation that governs accessibility issues, AODA (Accessibility for Ontarians with a Disability Act) The act contains standards for making public documents, government records etc. accessible and means for municipal government (my employer) we are pretty much required to the use Arial size 12 for most things. There’s also an accessibility checker in Microsoft Word that you can use to flag these kind of issues under the Review tab.

          1. MagicUnicorn*

            I have several colleagues who insist on using 16 point fonts in their emails because they think it is easier to read. Meanwhile, whenever I open a message from them I am taken aback at how unusually large the text is, like they are shouting at me. I wish they would just change the zoom on their own devices rather than doing this.

      7. GreyjoyGardens*

        THIS. Most people are not designers and arent’ going to be design critics unless your design is truly spectacularly awful. But you want your webpage to be as accessible to as many people as possible. In the end, your object is to get people to use your website (to read articles, order products, pay bills, whatever) and not gasp “OMG! It’s so pretty!”

      1. Drag0nfly*

        According to the dev tools inspector, it’s Georgia. And Georgia is widely regarded as nice on the eyes for screen reading. Reputedly crappy for print, though. YMMV.

          1. OrigCassandra*

            Printers print in round dots, but screen pixels are square. The difference is a bit less salient with today’s high-pixel-density displays, but Georgia was consciously designed to work with pixels.

              1. Kat in VA*

                Me too! I love picking up this little bits of information and squirreling them away, like a raven with a shiny bit of metal. Probably never ever help me in my personal or professional life, but every now and then I get to whip out some obscure bit of trivia and people are like OOOHHH THAT’S COOL, WHERE’D YOU LEARN THAT?

                Where I learn most things – the internet? No excuse to be ignorant about anything these days; Encyclopedia Britannica ain’t got nothin’ on the Interwebz!

                (Can you tell I’m a Gen Xer?)

    4. AnonBirder*

      I agree that it’s impossible to pick a font that everyone will like (or at least feel neutral about). But I feel that accessibility and portability should rank before indulging a particular subgroup’s hatred of common, easy to read fonts.

      I find that the only time I notice a font is when it’s something really outlandish (Gothic, comic sans), or when I have trouble reading it.

      (As an aside – Calibri is a proprietary font, which means that not everyone has access to it. I’ve run into problems with this editing shared documents on Linux systems, because I don’t have access to the font).

      1. Drag0nfly*

        Yes, I’m a little confused about Calibri being used on the web. I would have thought the OP would go with a Google font, which could be loaded “from the cloud” so you don’t have to worry if everyone has the font. And it’s free, so automatically cheaper than buying a web license from or wherever Calibri is sold. On the other hand, the likes of Helvetica, Arial, Georgia, Times, etc. are part of the default stack of fonts that everyone on the web will have. And again, free. But Calibri was probably just an example of the gf’s opinion?

        Here are the Google fonts if anyone is curious:

        Whenever I’ve seen fonts used on modern websites, they invariably come from Google fonts. For sans serifs, the favorites seem to be Lato, Montserrat, Roboto, and Open Sans. For serifs, I’ve been seeing Cormorant Garamond, Goudy Sorts Mill, Crimson Text, Alegreya, Vollkorn, etc. Google lets you test font combinations, and they’ll tell you which combinations are popular, which saves loads of testing time if you’re not good at pairing up serif and sans-serif fonts (I’m not).

        1. Lime Lehmer*

          Not everyone uses Google Chrome as a browser though it does have the largest share of users. A number of people use Firefox and some still use Explorer. Additionally there are browsers for phones. So choosing something that plays nice with multiple browsers is important.

          1. Type Nerd*

            Google fonts, and web fonts in general, will work on all browsers and operating systems, with some minor exceptions. It’s a big reason why they’re so great. They just happened to be hosted by google but the code that’s used to install them isn’t browser specific. I’d recommend Lato, Roboto, or Open Sans if you’re looking for a good sans serif.

      2. Falling Diphthong*

        There’s a sitcom episode lurking in there. “Okay, step 1, 30 seconds, we need to select a font that no one in the group hates.” Ten hours later…

    5. Goreygal*

      There is also the fact that there are better fonts for for visual comfort and those who are visually impaired. Both arial and calibri fall into that group which is why they became popular (times new roman does not).

    6. Seeking Second Childhood*

      One early professional publishing job, I pulled together study results showing changed attitudes towards typewriter fonts and convinced the owner that “imediate and timely” was no longer the way it was viewed. So I’d suggest they work from within the industry.
      But then, as long as the font has all the characters I need for engineering specs I’ll be fine. (This is MY current pet peeve because the one specifIed by my company doesn’t include the entire ASCII character set, let alone the non-English characters in the Unicode character set. Fun with font substitutions for something as simple as micrograms!)

    7. Falling Diphthong*

      I would hesitate to go into business with anyone who told me they refused to respond to job listings that used certain fonts.

      As someone with extremely mild emotions around fonts once legibility has been hit*, I’m always surprised at the intense passions they arouse. But they clearly do.

      *For example, my bank did a website redesign and the font for confirmation numbers was harder to read; after a week or two the font changed to a better choice.

      1. Lime Lehmer*

        Falling diphthong, I keep reminding myself that she is 22 and that is very young

        When I suggested that her font antipathy might be affecting her job hunt I was met with silence.

        Since this is my future daughter-in-law, I try to tread lightly

        1. Observer*

          You are wise. But it might be even wiser to not have a shared business with them. Just something to think about.

        2. GreyjoyGardens*

          My first thought was “gosh it must be nice to be swimming in so many job offers that you can afford to be picky about fonts.” But if she’s 22, she’ll learn. I didn’t make the best or brightest decisions at that age, either.

          You’re right to tread lightly, but, as Observer noted above, you really might have some second thoughts about sharing a business with your son and future DIL. Are they responsible? Will they be able to make good decisions? Just *in my experience* it’s usually better for young people just starting out to have some experience as a salaried employee or at least a freelancer before jumping feet first into the entrepreneur pool. And family businesses are…well, just read the AAM archives.

    8. drinking Mello Yello*

      Honestly, I half of the time, the official hated fonts are just whatever’s the “opposite” of whatever the current design trend is or whatever was two or three or more trends ago, often to the point of being a meme. I remember that making fun of GAP and other companies using “Helvetica on a white background lol” was definitely a Minor Thing a number of years back.

      Like anything else, design and font trends come and go and whatever is seen as the basic or default tends to be THE hated thing. Except for Comic Sans. Comic Sans hatred is evergreen.

      (Although I’ve noticed the Basically A Meme font hate almost never seems to take accessibility issues into consideration. Usually it’s just an, “Ugh, Times New Roman. Really?”)

      1. drinking Mello Yello*

        (Of course, without thinking, I pick as my one example the one front that legitimately is crappier for accessibility. ;P But the same thing happens to the more common fonts that are better for accessibility, too.)

    9. many bells down*

      I remember reading once that using Times New Roman on a resume made you look “old and out of touch.” Oh well, I like TNR and I’m keeping it.

  3. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

    OP#3, just reading the schedule of organized fun gave me a little “ack!” feeling. Is there any chance you could opt out as “sick” on the day of the Christmas party every now and again?

    1. Graciosa*

      I think Alison is right that there is a limit to how often you can do this, so the OP may need to think about a few other strategies.

      To the OP, I definitely support reframing it as a work obligation you just need to do. One day out of the year probably won’t kill you.

      If this was a client event, you would have to show up and smile and be polite – it’s pretty much the same thing. I’ll add that pretending to be having fun and not two seconds away from running screaming out of the room after too much socializing is a useful skill to acquire (I’m a strong introvert and hate these events, but have to attend).

      A few other thoughts –

      Can you get on the planning committee? You may be able to step out from time to time to check on the [thing] with [the staff or service provider] and give yourself a few minutes to breathe between events while still appearing to be engaged and supportive. When you are present, you can be graciously ensuring others are having a lovely time and then moving on. With skillful planning, you could also arrange to have “everyone is visibly here (or not here!)” events alternate with “who knows what happened to anyone” events and skip out on some of the latter.

      Someone early in my career kindly pointed out that for very large (hotel ballroom type) sitdown dinners at smaller tables with no seating chart, no one knows if you attended the meal. As long as they saw you circulating during the cocktail hour, they assume you just sat at a different table out of their immediate sight. I have happily paid for my own dinner in my hotel room to avoid these (expensing it would have been a major faux pas!).

      This may work the opposite way for smaller dinners where everyone is at one table, but start thinking strategically about what will really be noticeable and show up for that (but not necessarily everything else). I have skipped large swaths of the middle of chaotic holiday parties (once I spent two hours in a bookshop across from the bar where one was being held) without anyone noticing. I circulated at the beginning and the end (and thanked the host before I left, which was around the same time as others were starting to leave).

      If anyone had remarked on my absence, I would have had to step out for a call – wasn’t that a shame? – but was glad to finally be free of my phone and back enjoying all the fun! No one ever noticed or asked. A lot of things are forgivable if you don’t get caught!

      That being said, it is part of any job to be a pleasant part of the team, and sometimes that means showing up and smiling when you’d rather be anywhere else. There are parts of my job I don’t enjoy, but I like most of it and manage my energy to get through the rest. Figure out how to do the best you can without giving the impression you’re not part of the team or don’t like your co-workers.

      Please remember that Mr. Darcy – later condemned as “above his company” – did not do himself any favors by failing to participate in the local assembly ball. Learn to do enough to avoid damaging your reputation or relationships.

      Good luck – I really do sympathize.

      1. Anonariffic*

        The bookshop story warms my introverted little heart clear through, you are my hero.

        Decidedly seconding the planning committee suggestion- being the one selling the charity raffle tickets at one side of the ballroom is the best possible party experience in my book. My friends can hang out with me for as long as they like, my interactions with non-friends can stick to the ticket selling script, and when I’m sitting there all alone at my little table it’s because I’m the Dutiful Ticket Seller and not because I’m being antisocial. Best of both worlds.

      2. Quickbeam*

        Me too. I stay during work hours but leave when the drinking starts. I’m a known non-drinker and have protested open bar work events long enough that it’s become normal for me to exit. But during the event I am cheerful and pleasant (which is an effort). :)

        1. LW #3*

          LW #3 here – Thank you so much for the suggestions! Unfortunately, it’s a small-ish party (10 employees plus spouses/significant others) (although now that I think of it, most of the spouses/significant others chose not to attend – GEE, I wonder why … haha), so ducking out for a couple of hours would definitely be noticed. And I hesitated to claim another obligation, wanting to be a team player. But now that I know that it goes on for HOURS, I will definitely come up with a valid reason for bowing out early next time. I will be gracious and appreciative until 5 p.m. :)

          1. Tehanu*

            LW, is there any possibility of talking with some of the other staff about the party, in particular, asking why it goes on so long? It sounds to me as though it might be one of those workplace culture things that has just evolved (we did this fun thing last year, so we have to include it, we did that the year before, so we have to include it), to the point that longer-timers don’t question it. But there may well be others who’d like to bail early, at the very least at 5 pm. If the plan can be to switch to another optional activity at 4 or 5 and see who’s sticking around, that might make folks happy! And if only 2-3 people stay, that will be telling. You could suggest trying it for the upcoming year on a test basis.

            A party should be something people enjoy, not dread.

          2. Alexander*

            Whats interesting to me is the difference between “christmas parties” that are cultural it seems – Our “Christmas Party” (German company) only starts at 5pm, after a full work day, and everyone from all over the country is flown in for this (from all the subsidiaries), so it’s closer to 200 people.. the company pays for transport, for hotels, etc.. and the party then goes from 5pm to …well I guess the last one ended at 5am, and the one that year before actually was planned as a two-day event where we went to a hotel in the German alps with having dinner at a “Almhütte”, with a full pig roasted over a fire, everyone having a hotel room, and even events like snow-walking etc. planned for day two and then extending into that afternoon as well… also, employees only, no spouses. (For spouses & family, we have a separate event in the summer)

            1. Dragoning*

              I think that might be a specific company more than a German culture thing, surely. Not all German companies can afford such extravagance, I’m sure..

          3. Detective Amy Santiago*

            Holiday concert at [some kid you have a tangential relationship to]’s school.

          4. Shannon*

            I am curious LW #3 if it’s literally ONE party all year and you already know it’s going to be long why you can’t just reframe it as being a long workday and attend the party? Seems like the goodwill it would engender would be worth a couple of hours of your time. What’s the real issue here?

          5. Quinalla*

            Yes, I do think staying until the workday is done and politely bowing out is a good compromise. Since it is a fairly small group, it will be hard to disappear for long, but at least take some longer bathroom/drink/etc. breaks if you need to regroup. That is a long party and I would definitely need a few 5-10 minute extended bathroom breaks to regroup every so often! Maybe even see if you can gets some official-ish breaks included in the planning so everyone can check email/voicemail, etc. without interrupting the fun, you could sell this maybe :)

            And when you’ve been there awhile, maybe you can see about influencing the party length a bit. But if the rest of the small company loves it, definitely not worth spending your political capitol on!

      3. Jojo*

        Mine was easy to get out of. Just said “daycare closes at 5. See you at work.” I had no relatives in the state.

  4. Mystery Bookworm*

    No. 4:

    If it helps at all, keep in mind that she probably feels awkward and uncertain about this too. You’ve got an opportunity to set the tone you want here. Polite and brief is the best way to go!

  5. Bowserkitty*

    Re OP2:

    I can’t imagine being so picky about fonts that you wouldn’t apply for a job solely based on the posting’s font choice. Dear god. I hope she gets that out of her system soon or is in an opening-heavy area because geesh.

    1. Lime Lehmer*

      Fortunately we live in an opening heavy area. But she is a tech recruiter and I wonder about applicants who choose an out of favor font.

      1. Observer*

        Oh boy. If she makes choices based on font, she’s in a world of trouble. For one thing, she IS going to miss out on good candidates. For another, she (or her employer) could inadvertently wind up with a discrimination issue, because she could easily wind up filtering out people with certain visual difficulties. (I’m not going to repeat the discussion of fonts and accessibility.) Whoops!

      2. Seeking Second Childhood*

        I wonder what she does about ads that are formatted by the publication/website. Not apply to ReallyBigCompany because it advertises on

      3. Autumnheart*

        Agh no. This is like the recruiter who eliminates candidates because they didn’t send a thank-you note, even if they were the front-runner.

        If it were simply an applicant who seriously bases their decision to apply on the choice of font, then I would just be like, “Good luck with that!” and let Darwinism do its work. More jobs for the rest of us. I mean, it would be one thing if it were a 16-year-old applying for their first job, but a college graduate? They should know better. But if advice isn’t enough to clue them in, being broke and unemployed will usually do the trick.

    2. Engineer Girl*

      She falls into the same category as bosses that equate time-in-seat with productivity.
      In short, someone who is unable to determine what is truly important. Someone who is unable to recognize true indicators of what is good.

      Hopefully this is just a quirk. Otherwise she is very silly and entitled.

      1. Lime Lehmer*

        Op2 here
        I think GF is young and inexperienced in the real world. I am hoping she can get over this silly prejudice and see that she might be missing opportunities because of font bias. I have also talked to both her and my son about not having rigid views of the world, being tolerant of others viewpoints and taking advantage of the knowledge others may have.

        Rather than being flexible I see a number of your people being rigid about technology superiority and having a bit of an ageist view of what another poster in this thread called “greybeards”.

        For example, our department hired a new much younger co-worker for her technological expertise. She would sometimes talk to me as if I was the village idiot if I asked a technological question. If it matters I am a direct report to her boss and the office admin.

        After one particularly frustrating conversation about a technological issue that was the result of how our institution set up a system, rather than my lack of knowledge, I was so annoyed that I seriously thought of retiring.

        The next day went to her office and calmly said “I may not have as much technical knowledge as you, but I have other skills and institutional memory. And I was hired for my institutional knowledge. Race is not the only component of diversity. Age is also an aspect of diversity.”

        She blinked a bit, said OK, and we have gotten along fine since then. She even will asked me questions about processes at large university, and finally is utilizing me more for admin functions.

        I really have to thank AAM for teaching me to be more direct

    3. Rikki Tikki Tarantula*

      People are weird. I once saw someone (possibly on this forum but I don’t quite remember) saying they would never hire someone who wore pantyhose to an interview, because obviously the person is some dinosaur with stodgy thinking or something.

      1. Tetra*

        Yeah. I remember the people that said they wouldn’t hire someone with long hair a while ago… still not sure what to make of that, although it’s another reason to keep my hair past my shoulders.

      2. Mels*

        Lena Clare, so you mind sharing what part of the world you live in? I’m fascinated that you wouldn’t show up to work with bare legs. I don’t know any women who follow this rule (myself included), and find myself surrounded by bare legs here in Southern California.

        1. Lena Clare*

          Lol well I guess we don’t have the weather for it in the north of England :-)

          But also – a skirt suit with no tights or stockings seems weird to me!

          1. SS Express*

            It’s very very normal in Australia to wear business skirts or dresses with bare legs – I do wear pantyhose for interviews if I’m interviewing somewhere quite corporate though. My mum is from Up North too and she wears a skirt with bare legs at work pretty much every day.

            1. EM*

              I think this depends on the office or state. When I lived up north I almost never wore stockings, except I the most formal circumstances. When I moved south I wore black tights everyday. It could have just been the fashion (also it was mostly cold!) it had to be above 35 before I felt comfortable in bare legs, even then my skirt would have been knee length or just below. I never saw other women dressing differently, so I’m not sure if it was cultural generally or just that office?

          2. Anne (with an “e”)*

            I live in Georgia. The high has been in the 90’s Fahrenheit for a week. Believe me, everyone in a dress or skirt is also bare legged.

        2. RaccoonMama*

          Im from the US and haven’t seen too many people who wear tights/pantyhose under their skirts. Currently on vacation across the Atlantic and almost every woman I’ve seen wearing a nice dress or skirt has been wearing them! Just an interesting cultural difference!

            1. PhyllisB*

              Depends on what type of skirt/dress and shoes you’re wearing. According to my daughters and grand-daughter, I’m an old lady and not to be listened to; but if I’m DRESSING UP I wear hose/tights black or nude; especially with close-toed shoes and for sure in cold weather. If I’m wearing a casual skirt and top and sandals, I will go bare-legged sometimes. Yesterday I wore nude hose with my dress to church and my girls thought I was a real dinosaur. To me, nude hose on the legs are like foundation on the face. Just smooths the flaws and looks better. When you get to be my age, your legs can use all the help they can get.

              1. The Other Dawn*

                “To me, nude hose on the legs are like foundation on the face. Just smooths the flaws and looks better.”

                I’ve always felt like this; however, I’ve noticed that I’m developing a few spider veins so now I feel like it’s a necessity in order to look and feel more put together.

        3. The Other Dawn*

          I feel the same as Lena Clare. I don’t judge others for not wearing pantyhose, but I wouldn’t go without myself. I guess it comes from my mother since she always wore them, too. Aside from it making me feel naked to not wear them, I just don’t feel I look good with bare legs and a skirt/dress. Lots of women can pull it off. I can’t.

          1. PVR*

            Yup, exactly. Some women may feel more comfortable in pantyhose if they have spider or varicose veins or scars on their legs—or maybe even have a medical issue that requires wearing compression stockings. A person refusing to hire based on such a silly criteria could absolutely be inadvertently discriminatory.

            1. Lena Clare*

              If I have a skirt on with bare legs (this is in work only mind you) I feel weirdly naked. It’s most disconcerting.

      3. MK*

        Thsi discussion never ceases to amaze me whenever it crops up in AAM. In my country women always wear tights in the late autumn/winter/early spring and never in the late spring/summer/early autumn, with a grey area in the middle of spring and autumn when it depends on the weather and how hot/cold the individual feels.

        It’s a piece of clothing. It’s main purpose is functional.

        1. Seeking Second Childhood*

          “I’ll take ‘Things You Never Expected To Write’ for $100, Alex.”

      4. Retired Accountant*

        And hr types who would screen out candidates who had email domains they didn’t like.

      5. Kat in VA*

        I wear pantyhose at least 75% of the time if I am wearing a skirt because (a) my legs are pasty and blotchy and veiny and (b) because I think it looks a bit more polished. To me, bare legs with a wool skirt suit* and pumps just looks like you forgot part of your outfit, no?

        *think “prosecutorial gray” wool suiting skirt suit, not the more casual crepe ones that about these days

        1. Kat in VA*

          Oops, just saw Allison removed a derail on this. Don’t reply to my comment lest we derail again. Sorry about that, Allison.

    4. iglwif*

      Yeah, I’m a publishing-industry veteran and a font geek and I have Strong Opinions about fonts, but that’s just silly.

      (Also, one of my Strong Opinions about fonts is that there is no overall objectively better font, only better fonts for specific situations.)

    5. Lady Phoenix*

      Especially since some of it is dictated by the website and not the user. Like jobs on Indeed, LinkedIn, or whatever.

      Unless it let you make a pdf of your job opening or something, most people are just going to use the generic fonts on the websites.

      Also, as a graphic desgner, I find the snobbery absolutely idiotic. Just… shut up people. :/

  6. Heidi*

    So did anyone else read headline 1 and get the impression that the intern doesn’t flush at all? Then feel relieved that it’s only when he pees? Then be grossed out again because you should still flush when using a work restroom? Emotional rollercoaster.

    It might be okay in a small office to send out an email asking nicely for everyone to flush out of consideration for their colleagues. That’s if OP1 really wants to avoid singling someone out. If he doesn’t take the hint, then OP1 could ask directly.

    1. Wiping Is For Other People*

      In my experience, all-staff emails about cleanliness issues never have the desired effect — if the culprits felt shame, they wouldn’t be doing the things necessitating the all-staff email in the first place, so they assume it’s someone else making the mess. (Ask me about the person who was unwittingly leaving fecal smears on the toilet seats in the restroom at an old job and who denied it despite VERY clear visual and olfactory evidence. Actually, please don’t ask.)

      1. Cynthia*

        Exactly. This applies to many instances where someone doing any kind of ongoing transgression is addressed indirectly or even directly. If a casual talking-to is going to change someone’s behavior, it won’t be someone who’s doing these kinds of things in the first place.

      2. Heidi*

        I hear you, but I was thinking this might be the rare case where a group email works. If the intern is doing this out of a misguided understanding of office norms and is not doing this out of spite or something, a gentle reminder from above might be all he needs and he’ll be relieved that he could fix it without anyone knowing it was him. Plus others have probably noticed the non-flushing and might want it to be addressed. My office manager recently did this and got an unknown coworker to stop taking up so much space in the fridge with their Tupperware containers. She will only send an email like this once every other year, so we do pay attention when she does. But agreed, could just as easily not work.

        1. AnnaBananna*

          It might be a good reminder about shared plumbing. A lot of people don’t know this but property management will have to replace toilets in men’s rooms at least 4 times faster than women’s. There’s something about men’s behavior and their urine but the urine leaves deposits that break down plumbing wayyy faster. Just something an ex prop mgr wanted to share. Basically, unless it’s a major drought, for the love of god, please flush – and always flush in public.

      3. Nick*

        Agreed entirely. Diffusing the blame let’s the people who are doing the disgusting things feel like it’s fine because they didn’t get caught. This is why the most awkward conversation of my life involved having to have discussion with a thirty-year-old man that I supervised to stop defecating in the toilet that was clearly marked out of order because it would not flush. He denied it initially until I told him that it had been his key fob that opened the bathroom door both times. That conversation still makes me shudder.

    2. Eva T.*

      Please don’t send a general email about an issue with a specific individual. Chances are very high that the recipients who are not the target will feel anxious that they forgot to flush one time and upset you, and the target individual will not realise it’s meant for them and will blithely carry on as before.

      Singling people out is not a bad thing when they are the only one causing a problem!

    3. Tortie*

      I think there is a much kinder approach here, and I say that as someone who manages interns. Honestly if someone came to me with this issue and didn’t just tell the intern themselves I would be a bit irritated with that person. Plus it makes it really embarrassing for the intern to be all “someone brought to my attention you don’t flush, I’m a yellow-mellow at home myself but in the office that is not OK. Please flush each time.” because now the intern has to worry about whose been complaining about him.

      My approach as the non-manager would be: “Hey I have noticed this a couple of times and wanted to let you know about an office norm. You have to flush after each trip. I’m down with yellow-mellow brown-down at home myself but in the office it doesn’t fly.”

      Mich nicer then – “Dude. Flush!”

    4. AJ*

      Knew a guy who didn’t flush AT ALL. He never learnt. Whenever he ‘went’ as a child, his mother would immediately go in to ‘inspect’ and flush for him. He was in his 20s when I came across him and he still didn’t flush. He didn’t see it as an issue, although everyone else did.

    1. Q*

      The CEO of our ~10,000 person company writes all his emails in comic sans. Maybe I’ll cut him some slack now.

    2. Batgirl*

      Yep, I use it for my SEN students and have no idea why people lose their minds over this font. It’s by far the clearest and gives a good amount of spacing.

      1. Grace*

        Hence why it’s also used at pre-schools and other places where people need to learn the correct letter shapes. Sans-serif and single-storey “a”s and “g”s are what you want little kids to be seeing and absorbing when they’re learning how to read and write.

        1. Gazebo Slayer*

          I think its use for children – and thus its childishness – is much of WHY it’s so loathed in an adult context. It’s patronizing.

    3. RuralPsych*

      Unfortunately it’s not that simple. Dyslexia is a language based learning difficulty, not a visually based one. Therefore fonts make no significant difference to the reading ability of someone with dyslexia. There are better, and more evidence based interventions like systematic phonics instruction that can improve reasing skills.

      1. Kat A.*

        Actually, dyslexia has been found to be caused by a mild eye deformity. The idea that it is language based is an old belief.

        1. Rebecca*

          Yep, without minimizing the importance of phonics, lots of visual interventions help. I have students use colored paper, larger fonts, different fonts (there have been some developed specifically for dyslexia), and papers with cutouts so they only see one line at a time.

          1. RuralPsych*

            Kat A and Rebecca, with respect you are both incorrect. I’m not sure if i can post links here, but the overwhelming scientific consensus is that dyslexia is language based, specifically to do with processing phonological information.

            The Royal College of Ophthalmologists has come out clearly stating that dyslexia is not a visual isse, and vision based therapies (including behavioural optometry) are not appropriate treatments. This means that coloured paper, fonts etc don’t address the core difficulties present in those with dyslexia.

            Additionally, they eye deformation theory is not supported by high quality research evidence.

            So use whatever font you want. Just teach all kids to read using systematic synthetic phonics (as part of a structured literacy approach). This way almost all kids can learn to read in whatever font is put in front of them.

            1. My cat is my alarm clock*

              Well, I’m going to take the word of the dyslexic people I know who say comic sans helps them.

              1. boo bot*

                Yeah, I’m not sure what the purpose is in taking a hard line against the idea that it would help, either! I don’t think anyone is suggesting that changing fonts would solve dyslexia all on its own, and no one should teach phonics anymore.

                To be honest, the insistence that a simple change that makes reading easier is inappropriate kind of feels like a way of suggesting that dyslexic kids just aren’t working hard enough.

                It reminds me a little of when left-handed kids were forced to learn to write with their right hand. Sure, it’s possible to learn if you work diligently at it – but, you could also just write with your left hand.

            2. Batgirl*

              It’s entirely possible to use both visual aids and phonics. If struggling with visuals gives a dyslexic, or just a generally struggling reader, a headache, I’m going to use whatever font/spacing/overlay helps them or alleviates it. Yeah, even in cases where it is not strictly a physical eye issue, that doesn’t mean they aren’t experiencing visual stress.

        2. Proofin’ Amy*

          Actually, dyslexia simply means trouble reading. It has multiple causes, and depends on the person. Breakdowns in language processing can occur at a visual or a phonological level. My Masters in Cognitive Neuropsychology is from more than 20 years ago, but I’ve yet to read evidence that’s changed. I assume that some causes are prevalent than others, but I think an eye deformity is probably not a major one.

          1. Proofin’ Amy*

            (Just to clarify, the visual issues would occur at a visual processing/brain level; probably not at the level of the eye.)

            1. Lady Jay*

              From my interactions with several dyslexic friends & family, this is my impression. They had good language/reading instruction as kids (yes, phonics) but their brain switches around similar letters, such as b, p, and d. Fonts do actually help.

              1. Proofin’ Amy*

                Sure, but why do such switches occur? This is definitely not true for the vast majority of people with reading problems, but my grad school advisor worked with a college student and discovered that about half the time, she was essentially everything, not just letters in reverse. So that she’d see an item placed to the left as being on the right. He wrote a book about her. Obviously, this young woman is an outlier, but without really good cognitive testing, you don’t know what causes someone’s reading problems and how to address them.

    4. KayDay*

      I’ve always thought the whole comic sans hatred was just a bit….too much. Way too much, in fact. It’s actually very easy to read and with all the hate it’s gotten it hasn’t even been over used since the days of early HTML web pages.

      My professional goal is to one day be so important that I can write everything in comic sans but no one will be able to do anything about it because I’m too awesome to be criticized for small things. And then little minions will also start writing in comic sans because they want to be like the boss. mmuhuhuhahahahahhaha *tents fingers under chin*

      1. Falling Diphthong*

        I enjoy reading this in the context of the upthread CEO of 10,000 people who uses Comic Sans in his emails.

        (Most font discussions to me sound like “So Comic Sans is too casual…” “And it sacrifices kittens to Satan.” “…?”)

    5. Emily W*

      Yes!! You can still not like the aesthetics of it (I don’t!) but anytime I see (frequently over-the-top) hatred of comic sans, my shoulders go up to my ears.

      1. Lucette Kensack*

        Yepppppp. Performative hatred of Comic Sans drives me up the wall.

        (Actually, other people’s dramatic pet peeves are my pet peeve in general!)

      1. Dragoning*

        Honestly? I prefer Comic Sans to that 1000-fold. And as someone without dyslexia, that font is hard for me to read–it the upper half is much thinner than the base so my brain sort of assume it got cut off.

        I’m curious as to how they decided what “looks a little nicer” means, because so many people have such different opinions.

        1. boo bot*

          It’s interesting! I am also not dyslexic, and I found it a little odd to read at first, but I read a few paragraphs in the ‘about’ section and was used to it by the time I finished.

          I think “looks a little nicer” means “doesn’t look like comic sans,” really – comic sans has been not only vilified, but so associated with children and comics (!) that I think just by distancing the font from that specific look they’ve created something that can take on a more professional stature.

          Graphic designers probably know better than I on the specifics :)

        2. iglwif*

          I really like Dyslexie. (I am not dyslexic.) It takes me a few seconds to get used to every time, but I think it’s got a less kindergarten aesthetic than Comic Sans and after those few seconds I find it very readable.

          I personally don’t like Comic Sans but if it makes things more readable for people, I’m not gonna shame them for using it!

      2. RuralPsych*

        There is no robust evidence that dyslexie or other fonts are easier for people with dyslexia to read. It’s nice to think that there’s a simple fix but there isn’t.

        So much time, energy and money is wasted on things like this, that could be spent on preventing reading difficulties or remediating them in evidence based ways.

        I am a psychologist that specialises in reading and reading disorders. This is my bread and butter. It upsets me no end to see so much misinformation, even if well intended.

        1. JSPA*

          Nobody ever said that comic sans is some sort of miracle cure. Promoting accessible fonts that help a subset of reading-challenged people isn’t like someone charging thousands of dollars for a placebo cancer cure.

          Even if it’s not borne out by studies (done on what may or may not be the same subset of dyslexic people as the ones who report finding certain fonts helpful), there’s really no downside to making the process of reading more approachable. Nor does defaulting to a strange font in any way prevent or block language-based tutoring.

          I don’t know if you tell your clients not to use fonts that feel helpful to them, and make them feel more able to read, because the science disagrees with them, or whether you save that level of shaming and negging for dyslexic people on the internet, but your tone and blanket statements are strangely dismissive of people’s lived experiences.

          As a “hard” scientist who’s regularly gob-smacked by the poor quality, bad controls and over-interpretation found in other disciplines–including yours–I’m frankly shocked that you’d turn “did not consistently nor reliably improve objective results in a set of studies” into “isn’t helpful.”

          Sure, it may be a crutch–but crutches are valid medical tools. Most of us have used one or another sort of crutch after an injury–some with success, some not–without mistaking the crutch for a miracle cure. Would you banish those, too, because they don’t make bones knit faster?

    6. Wintermute*

      It’s also super good for people not used to the latinate alphabet, like native Chinese or Japanese speakers who are learning English or just have lower-level skills– best practice for ACTFL novice and lower-grade intermediate levels is to assume that larger, simpler fonts will be needed when alphabet familiarity may be an issue

  7. Caitlin Burrows*

    OP #2 – Where I used to work, sans serif fonts were required so what we wrote was readable to everybody, so I guess the only “bad” fonts in that case are the ones that don’t fall in the sans serif category.

    1. Not All*

      Funny! And we have the opposite policy. Serif fonts only because so much research shows they are more 508 compliant!

      (I never used to think it was a big deal either way until I crossed 40 & got bifocals. Now I’m solidly on team Ban Sans Serif!)

      1. AnonBirder*

        I’ve read that in general, serif fonts work better in printed documents, and sans-serif on screens or projectors.

        Also, I do think that any-one who designs printed/web materials/presentations should be forced to spend a day reading their work with the contrast/resolution adjusted to the typical capability of older eyes. It’s really easy to not realize how much of an effect age has on vision.

        1. Ariaflame*

          My main font requirement is that it be easy to distinguish between I, l and 1 and O and 0. Not all fonts have this. (My preferred monospaced font is objectively ugly as all out but I use it for things like distributed proofreaders because it makes it very easy to tell which letter is which – DPCustomMono2)

          1. Seeking Second Childhood*

            And no unintended ligatures… small/large shouldn’t look like it switches to Cyrillic in the middle. Ie I’ve seen l/l touching on 2 corners.

        2. PhyllisB*

          This is true. Fonts I don’t care much about, but a pox on magazines who will print something like black font on a red background or white on a pale pink background. I understand they are trying to make the page visually interesting, but when I have to get a flashlight to read something, my interest level goes way down.

        3. Venus*

          As with all things, it depends on the person and their visual problem – there is no perfect font.

          If someone has a vision problem then I recommend changing the browser to force a specific font type or size. I don’t care what a company uses as long as they have it written out (rather than the painful ones who do everything as pictures which can’t be modified) as I can do what I want with it.

      2. Falling Diphthong*

        Interesting last line, as I wear bifocals and am mystified at the alleged readability of sans cerif.

        1. Clisby*

          Same here. Although my pet peeve is light type on a dark background – I won’t read a website with that, unless it’s a really small item (for example, the small “ask a question” box on this website.) For any significant amount of text, for the love of god, make it dark on light.

          1. Dragoning*

            Interesting, light on dark tends to be, once again, easier for people with dyslexia. And it’s also easier on some people’s eyes if they’re reading in the dark.

            I fully support all websites coming in night/day modes.

            1. wordswords*

              Heartily agreed about night/day modes! I have friends who strongly prefer the light-on-dark text of night mode, some for accessibility reasons and some just from preference. I, on the other hand, find it hard to read at the best of times and headache-inducing if it’s a text of any length, and will pretty much always prefer anything that’s more than a sentence or two long to be in day mode. IMO, it just makes sense to give people the option to toggle between.

              (I realize there are browser extensions that can give the same functionality, but not everyone knows how to install those, and I don’t know if they play well with all websites.)

  8. Lena Clare*

    Oh the C word! Ack.

    No. 3 – I work with a person who doesn’t celebrate Christmas for religious reasons. I wonder what your workplace would do if someone said they didn’t want to go? I’m not saying it should be you! But these things should be optional right?
    Or am I being a curmudgeon??

    We have something similar in my workplace.
    If you don’t want to take part in the meal out you stay in work until your usual finishing time, which seems a bit harsh to me. Come out and eat with your colleagues to celebrate a festival you don’t take part in, or work on your own!
    I don’t know. I find Christmas fraught even before it arrives.

    Anyway, I like Alison’s idea – stay till normal work end time then leave.
    For me, I’d be ok doing this every year because work doesn’t pay for the festivities. I think it might be different if they paid for it, I’d probably have to turn up to most of it if that were the case.

    1. Tetra*

      I’m strongly considering no longer celebrating Christmas for religious reasons, but would probably continue to do so at work. I don’t want to be branded unsociable, boring or a grinch.

      Which is certainly not to say that’s the *right* thing to do.

    2. Shad*

      I suspect the solution in a company so invested in their holiday party that they spend 8 hours at it would just be to rebrand it away from Christmas. Not that that usually means much, but still.

      1. WS*

        Indeed. I worked for a company that rebranded to “End Of Year Party” and carried right on with the Christmas crackers and Secret Santa. The only thing that we really managed to change was adding a wider range of non-alcoholic beverage options.

      2. Asenath*

        I can’t see that spending 8 hours at a non-Christmas party is any better than spending 8 hours at a Christmas party! When I read these letters, I’m so glad that what celebrations we have at work are strictly optional – and I do celebrate Christmas! Just not with marathon work parties.

    3. cncx*

      My boss has this rule too, if you don’t participate then it’s a normal working day. That said, he’s also ok with us leaving the party at our normal leaving time, or slightly early if the commute from the venue is worse.

    4. Tortie*

      The C word? Come on now there is no reason to start using the same phrase that is used to describe a sexist, misogynist slur for Christmas.

        1. Dragoning*

          There is a four-letter word that starts with C as is used to refer to female genitalia that is usually what “the C word” is.

          1. Lena Clare*

            Yeah I get that! That was the point of my ‘joke’!

            Tortie – I’m not describing Christmas as c*nt (I also hate this word). I’m saying it’s a swearword in my house.

  9. Knitting Cat Lady*

    I once set off a nice flame war in a scientific collaboration group. It went like this:

    1. I make slides for a talk at a conference. I use a serifed font because I find it easier to read. It was Times New Roman.
    2. My supervisor tells me that the content is fine, but the slides look boring. And tells me to change the font to Comic Sans, then post the slides to the collaboration server for critique.
    3. Head honcho of the collaboration calls the font choice childish and unprofessional, and tells me to switch to Times New Roman or Arial.
    4. My supervisor loses her shit.

    My supervisor was an abusive asshole and I thoroughly enjoyed her getting her ass handed to her.

    1. Thé Font Queen*

      Supervisor is a fool.

      I’ve worked in publications my entire life. There is a font for every purpose. Knowing when to use which font is a matter of experience and common sense.

    2. JustaTech*

      Oh lord, there’s more than one scientist who does that? I thought my old PI was the only one who would present at big conferences or to big granting organizations in Comic Sans.
      (He presented to the Gates Foundation in Comic Sans and I was mortified. That’s not what you want your lab to be known for. There are other fonts.)

  10. LemonLyman*

    “Her antipathy to fonts is such that she won’t reply to job postings using fonts she dislikes.”

    Wait… does this mean she doesn’t reply if the post is written in the fonts she doesn’t like? I read it as “her reply won’t be written in the fonts she doesn’t like.”

    If it’s the first, that’s silly and costly… even if it’s a design job. HR probably posted the job, not the actual designers. Judge the company based on its website or reviews, not a job posting.

    I know people have font preferences but I didn’t realize it was such a vehement debate. I’m now honestly curious what people feel is the most appropriate font for work emails?

    1. Lena Clare*

      I read it as she won’t reply to job postings if they’re written in the font she dislikes.

    2. Alexandria*

      On job boards, I find it odd if they use any font besides the default. It would be a yellow flag to me if a job posting used more than one font, different colors, or used multiple ways of emphasizing things. I’d never apply to a place that bolded, underlined, and used exclamation marks.

    3. Moray*

      If it’s actually true that she won’t apply to a job because she doesn’t like the font, it’s not about the font at all. She is either consciously or unconsciously self-sabotaging.

  11. Who Plays Backgammon?*

    Re fonts: girlfriend is right, Calibri sucks. It sets way small and there’s nothing to it. But the venerable Helvetica–watch the movie (documentary). A talented designer can do all kinds of nifty stuff with it.

    1. Wintermute*

      The biggest issue with calibri is it is proprietary, owned by Microsoft. So if you use a libre word processing solution, a *nix computer, or any web browser but IE/edge it won’t render properly and will be subbed out anyway.

    2. Anon Librarian*

      It is small and there’s not much too it. Easily mistaken for an insect and it drinks nectar. Wait….

    1. Seeking Second Childhood*

      It’s been pointed out that it’s proprietary so be sure to embed fonts whenmaking a PDF that may be read on a non-Microsoft device!

  12. Akcipitrokulo*

    OP3 – it may well be that the reason they start it early during work hours is specifically to include people who can’t do out of hours parties. Which is a good way of organising it.

    So enjoy what you can attend in hours and don’t feel bad about saying “this has been awesome! Thanks – see you tomorrow!” when you want to leave.

    1. Even Steven*

      And since it’s the busy holiday season, when leaving half-way through the evening (or sooner!) you can always stop to thank the organizer, and say it’s a shame you have to leave, but that you have a second event to attend tonight. Utterly believable – happens all the time. That the event is with your couch, pajamas and Netflix is nobody’s business.

      At my company, buses collect the entire home office around lunch on Friday and drive for 2 hours to a hotel/casino for a two-day party with hotel stay. It gives me the shivers even to think about it. In April, I overheard the December date from a staffer in HR, and pre-emptively put an out-of-office scheduling reminder in my calendar for that day. No thank you very much! Netflix and I have much to cover that night.

    2. Clisby*

      Yes, there easily could be parents who need to get on home to their kids, or dog owners who need to let the dogs out, or people with an an after-work volunteer commitment, or, oh, any number of things.

    3. learnedthehardway*

      I would have been pretty overjoyed at having a holiday party WITHIN working hours, regardless of length. Would have saved me many an evening spent with colleagues and managers, that I’d have preferred to spend at home. Esp. when it meant schlepping back into the city for the evening.

  13. Electric Witch*

    I realise this is not the case where Op #1 is based, but in my severly drought riddled area we actually have signs in the work bathroom asking us not to flush! Honestly, it was gross 2 years ago, but I’m very used to it now. Maybe the intern is from a similar area?

    1. DustyJ*

      I also went through a severe drought, and we also did mellow yellow. It’s awkward not flushing at first, and then you get used to it because everyone’s doing it. There’s an etiquette to it.

    2. Paperdill*

      Yeah, look….ugh, I know – it’s gross. It’s gross at home and it’s gross at work. It’s gross. But the world is on fire and clean water is getting scarce. Can we just move on from the toilets and look at the reports for monday’s meeting, Wakeen?

  14. DustyJ*

    Re LW1 –
    I’ve worked in offices that practiced mellow yellow. But that means the *whole office* has agreed and practices mellow yellow together! There’s an etiquette to follow!

    It’s very rude and inappropriate for one person to decide to do it pre-emptively, without bothering to get the buy-in of his colleagues. I would just say, “Just to let you know, we aren’t currently practicing mellow yellow in this office,” and pretend it’s an eager-intern mistake, and not rudeness.

    1. drinking Mello Yello*

      (Oh jeeze, this was the wrong day to profess my love of the carbonated citrus beverage…… D:)

      It’s gross and you only do it when you absolutely have to because it’s so gross!

    2. Anon Librarian*

      Couldn’t people get UTI’s from splash back? Isn’t that usually the reason not to do it, at least with more than a few people, using a standard US toilet?

      1. drinking Mello Yello*

        ? Maybe?

        At the very least, it can stain the porcelain. And if they’re mellowing more than yellow (or if somebody is just on the toilet for a while doesn’t do the Courtesy Flush after they poop), you can end up with gross poop streaks that don’t tend to flush away easily. (I’ve seen that from using the toilet after people who don’t even practice mellow yellow.) And crap-encrusted toilets are always nasty. :/

        I don’t always like where I live, but I’m at least glad that it’s humid and rainy enough that there haven’t been any water rationing measures like that instituted. Leaving waste to just linger is too nasty.

        1. Anon Librarian*

          It seems like switching to water-conserving toilets would be a healthier solution. OP could suggest that. The office could even hold a fundraiser (or apply for funding?) to offset the cost.

  15. Mystykyn*

    We in local government have been advised by central Government (U.K.) that Ariel is the most disabled friendly font and that therefore we should use it. The absence of choice can be strangely liberating!

  16. Jemima Bond*

    The font thing…the son’s GF is just setting herself up to be one of those stories of ridiculous people that others tell each other about over coffee; “No really, I once met someone who refused to apply for jobs advertised in the wrong font! I’m not even joking, did you ever…”
    What next, she refuses to buy/rent a house with door handles (so over; knobs only please) or cream coloured walls (must be pure white!)??
    Yes design choices and personal preferences are valid up to a point but the job posting thing is just plain silly. Cutting off your nose to spite your face.

    1. 'Tis me*

      My 4 year old has been able to open door handles since before she was 2, but still struggles with knobs… it’s something we might talk about changing the fixture over, not avoid buying the house in the first place!

  17. My cat is my alarm clock*

    #2 Fonts are actually really important. For example, they had to adjust the type on early e-readers because it gave people headaches. The type on road signs has to be selected very carefully so it catches your eye but doesn’t distract you so much that it makes you crash. Fonts can be selected as part of a company’s branding, either from existing options or by commissioning something bespoke, and can be used to tell a story – they can convey luxury or economy, they can look outdated or modern, trendy or classic, etc.

    So it’s true that the typefaces you see from a potential employer might tell you something about them. But to judge the fonts they use in job postings is ill-considered, not least because they may be determined by the fonts available on YOUR operating system, or the fonts used on a standard job site.

    Do judge a company that uses a completely inappropriate font. But the likes of Calibri do not come within that.

    As to Comic Sans, it’s actually really helpful for people with dyslexia.

    1. Anon Librarian*

      Right. My first thought was to point out that, as a front end developer, you usually specify a few alternate font options to be displayed if the first choice isn’t available. If you don’t do that or don’t choose the backup fonts wisely, the OS could render just about anything. What you’re seeing is not necessarily the company’s font choice.

  18. Blarg*

    I used to have this “rule” that the person I was going to fall in love with would be able to name all 9 SCOTUS justices and the players who scored the Stanley Cup winning goals in 1996 and 2001.

    I’m still single.

    Don’t set arbitrary rules like acceptable fonts or mandatory trivia knowledge. It gets you nowhere.

    1. VlookupsAreMyLife*

      My curiosity got the better of me & I *had* to check part B: Uwe Krupp (in triple OT??) & Joe Sakic (unless you’re counting Tanguay’s go ahead goal in the 2nd as the “winning goal?).

  19. Bookworm*

    #4: Eeeek! So awkward.

    Hopefully she will also recognize that it has been 3 years and maybe understood that it was a bad fit overall. Still, I get the awkwardness, so hopefully what Alison suggested will all work out. Good luck!!!

  20. Mrs. Smith*

    I work at a small school that is divided into three buildings: K-5, 6-8, and 9-12. Every fall to kick off the school year we hold an event in the big high school building, so the teachers of the younger kids have to help guide them all around, and for years I posted signs to help navigate and not a single damn teacher ever read them. I tried making them bigger, tried neon paper, tried sending emails in advance reminding them of the signs . . . nothing worked. Until I printed the signs in Comic Sans and then it was as though someone switched on a light where previously there had been darkness.

    1. Wintermute*

      Comic sans is amazing for people with dyslexia or that are learning the Latin alphabet! I imagine kids would fall into that category easily!

      It was actually very intentionally designed for accessibility because it was to be the default font for Microsoft Bob, a sekumorphic windows UI overlay designed to make a windows-oriented environment more accessible to kids and non-technical computer users in the early windows 95 era.

      1. Joielle*

        Omg I forgot about Microsoft Bob! I loved Bob so much when I was a kid. The study, the mouse hole, the castle room… all the little squares for each program… thanks for the trip down memory lane :)

    2. Middle School Teacher*

      Every time I walk into the elem side of our building it is comic sans everywhere! We tend to prefer more mature fonts in middle school :)

  21. Lusara*

    #4 happened to me. I was working as a floor nurse and one of the managers fired me. So I went to work at another place, and about two years later who do I see come in for me to give report to but the jerk who fired me. It was pretty unnerving, to say the least, but I just acted like everything was normal, gave him report and went home.

    But karma is a bitch. He got fired a few months later because he pretty much sucked at his job.

  22. AngryAngryAlice*

    Much like Amy Santiago’s father in a Brooklyn Nine-Nine, I’m a Garamond fan myself.

    Also, I think people who don’t flush at work should be drawn and quartered.

    1. SusanIvanova*

      The thing about seeing an unflushed public toilet: you don’t know if the previous person actually did try, but it failed and the toilet is one more attempt away from overflowing. So now you have to go find another toilet.

      1. AngryAngryAlice*

        Agreed, although you can sometimes tell by the water level and whether the TP is intact or shredded a bit whether there was an attempted flush vs whether no flush was made.

        This analysis was brought to you by ‘Toilet Thoughts with AngryAngryAlice’

  23. SezU*

    #2 – I was like girlfriend when I was young too. I stood on all kinds of principles. Nothing wrong with that, but definitely fonts in job postings is not one of them! She could miss a great oppty. (and this sounds like something I totally would have done… and then I got older!)

    1. Anon Librarian*

      When I was that age, I used to skip anything that included “go getter” or “dynamic personality.” I figured they wanted someone super extroverted and always cheerful, and that the skills that person brought to the job would be considered less important than their super outgoing and happy personality. I was probably right, but they also could have just meant, “reasonably nice and well adjusted person with a good work ethic.”

  24. Ms. Ann Thropy*

    Re OP 3: An eight-hour Christmas party is less a celebration than a hostage situation. It’s incredibly thoughtless of any employer to require so much of their employees’ personal time, especially during the holiday season.

    1. Wintermute*

      I wonder how much of it is people hanging out after the formal event is over and how much is Mandatory Fun Time.

      I can see an event going on as long as they let it at some of my former workplaces

      1. The Other Dawn*

        I can see it happening at my former workplace, too. It had many long-timers who’d worked together for years, there was a lot of camaraderie among them, and they knew each others’ families. That’s not for me, though. I’ll go and hang out for a couple hours, visit and have some free food so I’m not seen as the antisocial office jerk, and then make an excuse to leave. Most of the time I end up enjoying myself, sometimes not, but as a manager I feel it’s important to at least show up for a bit whether I want to or not.

        1. Jojo*

          An 8 hour party that starts at lunch and runs into the evening is just not doable for people who have kids or other responsibilities outside of work, like a parent witj alzimers.

  25. Tortie*

    #2 when I read the title I thought “Finally a font based question I can get behind. Someone who doesn’t care about fonts!” But that is not the case at all in the question, it’s not about antipathy, or neutral feelings, at all.

    I would say as far as fonts go as long as you focus on something readable to a wide audience you are fine. There is a special dyslexia friendly font out now, which I find to be the best font because it is so easy for me to read, but it costs money so there is that.

  26. MellowYellow*

    #1: seeing something occur twice isn’t much of a sample size. Maybe he’s just scatterbrained and forgot a couple times. Are you sure it’s worth making a big deal of right now?

    1. Samwise*

      Yeah, no. Sorry MellowYellow (I see what you did there!). This is the kind of scatterbrained that’s just not acceptable at all. Flushing the toilet is super basic polite behavior, something this guy surely learned in pre-school or earlier. It’s gotta stop. Nobody wants to see or smell someone else’s pee. And to do it at work….

      Make a deal of it, OP, be the office hero!

  27. Budgie Buddy*

    For # 1 it’s unlikely, but I wonder if it’s a small office and old plumbing where the intern is doing the calculus of “That poor person whose desk is on the other side of the restroom doesn’t need to hear water running for five minutes AGAIN.” If the intern flushes number 2, then he’s not totally oblivious and a discrete explanation that flushes every time is workplace norms will probably solve the issue.

    Im reminded of a dorm situation where our suite had the loudest toilet EVER and a medical condition was also making me get up several times a night to pee nearly clear water. I felt so bad about “waking people up” I tried not flushing when the bowl was still clear, but it only led to everyone else flushing twice and adding to the constant symphony of toilet flushing sounds. Moral is dorms suck.

    1. Smiling*

      Just makes me glad that the boss sprung for auto-flushing toilets when he remodeled the office.

  28. mark132*

    #5, if you are going to the meeting just to run into the hiring manager, I wouldn’t waste your time. It likely won’t help. On the other hand, if it’s a meeting you would attend for other reasons, I certainly wouldn’t let this person’s presence keep you from going.

  29. Anon Librarian*

    You know those rare corporate fights in which high ranking and usually polite people lose their cool and scream at each other, using profanity? Work in publishing and you will see that happen over fonts.

    1. Observer*

      Well, publishing is probably the only place where something like that makes any sense whatsoever. Not that it’s good, but choice of fonts is part of design, so I can see it happening.

  30. learnedthehardway*

    For the fonts issue – it makes sense to pick a font that is easily readable for a wide majority of the population – including older adults who may require bifocals. (Definitely something to think about when sending your resume to hiring managers, who are likely to be among that sector of the population).

    As far as not applying to jobs that are advertised in a font one doesn’t enjoy – that is bizarre. And rather career limiting. On the plus side, the individual is saving potential employers the bother of interviewing someone who has excessively rigid preferences.

    1. Observer*


      THIS is what should be meant when people talk about hiring for “culture” and “fit”. If someone told me that we’d lost a candidate over something like this I would be “bullet dodged”. Yes, you may need someone who is detail oriented, but that’s different than rigidity over non-essentials.

    2. Matilda Jefferies*

      Honestly, this font thing is amusing me to no end. Fonts are important, absolutely. But if this is how she’s screening her job opportunities…well, at least I won’t be competing with her for a job any time soon!

  31. dumblewald*

    Re fonts. Am I the only one who doesn’t give an F as long as I can read it? I do PowerPoints for my work and just use their style guide and templates as default. As long as I follow the style guide my company wants, I’m good.

    1. TheFacelessOldWomanWhoSecretlyLivesinYour House*

      Waves hand. Me, too. As long as I can read it. I love Old English font but it’s too hard to read unless it’s a title of a store or something.

    2. Ponyboy Curtis*

      This. I’ve got a lot of more important things to worry about than fonts.
      Like the over/under toilet paper thing. I could not possibly care less if it’s over or under, as long as it’s there. If you’ve ever needed it and it’s not there, you’ll realize in a real hurry over under doesn’t make a difference.

    1. Clisby*

      Courier New? It’s very readable, but I have the impression a lot of people are put off by how it looks like old-fashioned typewriter text. Which, of course, it is. Anytime I need to proofread something, I first convert it to Courier New because it’s so much easier to see errors with that font.

      1. RUKiddingMe*

        I kinda like the old fashioned typewriter look. Not for “official” or “business” type stuff of course. Not everyone likes it. But fir regular personal emails and stuff…#GoCourier. :-D

    2. e271828*

      For all my email and many draft documents, I use Courier (Courier CE, I think, the exact strain). Courier is excellent for plain text!

    3. Half-Caf Latte*

      I was a big fan of courier for meeting required page limits in junior and senior high school…

    4. JustaTech*

      I loved that my high school English teacher used Courier on all his handouts because of all the lovely bubble shapes for me to color in.

      I’m fairly certain that’s not what I was supposed to get out of those handouts, but hey, I was awake, so that put me ahead of most of the class.

  32. Matilda Jefferies*

    #4, I was fired from a job several years ago. When I was looking for my next job after the firing, I had an interview where they insisted they *had* to talk to my most recent manager. I explained the situation, they doubled down on the requirement. So I had to email my old manager and say “Hi, remember how last month you said I wasn’t a good worker and you had to let me go? ….can you be a reference for me?”

    THAT was awkward. But honestly, it turned out much better than I expected. She gave me an excellent reference, and I did get the job, and we have a better relationship now than we did when we worked together. And it’s actually probably a good thing that I was required to reach out to her so quickly, because otherwise I might not have done it at all, and I would have missed out on the reference opportunity for all future jobs as well.

    I can almost guarantee that your old manager is feeling just as awkward about seeing you, as you are about seeing her. Chances are she’ll be glad to see that you’ve landed on your feet, and will be just as happy as you are to never mention the firing. A pleasant hello should be all you need, and you’ll be fine!

  33. Mockingjay*

    #2: You need a style sheet defining your ‘brand font’ and the version of each to be used in print and web. Also define color codes; these are different depending on the media to be used.

    It might be worth paying a graphic designer to assist. I worked for a small company that did this a few years ago. The designer redrew the logo and defined the company’s color scheme and preferred fonts in various formats. We then cleaned up the website ourselves and set up templates for correspondence and brochures.

    1. Lime Lehmer*

      OP2 here

      Mocking Jay,
      while I agree with you about hiring expertise, the issue is hiring the correct expert.

      I am trying to do some of the early footwork on the webdesign, and my son is an experienced coder who is dealing with some of the issues caused by two different graphic designers on a sister website.

      The sister company hired a graphic designer that was only print based. He liked to use unusual fonts which meant that they are not usable across platforms. We defaulted to Garman. The other designer ( a relative of one of the owners) is self trained and not open to issues like color visualization challenges. Didn’t even know that Adobe had a visualization tool.


  34. Lauren*

    It’s possible this was already mentioned, but I’m more confused about OP’s distinction between millennial and Gen Y, as if they are two different generations. They are the same thing.

    1. wordswords*

      It depends on who you talk to. Many people use them as interchangeable synonyms. Others use Gen Y to mean people born in the early 80s or so, between the end of Gen X and the later Millennials.

      I’m one of the latter, for the record. I remember when Gen Y was the term being used for my generation, and I do feel that there’s a significant difference in technological experience and the ramifications of that; when I was growing up, personal computers were rare even among financially comfortable families, and I was in high school by the time browsers were really in use, and so on. For even late 80s kids, that’s just not true, and it’s a distinct shift of experience, and means that a lot of the “millennials grew up with XYZ!” stuff just doesn’t ring true to my experience. (The “millennials are killing real estate with their avocado toast and their participation trophies” curmudgeoning doesn’t ring true either, but very differently so! I’ve got nothing against millennials and a lot of sympathy for them. I just don’t feel that the generation starts until the mid-80s.) However, I recognize that I’m fighting an uphill battle by drawing that distinction, and that generations inherently include a wide swath of years and some fuzziness on the starting and ending points.

      1. Lime Lehmer*

        OP2 Here
        Gen Y was meant to be Gen Z to denote a bit of the age difference between son and GF ( 27 vs 22).
        In a decade the 5 years won’t matter, but it really seems to now.

        I work at a university with mainly graduate students (22-28) they are very smart about a number of things, but lacking in real world experience. They generally end up at my desk with questions about health insurance, rental contracts, and sometimes questions about job offers, such as “What is a stock option.”

        1. Lauren*

          OP2 – that makes a lot more sense. I absolutely agree with you that 27 to 22 is a huge age gap, whereas 33 to 28 won’t be, and so on as they get older.

          As far as the lack of real world experience, I see that too with my work with college students. It isn’t really their fault though – they’ve just never been taught these things and they are certainly way more complicated than in generations past (certainly true for navigating health insurance). I wish these real world things were still included in compulsory education within K-12.

      2. Lauren*

        I think the real issue there with “millennials grew up with XYZ” is that many times when people say that, they’re actually referring to people who are Generation Z because they still think millennials are in high school or college and all millennials are in their mid-twenties are older. Though I absolutely agree with you that there are some fairly significant differences between “old” millennials and “young” millennials.

  35. Fine Point Pen*

    As a web developer I have twice made hotel choices based on the quality of the websites.

    Pro Tip: using what you are an expert in to evaluate the quality of a business or individual specializing in something different is a really bad idea.

    Anyway, two bad hotel stays cured me of this. I am older and wiser now.

    1. Anon Librarian*

      I actually think it’s not a bad idea. It’s a clue about how well their business is doing and how in touch with the overall market they are. Could they afford to hire a good web designer and if so, did they choose to? Is the site really designed with the customers in mind? Who are they trying to appeal to? Definitely just one fact to consider among many, but it’s not insignificant.

  36. Kimmybear*

    I worked at a place that had a similar holiday party…lunch, secret Santa, drinks… add onto that the annual fight that broke out after the extra drinks. I only stayed late once.

  37. Jojo*

    The most you should do if you run into her is ask if she knows of any other jobs thst you could apply for that are of that type. Or that you might be qualified for. That way she knows you are still looking. She might know of something you don’t.

  38. This is Not Legal Advice*

    Oh, did the intern from my work last year get a new internship?? I almost wrote in about the same issue to Alison, but then I could imagine what she said and I talked to him and it didn’t work! Didn’t find it worth it to pursue but so glad I wasn’t the one he asked to be a reference.

  39. Anonyyy*

    #2…just going to point out that Millennials are gen Y…which people often confuse because the term Millennial is commonly used to refer to any person younger than you… Generally, it is those born between 1982 and 1999.
    I also feel like Calibri is Comic Sans and Papyrus had a baby…which I don’t know if anyone else sees that. No idea why Microsoft would chose it to be a default.

  40. LGC*

    I’m ashamed to admit this, but…I’m a millennial and I use Calibri at work. It comes out decently in print, and it doesn’t scare the olds.

    (Okay, I’m old myself, but also I’m not THAT old. Also, although I’m EXTREMELY extra – me working on reports suspiciously resembles a Salt Bae GIF – I don’t work in graphic design.)

    I feel like this is also a very context-dependent question. Like, if LW2’s son and his girlfriend work in graphic design, screening for Calibri (current default in Office) and Arial (older default) makes some sense. (I’m still iffy about Helvetica, since that’s actually pretty common in graphic design.) I’m guessing that if she feels THAT strongly about fonts, that might be the case (because your average professional is not going to care that much).

    That said, the kids need to chill about fonts (especially if they’re not in a design field). A huge reason I don’t go crazy with fonts is because no one really cares if I do in my line of work. Although I spend way more time on design than I probably should (like, I’ll care if the accent colors match our logo), my real aim is to have the design mostly “fall away” and guide you to the information.

    (Interestingly enough, my boss uses Eras Light in a lot of her emails. I’m actually distracted by it because it looks like something I’d write in the 90s. I have not told her this because it is not worth wasting capital on, but I can’t unsee it. Also, in case it wasn’t clear, I was a WEIRD child and am currently a WEIRD adult.)

    Font choice is really interesting, though. (The history of Comic Sans alone is a must read.)

    1. Bulbasaur*

      I like Calibri, although it takes up a lot of space so it’s not suitable for everything.

      I didn’t know that people getting upset about font choice was a thing (clearly I’ve led a sheltered life). My initial reaction would be to treat it like religion – i.e., believe whatever you want, but keep it out of the workplace.

      1. LGC*

        It’s a thing actually! A shockingly high percentage of the internet is hot takes about Comic Sans.

        I should also mention again that I’m very weird.

        And I think for better or worse, we associate stuff with font faces. Impact is a “meme” font to me, since I remember the image macros coming out of Something Awful (and other places) in the early aughts – I’d snicker a bit if I saw it professionally. Recently, I noticed that Chobani yogurt decided to go 70’s…and then I read an article in Quartz (I think) about Souvenir. (That’s not the font they use – apparently it’s custom – but it’s very similar to it.) In a way, it was apparently the Impact of its day.

  41. Anon Librarian*

    #4 – Do you remember anything about her that’s not work-related? Like her hobbies or her pets or what area she lives in? I would try to come up with something like that – a neutral conversation topic – in case you ever have to talk longer than just saying hello in passing. Then you can greet her and ask about that right away and hopefully minimize the awkwardness.

  42. Olivia Jackson*

    OP #5 here:
    The public forum is a city council meeting. No, I don’t live in that city so it would be pretty obvious why I would be there. I’m glad I did ask because I was still wavering on if I should go or not…whether it was showing initiative or stalking. But you all are right-If I got the job she would have contacted me by not. It just sucks when you nobody calls you back with an update or even sends an email!

  43. ceiswyn*

    OP5 – If she wants to hire you, she’s not going to forget about you.

    Maybe she hasn’t contacted you because there are internal politics/finance/structural issues with the hire. Maybe she hasn’t contacted you because someone who needs to sign off on that is unexpectedly out of the office. Maybe she hasn’t contacted you because she’s offered the job to someone else, but wants to keep you as a backup just in case. Maybe she hasn’t contacted you because you haven’t got the job and she doesn’t like sending rejections.

    In none of these cases will hanging around in her field of vision make her more likely to hire you. And that’s what you’re after, really, isn’t it, rather than for her to remember to send you an official ‘thanks but no thanks’?

    Get on with your life. Apply elsewhere. Interview elsewhere. Mentally write this one off. Then if she does contact you in a week or two with an offer, it will be a nice surprise; and if she doesn’t, you haven’t wasted your time and given yourself an industry reputation as a potential stalker.

  44. Kimmy Schmidt*

    Gosh the font thing. I remember having near panic attacks when I was job hunting over the “best” font for my resume and cover letter. I had so many design friends that had absolute disdain for certain fonts that it sent me into panic spirals trying to figure out which fonts would get me hired, or at least which fonts wouldn’t get me automatically rejected. Hindsight tells me it was a silly thing to be worried about, but that fear was so real.

  45. yala*

    #1 uggggggghhhh gross

    The new guy at our office doesn’t put the toilet seat back down. (There’s only, like, two guys at this office, and I know for a fact it’s him.)

    It’s so frustrating. But he’s also a much higher level than me, so…. *shrug*

  46. Lime Lehmer*

    I really don’t care about fonts, though I think Comic Sans is juvenile and should be reserved for lower schools.

    What I was trying to do is utilize a web font that worked across platforms, wasn’t off putting for our mostly boomer customers, and did not make my millennial programmers eyes bleed.

  47. Radiant Peach*

    Awkward story related to the last writer – right before I started grad school I had a video chat interview for a work-study job on campus (Admissions/Enrollment office). My interviewers were putting off getting back to me because “they just kept getting more and more applications from qualified people” and I figured I wouldn’t get the job, which was fine – I can handle rejection that isn’t personal. On what I thought would be an unrelated note, I had to skip the on-campus orientation due to a conflict and when I got to campus another person from enrollment emailed me saying that I had to stop by the office to check in so they can say for sure that I arrived. I still had not heard back about the job at the time that I went to the office to check in and hoped I wouldn’t run into either of my interviewers lest they think I’m stalking them or coming to ask in person about my status. I arrived to the office and the person at the front desk asked me to wait a minute while he went to find the person I was supposed to check in with in person. Unfortunately, while I was waiting, one of my interviewers came through the reception area and immediately recognized me and, looking shocked, asked if I was there looking for her to ask about the job. I explained my situation but she looked like she absolutely did not believe me and awkwardly made her way to her office. That story absolutely mortifies me because even though I knew better, they clearly thought I was clueless about professional norms.

  48. Skeeder Jones*

    It’s crazy how much emotion people have about fonts. When did they gain such emotional value?

    I do have to admit that I occasionally get “font anxiety”. I am an instructional designer (which means I create web-based training modules) so we do have some style guidance such as using san-serif fonts, but I tend to err on the side of simplicity and just go with Arial or Calibri (more for Calibri since it is pretty much the default font in all of our applications). I do get a little judgy on people using Times New Roman as it just seems so outdated.

    BUT: This quote is everything today:

    “And if the girlfriend really means it that she doesn’t reply to job postings that use Calibri or other incredibly common fonts, she is ridiculous and she no longer gets any input into anything design-related.”

  49. Chriama*

    I’m on the younger side of millennial and I find font snobbery to be very pretentious, and quite frankly classist.

    I understand that designers and editors and people who deal with it for a living might have opinions because they get paid to care. Anyone else trying to tell me something looks “unprofessional” based on its font is getting put on my list of People Whose Opinions I Don’t Care About, Ever.

    It’s fine to have opinions about stuff. Acting as if your opinions are the only correct ones, or passing judgement on others based on their adherence to your personal standards, is the mark of a narcissist.

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