my boss wants me to drive her daughter to appointments, rejected candidate tried to get me fired, and more

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

1. My boss wants me to drive her daughter to appointments

I am currently working for my mom and one of her good friends (who owns the company). My mom serves as office manager and I am her assistant, the general assistant, and do anything else that needs to be done. In the past few years I have happily taken care of the boss’ dog when she goes on vacation. This year my mother suggested I take the boss’ daughter to some doctors appointments, which interfered with my daughter’s pick-up from school schedule (grandma took care of it). Now my boss has asked me to take her daughter to a surgery appointment at 8:45 am while the boss is in Hawaii. The doc is located 1.5 hours away and the boss forgot to mention the two pre-appointments that her daughter has at the same location the day before.

In addition, she informed me that during the summer break she is bringing her 14-year-old grandson in three days a week during the summer holiday to be my “intern” so he can learn how to do administrative tasks. I really feel like I am being taken advantage of but don’t know how to tell her. Do you have any ideas?

It sounds like the boundaries have already gotten pretty messed up (starting with working for your mom!). But you can try to straighten them up now. I’d say this to your non-mom boss: “I was happy to help out with a few personal favors in the past when you needed it, but I’m concerned that I’m being asked to do more and more personal tasks on top of my regular job. It’s important to me to stick to the admin work that I was hired to do, and not continue to be pulled into personal tasks like X and Y.” (You need to be prepared, though, to hear that this is part of the job, in which case you’d have to decide if you want the job under these terms.)

I don’t know when the daughter’s appointments are, but if there’s not enough time for her to find someone else at this point and you’ve already agreed, you could say, “I can take Jane to those three appointments this time because I didn’t speak up earlier, but going forward I want to make sure you know I’m not available for that kind of thing.” If you haven’t already agreed, it would be okay to say, “I’m not going to be able to take Jane to those appointments.” If she pushes, you can say, “Part of it is the early hour and the distance, but also it’s important to me to stick to the office work that I came on board to do.”

And let your mom know she needs to stop volunteering you for this kind of thing too!

The intern is trickier since in theory she has a right to hire whoever she wants to intern and to assign him where she wants, but you could try saying that you don’t need an intern, or that you’d be willing to spend a small amount of time showing him around but don’t have time to train or supervise him, and could suggest she see if anyone else needs help. But I worry that this is a lot of pushback to do all at once when there hasn’t been any previously, so for now you might just tackle on the driving stuff first, and then building better boundaries as you move forward from there.

2. My friend thinks accepting a counter-offer “builds character”

My friend Liza was frustrated with the lack of growth in her position despite having spoken to her manager about it a few times. Her manager’s answer was always that there was nothing she could do. As far as Liza knows, her manager never escalated the matter to the higher-ups. She interviewed for a better position and better pay elsewhere and got an offer. But instead of accepting it right away, she told her manager, who in turn spoke to the higher-ups, who have now verbally promised that Liza will be given the role she asked for, plus more money. This was only two days after she went to her manager.

To my horror, Liza is seriously contemplating accepting the counter-offer. Her rationale is that it’s made her realize that she can “orchestrate the change she wants in her life.” I reminded her that they never considered giving her the role and higher salary until she got a better offer, but she says she can let that go. She says she’s impressed by how fast they’ve come back with the counter-offer, and that this is all character building. If she’s still unhappy, she says, she’ll just look to leave again in one year.

As a friend I want to support her in whatever she chooses to do, but I must say I vehemently disagree. I think she’s a sell-out if she were to accept the counter-offer and she’s going to burn a bridge with the other company. I know that you’re not a proponent of accepting counter-offers, so I’d love to hear your take on this.

Character building? I can’t see how.

It’s not that taking a counter-offer never works out — sometimes it does. But a huge portion of the time, it doesn’t. Sometimes the counter-offer never even fully materializes; in situations like Liza’s, sometimes after the person turns down the outside offer, the timeline for moving them into their promised new roles drags and drags and doesn’t ever come to fruition. Sometimes it does, but then the next time the person wants a raise they’re turned down because “we just gave you that big raise last year when you were thinking of leaving.” Sometimes the person finds that they’ve used up all their capital and have a lot of trouble getting anything else.

And if Liza would still be working for the same manager who never bothered going to bat for her until she was about to leave, she has no reason to think that will change (and every reason to think it won’t). As for being impressed at how quickly they came back with a counter, she should instead realize how crappy it was that they apparently could have moved that quickly all along but just didn’t bother to. It’s not a compliment, it’s an insult.

I don’t agree with you that she’d be a sell-out (she’s only selling out herself, if anyone), but I do agree she’s looking at this through a really odd lens that isn’t going to serve her interests.

3. A rejected candidate tried to get me fired

What do you do when someone goes after you personally for rejecting them? A candidate I turned down in an interview responded by emailing the CEO of my company a screenshot of a years-old social media post (before I worked there) critical of a political figure and said I deserved to lose my job over it. The company is standing behind me, but to me this crossed a line. Should there be any additional response to this?

Wow, that’s a bitter person. (And one who doesn’t realize they just blacklisted themselves from future consideration with your company or anyone who hears about this.)

But no, neither you nor your company should engage. It’s too likely to lead to further contact and/or inflame things further.

Sometimes rejected candidates are a-holes. The best thing to do is ignore and move on.

4. How do I shut down discussion about my name change?

I’m planning to change my last name sometime in the next year. The reason for the name change is somewhat dark and I’m only ever going to tell my closest friends about it. On the few occasions that the name change topic has slipped out in social gatherings—all outside of work—the people who found out were very interested in both the why and speculating at what name I should use.

The new name I’m picking isn’t the same as my partner’s or any of my other family members, so the usual explanations for a name change aren’t available to me. I’m also man who as been married many years, so I think people will be especially curious about the background behind the change.

What’s the best way for me to shut that line of discussion down without seeming rude or making people feel embarrassed? Also, how do people communicate a more normal name change in a large company where they might have contact with people in many departments?

Being vague is the way to go here. “Oh, it’s a long story” (said in a tone that conveys “and one that you’ll find very boring”) or “It’s for family reasons.” Polite people will get that the subtext is that you’re not up for discussing it. But with people who still ask questions, you can say, “It’s complicated so I’m just cutting to the upshot with people — which is that I’m going by George Warbleworth from now on.” And if someone still doesn’t get the hint: “Some complicated family stuff. I’d rather not get into it more than that.” Or, “I’d rather not get too into the details — I’m sure you understand.”

As for communicating the name change: An easy way to do it is to just send an email announcing it to the people you work with most frequently For everyone else, it can help for your email signature to read “George Warbleworth (formerly Warbucks)” for a couple of months. (Also, if you’re changing your email address to include the new last name, you’d set up the old one to forward to the new one, etc.)

5. Can I back out of a project without burning a bridge?

I recently started a new position and so far, I am very happy. In my former role, I was paid as an independent contractor but in practice I was an employee. The organization set my hours, location, duties, etc. In the last year of working for them, I began work on a product design project, but I had other duties as well. My manager there kept pushing back this project’s deadline so that I could focus on other priorities. When I left, my boss was congratulatory but he did express that he wanted the project completed sometime this year and that in order for that to happen he could keep me on as a contractor and pay me for any time I could give moving forward. I would say the work was about 70% done, and the steps to be completed were well defined. I agreed to completing the project with a tentative timeline.

Now that I am in the swing of things at the new job, I do have some free time in my evenings and weekends, but I’ve realized that dedicating the time I need to finishing the project and fulfilling my new job’s duties (it is relatively demanding) is going to burn me out pretty quickly. In addition, my former boss is the type to always find something that could be improved. Which is great in theory, but in reality, this means that when I send off an item, I know there are going to be a few revisions needed before I can consider it finished. In all honesty, I do not feel that I can complete the work in the timeframe specified, and even if I do, I am not able to produce the best quality of work (both for my old boss and new one). One option would be to extend the timeline out, but to be honest, the idea of this work looming over me even longer does not appeal to me. I am accepting that I have to say something. The organization does not currently have anyone with the technical knowledge needed to complete the remaining tasks. I am writing to you to ask if you think backing out of this project is going burn a bridge? Is there a way to do this with minimal damage to the relationship? I feel horrible that I committed to something that I don’t think I now have the capacity to do. On the other hand, I want to ensure I am doing the best possible work at my current job.

When you left that job, you could have turned down the freelance work, and they would have had to find someone else to finish the project. That’s not you damaging the relationship; that’s you doing the very normal thing people do when they leave a job — they stop doing work there. This isn’t that different. Yes, you said you’d do it, but then you realized your schedule doesn’t allow for it. That’s not burning a bridge, or damaging the relationship, or anything that you should feel in any way bad about. (Of course, if they’re unreasonable, then they could be upset about it — but that would be on them, not on you. Any reasonable employer wouldn’t hold this against you.)

The key is to let your former boss know as soon as possible so he has maximum notice. And you can frame it as, “I’m finding that my new position is very demanding and I don’t have the time to work on this that I’d thought I would. I’m sorry about that! I wanted to let you know right away so you can make other arrangements for it.” Be prepared for the possibility that they might push you to do it anyway, or will offer to extend the timeline. Don’t be talked into doing it! If that happens, you can say, “Unfortunately, I can’t. My schedule just won’t permit it. But if there’s someone you want me to update on where things stand and answer any initial questions, I can of course do that.” (And if you feel yourself wavering, remind yourself that you owe it to your new employer to give them your focus and not get stretched too thin.)

{ 521 comments… read them below }

  1. Naomi*

    #4: Since you don’t want to tell people the real story behind the name change, is there a “cover story” you can tell instead? For example, if you’re changing your name because your old name has painful associations, can you instead tell people what you like about your new name? If you can come up with a superficial explanation for public consumption, it might be more effective at deflecting curiosity than refusing to discuss the name change at all.

    1. Just Employed Here*

      Yup, “Oh, it’s an old family name.”

      This works whether it is actually true or not.

      1. Falling Diphthong*

        We’re all distant cousins, so probably you’re taking your 14th cousin 5 times removed’s name.

      2. kittymommy*

        This is what an ole coworker of mine did, while his sibling was working in the same department! And he changed his entire name to something VERY different, think Matt Smith to Johan McDougal. It was for a lot of people surprising (especially sine his brother stayed “Wilson Smith”). What’s funny is because it was so different I don’t think anyone actually ever asked, but they would get a rather befuddled expression and he would just say he went back to a family name. No one ever really said anything or pursued it further.

      3. Kyrielle*

        Unless it’s overly unique, it probably is. No need to say whether it’s from *your* family or not….

    2. Russell*

      OP4 (The soon to be Mr. Warbleworth) might also want to take the time to contact any former bosses / coworkers / HR departments he might want to use as a reference down the line. Something along the lines of, “I’m not looking for anything at the moment, but wanted to give you a heads up that if you are contacted as a reference it will be for George Warbleworth.”

      1. CmdrShepard4ever*

        To go along with this I would make sure to put on the resume and make it clear to the new HR that you used to go by a different name when you worked a certain other companies. If a person I worked with a few years ago told me they changed their name I would try to remember.

        If I got a call from ABC company looking to do a reference check for Mr. Warbleworth (who used to be Mr. Smith when I worked with them) I might absentmindedly say I never worked with Mr. Warbleworth you have the wrong number, even if I had been told that Mr. Smith is now Mr. Warbleworth.

        If the HR person tells me I am doing a reference check for Mr. Warbleworth who used to be Mr. Smith, I would probably go “Oh yes they told me they changed their name. Mr. Warblworth is great you should hire them.”

        1. Judy (since 2010)*

          When I’ve been job searching, my reference sheet always has

          – Name of reference
          – Context
          -Contact information

          Context would be things like “direct manager from 2015-2017”, “manager of my team’s customer team from 2010-2015”, etc. It would seem like that line would be where a name change could be noted.

        2. Cedarthea*

          Yes, this!

          I’ve hired trans+ and non-binary staff before who have had pronoun and name changes, and if that is something they can let us know I can make sure my reference checking is matching the info that the employer may have on file, especially if they were not trans+/enby welcoming. I did a whole reference once where I used the deadname/pronouns at the candidates request as they didn’t want to out themselves to this past employer.

          Same thing, if I’m giving a reference for a trans+/enby staff member who may have transitioned since camp, I will happily give the reference in the person’s current name/pronouns as it just makes life easier for them and it no difference to me, as their performance has nothing to do with their name/pronouns.

      2. LW4*

        That’s smart! I hadn’t thought about my business contacts outside of my coworkers at all

    3. Cynthia*

      You’re very generous in your view of other people. I really don’t think anyone will be so distracted by a discussion of the positive qualities of the new name that they’ll lose sight of the fact that this person – a married man – is legally changing their name in the first place.

      I know someone who legally changed their first name from Tom to Joe about 28 years ago. He never gave a reason and it’s still a frequent discussion amongst his friends and family. Idle curiosity never really dies.

      1. Deranged Cubicle Owl*

        I know someone who legally changed their first name from Tom to Joe about 28 years ago. He never gave a reason and it’s still a frequent discussion amongst his friends and family. Idle curiosity never really dies.

        Sure, people will always be curious. I admit that I would be too if my best friend would change her name, but if she doesn’t want to tell me the reason behind it, it is her prerogative and I would just have to learn to deal with that.

        1. Cynthia*

          Yes, you might – but my point is, after 28 years, this guy’s friends and family still bring it up all the time. And I’m sure he’s not the exception. Like someone with an unusual or joke-friendly name, you have to be ready to deal the repercussions for the rest of your life when you do something like this.

          1. Flash Bristow*

            You just need a response ready. My first name is Flash, it’s what I’ve been known as since a child, and to make life easier I formally changed to it as an adult.

            When asked about it, I tend to say “oh, my parents were hippies” (true! But irrelevant) or “if I’d been a boy they were going to call me Hunter!” (Also true.)

            Sometimes people persist: “oh but is it what you were actually christened, tho?” And I respond “oh, I wasn’t christened, we aren’t a religious family”.

            This was usually enough to convey that I wasn’t going to give them any info (so to stop trying to get it!)

            OP, just keep some answers in your back pocket. I love the other commenter’s suggestion of “oh, it’s a family name”. I’m sure it is, somewhere, somehow…!

              1. Flash Bristow*

                …one starts with “if”.

                But I dunno, guess it’s just a way of being casual and offhand?

                I’m a Brit, if that makes any difference to the dialogue?

                1. Cynthia*

                  Not really. In America sentences that start with “oh” signal that deceit is coming in the next few words.

                2. ZB*

                  Cynthia, can’t say I’ve ever heard of that… maybe it’s regional but ‘oh’ just reads as casual/offhand remark to me

      2. queequeg in his coffin*

        They won’t be distracted, probably, but hopefully they’ll get the hint and drop it.

      3. LW4*

        Despite the fact that I’m about to go through it myself, I’m sure that I would have the same idle curiosity if someone I knew changed their name. It’s a very strong social convention, and I’m not using any of the more common alternative conventions

        1. ChimericalOne*

          Have you started asking people to call you by your new name yet? You definitely don’t have to wait until it’s legal! It’ll take people a little while to adjust, anyway (I’m sure you’re prepared to have to correct people for a while!)

          1. LW4*

            I figured that I would make the change with my friends and coworkers before doing it legally since the legal change will probably take months and I’ll be in an ambiguous name state during that time.

            1. Flash Bristow*

              Will it really take that long? I did mine in an evening; printed up the legal document using wording sourced via the internet, took my witnesses to the pub, bought them a beer, and we drank while we passed the documents* around and signed. And for good measure I applied my seal – a red sticker from a set bought at stationers’ shop – done. Tho nowadays the seal is optional.

              Anyway, cost was minimal and it took a couple of hours total to *ahem* seal the deal.

              This was a while ago and in the UK, but I can imagine there’s an alternative for your situation, wherever it may be.

              * Since many places – banks, doctor etc – needed to see an “original” in order to accept the proof of name change, I made ten identical “original”s. Some came back creased or damaged, some got “lost in the post” – I still have a couple left pristine twenty years later, though once driving licence and passport (or other government issued ID) is sorted, from then on you can show that (e.g. if signing up to a new service / gym / whatever).

              It really can be that easy.


              Btw, as of the moment of signing, I had fully revoked my right to use the old name and now was bound to the new one, so if anyone called me by the old one I’d have to refuse to acknowledge it. I’m probably not *allowed* to tell anyone what it used to be. ;-)

              OP I hope your name change goes well and that you feel a sense of freedom / relief once done.

        2. Free Meerkats*

          I have a close friend who changed her last name for no reason other than she wanted to. Think something like Jessica Jones to Jessica Seahorse. The biggest problem she said she faced was convincing the judge.

          After that she just told people, “My name is Jessica Seahorse now, thanks.” When asked why, she’d just say she wanted to, no other reason.

          Change your name and use words like those when asked.

      4. Aphrodite*

        Oh, I don’t know. Back in 1998 I legally changed, via the court petition method, my entire name, first, middle and last. It’s completely different. The reason? Well, I never liked my real name but the real reason is that I had been seeing a therapist for several years and it just felt right to do it. I had a fun time looking at baby name books and choosing each one. The legal way of doing it wasn’t hard because I did it myself. But notifying people was hard, especially family. There were accusations of “you just want to disown the family and so on. But most were only mildly curious and asked once; I was happy to tell. And those who asked never asked again; their curiosity was satisfied.

        It will become routine very fast, OP. Just have a nice generic message ready to go and you’ll be fine.

      5. TootsNYC*

        “a married man”

        He said “my partner”

        And I don’t think he’s looking to eliminate their curiosity–just to steer the conversation and minimize questions to him about it.

        1. Cynthia*

          Next sentence:
          “I’m also man who as [sic] been married many years…”

          Not sure why he didn’t say “husband” or “wife” but apparently his partner is married to him.

          1. LW4*

            Just keeping a tiny bit more anonymity since the gender wasn’t relevant! I wouldn’t have mentioned my gender or being married if those weren’t needed to explain why the situation was particularly unusual

    4. Czhorat*

      There’s no need for this. You can day something vague and non-committal. “I’m rebranding”.

      Almost nobody will push. If they do, just keep it light. “No, it’s just a rebrand. The way Plantronics calls themselves Poly now in honor of that letter to Ask a Manager yesterday. You ever read that?” Then you can pivot to talking about AAM or conference phones.

      I changed mine about ten years ago. After the initial ‘call me czhorat’ nobody asked much.

      1. Karen from Finance*

        I like that except that I don’t think that recent AAM usually want to purposefully direct people to this site over fears of being “discovered” as the letter-writer.

        Also, “rebranding” may work more or less effectively depending on OP’s industry/role.

        1. Czhorat*

          “Rebranding” is a line that worked for me in terms of my personality and how I face the world; YMMV. Wrench Turner’s “Secret Government Stuff” is another similar approach – it’s light enough not to make it A Big Thing, but a clear enough re-direct to get the message across. Pointing them at AAM when you wrote there probably isn’t a great approach, I’ll agree; Poly/Polycom/Plantronics is just an example of how I could pivot away as they’re an industry-relevant manufacturer in my field.

          The real takeaway is to find something that fits you, that has a bit of a light touch, and not make it more than it is.

          1. Not A Morning Person*

            I love the idea of the lighter touch and the suggestion to “suggest” that it’s for secret security stuff, like, the phrase people sometimes use when they need to keep something to themselves, “If I told you I’d have to kill you”. That may or may not fit the OP’s situation, but it’s an idea that helps to keep people from being too offended and should stop them from prying. Of course, they may still talk about it, just not necessarily continue to ask the OP. Good luck with the name change!

              1. Mr. Shark*

                Yes! I like this one, coupled with the “if I told you I’d have to kill you.”

            1. Vancouver Reader*

              I’d say in a conspiratorial tone, I’ve decided to become a superhero, so I need a new identity.

            2. TootsNYC*

              My husband used this sort of humor to deflect questions about whether we’d get married, or what we’d name our kid.

              When a nosy aunt asked if he was going to marry me (in front of me!), he said, “It is the policy of the United States Navy to neither confirm nor deny the existence of nuclear weapons aboard its vessels.” And he repeated it (as did I).

              The fact that it was funny was a major derail to the conversation. I think it was even more effective than a more serious thing would have been.

              1. Jaydee*

                As a kid I would ask my parents who they voted for. My mom would tell me. My dad would launch into this whole speech about the sanctity of the secret ballot and would just smile and laugh and re-start the speech every time I protested that the rationale for a secret ballot really didn’t apply to curious daughters. Eventually I would ask him who he voted for just to hear the speech.

                All that to say that having a good, humorous, deflecting response to a question you don’t want to answer is effective, even against a very persistent, nosy daughter who ultimately majored in political science and became a lawyer.

    5. Quickbeam*

      I changed my last name as an adult (not for marriage) and the most important thing for me was to use it consistently and for everything. I had a quick simple explanation when people asked but using the new name for everything helped acclimate people to it.

    6. Harvey 6-3.5*

      I was thinking that, if the new name fits, the “cover story” could be a change to an ethnic or personally meaningful name. Many immigrants to Israel, for example, changed their previous names to Hebrew names more personally meaningful to them. So OP could say they wanted their name to reflect themselves better.

    7. Wrench Turner*

      Fellow name-changer here.
      When I didn’t feel like getting in to the details I just said “secret government stuff, can’t talk about it.” Then I quickly pivoted to the absolute bureaucratic nightmare of all the associated paperwork people don’t think about – credit cards, licenses, registrations, deeds, every blasted online account with any money associated, etc. And that’s just assuming it goes right the first time! The Social Security Admin screwed up with me and it took almost a solid year of living with all different wrong documents to get it sorted out and I was afraid of even getting pulled over! And see how you’re not thinking about the ‘why’ anymore? Worked like a charm.
      The hardest part about actual work-related stuff was badgering IT to change my email and route the old to the new until people used it regularly. Also remembering the password to change my voicemail greeting I set up that one time years ago. Good luck!

      1. becca*

        I was thinking of something like this. OP could tell people that he used to be in the witness protection program, but now he’s leaving, and so he’s taking his “old name” (which is actually his new name) back.

        (In case it is not clear, this is a joke suggestion.)

      2. LW4*

        I like the idea of diverting to the how instead of the why after giving one of the non-answers that have been suggested.

        It’s good to know the legal name change is going to be as much of a nightmare as I assumed it would be

        1. Name of Requirement*

          Exactly! Give them a conversational opening to comment on something else.

        2. Wrench Turner*

          I had to eventually get a court order, which meant putting a tiny add in a local newspaper and waiting for the summary judgement to be issued. Once that was done it was back to the Social Sec office to say MAKE IT THIS DANGIT. Once the new card was issued it was then driver’s license, then everything else. Sometimes I still need to whip out the court order to ‘prove’ my change so I keep a folder with all that together. Good luck. Be patient. It’s worth it.

        3. TootsNYC*

          Here’s another diversion:

          Maybe also say, “It was kind of exciting to realize that I was allowed to change my name as a grownup. What would YOU change your name to, if you were going to pick now?”

      3. Silence Will Fall*

        IT person here! *waves*

        I’d recommend checking with your HR/IT department in advance to see what their timeline is.

        For example, we have a policy here that we use legal names for everything. We have a quick, thorough process for changing people’s names on all their work stuff, but the process occasionally hangs with HR. They have to change the name with payroll first and in order to do that, they have to have all the necessary legal documents. Once they have those, we can change all your usernames, email address, etc. while you’re at lunch.

        1. boo bot*

          I don’t know if you have any leverage to speak up on this, but allowing people to use their preferred names for email addresses, usernames, and anything else that legal documentation isn’t absolutely required for (payroll, health insurance) would be a really great policy to move to.

          For any trans people who haven’t completed the nightmarish paperwork referenced above, saying, “you’ve got to use your legal name until you’ve got all the papers” is basically saying, “you have to be closeted at this job,” which is both terrible and untenable.

          It’s also not great for people who go by their middle names, or nicknames that don’t line up clearly with their legal names, or people who are in the sometimes lengthy process of changing their name for other reasons like the letter writer.

          1. Arielle*

            Yeah, it doesn’t make sense that your work email address would have to be your exact legal name. If you have a Katherine who only goes by Katie do you really force her to use katherine.smith as her email? We have someone who transitioned recently who announced on Friday that she’d be coming in Monday presenting as a woman, and by Monday every one of her accounts had her correct name and picture, including her ID badge.

            1. Qosanchia*

              As a fellow IT person, I’d hazard that Silence Will Fall’s IT department actually has very little direct control over a person’s login information or email address. In plenty of systems, the user information is collected from the HR information via automated systems, and that’s where the “legal name only” hangup truly resides.
              Of course, it could be simply a company policy, it which case it’s likely someone or some group of someones thought they were being even handed, in a way that likely comes down harder on marginalized groups

              1. OhNo*

                As a trans person who has been through the work-name-change rigamarole, you’re probably right. Much of our IT department’s data is auto-loaded from some HR system, which requires legal name and doesn’t have a space or option to add a space for preferred name.

                In practice, this means I have to call up IT every couple of months after a new auto-update goes in, and get them to change the name that appears in for me in our email system. They’re wonderful, and adjust it for me every time with no qualms, but it’s just something that’s going to keep happening because of the way our systems are set up.

              2. TardyTardis*

                Granted, we were all amused when IT had a hard time keeping up with a supervisor’s numerous marriages, divorces, and so on. I think they wanted to issue a ukase to this one person, “Your name is XXXX and we are never going to change it!”.

            2. Silence Will Fall*

              Unfortunately, I’m a lowly peon, so I don’t have any standing. Usernames which form the root of the email address, etc. all flow from an automated process that starts with HR.

              We don’t use full names in usernames which makes it a little less cumbersome. People can request shortened names/middle names for the display name. So, from your example, Katherine Ann Smith’s username would be kasmith, but her display name that shows in the company directory, on her email, etc. could be Katie Smith. The same would be true if Katherine is actually her middle name. Her username would be aksmith, but her display name could still be Katie Smith.

              I’m not sure what we would do for someone who is transitioning. IT could definitely change their display name, but the official username change couldn’t come down until HR initiated the process. Our HR team is pretty great, so I’m hoping they would find a way to make it as painless as possible for someone in that situation.

              The make-up of our company has started to change gradually over the last five years. HR has started taking steps to attract and retain a more diverse pool of talent, so I would say that there are some big picture conversations happening to be more thoughtful and inclusive in these kinds of policies.

          2. Zephy*

            I just ran into a problem along these lines yesterday – there was an issue with a contract that needs to be re-signed, and one of the names of the people from whom I need a signature doesn’t match up to any documentation I have. Turns out, that person generally goes by his middle name (it’s how he introduced himself to me and presumably everyone else, and how he signs things), but his name in Outlook/etc is his legal first name. His first name has a rude word in it, so I’m sure he’s been using his middle name in all social situations since, oh, probably middle school.

          3. VelociraptorAttack*

            I got married a week before starting my last job and everything had to be my legal name. It was a lot of fun when I’d been there for 2 months and suddenly my email changed. /s

            1. Indigo a la mode*

              Conversely, when I began my divorce, I asked HR to keep my married name on everything – for one thing, I didn’t really feel like advertising my divorce to the whole building via email change, and for another, a relative of mine is prominent in another location of the company and shares my uncommon maiden name. It behooves me to use another surname so I can make my own stamp without being associated instantly with them. Fortunately, HR was very understanding.

          4. Flash Bristow*

            The other problem is that if you’re compelled to use your “real” name as your username, but everyone knows you by something else, those who only rarely work with you can think there are two different people! I’ve had that a few times where they totally missed the connection!

            Letting people have a username that they actually go by makes sense. Or at least having a nick that points at their username, so anyone guessing at their email address will get through.

            I appreciate that IT people don’t make the rules, though.

        2. Washi*

          My husband had this issue! He works in a heavily bureaucratic and security-conscious are of the government and informed IT and HR of his name change a little ahead of when he would get his updated legal documents back from processing. HR dragged their feet as predicted but IT was lightning fast, so suddenly my husband’s old email, login, and badge were discontinued, but HR wouldn’t authorize IT to issue new ones until they got the new legal documents…he ended up spending a few days organizing shelves in his office because he couldn’t get into the computer!

        3. LW4*

          My employer is, thankfully, very progressive on the HR side of things. We can do “preferred names” for anything visible to our coworkers and the HR systems for updating legal names are all automated. I give a ton of credit to the trans community for pushing on organizations to be less rigid about their naming policies.

          Changing my email address would have been a nightmare, but when I started years ago I knew I might want to do this so I didn’t choose one based on my name. I wasn’t that savvy when I signed up for my health insurance login, so I may be stuck with that one having my old name.

      4. ChimericalOne*

        Yes, this is by far the most interesting part of the story, and (in my experience) works like a charm to redirect folks! A dear friend of mine changed his full name (someone gave the example of Matt Smith to Johan McDougal — and indeed, it was very similar to that! Going from a very, very common name to a name with a fair bit more character, but not outlandish). For a little while, people forgot and people gossipped curiously, but now, almost everyone I know has forgotten that he was ever Matt Smith. He’s just Johan McDougal to us now. (I saw a piece of his mail addressed to “Matt” not long ago and was like, “Hey… wait a second… Oh, yeah!”)

        1. ChimericalOne*

          He also gave us some explanation — something about his father? But it wasn’t super detailed and I never did really get the gist of it. When people asked me what was up, I told them that it was something about reconnecting with his father or something and they all shrugged and were satisfied. It can be helpful to have something to kind of wave at. I like “rebranding,” too.

        2. Michaela Westen*

          Some of my friends who have common names have mentioned problems like someone of the same name is on the terrorist watch list, or in jail, or has abysmal credit… Then I feel lucky I have an unusual last name.
          I wouldn’t if I’d known I wasn’t going to get married though. When I was young I couldn’t wait to marry and dump my father’s name. If I’d known that wasn’t happening, I would have changed it to something more common so I could disappear into the crowd.
          Now I’ve been known by this name too long, and I’m not up for the bureaucratic nightmare you all are describing. I own this name, my friends know and love me as this, and I haven’t had a relationship with my father in 24 years. Ha.

        3. wendelenn*

          Matt Smith changed to Peter Capaldi, then transitioned and is now Jodie Whittaker. :)

        4. Wrench Turner*

          Sometimes I still get mail for Old Name and whenever I get a sales call for it I say he’s dead, I killed him.

          1. TardyTardis*

            From Diane Duane’s DOCTOR’S ORDERS–McCoy to Random Klingon about what happened to Kirk–“I killed him in a duel.”

    8. ThisColumnMakesMeGratefulForMyBoss*

      Making up a story to avoid telling people the truth (when it’s frankly none of their business) is never a good idea, because then you have to remember the details of the fake story, and risk inviting more questions when you contradict yourself down the line. And more importantly, it’s not going to stop the questions. OP just needs to be direct and not allow for follow up. “It’s complicated and I’d rather not discuss it.” Period, end of story. Rinse and repeat. Eventually people will stop asking.

      1. CmdrShepard4ever*

        Or they could go the route of purposely telling each person a different obviously untrue story of why they are changing their name. I think when people go to compare notes they will realize the OP does not want to discuss the actual details. Similar to the previous injury/scar issue, of that scar it was a T-Rex attack.

        1. LQ*

          I know someone who hates when people question her name. She has come up with some delightfully outrageous fake stories. She pulls out one whenever anyone gets pushy about it. I’ve suggested a set of business cards that each have a different story and she shuffle through them before handing one out. I highly recommend the fantastic fake stories.

      2. smoke tree*

        I would just go with something that seems like an answer but is really boring, like “[Newname] is more meaningful to me.” I don’t think it’s worth trying to invent a detailed cover story, but it’s true that some people find the words “I don’t want to discuss it” completely irresistible.

        1. ThisColumnMakesMeGratefulForMyBoss*

          You say “I don’t want to discuss it” enough times and people will let it go. I don’t care how curious others can be, if it’s none of their business, it’s none of their business and I’m not going to “invent” anything, regardless of how big/small/boring/interesting. Being direct is not rude. Poking your nose into someone else’s business IS rude.

          1. OhNo*

            Yes, but being so blunt might have a cost in terms of that relationship. I’ve had bosses and coworkers before whose reactions to my setting a clear and reasonable boundary was to basically freeze me out.

            Were they being rude to pry and push? Yes. Was it professional or fair for them to give me the silent treatment when I refused to waver? No. But it doesn’t matter that I was right and they were wrong, because my work life was still miserable.

            Having a back-up story for situations like those is a good plan. In an ideal world we wouldn’t need it, but in an ideal world I wouldn’t need car insurance because I would never get in a crash, either.

    9. Samwise*

      Why does the OP need to tell any story? I would make responses as detail-free as possible: AAM’s, Oh, it’s a long boring story, is a good one. Or even better, Oh, just personal reasons, or, I really like my new name, don’t you?

      It’s like with people who can’t get over the fact that my son has my husband’s last name. Why’d you do that? (none of your GD business) Do you feel sad that you have different names? (No, why would I?) I’d never do that — how will anyone know you’re the kid’s mom (OMG, *look* at the child, he’s a mini me — or, wow, that is the meanest thing I’ve heard in a really long time, I’m gonna go take a minute — now THAT is really effective)

      One nice response is all you need to offer, OP. Anyone who presses, turn the awkward back on them.

      1. Zephy*

        “How will anyone know you’re the kid’s mom,” socially speaking, is an incredibly rude thing to say. But at some point in the future (like if/when he goes to college), you might run up against the granite octopus of bureaucracy. It’s not an insurmountable problem, just the added inconvenience of extra paperwork and needing to dig up documents like his birth certificate and evidence of any subsequent name changes on your part. So yeah, those people are being inappropriate, but in that sludge of impropriety is a tiny grain of “they might turn out to have a point.”

        1. boo bot*

          But you need paperwork for that kind of thing anyway, and the answer to “How will anyone know you’re the kid’s mom?” is the same as it would be for any other mother/child pair: “One of us will tell them (possibly with documents).”

          1. boo bot*

            Oh, I literally didn’t think of this until after I posted the above, because it’s affected my life that little: my mom and I have different last names, and I can’t think of an instance where I needed extra proof that she was my mother (beyond what I would need if we had the same name).

            I’m pretty sure anytime someone official needs to know if you’re a kid’s legal parent, they need to know with documents – even if you have the same name and they look like your youthful clone.

            1. curly sue*

              Same. Due to a series of circumstances I don’t actually have the same surname as either of my parents, and haven’t since I was 12. The only place that ever caused issues was in high school, where the 1990s computer system couldn’t comprehend that it couldn’t just pull a form field. And the only ramifications of that were that my report card envelopes were hand-addressed “to the parents of curly sue.”

              My kids have their father’s surname while I still have mine, and I’ve even flown with them with zero questions asked. (It probably helps to be in Canada, since Quebec actively prohibits name changes at marriage. We’re all used to couples having different names by now.)

            2. doreen*

              Funny thing is, depending on the exact circumstances you may need less proof if your child has a different last name. A birth certificate is usually how you prove a parental relationship – and every one I’ve ever seen lists the mother’s maiden name , not whatever name she’s using when the kid was born. I assume (although I don’t know) that if my kid’s birth certificate said his mother was ” Jennifer Smith” , there would be times when I would have to prove that ” Jennifer Smith ” is now ” Jennifer Rosa”

            3. NotTheSameAaron*

              My sister has this problem every year. When she submits her income tax, she lists her child as a dependent. Every year they refuse the claim and every year, they require proof that, yes you can be single, unmarried and still have a child.

              1. TardyTardis*

                We ran into that with a couple of customers at the tax place this year, and so we wait for the DNA test to come back (which can have some surprising results, but hey, we enjoy the little dramas around us).

            4. MCMonkeyBean*

              I really don’t understand how prevalent this argument still is. Having different names than your parents is really not unusual! There are lots of different reasons it can happen but I think probably one of the more common reasons is that even if a “traditional” family unit starts with everyone having the same last name, parents get divorced and remarried all the time. I have had a different name than my mom for most of my life because my parents divorced when I was three and my mom remarried shortly after and took her new husband’s name. And my dad remarried when I was in high school and my step-mother took his name, so now I share a name with her while her own kids have a different name! This is not a situation that would be unusual or hard for anyone to understand.

              The only time I remember anyone having to prove they were my parent was when my father traveled with me out of the country when I was very young. It didn’t even have anything to do with names since we have the same last name, but basically he had to prove that he wasn’t kidnapping me. And that wasn’t even really about proving that he was my parent, but about proving that he wasn’t taking me out of the country without my other parent’s knowledge.

        2. Anonfortoday*

          I actually got that a lot after I was divorced and went back to my family name. Someone actually said to me “how will the kids know you’re their mother?” Really? I think they will know! People are just really dumb sometimes.

          1. skarlatha*

            That is one of the stupidest things I’ve ever heard. Kids are not stupid just because they’re small! And besides, if they were young enough to be confused about it AT ALL, they’re probably young enough that they don’t realize their mother has a name other than “Mommy” anyway.

          2. TootsNYC*

            like, how many kids know what their parents’ last names are anyway? When they’re little, at least. Mine had to be actively taught their last name at age 2 or 3.

            I still remember my son, whose daycare worker called him, not Grant, but Grant-aroonie. So they were teaching the kids last names, and they were quizzing him:
            What’s your name? “Grant!”
            Grant what? “Grant-aroonie!?

          3. ReadItWithSpanishAccent*

            Fun fact: Spaniards do not change their last names ever, not even upon marriage. It is not even legal! And we know who our mothers are!

            1. TardyTardis*

              And husbands add their wife’s name to their–Juan Peron y Duarte, if I recall correctly.

                1. Nanita Nana*

                  No. In Spanish naming customs everyone keeps their own name from birth. Changing your name is a very, very difficult process in most Spanish-speaking countries.

        3. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

          It’s incredibly rude, but I’ve seen people do it all the time (along with accusing parents of multiracial children of having kidnapped their child).

          People can be remarkably awful when your existence challenges their deeply embedded assumptions/norms about how the world works.

        4. Koala dreams*

          Is it tradition where you live (US?) that the children have their mom’s surname? Here in Sweden traditionally children get their dad’s surname, so people wouldn’t necessarily assume that moms and their children would have the same surname.

          1. ReadItWithSpanishAccent*

            in the US children get the dad’s surname, but usually the parents are married so the mother’s surname is also the same one. In Scandinavia it is a little different because most couples aren’t married (no idea for Sweden but here in Norway over 50% of couples are unmarried). Therefore it is not as rare that a child and his/her mother don’t share the same surname.

            1. Koala dreams*

              Thanks for the explanation! It is always interesting to hear about different naming traditions.

        5. Cari*

          My mom and I were traveling for my 30th birthday. Immigration on returning to Israel from Jordan took way longer than I’d have expected. They could not wrap their heads around us having different (but similar) last names. I’m DadLast-MomLast (they went with alpha) and she’s just First MomLast. So. Many. Questions. And this was 2009

      2. Cedarthea*

        You could always go with the Dear Prudie standby, “why do you ask?” followed with an awkward silence.

        Puts it back on the asker and makes them feel awkward rather than the person with the name change, also if someone has a genuine need to know, then they can always mention that.

    10. Sharikacat*

      Telling a lie only works if no one will ever find out, so coming up with a “cover story” may only come back to bite the OP if someone is super nosy and decides to dig deeper than they should. Better to brush it off with vague language that indicates that the conversation won’t continue.

      1. Naomi*

        I didn’t mean to suggest that OP should make up a lie, just find a blander version of the truth to trot out when he’s inevitably asked. “This new name has X meaning for me,” or “I felt like making a change,” or “I just got tired of the old one,” which are all technically true while glossing over the full story. The “rebranding” line upthread is good too. Just something that sounds like enough of a reason to deter further interest, where “I don’t want to discuss it” might make nosy people perk up their ears at the hint that there’s more to know.

      2. Beatrice*

        I take the vague path sometimes, but when people don’t take the hint, I sometimes tell massive, obvious, silly whoppers as a way of deflecting. It amuses me and usually them (but more importantly, me), gets the point across more quickly than repeated nonanswering, and doesn’t sour the interaction as badly as a lecture about minding their own business would.

    11. EmmaUK*

      My daughter is planning on changing her surname simply because she doesn’t like it. Maybe you could tell people that your old surname wasn’t for you.

    12. nonprofit NY*

      I’m a married woman who recently changed my name back to my family name. No divorce, I just never felt like I adapted to my husband’s name & regretted losing my own. I went through a ridiculously long period of trying to be OK with it by having 2 last names, a hyphenated last name, using my own name professionally but still having my husband’s name on legal documents, until I finally hit the wise old age of 40ish and said “enough.” What has helped me is to explain the change as little as possible. I’m a freelancer so I don’t have to deal with it in an office setting, but with my clients who have my W9 on file, I’ve just provided as basic an explanation as possible, like “I dropped the name but not the husband, here’s my new paperwork!” No one has really challenged me on it. I think what held me back from doing this for a long time was the fear that people would think we were getting divorced when we aren’t, that I’d have to explain, that people would think it was weird. It has been freeing to realize that most people don’t care and I don’t need to explain. It also helps me that many of my friends/colleagues never thought of me by my married name anyway. So I realize this is different from LW’s situation but my basic advice is to keep it as simple as possible and try to stay neutral in your demeanor when people are getting annoyingly curious.

    13. NotMyRealName*

      When I changed my name for security issues (someone threatened to kill me, so I decided to disappear), my reason given to friends and coworkers was that it was for family issues, with no other explanation. If they pressed, I would tell them it was a long story best told over a shot of bourbon. (That usually shut them up.) Some coworkers assumed that I had gotten married. (I’m female.) Others assumed I had gotten a divorce. I just let them think whatever they want, because unless they were close to me, I didn’t really care. I also tell people on a need-to-know basis only, and no one on a particular side of the family. When/if I ever apply for a job, my reference sheet will have a note about my old name, and I will alert my references to my name change. TIP1: If you do change your name for whatever reason, create a spreadsheet to track every place you have to change your name, what you had to do, and when it was changed. I also color coded each line: no color for non-urgent, red for Urgent, light green for In Progress, and green for Done. It’s been a year and a half, and I’m still changing it in some places. So far, I have made the change in nearly 70 places (work, utilities, passport and drivers license, car titles, TSA Precheck, credit cards, bank accounts, rewards programs, etc). TIP2: If you travel, keep a copy of the court orders in your bag or car for at least the first year, just in case.

      1. Former Employee*

        Oh my goodness! I am so sorry that you were forced to jump through all these hoops to protect yourself.

        It’s one thing to decide to change your name for whatever reason. To me, if you do it just because, then don’t complain endlessly about how much work is involved.

        In your case, you really had no choice as I don’t consider it a choice when your options are do or die.

        You sound so matter of fact about the whole situation that it seems as if you are dealing with well. Keep on keeping on. Best of luck.

    14. facepalm*

      At my work we had a man in his late 20s/early 30s who changed his last name. We work in a place with background investigations and security clearances and in my state you have to go before a judge to change your name for any reason except marriage, so it was a big deal in that sense. In every other sense, it was a complete non-issue. The supervisor just mentioned that Tyrion Lannister was now Tyrion Stark and that was it. I eventually heard that the reason my coworker changed his name was that he has a bad relationship with his father and wanted his mom’s family name, but I don’t know if that was true and I certainly never asked him.

      I would go with the line that it’s an old family name, and leave it at that. No one is going to demand a family tree to see if your new surname is actually on it, it’s easy to understand for people, and they usually don’t care once they get an answer to their idle curiosity.

  2. JunieB*

    Oh, Liza. You CAN orchestrate the change you want in your life! You do that by interviewing for and accepting a better job, instead of trusting the verbal assurances of people who’ve already shown how little they value you.

    1. Tallulah in the Sky*

      And this one will be a permanent change, instead of staying at the same company who treated you like crap until now.

      I worked at a company where the only way to get something (even something that was promised to you in an offer letter) was to threaten to leave. I did love the look on my boss’s face when he asked me “What would make you stay” and I said “Nothing, I’m leaving.”

        1. WickerBag*

          Heh, I had to say something similar to my previous boss, though I felt awful about it at the time.

          He was a great boss in many ways, he was friendly and polite, gave me freedom, excellent training and fun projects, but he was oh so stingy when it came to salaries. I would have loved to stay for decades in that job if I’d been paid anything close to market rate. After three years of being an underpaid overperformer, I finally decided to move on.

          When I met with him to announce my resignation, he didn’t take me seriously. I guess he thought I was just trying to angle for a raise. He kept talking about the new advancement opportunities I’d be granted soon. Kept pressuring me to tell him how much the new position would pay (presumably to know how much of a raise I wanted). The kicker was, I caved and told him I would be getting X$, and he said, “I’ll raise your salary to X$-5k” (yes, that’s a minus). And the *tone* he said it in suggested that he was being extremely generous.

          Suddenly I felt a lot less bad for him.

          After a few more rounds of polite refusals of his counteroffers, he asked me jovially, “So what it is that you want? Name your terms.” And that’s when I dropped that line. He was *stunned*. Sat and stared at me for 5 minutes.

          Awkward as hell, but he really only has himself to blame.

          1. HB*

            I just left a job I mostly loved for a new one because of money (and, hopefully, a more manageable workload). My boss at old job was relentless about telling us that there was NO money for raises/new positions/new help. Basically every staff meeting “there is no money” even unprompted. Then everyone was SO shocked when I left. I mean it was a hard decision and there were a lot of factors but at the end of the day, if you are aggressively telling me I will never get a raise or bump in position and I am a skilled worker who wants that…well, you can’t act surprised when people leave.

      1. InsufficentlySubordinate*

        There’s an former co-worker of mine who resigned while I was on a vacation. When I came back, she told me she had to argue with management, and, frustrated, she ended with “You don’t have a choice!” She said they looked very taken aback.

        1. SusanIvanova*

          I had a friend who was in a terrible job to stay near a terminally ill sibling. Let’s call it dinner theatre in a truck stop diner. When he quit, his toxic boss said “you can’t do that, you’ll never work in this industry again!” My friend’s answer was the equivalent of “Actually, I’m going on Broadway to do Hamilton”.

    2. OP#2*

      I should have mentioned it in my letter – Liza’s new role will report to another manager, in a different team (Team B), but one that she has done a lot of work for/with and one that has some overlap with Liza’s current team (Team A). In her current role, 60% of her work is with Team A and 40% is with Team B. But in the new role, she will move completely out of Team A and will work 100% in Team B. Her duties will have a minor overlap with Team A, but she will report directly and solely to the Team B manager.

      @Alison and everyone who thinks she should not accept the counter offer – does this change your perspective?

      Uh. This just in: She literally just told me she has accepted the counter offer. So…that’s that.

      1. Al who is that Al*

        Oh dear, here’s what happened to me, last month. I handed in my resignation, my line manager and Boss above him arranged a meeting where they said how much they valued me and what could they do to get me to stay. Reluctantly I named Salary, Commute and Job Change, they then said they would change all of those – Pay rise of £3k, Work from Home, Not doing a Managerial role, I said I’d think about it over the weekend. I came in on Monday and said OK. They immediately said we’ll cancel your resignation and rang HR, then they said to come and have a private meeting with Line Manager and Boss. In the meeting they said you know we said we would change all these things, we won’t change ANYTHING. You will do exactly the same you are doing now because you are not leaving. Flabbergasted was the word, I stared at them in disbelief. My last day was last Monday. I start my new job on Tuesday. It’s highly unlikely I will ever listen to a counter-offer again.

          1. Lance*

            Probably expected them to have turned down the other offer within that time, then have no choice but to keep working there under the same conditions.

            1. Karen from Finance*

              Yeah but then at best they’d only have bought the time it took for Al to find a new offer. It’s bananas.

            2. Falling Diphthong*

              I tell you what, I would not blame A1 Who Is That A1 a bit for stealing all the toilet paper on their way out the door.

          2. Marthooh*

            Maybe they thought there’s some sort of evil legal magic in *cancelling the resignation” that would prevent Al from leaving.

        1. only acting normal*

          Did they think you’d already rejected your new job offer? They could have strung you along for a few weeks (til your alternative was gone) before yanking the agreement. Amateurs! ;-D

          PS Good luck in your new job.

        2. Artemesia*

          It is not uncommon for them to begin a countdown either. They give someone X but have an eye on easing them out when it is convenient for them. There are professions where counter offering works — Academia is one — in many places you can’t get substantial raises without a. being duncan the wonderhorse and b. getting an offer — they you get the big counter offer. But in most industries you are a marked person once you threaten to leave. Rarely works out well to take the counter offer. I love that the commenter here has not burns his bridge and was able to leave after they reneged on him.

            1. Duncan the Wonderhorse*

              It’s not so great, really. Hay gets you down after a while, and people keep expecting you to jump canyons and save children.

              1. Haven't figured out a clever username yet*

                And this comment is an example of why I should never read AAM at work. Thanks for making me crack up at a really inopportune moment, Duncan. :)

        3. Overeducated*

          That is insane. I’m so glad you didn’t turn down the other offer before that happened.

        4. Busy*

          I would be so angry.

          But more so, I would be so confused/amused at how absolutely dumb they are. And I know myself, and I would not be able to, in that moment, not laugh my ass off in their faces. Like why you so dumb?

          1. Michaela Westen*

            I’ve seen it over and over, all my life, authority (or just an arrogant person) doing such things like they don’t think anyone will stand up to them. I guess they just get complacent, or arrogant, or something like that.

        5. Jadelyn*

          That…is a whole other level of mirror-universe bizarro evil. Just. What??? How did they expect that to turn out in the end, like “We literally lied to your face to get you to stay, we’re going to outright tell you we lied, and expect this to work out long-term”????

          1. SusanIvanova*

            Some of them get into this mindset that jobs are rare and difficult to get, so that you’d do anything to keep them. I worked at a tech company at the height of one of the Silicon Valley booms that merged with one from Southern California, where there wasn’t a lot of tech so jobs were harder to find. First there were layoffs, and then there was a minor exodus. Recruiters were circling like sharks.

            So when someone asked what the new owners were going to do about that, the exec looked at us like we were naughty children and said “Only you can protect your job.”

            That minor exodus turned into a major one.

          2. Al who is that Al*

            More info !
            I had to ring my wife from the office car park on the Tuesday they told me and ask, am I being really stupid here or…. having said yes that I want to remain, had they just basically said no we want you to leave ?
            Another thing about the OP’s post, she says nothing is official. Nothing was official in mine either, everything was private meetings, nothing written down and HR not involved. Looking back it was stupid not to realise, but they got me by letting me have a couple of hospital appointments “off the clock” i.r. HR did not know. At the interview I was told I would be on £30k but after 3 months I would get £3k more, OK, that makes up for the daily commute of 2.5 hours. Then at the 3 monthly appraisal I was told I wouldn’t get the raise because I didn’t have enough “fire in the belly” – actual quote. So I handed in my resignation. (there were other reasons too). So they then said on the Friday that there wasn’t enough money in the budget to give me the raise but they would look at it (yeah I know, wait for the punchline), on the Tuesday they showed me a graph of the number of support tickets I had answered in the last two weeks as opposed to my Line Manager. My figures were a third of his, so they said we showed this to the Board (really, in less than a day as Monday was a Bank Holiday ?) and the Board said that they couldn’t justify the increased budget. I said, so this shows the last two weeks ? So you are aware I was on holiday one of those weeks ? Plus I do 3rd line support so some of my tickets take 2-3 hours, my Bosses tickets are usually authorising someones access to something and takes 5 minutes. So a) If indeed you showed the board these figures they are utterly misleading. b) You said there was no money in the budget and now you say the Board won’t give me a raise – so when you offered me an extra £3k in 3 months at the interview were you lying then ? Or are you lying now by saying there is no money in the budget.
            My line manager in his final email to me said how he could not understand my disloyalty….

            So never ever ever cancel your job offer until everything in the counteroffer is in writing signed in a HR assistants own blood.
            And yes I’m looking forward to my new job, I’ll be among professionals I hope…

        6. Aunt Piddy*

          What on EARTH? That’s just bad business. What did they say when you resigned again?

      2. Lance*

        That this is an internal move… makes this a bit more interesting, for sure. For starters, did her boss know about the intended move before she got the actual offer for it? Whether or not he did, I feel, is something of a key point here; but even regardless of that, he clearly cares little enough to not bother fighting for her unless there’s no other choice.

        Assuming the other manager is any good, I would’ve gone that way.

        1. OP#2*

          Her new role is exactly what Liza has previously told her manager she wanted, but no, her manager (she/her) did not know that the CCO would eventually agree to it… mostly because she had never raised it with the CCO until now.

          And here’s the thing… Liza doesn’t know yet who her new manager will be. There are two sides to Team B, so there are two different managers, and Liza’s new role could fit under either. But both Team B managers are good, at least, and she likes them and doesn’t mind which one she gets. The counter-offer has not been made in writing (remember it was verbally promised, though I thought that’d have changed by now; this all went down last week), so nothing is officially official yet, and I’m more worried for her than she is for herself. :)

        2. OP#2*

          Oops. I think I misconstrued your comment.

          No, Liza’s manager had no idea Liza was even looking to move, never mind actually looking and getting a new offer. She knew Liza was frustrated in her current role, but that was it.

        3. boo bot*

          I think it’s being an internal move changes a lot, actually, depending on the company and her current manager. She’s not able to just walk away from the internal politics in the same way – she’s even going to have to still be working with the old manager – and I would also be wondering, in her place, whether my current manager had the ability to get the new job offer cancelled.

      3. JJ Bittenbinder*

        I’m going to hold out hope that it works out for her, then.

        I am the rare person for whom accepting a counteroffer was the absolute right move. Yes, I know, data point of one and all that. But in my case, the job I was leaving for wasn’t one I was absolutely in love with; it was a “eh…hopefully better than what I have now” kind of thing. Add to that the fact that I really, truly did believe in the mission of the job I was going to leave, and I was conflicted at best. When the current job offered me a 25% raise, a professional development opportunity that I hadn’t even thought about asking for, and a title bump, I made the decision to stay and it was great. It was only when my manger retired and I started working for someone I didn’t work well with that I eventually moved on.

        Maybe, just maybe, Liza will be as lucky.

      4. Sharikacat*

        The issue with counter-offers seems to come down to who initiates the process. If your workplace finds out on their own that you have another offer and then tries to retain you, then it’s generally okay to accept. But, as was the case here, the OP told her manager about the other offer to obtain leverage, that’s not okay for her or the company. It feels like the OP was acting in bad faith with the other company to stay in a place where she was feeling undervalued. Burns a bridge to Company 2 and bristles Company 1, who now knows she was looking to leave and may be seen as unreliable in the long term. If she leaves, she leaves, but Company 1 would rather she leave on their terms, not hers.

      5. TootsNYC*

        well, she will learn whether this was a good move or not.

        THAT will be character-building.

        I wish her luck.

        1. TootsNYC*

          and she is right–if it turns out to be a bad decision, she CAN go look for another job.

    3. MOAS*

      Oh gosh. my company does/did this, counteroffers, and I hate it. Most recent example was someone who wanted to leave. Instead of letting him give his notice, our boss decided to move him to a new team, promote him to manager (and ofc a raise). What does he do? 6 months later, he leaves. and that too right in the middle of tax season. A manager leaving in the middle of tax season is a BFD. He stated his reason was that the work wasn’t challenging enough and he wanted to go in a different direction, which is fair. I don’t begrudge him his reasoning, but I wish our boss hadn’t been so desperate to keep him on. (of course under hte surface, he may have found a lot more wrong, but “different types of returns” was the official reason).

  3. PharmaCat*

    Regarding LW#1 – How old is the boss’s daughter, that you are expected to drive to a surgical appointment? I cannot imagine taking responsibility for driving someone to/from a surgical appointment, unless they were a family member or extremely close friend. What if there is a medical emergency? I disagree with Alison – even if it is short notice, back out of this NOW.

    1. Lena Clare*

      If there are pre-meds they might not be allowed to drive.
      I agree with Alison, if LW hasn’t already agreed to it then they shouldn’t agree to it now, but if they have said they’ll do it then stick with it if possible.
      I find with family that there are only so many boundary lines I can draw at any one time without going insane.
      Family is hard! There WILL be pushback and it’s easier to stand by your boundaries if there’s only one at a time ime.

      1. MatKnifeNinja*

        I’m assuming this is an adult (over 18) daughter.

        No way in hell would I be responsible for a minor child having surgery, no matter how “it’s not a big deal.”

        I have a feeling the 14 year old will be taking over your gig the near future. She can paying him scraps and order him around more. Down side is he can’t play chauffeur.

        Unless you are getting some big deal benefits, I’d be doing a resume tune up and look else where. You do administrative work, not hired on to be a personal assistant.

        A good administration assistant is worth their weight in gold. If you got the skills get out before you are schlepping the 14 year old to lacrosse/hockey practice.

        1. MoneyPowerPizza*

          Something that I got from the letter was the possibility that they are trying to find more work for the LW to do to justify keeping them on and the LW doesn’t get it. It’s possible the business doesn’t need an OM and a AA, particularly if there is an intern available. It reminds me so much of a family friend who runs a consultancy that really only needs one other full time employee, but the owner likes being able to give the kids of family and friends an opportunity to get office experience. The job was handed from kid to kid, usually starting in late HS, and was really more of a glorified intern job that paid $15/hr. One extended family member took the job in HS, kept it through college, kept it after she graduated… and made no indications she was ever planning to leave. I don’t remember exactly how it played out, but she left the area when she got married, so it’s possible they literally just waited her out. I would not be surprised if the boss and the mother have been discussing laying LW off for a long time or at best figuring out ways to justify giving them a raise or a better title. It’s entirely possible the boss does not need an EA, but could use a PA. And quite frankly, the worst part of being a PA is being all up in someone’s business. If you already know they’re not a bunch of monsters, it’s a pretty good gig.

          1. SusanIvanova*

            I would bet anything that 14 year old doesn’t want to be an intern; the parent just can’t find anything else to do with him over the summer so this is really babysitting with a business gloss.

    2. Maria Lopez*

      OP needs to back out of that JOB now, not just the chauffeuring. She has both a mother and boss who blur boundaries, and little power to refuse to help, because if I read correctly she is an assistant to them both.
      “I am her assistant, the general assistant, and do anything else that needs to be done. ”
      This will not improve, and it sounds like a not so great job. Don’t know what the job market is like where the OP is, but there has to be something better than this.

      1. EmKay*

        Yep. And boss is also angling to replace her with the 14 year old son, I’m certain of it. He’s family so she can pay him even less, and push him around even more. OP is in an untenable position here, she needs to get out ASAP.

        1. PicoSignal*

          With a 14-year-old, it might be that the family needs a babysitter for a few weeks (some kids that age are mature enough to be alone during the day, while others are not.) I think the assistant is going to do a few weeks of babysitting + assistant work!

          1. alphabet soup*

            Yeah, that’s a good point.

            It could also just be that she wants the son to start learning the business. I worked at a family business before and every summer, the family kids would come help out in the office, starting around age 14-15, with the unspoken expectation that they were learning the ropes early to take on more responsibility when they were older.

            1. alphabet soup*

              And if the family business angle is what’s going on, that’s less immediately bad for the LW, but still bad in the long-term. It means there’s no room for growth, because higher-level positions are already earmarked for family.

          2. TootsNYC*

            well, if I owned a business, I might put young relatives in it as a summer job, for the reason that was given: to give him some experience of what happens in an office.

    3. Jimming*

      Yeah. I am side-eyeing the parents being out of town while their daughter is having surgery. I was picturing a minor but maybe it’s an adult daughter. Either way I’d be super uncomfortable signing up for office work and then being a chauffeur for medical appointments.

      1. Ego Chamber*

        I said below the daughter is probably a legal adult since the grandson is 14 but I now realize LW doesn’t say whether the grandson is the daughter’s or another family member’s, so it could go either way (although still more likely to be an adult daughter since the boss is a friend of LW’s mom and is old enough to have a 14 year old grandson).

        1. snowglobe*

          I think it’s pretty unlikely that a medical facility would perform a surgery on a minor without their parent or guardian present (outside of an emergency). The daughter is almost certainly an adult.

          It’s possible that if the OP’s mother and the boss are long-time friends, then the OP likely knows the daughter, so it’s not like she’d be taking a stranger. Not that she should be happy about doing this, but I can see why she might have agreed. But I do think this is a sign that OP probably needs to find another job, so these kinds of things don’t keep coming up.

          1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

            For sure. In fact, my husband’s dentist wouldn’t do a procedure that required twilight sedation without someone who wasn’t on benzos waiting for him in the waiting room for the entire procedure. (I was pretty ticked, because they hadn’t mentioned that up front, so I had planned to pop down the way and run a couple quick errands in the same shopping center while they had him under.)

            1. Dragoning*

              That’s typically because they want someone not high to discuss with if something does go tragically wrong.

              1. Hamburke*

                this is true – my husband’s BP spiked when he was having his unerupted, cracked molar + wisdom tooth removed. They got the cracked one out and pulled him off the meds as soon as possible. A month later, his GP had him on bp meds (which should have happened years ago – he’s had the top end of normal bp since I met him when we were 20).

              2. JM60*

                A couple times when I had surgery, they didn’t require anyone to stick around, so I’m guessing that policies vary from one facility to another, and probably also the specifics of the procedure.

            2. Liz*

              Oh that’s annoying. I get having someone to drive him home, but I’ve had multiple GI procedures that required sedation, adn while my parents were still in the area and took me, they waited, I’ve had friends who didn’t. but were told about what time I’d be done, and then were called. they also have a cafe and give you a beeper if you’re waiting for someone so you know when they’re ready

            3. Turquoisecow*

              Both my husband and I had a colonoscopy and in both cases we were not allowed to drive ourselves to or from the procedure. We were also explicitly told not to use Uber – someone had to wait for us and drive us home afterward. If the person is being put completely under, that’s probably the protocol.

              1. nonegiven*

                DH had that yesterday, an hour from home. I didn’t even go in with him but they called me and made sure I’d be able to pick him up before he was sedated. We had to leave home early af, so he drove to and I drove from.

      2. Colette*

        I mean, surgery could be something minor. I wouldn’t expect my parents to show up at my bedside if I got my wisdom teeth removed or the hardware taken out of my ankle – but I wouldn’t be able to drive after either procedure.

        1. Dragoning*

          I guess, you know, if I was adult having minor surgery and my parents weren’t around to drive me, I’d…ask a friend? If this daughter is n fact an adult…do they not have friends to do this? Not an Uber, for sure, but I think there’s also some registered services to drive people after medical procedures.

          1. fposte*

            Uber wouldn’t be allowed by the medical facilities I know, and in my area there’s no known medical service that will do this. And friends often can’t take time off from work, whereas your mother’s employees have that permission baked in.

            I’ve heard of just hiring CNA for the day, but that ain’t cheap.

            1. Dragoning*

              In my city we have services for that. I guess I assumed they were more common than maybe they are.

              1. fposte*

                Probably need a city-level concentration of people to make it worthwhile (and even there they probably have a “delivery radius”).

            2. TardyTardis*

              We have a medical transport service in our relatively small town that would probably be able to manage to and from, but if the doc wants someone to sit with the patient after they get home to make sure they’re not passing out from internal bleeding etc., that is another story.

          2. Liz*

            it depends though. My state will not allow anyone who’s been sedated to go home in a cab, Uber etc. so the facility tells you you can’t either but its actually not their policy, but a law.

            1. MatKnifeNinja*

              They won’t even let you drive with 50 mgs of Benadryl in your system in my state. I had to pre-medicate for CT contrast. If I had no driver, I would have to wait 5 HOURS before I could leave. I asked (not that I would do it), what happens if I just leave? They call security/police. This is at a big deal university hospital.

              They also do not count a cab/Uber if you have sedation more than Benadryl for a driver.

              My friend took me. I owe him big time.

              1. stefanielaine*

                50 mg of Benadryl is the maximum adult dose, and Benadryl (diphenhydramine) is the active ingredient in most sleep aids, so this is actually an incredibly reasonable policy!

                1. PhyllisB*

                  This brings back a memory. I had hives one time and was told to take Benadryl by my doctor. I had never used it and didn’t realize it had sedating qualities. (Why didn’t I read the label carefully? I don’t know, and this was before the days of Google.) I took it and then my children wanted to the McDonald’s with a playground that had just opened. I did, and by the time we go there and got settled, the Benadryl kicked in. I had to lay my head on the table and sleep for a few minutes. When it was time to leave I was still groggy but just drove slowly and carefully going home. I still didn’t realize why I was groggy. When I got home, I was talking about it with a friend of mine who is a nurse and she just reamed me out. (Rightfully so) and told me this is the main ingredient in Sominex. I had no idea. After that, I only took it two more times, and at bedtime. Moral of the story: READ LABELS and don’t take things like this and drive. I’m just lucky that nothing happened.

            2. Michaela Westen*

              One time when I had sedation like that, I was told someone had to take me home. It could have been a friend using a taxi or uber, but I wouldn’t be allowed to go by myself. I ended up using a specialty medical service to take me home.

          3. nonegiven*

            DH has taken off work to drive multiple friends to and from their outpatient surgeries in other cities. He got to watch one guy’s cataract surgeries on a (separate, inside) waiting room tv.

        2. Yorick*

          For some procedures, you have to have a person sit in the waiting room, while others just require the name of the person who will walk you out.

          After my boyfriend’s endoscopy, he was very alert so he was fine to leave by himself on public transit. But they wouldn’t let him leave without someone coming to “pick him up.” So I came and walked him out of the office and then we both went back to work.

      3. Falling Diphthong*

        I started a longer anecdote, but realized that the gist is: All the boundaries are scrambled up here, and OP should look for a job that isn’t for her mom.

    4. mark132*

      If the daughter is a minor, I would recommend backing out immediately, promise made or not.

      1. Myrin*

        I actually assumed that the daughter is the 14-year-old grandson’s mother. But even if she isn’t, the existence of a teenaged grandson makes it pretty unlikely that this daughter is also a minor (although not impossible, of course, before anyone jumps in with how they’re older than their youngest aunt/uncle).

        1. Jules the 3rd*

          Hunh, I assumed she was an aunt, but fully adult bcs if she’s a minor, the parents actually have to be around (in the US).

          1. Dragoning*

            Actually, I think at least in some states they would be able to give permission via the phone or guardianship to another adult–sometimes a kid doesn’t have actual parents around (at camp, on a trip with a friend and their parents, etc.) and emergency surgery is required, so requiring the parents to be physically present is legally risking killing children.

            I’m not sure if that would stand, given that this is clearly scheduled in advance, but I suppose it’s possible to transfer this in advance.

    5. Ego Chamber*

      The letter says the grandson is 14, so the daughter is a legal adult and probably just needs someone to drive her home after because surgery is rough. I’m still not into the idea but it’s not like LW would be transporting a minor and if she knows the daughter casually, it might not be as weird/fraught as it seems from the outside.

      Wait. Speaking of the 14 year old grandson, is it legal to hire 14 year olds? I realize family businesses tend to do things that are a little unorthodox (read: illegal) but a 14 year old intern seems … questionable (kind of like someone wants him to have supervision over the summer but doesn’t want to pay for childcare).

      1. Health Insurance Nerd*

        It depends on where they are; in my state it’s legal. Also, parents typically don’t pay for childcare for 14 year olds.

          1. Karen from Finance*

            Not a babysitter but when I was 14 if my parents left town they left me to stay over at some friend’s house, because they didn’t trust me alone at the house for entire days. And I was a VERY responsible, introverted kid. I couldn’t have got in trouble (outside of the very unsupervised Internet) if I tried. Like, nobody would’ve showed up if I’d thrown a party or anything. But you know, generalizations about teenagers. Some adults just don’t trust kids.

            1. Turquoisecow*

              I was a pretty trustworthy teen but if my parents were away for more than one night they would have made arrangements for me to stay with someone. Not because I was untrustworthy or would get in trouble, but because at that age I didn’t have the ability to get everything done around the house that needed doing.

            2. RUKiddingMe*

              Mine tried that. They went to Reno and left me with my great-grandmother in another town.

              The second they called from Reno I caught a bus and went home. There was this party that weekend…

              Yeah I got in trouble but the party was awesome *and* they never left me with anyone again.

            3. Grace*

              They may have just been worried about the possibility of you being alone in an emergency – fire, robbery, illness, tripping on the stairs. I wouldn’t want to leave a young teen alone for days no matter how responsible.

          2. AKchic*

            State? Not exactly a “sitter”, but someone to check up on or be available in case of emergency after so many hours. I know military installations don’t allow teenagers under a certain age to be alone in a house after a certain time.

            Alaska is pretty laisse faire about the whole teenager thing too. 14 year olds are allowed to work in limited industries. Offices are absolutely no problem as long as they aren’t operating complicated machinery (I wasn’t allowed to operate a shrink-wrap machine, for example). Of course, Mummy Dearest could also have the kid “off the books” and not be counting him as an actual intern/employee and just be calling him that to all and sundry and not actually have him listed in official records (that’s what my mom did in the few instances I was dragged to the office with her when she needed extra help in the office / warehouse and had me and a few friends helping out, or when my sister and I were off school and we were going to leave to go somewhere right after work and she didn’t want to drive back home to get us).

          3. TootsNYC*

            an interesting point:

            At a PTA meeting, we had cops in to talk to us about safety, etc., and one of the things they said was, in NYState, the law says “minors” can’t be unattended, and “minor” is 18.

            So technically, you can’t have your under-18 kid “unattended.”

              1. Former Employee*

                I once was in an organization with someone who had been married at 14 and had her first child at 16. (I don’t recall what state she was from; I want to say Kentucky, but that might just be because I know that Loretta Lynn got married at 15.)

        1. Seeking Second Childhood*

          Some teens are more responsible than others. There are some who a parent would not want to leave unsupervised…thus summer camp.
          Personally I didn’t blink at the 14yo working at his grandmother’s business….but if he’s an irresponsible teen, OP1 might have her hands full.

          1. PretzelGirl*

            I actually think there may be stipulations where minors can work for family businesses. Although I could be wrong.

            This was 20 years ago, but I had friends that worked when they were 14. They had to get a work permit in my state. There were a lot of regulations back then, like what hours you could work, number of hours worked, you couldn’t put food in ovens or work with stoves etc. So if that is still true today, he could potentially work there.

            1. iglwif*

              I absolutely worked starting when I was 14. Most of my friends did, too. (This was Alberta in the late 80s/early 90s.) There were of course restrictions on how many hours during the school year, what types of jobs, etc.

              Come to think, my child has been working since she was 13, babysitting during Saturday morning services. The kids who babysit are all in grades 8-12, so minimum age 12, maximum age 18.

          2. RUKiddingMe*

            Maybe it was just my cohort but when we were that age “irresponsible” wasn’t an option.

            There was a minimum expectation of behavior/comportment… particularly for the eldest (::raises hand::) that one *had better* be responsible, know the rules, abide by the rules, and not screw around. Mostly I/we complied.

            1. Dahlia*

              I mean when my mother was 14, she was drinking, smoking, and one of her sisters (the oldest) was pregnant. So I think there was plenty of option for irresponsibility before, what, ten years ago?

              1. RUKiddingMe*

                Oh for sure. My dad’s bio mom was 15 when he was born…he was her second. My mom’s mom was partying in Chicago when she was 16 (in the 30s) and married my grandfather right about that same time. Maybe some of that is why my parents were like they were? ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ Nah, more like they liked having their own indentured servant. No, I’m not still bitter. Why do you ask?

      2. RUKiddingMe*

        “…kind of like someone wants him to have supervision over the summer but doesn’t want to pay for childcare.”

        Not that a 14 year old should need childcare per se…but yep I think you hit the nail on the head. This way he has at least some adult supervision instead of being left to his own devices.

        Back in the dark ages of my youth (70s) 14 year olds *were* the “adult supervision” for younger kids while Mom and Dad were at work all day, but…things change.

        1. Asenath*

          A lot depends on the 14-year-old. Even back in the Old Days, when children younger than 14 often took on responsibility for their younger siblings and helped in the family business or home, there were some 14-year-olds who needed supervision, and wouldn’t be assigned as supervisor.

        2. MatKnifeNinja*

          There are very few people I know that would let a 14 year old boy spend all summer with no supervision until the parent rolled in at 5 pm or whenever.

          Instead of playing never ending Fortnite/PUBG battles, grandson gets to learn the glories of copying and answering the phone. Sounds horrible, if I was the typical 14 year old where I live.

          For OP’s sake I hope this teen REALLY wants to be there. I had my nephew help out at work (mom’s suggestion), and I ended at 3 weeks. It was like a never ending root canal. Huffing, puffing, bored bored bored, this blows, am I done? He was 14, not 20. Mom didn’t want him home unsupervised. He’s a good kid, but he’s a 14 year old boy with a ton of time on his hand. He had also done some poor choices in the pass. Nothing horrible, just stupid.

          He wound up working for a landscaping crew and had a much better time.

          1. Michaela Westen*

            You touch on something which IMHO is a big problem in America: In most places there is nothing constructive for teen to do and since young people need excitement, they find DEstructive things to do, in some cases messing up their lives for decades.
            I was so bored as a teen! Not old enough to drive. Nothing fun in walking distance. Parents working or doing their thing. As a society we could and should do better for our young people.
            I worked with a lady who always made sure her daughter had things to do over the summer – went to stay with relatives, camps, other activities. Everyone needs this.
            To sum up, I expect they’re trying to keep the 14-year-old busy so he won’t get bored and end up in trouble.

            1. TardyTardis*

              I picked strawberries during the summers from 12-15–got up at 4 ish am, walked to the bus, picked strawberries, got dropped off, walked home. (I loved getting a real job when I was 16, I made as much in three week at the cherry processing plant than I did for the whole summer picking strawberries). I think one of my older brothers took me when I was 12, but for three more summers I was on my own, though a couple of my friends also worked there. The growers threw us a picnic at the end of the season and sometimes stopped at the ice scream place on the way home and got everyone cones.

          2. Pescadero*

            My kids started staying home alone during the workday in the summer when the older was 12 and the younger 9 years old.

            Where I’m from – 12 year olds don’t get babysitters, 12 year olds ARE babysitters.

            1. TardyTardis*

              Which did not work out for the house across the street from us when the mother was out with her new boyfriend till 2 am, and the water main broke there–my husband and I called the emergency departments and all was well, but the oldest girl was clearly out of her depth.

          3. RUKiddingMe*

            The 70s were a different world. Almost everyone I knew with both parents working were on their own all day and often taking care of younger siblings *and* the house, getting dinner started/cooked, etc.

            On the weekends we were out of the house (and expected to be) by 9 am at the latest and no one bothered to look for us until it got dark.

            #OriginalFreeRangeKid ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

            1. TardyTardis*

              In the 1980s and 1990s my daughter roamed with a free range pack and were fed lunch by wherever they ended up at–I did that some of the time, but another mom was favored because she’d give them potato chips and paid no attention when the little darling would go into the friend’s bedroom and watch slasher movies on the San Francisco channel (found all this out much, much later).

      3. Asenath*

        Whether it’s legal to hire a minor depends on location and also (usually) on the type of work they’re doing – minors may be forbidden entirely from working at certain dangerous jobs. I got my first – and actually, some later ones – job when I was still a minor, although they were all summer or part-time work. It was actually pretty easy back then to hire minors as long as they weren’t missing school to work or something like that, at least in my area. In one place where I lived, a local store always hired minors to bag groceries – and stopped hiring them when they came of age. Minors could be paid less than the adult minimum wage. I don’t know if that’s still the case – I don’t think so.

      4. SPDM*

        The nephew could be a child of another sibling–I have relatives where the uncle is only a couple years older than his niece.

        1. Dust Bunny*

          My boyfriend is four years older than his niece. He’s 18 years younger than his only sibling.

        2. iglwif*

          Sure could.

          My oldest nibling is only 8 years younger than me, and my spouse has niblings who are older than he is, because he’s the youngest in a family with a 20-plus-year age range between eldest and youngest.

      5. Clisby*

        14-year-olds can work in my state (up to 8 hours a day in the summer), but there are restrictions on what type of work they can do. This sounds like typical office work, which wouldn’t be a problem.

      6. Bee*

        Eh, I started a data entry job at my summer pool club when I was about 12 or 13. It was definitely not legal, but I enjoyed it (and the money, and the air conditioning), and it gave me a LOT of basic office experience that was incredibly valuable when I was looking for a job later on. Hell, by the time I was 16, my boss trusted me to balance the payroll checkbook! I wouldn’t immediately jump to the idea that this is a substitute for childcare; maybe he’s the kind of smart, responsible kid who would enjoy this and get something out of it, and his parents don’t want him sitting at home all summer with nothing to do, so grandma is putting him to work.

      7. Hey Karma, Over here.*

        The appointment is an hour and a half away. So three hours driving on top of waiting all day. Nope the hell out of there, now. The reason you got this job is because your mom got sick of being her personal assistant and roped you in with some BS job. This is the job. Dog sitter. Chauffeur. Now babysitter. Again. THIS is your job. If it’s what you want to do, talk to your boss and say, hey, I’d love to be your personal assistant, let’s come up with a plan for that. But since she won’t be able to justify her company paying your PA salary, I think you’ll need to be prepared to leave.

      8. Turquoisecow*

        In my state 15 is the youngest employee possible – I used to work for a supermarket that hired teenage cashiers all the time. 15 year olds were subject to extra regulations like more break periods and shorter working hours, so we never hired anyone under 16 while I was there. I’m not sure if those were laws or union regulations, though, and I know that the laws for work working are lower in other states.

    6. SPDM*

      I would be extremely reluctant to put myself in any situation where the patient might not be fully conscious or able to make her own decisions the whole time, just in case “routine XYZ” becomes “XYZ that won’t stop bleeding/has a surprise tumor in it/is otherwise complicated and needs a decision made” and I have to track down someone appropriate to make that decision.

      1. PretzelGirl*

        This was my thought. It could be a minor/routine surgery, but stuff happens. My mother had a very routine surgery and had a bad reaction to anesthesia and almost died. I wouldn’t want to be responsible for anyone that wasn’t my spouse, child or parent for surgery.

      2. TootsNYC*

        It is HIGHLY unlikely that a hospital would send someone home in that condition.

    7. JeanLouiseFinch*

      There’s one really, really good reason to refuse to drive anyone regularly as part of your employment. The standard auto insurance policy contains an exclusion for “livery conveyance” which includes transporting people for compensation. Similarly, most CGL policies (the company’s liability policy), contains an exclusion for any use of an auto. This means that without a special insurance policy or a policy endorsement, transporting the daughter exposes the LW to potential liability that is not covered by any insurance. One way to deal with this is to tell the employer that you are sorry, you cannot agree to do this without a special, separate insurance policy. Since this will cost some money, chances are, she will make other arrangements.

      1. CDM*

        That’s a huge stretch. What the LW would be doing for her employer, does not fit into the definition of “The transporting of people and/or goods for hire, such as by a taxi service, motor carrier, or a delivery service. “

        1. Asenath*

          It can be interpreted that way in my province in Canada – the issue came up in a job I once had. Laws in your area may well differ, but here, if I transport someone in my personal car as part of my job, and there’s an accident, the legal liability would be worse than if I’d just offered a lift to a friend. My driver’s license is just a standard one – I don’t have one that allows me to transport people professionally, and my car when I had one, didn’t have the necessary registration to be used to transport people for work. I – and my employer – would have additional liability due to driving someone as part of my job without the right training and license. I am not a lawyer, but I’m reasonably sure that my former employer was advised by one when they told us all to cut out the driving of people for work purposes right now, and why we had to do it.

        2. Former Employee*

          I was not in claims, but I tend to think it is pretty unlikely that giving someone a ride would turn your vehicle into a livery conveyance, even though she is being paid by her employer. After all, she is not being paid for providing transportation. Rather, she is being paid to be an administrative assistant; this is incidental to her actual job.

          What she might do is check and see if the employer has a Business Auto policy and make sure it includes Non-Owned Auto Coverage (NOA). A non-owned auto is one that is not owned by the business, but may be used on behalf of the business, such as an auto owned by an employee. NOA is usually included in a Business Auto policy and is very cheap unless you are a sales organization or the like and your employees use their autos on behalf of the business on a daily/regular basis. Otherwise, it is included on an “if any” basis and a small flat charge is made.

    8. Not A Morning Person*

      Yes, I haven’t read all the comments, but if it’s a minor, then someone needs to have medical power of attorney for that minor to agree to medical care.

  4. Heidi*

    Hi OP1. Did the company reimburse mileage or gas for these rides? If not, you might try asking, especially if you are using your own vehicle. Sometimes even a small cost will make people think twice about asking for something. Plus, a bunch of 1.5 hour round trips could add up.

    1. RUKiddingMe*

      And is she being paid gor her time? My mom learned while I was still a child (teenager) to not volunteer me. One very memorable incident that ended with her needing to fix her overstep with her friend after I lost my shit over her doing that was all it took.

      1. Jennifer Thneed*

        Apparently this is a common thing with some knitters’ mothers… I am a knitter, but I’m not some knitters, nor is my mother some knitters’ mother. Thanks To All Deities!

        1. RUKiddingMe*

          My mom was the type of parent that thought she owned her kids. I was (am) the type of person to say “yeah, let me know how that works out for you” and then shut and lock the gate while I walk away.

          Fortunately she didn’t do confrontations with me well do I rarely got push back on boundaries. Just accusations if being “secretive.” I can live with that.

    2. ..Kat..*

      I hope she is getting paid for driving time and mileage. If she is not being paid for driving time, I suspect that this is illegal (based on her job description, she sounds non-exempt). And, if company owner is paying her out of company money for personal work (personal to the owner work, as opposed to company work), I think this could also be illegal. Does anyone here know for sure?

      And finally, LW will be transporting (in her personal car) someone who has just had a surgical procedure. People who have just had surgery frequently vomit. Cleaning this up (and getting the smell out) is very hard.

      And, even more finally, does LW want to be responsible for someone after a surgical procedure? The person taking the patient home is considered to be responsible for the recovery of that patient. If anything goes wrong, LW is the one that signed out the patient to go home. Will LW be paid for spending the night with the patient?

      1. TechWorker*

        I think it depends what how the company is owned – if it’s tiny then it’s probably privately owned by the boss and I’m pretty sure there’s no law against them asking for personal favours on the company dime. (It’s obviously not illegal to hire a personal assistant, nor to ask someone to do something outside of their job description).

        1. Thomas Dalton*

          There are probably tax implications, though. Paying someone to perform personal tasks for you isn’t a business expense. I’m not a tax expert, but I think you would either need to pay tax on the benefit in kind you are receiving from your company or, if it isn’t incorporated, you have to treat part of the employee’s salary as not tax deductible.

      2. MassMatt*

        What? No! I dislike the whole boundary crossing thing going on with this employer also but you are going further and further into the weeds here. I have many friends and family that have driven others/been driven home from surgery and none have vomited.

        Where on earth are you getting the notion that the person driving someone home is responsible fo4 their recovery? NO, people giving rides are not Shanghai’d Into being nurses or doctors! I have also driven people home from surgery, I most certainly did not “sign out” the patient nor was I expected to do anything but get them home.

        1. WS*

          Vomiting after anaesthetic is pretty common, though. My partner is not a vomiter, even with a high fever, but she had sedation for wisdom teeth removal and threw up for 30 minutes of the hour’s drive home. This is not a random scenario!

          I agree that the person giving a ride is not the nurse or doctor, but if this daughter is a minor, I would be extremely wary of being the person responsible for them after a medical procedure.

          1. Ego Chamber*

            Vomiting after anesthesia is very common, that’s why most procedures involve the patient not eating or drinking anything for 12 hours prior (when I had my wisdom teeth out, they asked me no less than 4 times if I’d had anything to eat that morning, are you sure, not even a cup of coffee with milk, are you sure) because if you vomit while sedated there’s a good chance you’ll aspirate the vomit and die.

            I’m kind of impressed your partner was able to get anything down after having her wisdom teeth out. My mouth was so packed with gauze, I couldn’t even drink water for a few hours after and I really, really wanted some water since it had been 12+ hours without fluids at that point.

            1. WS*

              She had several sips of water and washed her mouth out a few times before leaving the dental surgery. And then it all came up, and up and up…

        2. RUKiddingMe*

          Just because you haven’t experienced anyone with post op vomiting doesn’t mean it doesn’t happen/isn’t common.

        3. Asenath*

          One of the local out-patient clinics here does have the person taking the patient home sign them out – I think they had experiences with patients claiming that taxi drivers were the required friend/relative, and taxi drivers don’t usually ensure that their passengers actually get into the house to which they are driven. I don’t know what the form actually says, because I was the patient and a bit woozy at the time.
          I certainly agree that such drivers aren’t expected to provide medical care for the ex-patient or see to their recovery. They just make sure they get home safely – although one of the friends helping me offered to pick up my prescription too, which I wish I had taken advantage of! And such driving is not usually part of someone’s job description if they’re an office worker – I’ve posted elsewhere of the legal and insurance problems that could arise, locally at least, from using your private care and a regular driver’s license to transport people as part of your job.

        4. Seeking Second Childhood*

          This is totally surgery dependent. Some surgeries the patient cannot take a taxi or rideshare home from the hospital because there needs to be a designated caregiver who will be around for a certain period of time. Others, the patient could wait some extra time at the facility and be safe to drive herself home.
          But the pre-appointment? Sheesh! If daughter’s of driving age, she’s on her own for that one!

          1. WellRed*

            I’m wondering if its some sort of eye surgery. Not that it matters. The LW should grow some boundaries, starting with her mom!

          2. fposte*

            There are also a ton in the middle ground, where they just want somebody responsible to drive you home but don’t really care if they stay (because that’s not their problem). Colonoscopies fall into that category here.

        5. JSPA*

          I’ve had three people, including boss-friend, puke in my car after general anesthesia. But all 15 years ago, or longer. Have good bags ready, as that’s cheap, but the anesthesiology norms have changed, from what I’ve heard, discussing anesthesia options. I’d actually take nausea over the risk of absences and amnesia (the trade-off in using more diazapines?), disgusting as nausea is, unless there’s a risk of pulling stiches. But it’s a really hard call. Tiny risk of accidental death by falling down my stairs in an absence? Sure nausea and probable puking?

        6. Psyche*

          Every surgery I had required the person driving me to sign something saying that they would not leave me alone for a certain amount of time. It may vary by hospital. If I had not had someone to pick me up, they would not have performed the surgery and explicitly said that I could not take a taxi or uber.

      3. MK*

        Eh, that is probably a huge exaggeration of what the OP will be expected to do. We don’t even know if she will be the one picking the patient up after the procedure; maybe a family member will do that, or maybe the daughter will be staying at the facility overnight. The procedure could also be very minor.

        It’s not that the eventualities you describe are impossible. But I have found that if you want push back about doing a task, it’s not effective to start listing improbable ways in which things can go wrong. It makes you look like you are searching for a way to avoid the task and the other person is very likely to start finding “solutions” to your objections, or let you off this time only to assign you an equally inappropriate but different task the next week.

        The OP would be better served by having a frank “let’s make sure we are on the same page about the expectations of my job duties” discussion with the owner and her mother/boss, than expressing concern about her liability for the daughter’s medical condition.

        1. RUKiddingMe*

          It sounds like it may be an outpatient procedure that they would expect her to wait around for and then drive the daughter back home maybe.

          1. MK*

            Maybe. But even that is not an unreasonable task for a PA to perform. If the patient needs medical care/supervision after a procedure, they are usually either held for monitoring for a time or told to hire a professional. If this is one the (many) cases when the doctor tells you “you will be wobbly after the procedure, bring a relative or friend to take you home and stay with you for X period of time afterwards”, this person is “responsible for the recovery of the patient”. If the OP tries to offer this justification, the boss can very well answer “What are you talking about, no one is asking you to play nurse, you are just giving daugher a lift”. As I said, it’s not effective to complicate the issue by bringing things like that up.

              1. MK*

                The OP says she is an assistant to both her mother, who is an office manager, and the owner. Also that dogsitting is a regular part of her duties. That does not sound like an admin to me, and of the business is tiny, there might not be enough admin work to employ someone full time. If this is the case, it’s likely her job is a mix of admin and PA duties; these are not necessarily different jobs.

        2. Ask a Manager* Post author

          I have found that if you want push back about doing a task, it’s not effective to start listing improbable ways in which things can go wrong. It makes you look like you are searching for a way to avoid the task and the other person is very likely to start finding “solutions” to your objections, or let you off this time only to assign you an equally inappropriate but different task the next week.

          The OP would be better served by having a frank “let’s make sure we are on the same page about the expectations of my job duties” discussion with the owner and her mother/boss, than expressing concern about her liability for the daughter’s medical condition.

          So much this.

          And even if none of this stuff was an issue (the vomiting, etc.), it’s still a problem the OP needs to solve.

          1. fposte*

            And almost always the laundry list will be a weaker rhetorical strategy than one or two points of weight.

        3. pleaset*

          ‘I have found that if you want push back about doing a task, it’s not effective to start listing improbable ways in which things can go wrong. It makes you look like you are searching for a way to avoid the task and the other person is very likely to start finding “solutions” to your objections, or let you off this time only to assign you an equally inappropriate but different task the next week.’


      4. Michaela Westen*

        Get some of those airsick bags like on planes or in pinch, a small plastic garbage bag, just in case.

    3. Mary*

      In the UK, you’d need to check with your insurer to see whether this counted as business travel too.

      1. MagicUnicorn*

        US states also have car insurance rules that are very pertinent to this situation.

    4. Artemesia*

      It sounds to me like this LW doesn’t have a real job but a grace and favor position with Mom masquerading as a job where she is expected to be an assistant i.e. do whatever Mom and the boss decide she should do. This is not that uncommon with small companies i.e. blurring personal and professional. The only way to fix this is to find a real job with someone other than Mommy. Family jobs often backfire, but this one sounds guaranteed to no matter how great a job this LW is doing.

      1. MK*

        Well, I see no reason why being a general assistant isn’t a real job (what does that even mean?). It’s not common because it usually makes more financial sense for companies to delegate these tasks among mane low-level people, but I used to work at a law firm who employed someone whose job description would most accurately be “person who runs errants for everyone, takes care of no-skills tasks and occassionally PAs for the big boss”. It actually was a huge convenience for the associates, the paralegals and the admin to be free of a variety of mundane tasks that would take up their time.

        1. CmdrShepard4ever*

          I think being an assistant of any type is a real job. Not to put words in Artemesia’s mouth but what I think they meant by real job was that the “assistant office manager/general assistant” may not be a position that the company has a true business need for where if the OP quit they might not rehire for the position. But rather that the mom said to the boss “Hey boss my kid needs a job can we hire her?” and boss being the owner of the company said “Sure we can afford it, and we can find work/something for her to do.”

          In this sense it is not a real job because absent the personal connections the position might not exist.

          This is kinda how I got an internship in college. I was a caddy and I mentioned to a member that I needed an internship and asked if they had any positions or if they knew of anyone that had anything open. When I went in to talk to him at the office he offered me a position and paid one at that. My sense was that this internship wasn’t one that they normally had, he just could afford it and did have work that needed to be done, but had I not asked and had a connection they would not have hired someone for it.

        2. Autumnheart*

          It’s a real job, and for that matter, being a personal assistant is a real job, too, but as far as I can tell, OP definitely didn’t sign up to be someone’s personal butler and shuttle the boss’s family around. No way. Both Boss and Mom are really going down an inappropriate path in expecting OP to be increasingly responsible for what are definitely personal obligations, not professional ones. It’d be one thing to ask OP to go get coffee and sandwiches for a client meeting, but that’s much different from asking OP to pick someone up from their outpatient surgery.

          Both Mom and Boss are treating OP like a child, to whom they can assign chores, and not like a professional adult with her own personal responsibilities. I’d be looking for a new job ASAP.

      2. Dust Bunny*

        This is pretty harsh. I was thinking it was probably a small family business, possibly in a small town where there aren’t a huge number of job options, on top of people tending to know (or be related to) each other. Not really that uncommon, and really difficult when you’re trying to set boundaries because not only do you work for/with people but you probably know them semi-socially, or know their friends and relatives, too.

        1. Michaela Westen*

          That’s one of the reasons I live in the big city. Much easier to keep boundaries!

      3. AnastasiaD*

        I agree that it is conmon (whether right or not) for small family owned businesses to have some blurred lines here. My husband and I ran a small business, and hired someone who was paid partly from the business and partly from our personal funds, and her duties included being my personal assistant including running various personal errands.

      4. Family Business Aide*

        Hi Artemesia,

        The job did start out as a grace and favor position with my mom, helping out in the office for a couple of hours while my toddler-daughter was in school (actually getting paid for work I was already doing as a favor). As the years have progressed and my daughter has had longer days in the school, the job has changed into a “real” administrative assistant position and I am now working 6 – 8 hours a day. The initial reason for remaining with the job was to be available to my daughter when she needs me (sick days, school vacation, drop-off and pick-up, volunteering in the school occasionally) because my husband has to commute 1.5 or more hours a day to his job. However, as the workload and responsibilities have increased, the opportunities to take time off for my daughter are less available. With that in mind, I have decided that I might as well look for a new job because the “benefits” of being able to have availability for my daughter will be the same, but I won’t have the blurred boundaries of working for family. Also, it would be nice to get sick/vacation pay.

    5. Bossy, yo*

      If I were OP1 I think I’d say – oh, for that service I charge X ($50 an hour or something), since it isn’t part of my job. Make it work for you OP1!
      And also, find a new job pronto.

      1. MassMatt*

        I think there is a good chance this kind of response would result in immediate firing. Don’t do it unlesss you either don’t care about the job or have something else lined up.

    6. Family Business Aide*

      Hi Heidi, yes I have gotten paid mileage and the time is put on my time card. My issue is with the time taken away from my family and work.

      1. Heidi*

        Thanks for the updates. If it’s on your time card, then I guess it is technically work. If you want to stop doing it, you might make the case that if you are spending x hours driving Miss Daisy, you won’t be able to accomplish Important Work Task on time (specific examples are better than generalities). You might also investigate other forms of transportation, like a car service if that’s available. That way you bring them a solution rather than a problem they have to deal with. There are probably more people that can drive her daughter than can do your work activities.

        Too bad the intern’s not 16. The he could drive and you’d have taken care of two birds with one stone.

  5. Observer*

    #3 – Do NOT respond to this person. This is clearly someone who is NOT going to respond in a reasonable fashion to anything you say. So, don’t try to reason with them. It’s not going to work.

    Hopefully, they will think “That showed them!” and that will be the end of it. If you respond, they will know that you have “not learned your lesson”, and will try further to damage you.

      1. The Man, Becky Lynch*

        There are a ton of wackadoos who think criticising politicians is up there with burning flags and treason.

        It’s sad but lots of folks think only their freedom of speech counts or worse that freedom of speech shouldn’t exist.

        1. TheFacelessOldWomanWhoSecretlyLivesinYour House*

          It is perfectly legal in most places to fire someone for criticizing anything, politicians including. Freedom of speech doesn’t apply (USA)

          1. RUKiddingMe*

            Of course. Still it’s BS to fire someone for their (non-bigoted/no -racist/non-hate filled/non-violent/etc. etc. etc. ) opinion. Legal yes also bullshit yes.

        2. Jen S. 2.0*

          What Faceless said. I think it depends on what was said. Did LW say “I disagree with Mayor McCheese, who needs to go back to Hamburger University and learn a thing or two about leadership! Vote no on Prop 95!”

          Or did LW make a disgusting sex- or race-based attack, saying, for example, that a female or minority politician ought to be raped or lynched for their beliefs? Did it involve photos of nooses and monkeys?

          If the former, you’re free to say it.

          If the latter, you’re free to say it, but you don’t get to be surprised when you get fired for it.

          1. OP3*

            I was upset with a politician who pulled funding for a project I favor, in that particular case. I used a bad word in the post, but it was not a personal attack, a racial/sexist attack, or a threat.

            Wasn’t my finest hour, but when your commute is ruined for the 3rd week running you start to get salty at politicians who aren’t trying to fix the problem.

    1. OP3*

      I definitely realize that I shouldn’t do anything further, I wrote the letter right after this happened and still had my hackles up. I’m married with young kids and couldn’t shake the righteous anger that this person came after my family because they weren’t as qualified for a job as they thought they were. This person also lives in a neighboring town so the thought of them being crazy enough to stalk me also crossed my mind.

      And for clarity – I absolutely could’ve lost my job for something like that. I didn’t threaten a politician, I was actually critical of a local issue that’s very important to me, but freedom of speech is not freedom from consequences. As long as the government doesn’t arrest you for criticizing politicians, your freedom of speech isn’t being violated.

      I get this person was bitter and it could’ve been something else – like maybe I posted a picture of a wine bottle on Instagram and they could’ve sent it to the CEO as proof I have a drinking problem. I’ve since locked down all my accounts, and I should’ve done it from the beginning.

      1. Not A Morning Person*

        And the rejected candidate just confirmed you made the right decision by rejecting them!

        1. Agatha_31*

          RIGHT??? My first thought on this was that if they managed to act relatively normal during the application process and just got eliminated for not enough experience%whatever, then this was a MASSIVE dodged bullet for the company! Imagine having someone as petty and nasty as that as an employee or co-worker!

          1. Michaela Westen*

            A stalker you have to call the police on to get them out of your workplace…

            1. OP3*

              And this is why I had that moment of questioning whether I needed to do more. Genuinely wondered whether this person’s current workplace should know they employ a crazy person…especially since the role – and their current role – is client-facing. I know it’s best not to engage but between this real worry and a general anger that this person tried to get me fired from the best job I’ve ever had led me to write the letter in the first place.

          2. OP3*

            Agreed, and that’s what happened. The person was normal during the interview, they didn’t make it because they weren’t able to speak well to the job duties or the value proposition of the company.

            I got a bit of a vibe off them, like this person wouldn’t be a good person to work with, but they were eliminated due to a lack of depth in understanding the role and our company.

        2. Light37*

          Seriously, can you imagine what would have happened had they been hired and they hadn’t worked out? Pitchforks all around, probably!

      2. ChimericalOne*

        I’m sorry you experienced this. But glad to hear that your company stood by you & your accounts are now more secure because of it!

      3. Observer*

        I just want to point out that unless you said something really bad, on par with a threat, or really vulgar or prejudiced etc. it would be legal but really stinky of your employer to fire you.

        I totally get why you had your hackles up. And I sympathize with the fear of stalking. But that’s all the more reason to lie low. You really don’t want to engage with people like this and you also, unfortunately, want to a be a “good” victim if you ever need to get the authorities involved. (ie show that it REALLY is not your fault that person is being a stalker.)

      4. tamarack and fireweed*

        “I didn’t threaten a politician, I was actually critical of a local issue that’s very important to me, but freedom of speech is not freedom from consequences. ” <– I just should point out that not everyone here is in the US, and that in many parts of Europe, typically, dismissing someone from a job requires a cause (and usually a process, with warnings, depending on the severity of the cause), absent layoffs for business reason. Exercising your freedom of speech in a way that has no reputational impact on the employer would not be a sufficient cause.

        This is notwithstanding OP3 being of course correct as far as US law is concerned, at least if there are no further state-level protections.

      5. Political law*

        “And for clarity – I absolutely could’ve lost my job for something like that. I didn’t threaten a politician, I was actually critical of a local issue that’s very important to me, but freedom of speech is not freedom from consequences. As long as the government doesn’t arrest you for criticizing politicians, your freedom of speech isn’t being violated.”

        There are some jurisdictions where this is untrue, such as California, Colorado, and DC, to varying degrees.

    2. Puggles*

      “Sometimes rejected candidates are a-holes. The best thing to do is ignore and move on.”
      …and count your blessings that you didn’t hire the person!!

  6. Doctor What*

    OP #1, are you getting paid or compensated in any way for the driving, gas cost or time you’re spending to take the boss’s daughter to her appointments? I feel like 1.5 hours of travel alone, is a lot to ask, even a “friend”. If you can’t get out of it, you should at least get gas money (and hopefully more than that!)

    Also, as far as the “internship” of the 14 year old. I know I would not feel comfortable training and supervising a minor in a work environment.

    I hope you’re able to achieve a more comfortable work environment!

    1. Lena Clare*

      Yeah exactly! There’re a lot of legalities to do with allowing a young person into the work place – my concern here would be: has the owner actually made sure it’s safe for the grandson to come in and do the ‘work’? If she’s already blurring lines with family and work, maybe she hasn’t realised its not just a case of “hey come in and then you can put it on your college applications!” Like, what’s the plan? It sounds like LW will have to come up with that too!

      1. The Man, Becky Lynch*

        What kinds of dangers are you thinking about in a standard office? 14 year olds are legally allowed to work in them, however depending on the state, you need to have a permit (some require the minor to be the one with the permit and others you just register with the state office to confirm you’re following the laws. Laws include breaks, amount of hours allowed and no industrial machinery. They’re very open to young teens in an office, copying, making up marketing material and answering phones kind of things. Most offices don’t have dangers for kids that age. He’s probably not going to eat paperclips or staple things to himself. Most 14 year olds can do basic admin tasks, I’ve seen it and supervised it over the years.

        1. Lena Clare*

          I’m in the UK – you need a working with children ‘permit’, and I don’t know what else you need to sort out to legally between being paid or doing an internship.

          I actually meant safe as in legally viable for the company, so yes what you’re taking about. I only mention it because LW makes it sound like the owner just thought of the grandson coming in – and hey presto he’s there with No Forethought about what that might entail. Of course she could be totally on the ball and have it all planned out and I’m just speculating that she hasn’t!

          1. The Man, Becky Lynch*

            Ah that concern makes sense now!

            It’s so easy to setup work as a minor in the US. It’s just a matter of paperwork. In a previous state I always had to re-up our “yes, maybe we will hire 14-15 yr olds. Yes, maybe we will hire 16-17 year olds. Yes, we understand what is prohibited.”

            Then you get a response saying “you’re authorized to hire minors this year, hang this paper up where it can be seen with your other licenses and permits.”

            But I do know small business owners who skip that part because they’re not good at following the law. Sigh.

            1. londonedit*

              In the UK, 14-year-olds can work a maximum of 2 hours on a school day, and 5 hours on a weekend, and during school holidays they can only work a maximum of 25 hours a week, and not more than 4 hours in one day without an hour’s break. They also need to have two consecutive non-school weeks a year with no work at all. And they’re only allowed to do ‘light work’, so nothing that could be classified as too physically strenuous, or that might have a negative impact on their education.

              1. RUKiddingMe*

                Depending on the state … because mist stuff is regulated by states not the feds… they can be worked way harder here and there’s no “no work at all” break.

                We are preparing them for their future as wage slaves, company men/women, and acolytes of the elite corporate overlords who will willingly work 80 hours a day to prove their commitment you see…

            2. RUKiddingMe*

              Also in most/some states rules for minors in a “family business” are different than at say Mc Donald’s.

              In ***California I think (last time I checked like 100 years ago) there was no minimum age *or* wage (or any wage) requirements for minors working in the family business. In Washington I think we’re similar tgat way.

              ***California has tightened their rules (which were already really good compared to almost everywhere else) in the years since I moved away. So…

              1. Seeking Second Childhood*

                Dittoing the family business situation.
                US Department of Labor has a webpage explaining exemptions to the FLSA. But just to blow the minds of overseas readers… any state can have different rules. Where the rules are in conflict, the more protective rule applies. I didn’t grow up in Connecticut so I had to look it up — and my daughter may be bummed out to know she probably won’t be allowed to apply to work at our neighbor’s kennel until she’s 16. Connecticut even restricts kids at family-owned restaurants, to the point that there was a pizza place lawsuit a few years ago.

                1. RUKiddingMe*

                  Most overseas people get their minds blown trying to wrap them around how we are really just 50 separate little countries that sometimes manage to work together. LOL

            3. Bagpuss*

              Yes, as well as rules about wht type and how much work minors can do, in the UK there may also be issues around insurance, and whether a business would be covered , plus potential safeguarding issues about whether the adults supervising the child have appropriate police checks.

      2. MassMatt*

        What safety issues are you envisioning in an office not present in a school, bus, street, or home? Presumably this is a typical office, not bomb disposal.

        1. JSPA*

          customer privacy? The ability to think through implications before blurting is a late – developing, higher – level skill. Even clearing out old papers or making copies can leave the kid reading stuff that can’t be shared with friends (or put on social media).

        2. MassMatt*

          The original comment I responded to was about whether it was safe to have the minor in the office. Your points are about the legality, and whether the minor is mature enough to respect confidentiality. Neither of these have anything to do with safety.

          Danger in most offices would be the same as those in a school or home, and significantly lower than any street.

      3. mark132*

        When i was 14 i used to do all sorts of side jobs for the neighbors. From splitting wood, to building pools, or just ordinary flower bed weeding. If they were paying I was willing to work. I don’t think office work is a big deal from a safety stand point.

        1. Grace*

          ‘Safety concerns’ refers more to background checks. In the UK, if you’re working with/alongside someone that age, you need a DBS check (formerly a CRB check). If the employer doesn’t get everyone in the office checked, I’m pretty sure it’s 100% illegal to let a fourteen-year-old work there.

          1. Seeking Second Childhood*

            Oh that puts a spin on it that I hadnt’ considered — yes, good point that the job itself may be innocuous unless someone employed there has a bad history with children.

      4. WellRed*

        I believe if it’s family though, there are even less legalities than you think. Plus, it’s an office, not a logging truck.

    2. RUKiddingMe*

      1.5 hours each way, two separate days. That’s six hours driving! Unless traffic is bad and then, who can say?

    3. WS*

      And depending what country you’re in, there may be restrictions on children working with non-family members. In my country, if someone under 15 is under your supervision you have to have a working with children police check.

      1. RUKiddingMe*

        Oh see here we wait fir something to hapoen before we check to see if someone is a pedophile, etc.

        Well mostly. If they work at a school/daycare they have to be checked first I think.

        Of course that’s a recent-ish development. Even when my son was in school in the 90s it wasn’t a *thing* that all schools/daycares did.

        1. Bagpuss*

          Here in the UK, some types of jobs require checks – mainly those which involve working with children or with vulnerable adults.For instnace, when I used to deal with court cases involving Care Proceedings, which meant I was sometimes technically acting for the children concerned, I was required to have a DBS check, even though in most cases I only met them when their Children’s Guardian (similar to a Social Worker) was present.(as faras I recall, the requirement was made by our professional bosy, rather than being law, but it meant you could not hold the accreditation to represent children unless you had a current check)

          So an ordinary office worker doesn’t ned a DBS check. An office worker who was trianing or supervising a minor probably wouldn’t be legally required to have one, but the employer would almost certianly be considered to have ben negligent and legally liable, if they chose not to carry out the check and a minor employee was harmed.

      2. Lucy*

        Where I live any organisation working with ANY unaccompanied under-18s, every single adult has to have the equivalent check – so not just their manager but everyone. This includes eg sports clubs and other volunteer positions. Many organisations will simply make themselves 18+ to avoid having to check everyone.

        1. Lucy*

          To clarify: if you will ever come into contact with a child without their parent or other supervising adult there, you have to be cleared. Someone cleaning after hours, or only ever working with the parents present, could be unchecked, but nowadays DJs/children’s entertainers etc will advertise that they have a current clear check.

          1. JSPA*

            Sounds more CYA than legit protective, as known offenders will be tips of the iceberg (or visible edge of the fatberg).

          2. doreen*

            Do store employees etc have to be cleared? My unaccompanied kids had a lot of contact with store employees before they were 18.
            It’s entirely possible to require checks of jobs/volunteer positions that are focused on working with children-as-clients without requiring the checks of every store clerk that might wait on a 14 year old or every employee in a McDonald’s that hires a 15 year old cashier

            1. WS*

              Not sure what country Lucy is in, but in mine, if your child was a customer of the store, nobody has to get a police check (though you do if you’re going to be, say, supervising children’s classes as part of your craft store business), but if your child is an employee of the store, then every adult who works with them has to have a police check. So if your 14-year-old works at McDonalds, everyone who is 18 and older who works on their shift has to have a police check, yes. 15-year-olds and up, not necessary.

        2. londonedit*

          Yep, and in the UK I believe it’s still the case that you need a separate DBS certificate for every job you do working with minors – so if you’re a teacher, and you have a DBS certificate for your job in a school, if you also want to be a junior coach for a running club then you need a separate DBS certificate for that.

          1. Lena Clare*

            Yes that’s the case.
            You can join the preference service for £13 or something like that a year and have a DBS that’s the same level of clearance which can transfer between organisations, but most people don’t do that.

            1. Lucy*

              You’d have to be working at a lot of different places to bother with a portable (eg children’s entertainer).

              Agreed that the check is more useful to CYA than actually exclude baddies, but the requirement to have one certainly filters some unsuitable candidates out early on. Anyone who is resistant to be checked can be stricken from the shortlist immediately and without compunction.

          2. Bagpuss*

            yes. And it is only as good as the people inputting the data.
            When I needed one, myself and a colleague both had to apply. They took 2 goes to get mine right (the first time round they got my name wrong) and 3 goes to get my collegue’s right. Obviously we told them so they could corect it, but since in both cases the errors related to misspelling our names, presumably the checks were done on the wrong name so if either of us had had a record, it would not have been picked up!

    4. Family Business Aide*

      I do get compensated for gas and I put the time on my time-card. The problem is more the time taken away from my family and work. My job requirements have increased in the last year.

      As for the 14-year-old, I downloaded a worker’s permit, filled out the company’s part and assured the boss that having her grandson fill out his part was a good way to start learning how to work.

  7. The Man, Becky Lynch*

    Yikes! You’re dealing with your mom and not just a boss but an owner tag teaming against you here. I think trying to put a stop to the personal errands is going to be really tricky. They most likely believe that you were hired to do these kinds of things along with your admin duties, it’s extremely common for a business owner who hires friends and friends family to take advantage like this, their rationale is that they sign your checks and did you a favor hiring you. It’s unfair and icky but I’ve seen it play out before (very briefly, I leave as soon as that nonsense shows up.)

    I’m sorry you’re in this situation. Unless you’ve got a track to becoming a bigger player in that setup, I hope you’re ready to find a new job if it goes sideways and becomes uncomfortable. That grandson is going to be your boss probably one of these days if you stick around long enough.

    1. MassMatt*

      I agree, and actually think pushback by the OP will result in a retort of “you are an assistant and you’ll do whatever I say and like it” or “you’re fired”.

      The OP described the job as “do anything else that needs to be done”. Well, here it is. You can try to push back but IMO you should figure out how much the job means to you, is this a hill you are willing to die on, and if so plan for the contingency of needing to get a new job.

      1. MK*

        I have to say I am not seeing how a job that apparently involves taking care of the owner’s dog is suddenly boundary-crossing when it involves driving the owner’s family members to appointments. Frankly I don’t think the OP has much grounds to question the nature of the errands she is being asked to run, as it sounds she is more a PA than an admin.

        What I think is an issue worth addressing is the time/hours. The OP probably agreed to a regularish schedule and now she is expected to work odd hours that are conflicting with her childcare arrangements.

        Unless… this is not a work issue per se, and her mother is volunteering her for these tasks as a “family friend”.

        1. Asenath*

          Driving people can be trickier legally than taking care of dogs in some jurisdictions. I once had a job in which it had been traditional to give people – children, too, but we don’t know if the daughter having the operation is a child – rides. We had to stop. None of us were legally licensed or insured to drive passengers, and doing it in connection to our job was considered a kind of commercial driving even though we didn’t get extra pay for doing it. It’s not the same as driving a personal friend or a family member, and if there had been an accident, the legal and insurance consequences would have been far worse if we were driving someone in connection with our work than if we were driving a personal friend. It’s all boundaries – OP doesn’t have any boundaries between “driving as part of work” and “driving as a personal favour to a personal friend”.

        2. Kat in VA*

          I offer to drive my exec to the airport. His directors too. The airport is seven minutes away and I love driving my car.

          However, if it suddenly became Kat’s Shuttle To The Airport For Whomever Needs A Ride Within These Four Walls, I’d put a stop to it, immediately.

          FTR, they’re very grateful to not have to hire an Uber and they understand that it’s a personal favor within the context of business. This OP’s situation is…not that at all.

          1. MK*

            It does not sound as if the dogsitting was a favour, the OP lists it as a regular job duty.

      2. Ego Chamber*

        I don’t like how you lay this out like LW’s only choices are 1) Do everything that’s asked of them, or 2) Quit—while totally bypassing the step where LW talks to their boss and sees whether they can come to an agreement that works for both of them.

        I’ve left jobs for people who asked way too much and they were stunned when I gave notice without talking to them about any of it first, because they assumed I would have said something if (f’rex) working a 9 hour shift straight through with no breaks every day wasn’t something that I was okay with and preferred.

        1. RUKiddingMe*

          That they would think nine hours with no breaks every day was an ok schedule at all says they didn’t deserve you talking to them. Nine hours, no breaks, even *one* day is ridiculous and they should know that as a given.

        2. Lexi Kate*

          With the OP’s Mom pushing this as a part of her job, I don’t see talking to the boss working out at all. They have a clear idea of what OP’s job is to ” and do anything else that needs to be done”. I really think if OP doesn’t want this to be a part of her job she needs a new job.

        3. The Man, Becky Lynch*

          People are often unpredictable and I’ve had them say “no no no, don’t quit, we can work it out!” only to turn around and make life more of a living hell if they’re given the room to do so.

          So it’s still a big risk to tell a business owner or anyone who’s hired you as an “assistant”, no. You should possibly start in small doses but her mom is over there making it harder to find excuses for her not to do things. Her mom is all “oh I’ll pick up your kid so that you can pick up boss’s kid, look at us go!” The OP was hired to relieve mom and boss of these chores it seems.

          1. RUKiddingMe*

            It seems like that was why she was hired but I get the feeling she wasn’t told about it/didn’t know it going in. IOW this isn’t what she signed on for.

      1. Asenath*

        Oh, yes, she should find another job. I can’t see this one ever eliminating extra duties like driving the boss’s daughter around at inconvenient times and suddenly getting to supervise a teenager under the guise of training him in office work.

    2. snowglobe*

      Yeah, I think the point here is that if this were a company that had clear boundaries between work and personal business, then likely the OP would not have been hired in the first place – she’s working for her *mother*, which is something most functional businesses would not allow. So it’s going to be really difficult, if not impossible, for the OP to complain about boundaries now. OP really needs to start looking for a job elsewhere.

    3. WellRed*

      To me the mom is worse than the boss. When I first started reading this letter, I assumed the LW was a very, very young adult but she has a child and responsibilities of her own. Maybe there’s some benefit to working here we are not privy to, but I really think the LW should cut the strings and find an actual admin job elsewhere (and that probably pays better and will allow further growth if she wants).

    4. Family Business Aide*

      Thank you. It is uncomfortable. The boss is not demanding, just asking and I’m an easy mark. The daughter is adult and disabled and the issues she is having surgery for cause her great pain. I would feel terrible to say no to the “ask” without a good excuse. My good excuse was my daughter and it was removed the first time I was asked. Therefore, the 2nd time there was no excuse.

      1. The Man, Becky Lynch*

        I had a feeling that she’s more like having two moms with the mom guilt more than a demanding super villain, which sometimes feels just as bad. You’ve got a good heart and don’t want to say no without justifying it.

        You may just want to try to think about it as work related to feel better and not be stressed out with the thought of her taking advantage.

        I’ve been there and gotten close to owners who got me to do some silly stuff out of loyalty for them but I found going along with it easier when I let go. I’ve picked up kids, sat in ERs with kids, volunteered at fundraising events for kids school stuff when parents needed extra bodies, etc. Mine had tradeoffs though and I was paid exceptionally well and given opportunity to become a business/operations manager.

        1. Family Business Aide*

          Yes, you’ve got it; two moms :). I do think of it as work-related but I took this job 6 years ago with the understanding that it would not interfere with my family. Now it is starting to. I am starting to look for a new job where it won’t be so easy to ask for such personal tasks and I will get PTO.

          1. The Man, Becky Lynch*

            You’ve got a lot of experience out of it so it’s been worth it! It’s a difficult situation to be put in and they’ll find someone else to fit the role if they really want a dedicated assistant like that. It’s great when you’re young and there’s nothing much going on in life [my life story lol] or if it’s just your cup of tea kind of setup but with a family, when you really need that work/life balance or just really want it, it’s difficult. You’ll find a place that respects that, even in small business. It’s all depends on expectations and finding the one that you both agree upon those!

          2. valentine*

            You’re not getting PTO?

            I imagine if you cite your other duties as reasons not to do the personal assistant tasks, they’ll reduce your other duties to compensate because using you is easier than hiring a caregiver or dog-sitter. But what if you said you wanted to focus on the business tasks and return to the original requirement that the job not keep you from your family? You can, for example, insist you be the one to pick up your daughter because it’s important to you to do that and to have that time with her (so no picking her up and also chauffeuring/caregiving for the boss’ daughter). There’s no good reason why your mom doesn’t take your place with the boss’ daughter instead of with yours.

            Despite the risk, I think it’s worth trying because people who are willing to prey on your kindheartedness and generosity want to preserve control above all else, so, rather than fire you, they may be willing to rein in the personal asks with the plan to creep up again. In the meantime, you can learn to detach and set and maintain boundaries.

      2. RUKiddingMe*

        But did you agree to be their personal assistant or were you hired as an office admin? Really…you do need to move on. I see by your post up/down thread that you are looking. Good! Look with a vengeance because I don’t see this ever really getting better. And…how was your daughter as an excuse removed? Why can’t boss’ daughter be taken by an actual car service (med transport, paratransit, Uber, etc)?

        1. Family Business Aide*

          Thank you, no – I wan’t hired as a personal assistant. However, I brought the question up on Thursday and apparently I am now being considered a personal assistant. I am looking and I am worried about personal relationships when I leave, but the benefit of just working without worrying about personal asks is worth it. And, it would be nice to have a “real” job again.

  8. Jamaaaah*

    OP5 should not get bogged down in stuff for her former “client.” (And if she was in practice an employee, then it is likely she was misclassified as an independent contractor.)

    1. RUKiddingMe*

      She should also not be available for continual questions. Answer initial ones and then let them find their own way.

      I think she should also look into the misclassification (sounds like it was…likely deliberately). Likely her former employer owes a lot of tax money, etc.

      1. Artemesia*

        This. a great way to fail at the new job is to be weighed down with the old job. With a new job you often have to put in extra time and energy to get up to speed and master new tasks — you don’t want to be less than great because you have other work to do. End it.

        1. Op5*

          Hi guys! Yes, I think my biggest motivation is giving my all to the new job. If I had the time I would actually love to finish the project but agree that new job obligations certainly trumps old job obligations. I appreciate the advice and confirmation that I can back out gracefully.

          And yes I was misclassified, so leaving felt more like leaving as an employee but then starting as a contractor for them (with the continued work aspect).

        2. RUKiddingMe*

          Definitely she should end it. OP 5 you don’t work there anymore. Keep telling yourself that. :-D

  9. Lilo*

    I do think OP2 seems a little too upset with her friend over this. Friend could get screwed by employer, but that happens. We all know someone who stays in a bad job too long because the employer is dangling some promotion they may never get. But a new company can be hard or a risk and it is understandable why someone wants to stay with the faniliar.

    FWIW, my spouse once accepted a counter offer and did immediately get the promised pay raise. He ended up leaving a year later but the higher pay did help him negotiate a higher salary at the new company. The offer he got was a company that pursued him and he was open about his reservations (it would have required moving to a smaller town). They still try to recruit him at industry meetings, so there do not appear to be hard feelings.

    1. MK*

      It’s frustrating to see friends make preventable mistakes, even more so when they do so smugly thinking they are being more clever than the rest of us who follow conventional wisdom. But, yes, the OP should probably distance herself from the situation a bit.

      1. Lilo*

        It’s just a little not your circus, not your monkeys. I have a friend who is working herself to death at a firm and they dangling the promise of partner at her, but they are notorious for dangling partner and, sadly, being sexist. But I can’t make her quit her job. I can just say “that sucks” and “they are not treating you right”.

        1. Jennifer*

          Sometimes people just need someone to listen, not advice. A nod and a kind “that sucks” works wonders sometimes.

      2. EPLawyer*

        We all want to save our friends. OP was hoping Alison had some magical words that she could show her friend. Sadly, sometimes all we can do is watch them crash and burn, then help pick up the pieces later.

        At least we all have yet another letter of what not to do in our careers.

        1. Jennifer*

          Save her from what exactly? It could work out, it could not. The new job could end up being great or horrible. Sometimes staying at the company you know is the safest bet. I do think people are being a bit alarmist here.

    2. ThisColumnMakesMeGratefulForMyBoss*

      Yup. Nobody wants to see their friends go through tough times, but all OP can do is offer advice, and then be there for them if they crash and burn.

    3. JJ Bittenbinder*

      Yes, I told my story above but:

      I am the rare person for whom accepting a counteroffer was the absolute right move. Yes, I know, data point of one and all that. But in my case, the job I was leaving for wasn’t one I was absolutely in love with; it was a “eh…hopefully better than what I have now” kind of thing. Add to that the fact that I really, truly did believe in the mission of the job I was going to leave, and I was conflicted at best. When the current job offered me a 25% raise, a professional development opportunity that I hadn’t even thought about asking for, and a title bump, I made the decision to stay and it was great. It was only when my manger retired and I started working for someone I didn’t work well with that I eventually moved on.

      Maybe, just maybe, Liza will be as lucky.

      1. Hermione at Heart*

        Yeah, this community tends to be very anti-counteroffer, but that hasn’t been my experience as either an employee or a manager. I think if you are very unhappy at your job, you shouldn’t take a counteroffer. If you’re generally pretty happy and your company can match whatever it is that was enticing you to leave (more/different opportunities, higher salary, etc), I think it can work out, especially if the company starts putting the plan in effect/following through right away.

        The industry might make a difference here — I work in a creative industry in a city with a lot of jobs in my field. So it’s normal for people to keep an eye out/take meetings even if they’re pretty happy, and employers have a real incentive to retain talent, especially top talent, because they aren’t easy to replace. We don’t counteroffer for everyone, but if we do and the person accepts, we’re just glad they’re staying! We don’t hold it against them or start assuming that they’re on their way out anyway or any of the hypotheticals I often see here.

        OP’s friend’s situation sounds like something that might happen at my company. We’ve had a tight few years of budgets and not everyone can get the raise or growth opportunities they want because of core company needs. But when it’s a choice between seeing someone go (and facing hiring, training, etc) and getting them the opportunities they want, sometimes things open up. It’s not ideal, and I wouldn’t blame her at all for saying “if this is what it took to get the opportunities I want, screw you,” but I don’t think it means that her bosses are necessarily negotiating in bad faith or that she’s making a huge mistake by staying.

  10. Lil*

    OP3 – when she said “turned down in an interview” does she mean he made an advance but she turned him down?

    1. MassMatt*

      I suppose you could interpret it that way, but I doubt the OP would have meant that and written it that way. More likely the OP turned the candidate down for the job.

      The venom does seem like that of a jilted suitor, though!

      1. Marthooh*

        Well, he was thwarted when he tried to orchestrate the change he wanted in his life, so it’s really no wonder.

    2. snowglobe*

      I think the OP turned him down during the course of the interview, which is pretty unusual and likely why he is so angry. I suspect he probably said something during the interview that immediately made the OP realize that he shouldn’t be hired, but even so, it’s generally better to conclude the interview and send a decline letter afterwards.

      1. JJ Bittenbinder*

        Yeah, there would have to be something pretty egregious for me to reject someone mid-interview rather than just gritting my teeth for 20 minutes and then putting them in the ‘no’ pile when it’s over.

    3. OP3*

      Hey, for clarity, the candidate didn’t make an advance toward me. I interviewed them for a job and turned them down.

      1. New Jack Karyn*

        Out of curiosity, did you tell them at the end of the interview, or at a later time?

        1. OP3*

          Our legal department expressly forbids feedback during interviews. I thanked them for their time and submitted my feedback in our candidate tracking system afterward.

          This has been the source of some negative reviews for the company (which overall gets good marks, it’s a great place to work). Honestly, it might be another question for this column – whether direct specific feedback during or after an interview is required. I want to err on the side of transparency, but that would’ve just made the person snap on me in person and likely do the same thing after.

          1. fposte*

            Your procedures sound pretty normal there, though, so I wouldn’t feel bad about that, and I think even if you decide to give feedback I don’t think during the actual interview would be the best time for that for either side. I think the phraseology of “*in* an interview” just made people consider other possibilities that might be more egregious.

          2. MassMatt*

            This WOULD be a good topic, we have seen many letters here about the perils of giving rejected applicants feedback or reasons why. Some people hiring want to help the candidates do better in future, or think their knowing reasons for rejection would make it easier for them, but it has a strong likelihood of going south. I think a generic “thank you but we had many great applicants and are going with someone else” type email is usually best. The applicant isn’t left wondering if they will ever hear back from you but nothing likely to provoke an angry response.

            1. OP3*

              That’s the thing, in our case. We do always contact people who are rejected. However, we get some negative feedback because our interview process includes a case study and people who put the work into the case study are upset they don’t end up getting the job. You want to respect people’s time, and I’ve pushed for more feedback, but in the same vein if you really wanted a job and didn’t get it I don’t know if there’s anything I could tell you to make you feel better. Lord knows the nutcase in my letter wouldn’t have been happier hearing the reasons for the rejection.

              1. RUKiddingMe*

                Oh now I need to know the reasons. If of course you feel comfortable sharing.


                1. OP3*

                  This was a first round interview, before the case study. The person just didn’t have the right kind of experience, wasn’t able to speak to the company’s value proposition effectively, and the answers to my job-specific questions lacked any kind of depth. Also didn’t seem like someone who would fit in on the team, but the depth around explaining the role and why someone would use products from our company (role is client-facing) did it. I had to stop to remember the interview at first because it was so unremarkable. Had the conversation, thanked them for their time, determined there wasn’t a fit for the reasons above.

            2. RUKiddingMe*

              It also saves having an unstable person (like OP’s applicant) do something right then and there. The risk is real and there’s no point in taking it.

        2. OP3*

          Until this all happened, all I thought was nice enough person but not qualified for the job. Now I will make it my mission to make sure this person never works with me.

  11. Mary*

    #5, I would also clarify the state the project is in, or any further (quick!) work it needs to get it into a state where it can be passed over to someone else: “I am happy to pass the project plan, notes, source code files and all the vector files to you. I can also recommend several good designers who who would be able to complete the project if that would be helpful. Please let me know where to send them.”

    Technically this is slightly more work, but it also makes your departure from the project seem more final and non-negotiable, so probably worth it!

  12. Luna*

    #2 — She sounds like the type of employee I would rather let go. She obviously doesn’t care about the job, and what’s to say she won’t drop the “I’m leaving for a better offer” bomb the next time something happens/doesn’t happen she isn’t happy about? Why would I want to keep an employee I need to ‘bribe’ to stay? Perhaps bribe isn’t the right word, but this really sounds like she’s burning her bridge with the other company, and looking bad with her current job.

    #3 — I wonder what that rejected candidate thought was gonna happen. A job is unlikely to fire you for your personal opinion, expressed on a personal account, especially if it’s years ago. If it was done under your professional moniker (or even using the company emailaddress of, I could understand this reflecting badly on the company, and mixing boundaries. But personal opinions on personal posts, posted in your free time? Regardless of how new or old, that’s your business. (As long as you don’t blast or bring up your company’s name during it)

    #4 — Tell them that you have your reasons. You do not have to explain, justify, or elaborate on anything.

    1. LQ*

      I agree about this likely being a bad relationship, but you “bribe” your employees every day. You can care about doing a good job, or even care deeply about the work, the mission, and the impact, but at the end of the day it isn’t wrong for your employees to want to get fairly paid and have a boss who will advocate for them. I think the boss here sounds like a fairly bad actor in never trying to do anything for the employee, which is also boss not caring about the job.

    2. AMT*

      Re: #2, do you really not expect your employees to ask for regular raises or promotions, or to look elsewhere if those things never materialize? It’s a business relationship, not a personal one. She can “care” about the job and also want a better title and salary. Threatening to leave shouldn’t be the only way to get that to happen.

    3. OP3*

      I’m with you…did this person think I’d get fired and the CEO would give my job to them out of sheer gratitude? Ridiculous. As I said in other places, the only thing the company thinks is that we need to stay far away from this person.

    4. Hermione at Heart*

      “Why would I want to keep an employee I need to ‘bribe’ to stay?”

      This is a very emotional way of looking at it! Counteroffers are a business decision on all sides. The employee has determined they can get more of the things they value (money, career growth, whatever) from another company. Their employer does a cost-benefit analysis and determines that the value of retaining that employee (rather than going through recruiting, hiring, training with someone new, etc) is worth the cost of keeping them. The fact that she’s giving the company the opportunity suggests that she does care about the job — her attitude isn’t “forget this place, I’m out,” it’s “X and Y are important to me, and if the company can give me X and Y, I’m happy to consider staying.”

    5. RUKiddingMe*

      Re OP2: Whether she actually cares about the job is irrelevant. What matters is if she can and does do it. She’s apparently asked for things for years and her manager has basically done nothing towards helping her achieve more professional satisfaction, money, etc. Of course she was looking around. When she got offered another job she told them about it instead of saying “F you I’m out,” so apparently she cares at least a little bit. And lo and behold after all this time they suddenly can do more than just ignore her. Imagine that!

    6. Ponyboy Curtis*

      Rejected candidate was a dick, trying to be a dick. Most of them have no motive beyond that, just vengeance for not getting what they want.
      We’ve all been dealing with this kind of person all our lives. Trying to figure out why they’re the way they are is wasted energy.

  13. Salon Anon*

    OP #3, consider checking back on the situation some time. Someone who is already this vindictive is probably not beyond doing some more shady stuff to get you fired as well. Ensure all of your accounts as properly secured and be extra on guard for social engineering attacks – this applicant sounds like they style themselves a hacker.

    1. SOM*

      Agreed. At minimum, OP3 should probably set their social media accounts to private and call their cell phone company and request that phone changes only be done in person.

    2. OP3*

      Anything’s possible. I definitely locked down all my accounts after this.

      I’m just glad my company took it in stride. They basically said hey this person validated that you made the right decision to turn them down for the job, but you should protect yourself because the internet never forgets. It’s interesting to me only because it wasn’t like I threatened anyone, it was actually a criticism related to an issue. Still, it doesn’t matter.

      I’m with you, I’m going to keep an eye out for a bit. It’s also funny because they tried to add me on LinkedIn right after the interview (I turned down the invitation, seemed weird).

      1. Kenneth*

        “It’s interesting to me only because it wasn’t like I threatened anyone, it was actually a criticism related to an issue.”

        Unfortunately in today’s political discourse, criticism = violence or threats if that criticism is of certain political narratives. It is very sad and frightening at the same time that such has become the interpretation, where speech that doesn’t include threats is called violence with some topics.

      2. Seven hobbits are highly effective, people*

        You may also want to give IT and/or Security a heads-up that there’s an upset rejected candidate out there, and they may want to be extra vigilant about phishing attempts and other security issues for a while, particularly ones that may involve someone masquerading as you without your permission, or trying to make you look bad in some way.

      3. Vanilla Nice*

        Just out of curiousity, approximately how old was the applicant? It’s unnerving regardless of age, but if this was a new college grad or someone still in school, I’d be much more inclined to chalk it up to immaturity or not understanding professional workplace norms than I would if it were someone with several years of work experience.

    3. Kenneth*

      I doubt they style themselves as a hacker. Instead they likely found #3’s LinkedIn and used that to find other social media accounts to walk through to find something that could be misrepresented. It’s actually trivially easy to do that to someone who knows what they’re doing, and it isn’t difficult to learn how to do that. It’s something I’ve had to do in the past for various reasons – not going into detail on that.

      Myself as an example, if someone really wanted to expend the effort to do so, they could probably cross reference comments and postings I’ve made on FB (comments only, my wall is locked down), Twitter, YouTube, Disqus, etc. plus my personal blog and probably find _something_ they could misinterpret and send to my employer – my personal blog would likely be a gold mine on that mark. And I mean that for left and right-wing agitators. Alison can see my e-mail address with this comment, so if she really, really wanted to, she could probably find A LOT about me just from that.

  14. Meredith Rose*

    Is it just me, or is the name and story of LW #2 really similar to the show Younger?

    1. OP#2*

      I definitely used that Liza’s name but nah, different story. Younger’s Liza wasn’t getting any job offers because of her age so she lied about being 26.

      Sidenote: New season starting next month. Can’t wait!

      1. Meredith Rose*

        Well, there were several offers and I know she always ended up going back to her old job… didn’t remember the details of counter offers, though so I wasn’t sure how similar your friend might be.

    2. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      She was trying to leave because she hates the lying and is emotionally involved with the crew. She stayed because she never wanted to leave in the first place not by a misguided notion she played them for a better job.

  15. Amy*

    I accepted a counter-offer about 5 years ago. I’ve been perfectly happy ever since and there have been no bad feelings. For me, the difference was probably that I like the company and my role – I just wanted more money.
    I negotiated a 15% raise and have had 2-3% raises ever since.

    I don’t know if this is rare or not but it can work out.

    1. Lexi Kate*

      Only wanting money is really the only way a counter offer works out. Most people are wanting to move up and make more money, they are looking for opportunity and future prospect not just the money piece. Counter offers hold you back from moving forward in your career, if your not looking for that then it works for you.

      1. Butter Makes Things Better*

        Interesting — I also accepted a counteroffer at a company where I enjoyed working, and it only helped propel me forward in my career. (Another promotion afterward, bonuses, nice raises, seats at higher-stakes tables, professional development conferences, etc.) But getting outside job offers and accepting counteroffers in my industry (publishing) is fairly common. And I’d been courted by the outside company because I’d been thriving where I ended up staying. So it may just be situation- and industry-dependent.

        1. JJ Bittenbinder*

          Same here. I’m repeating what I posted elsewhere but, in brief: accepting a counteroffer was absolutely the right move for me. I got 25% more money, a professional development opportunity that it hadn’t even occurred to me to ask for, a title bump that propelled me higher up the ladder when I did eventually look for subsequent jobs, and I got to stay at a company that I truly cared about. When my manager retired 18 months later and I was reporting to someone whose management was not great, I made the decision to leave but I’m very, very happy that I stayed when I did.

        2. Hermione at Heart*

          Yeah, I also posted this elsewhere but this is much closer to my industry (media). Good candidates get courted, there’s a lot of churn, counteroffering is the norm, and sometimes it takes the threat of people leaving to light a fire under management and make opportunities happen.

          I haven’t done it but I have seen counteroffers make a big difference for my colleagues beyond just $$: changing managers, changing teams, getting to take on a higher-profile/more prestige tasks, working on a new project, opportunities for professional development, etc.

      2. MassMatt*

        Many people look for another job because they don’t like their boss. Accepting a counter offer may get you more $ but if you’re still working for the same boss the frustration level is unchanged.

    2. Anne (with an “e”)*

      My sister once accepted a counter offer. She got her raise and stayed with the company for approximately another year. She had no regrets at all.

    3. mcr-red*

      I accepted a counter-offer and at this point I’m meh about it. The other job wasn’t really what I wanted to do, but it had the hours I wanted and offered a pay raise. My job offered an equitable pay raise, the hours I wanted, and took away a project I got saddled with and didn’t want, as well as a promotion. In the years since, the only thing that’s stayed is the hours. I’m still paid way below industry standard, I got handed back the bad project plus a few others, and they got rid of the promotion by basically getting rid of that department. However, the other job wouldn’t exist anymore either – that company went out of business.

    4. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      It’s a trust thing too…if you’re constantly denied raises and suddenly there’s money when you find a new job, that can be a breeding ground for bad feelings on both side. Same with the promotion side of things.

      I stayed before and don’t regret it either. But mine was different, I truly adore my boss and his family, they bargained with me and I found peace with it. I’m still close to this day.

      It’s all about trust and there are some seedy managers who lie or promise b things they can’t deliver on to buy time.

    5. Lilysparrow*

      Same here. I re-entered the job market after several years away and took a role for what I knew was a “probationary” salary and under-market. I expected (but had no guarantee) that my pay would come up after a year or so.

      Before that happened, I got cold-called for a job doing exactly the same thing at a much larger firm, and the recruiter quoted me a range 25% higher than what I was making (on the high side of market). I really liked my job, my benefits, and the firm I was at, and was not previously looking to leave, it was just too much money to leave on the table. (And I told the recruiter and the other firm that in no uncertain terms all along the interview process).

      I got the offer, current firm matched it, I stayed. The recruiter was so, so nasty to me afterwards that I was even happier about my decision.

  16. Ico*

    I really don’t think it’s fair to offer advice to the friend in letter #2. All we have to go on is a second hand account of the situation, relayed through someone who disagrees with their friend’s viewpoint. Presumably if the friend was the letter writer we’d have gotten a pretty different account and reach a different conclusion. Since she isn’t here to defend herself, any advice seems half-cocked.

    This reminds me of when my mother used to ask her doctor/nurse friends about some random medical symptoms I had mentioned, then would report the “diagnosis” back to me as if it carried any authority. Drove me nuts, since if the medical professional had actually examined me, they probably would have reached a different conclusion.

    1. Myrin*

      This letter is hardly the first time someone wrote in about a situation they aren’t personally involved in, though, and the following disucssions have mostly been really interesting and insightful. Are you suggesting Alison shouldn’t allow questions where the OP is a third party?

      1. WellRed*

        Yes, there’s lots of letters that are about third-party situations or situations that happened a few years in the past. It’s still useful advice, even if its theoretical.

        1. Ico*

          I suppose I’m just not sure it is useful. Especially with quotes like “character building” attributed to the friend, I bet odds are good she’d have some “that’s not what I said!” responses if she saw the letter. Without hearing the story first hand I’m not sure anything can really be extracted from the advice.

          1. Ask a Manager* Post author

            I assume it’s just interesting to the OP and others. We all watch others doing things that we wonder about, and want an outside opinion on. I certainly wouldn’t support the OP using the response as ammunition to argue with the friend (unless they have the kind of friendship where that would be fine), but the audience for advice columns is always far more “other people” than it is “the one person asking the question.”

            1. OP#2*

              Nah, I won’t do that, especially now that she has accepted it. I just told her, again, that she has my support in whatever she feels is right for her and I meant it. As you said, I just found her outlook very interesting and was curious about what you and the others thought of it.

          2. OP#2*

            Except, that’s exactly what Liza said in a text message to me. I could show you but…I can’t. I take my quotes very seriously but you don’t have to believe me, I guess.

            It’s normal to ask about another person’s another situation. As Alison wrote below, her outlook on this and her eventual decision to accept the counter-offer is very interesting to me and I was curious as to what Alison and AAM readers thought of it.

      2. Ico*

        Yeah, I guess kinda? Trying to weigh in on something based on a bystander’s biased account just seems unproductive and would probably irritate the friend if she knew. Also, the advice isn’t really actionable for the OP anyway, except to hold it up and say “I told you so”.

        1. Myrin*

          I think you’re not taking into account (or not weighing it strongly enough, I guess?) that every letter Alison gets is a biased account. Just because someone is directly involved in something doesn’t mean they have clear sight on it (and in fact, there’s many a situation where an outsider might actually have a much more objective view of what’s going on), so going by that standard, advice columnists shouldn’t exist at all because literally every thing about every letter could in actuality be quite different from how it’s presented.
          But apart from that, I actually think these types of letter bring a nice variety to the oftentimes quite similar questions people send in every day!

    2. Observer*

      Mostly, I think that it doesn’t really matter. Alison is right that counter offers are more likely to not work out than do. And it’s what Alison says ALL THE TIME directly to people who are considering accepting a counter-offer.

      The only reason I am a bit less sure here is because the OP has such an odd emotional investment and outlook on this. I calling her friend a “sell out”?! What’s that all about? Taking a counter offer may not be the best move, but I simply can’t wrap my head around seeing it as a moral failing much less as abandonment of one’s principles.

      I’m wondering if the friend never really asked for what she wanted in a clear and serious way or at least in a way that her boss realized needed to be taken seriously, and is now basically saying “Hey, I never realized that I could make my needs known and have them taken seriously here. That changes things!”

      1. Mary*

        Yeah, that is weird to me too! I think the odd thing to me is that OP3 sees it purely in terms of what you Should/Shouldn’t do, rather than making any attempt to see this from Lisa’s point of view. Lisa may have really good reasons for wanting to stay with her current company! She might love the ethos, the commute might be perfect, she might really value the work she’s doing, she might adore her team or her clients. She might just be someone who values longevity and stability. There are lots of reasons to want to stay in a job even if it means risking the seniority or higher pay that you might get elsewhere.

        (I see this a lot with students I advise: they get really fixated on what you’re Supposed to do/want, and we have to work backwards to get them to identify and own their *own* motivations and desires, not just follow a pre-set script. OP3 seems disproportionately cross that her friend is viating the rules that she’s been taught, and it might be worth spending some time thinking about why it bugs her *so* much.

  17. Lilo*

    I hate to say it, but I think the ship has sailed on appropriate boundaries with OP1. This Doesn’t feel like a formal kind of workplace and since you’re working for your mom and her friend, this kind of informality seems a bit par for the course. I would recommend doing some job searching.

    1. MissDisplaced*

      When your job is described as: “the general assistant, and do anything else that needs to be done” it makes it kind of hard to push back. Small places are often this way. Really LW 1 is the owner’s PERSONAL assistant.

      That said, if she already promised to take the owner’s daughter to the surgical appointment, I think it should be honored. It can be hard to change that suddenly. But you can try pushing back on things like this going forward and saying you’re not going to do personal errands for others.

      1. JJ Bittenbinder*

        I agree. They’re taking “other duties as assigned” may too liberally and it’s nearly impossible to walk that back, in my opinion. Look for a new job and start as you mean to continue.

      2. MatKnifeNinja*

        It’s harder to push back that the daughter has disabilities. Depending on the disability, you have to find a high top can, it can cost extra money. My mom had an electric wheel chair. Cabs flat out refused to pick her up, because they weren’t going to break down the chair and put it in the back. Sounds like the boss is trying to save some cash.

        It’s one thing to help out a paraplegic, who can do everything, but wrangle the wheel chair out of the trunk. It’s a totally different deal if we are talking transferring a person from a wheel chair into a vehicle, then back. I did that for my mom who was a dead lift.

        I’m hoping the OP is truly just the driver, and not playing amateur CNA for the day.

        1. MassMatt*

          I hope the duties here are not nearly this demanding, if they are it makes me wonder all the more why the mother isn’t providing them and instead going out of town and foisting it onto an assistant at work.

          This whole situation has boundary issues that make Kashmir look simple.

        2. Family Business Aide*

          I am just driving the daughter. She and I know each other – we are not friends, but friendly and it isn’t hard to spend time with her. She is able to walk a bit, not a lot, and I don’t have to help her physically walk. But, she is strongly affected by the medication she has to take and her cognitive abilities have gone downhill significantly since her troubles started. Now that I’ve read the comments, I am a little concerned about the possible side-effects of the surgery (dental).

          I will honor my word and take her to the appointments, but I will make sure not to be available again.

          1. nonegiven*

            In the future, I’d push back on the work hours that take away from family time, the use of your personal car, including extra insurance, and any distance that requires you to be too far away to respond if your daughter needs you. Grandma is not an adequate substitute, when your daughter is a priority for you. You need to work it out with the owner that her encroaching on your personal life needs to stop or find another part time job that will accept your availability.

    2. MommyMD*

      Absolutely get another job. This situation will never work out. The boundary line is so far out the rear view mirror you can’t even see it.

  18. EPLawyer*

    OP 3- dodged a bullet there. Your instincts were right on in not hiring this guy. If this is how he reacts when not getting a job for which he was not entitled to have (it’s not HIS by right), imagine what he would be like to work with? Anything not going exactly his way would result in scorched earth.

    Deep breath and move on. Your company has your back, that is all that matters.

    1. OP3*

      Good call. As I said above, I’m married with young kids and I’d found out about this less than an hour before I wrote the letter. My feelings were still raw.

      The company’s attitude is this person is a huge loser and you were right this isn’t someone we want to hire. I’m not going to stoop to their level but I’m going to make sure everyone I know is on the lookout for this person moving forward.

      1. Observer*

        but I’m going to make sure everyone I know is on the lookout for this person moving forward.

        Do be VERY careful about how you do that. I know that I’d be very happy to know that someone is that much of a loose cannon, so I appreciate that you’re doing this. But you don’t want to give this person ammunition to make your life miserable.

          1. Observer*

            Oh, definitely. Like I said just be careful in HOW you do this. Perhaps in a conversation rather than email. Also, make sure to use very factual statements. eg Not “this person is a loose canon” but “this person was so angry at being rejected that they took the time to look through my social media posts and tried to use a post in which I disagreed with a politician to get me fired. It didn’t work because nothing I posted was out of line and my employer didn’t see any problem with it.”

            So, your friend knows that this person is trouble, but if they tried to turn it into an issue – well truth is an absolute defense.

  19. Newbie*

    Does #5 need to check his contract first? If he’s a contractor and not an employee his arrangement might not he so at will. There might be consequences for leaving the project.

    1. Observer*

      No. They aren’t an indentured servant.

      Firstly, as noted, the OP was almost certainly mis-classified, and was actually an employee. But, even contractors can leave contracts. Unless there is a specific contract, with either a specified end date or project deliverables AND a penalty for leaving, either party can walk away.

  20. Scarlet*

    OP #3 – can I just say I am so angry on your behalf? What a cruel thing to do – go after someone’s job like that. Totally unhinged person. If it were me, I’d name and shame with anyone who’d listen. No one wants this guy working for them.

    1. OP3*

      I appreciate the empathy – was a little rattled someone would do that.

      I won’t put them on blast publicly, but it’s amazing how small a professional community is. Everyone I know will know the story and this person’s name.

      1. CmdrShepard4ever*

        Just want to give a quick warning, you should certainly let people in your professional community know, but I would make sure to stick to the facts (x happened, then John did y) and don’t say how terrible/awful of a person they are. Don’t get me wrong they are a horrible/awful person but in a work setting it has the potential to open you up to defamation if they are unable to get a job. With how vindictive they have shown themselves to be already I could see them trying to sue you.

        P.S to be clear I am not a lawyer.

        1. Vanilla Nice*

          I agree with CmdrShepard4ever’s advice to proceed with caution. But I do understand the impulse to warn others about the applicant. Last year, I was on a hiring team that interviewee a finalist who said WILDLY inapprorpriate things during the interview (like “lawsuit potential” or “safety risk” if hired). There had been some red flags in the application materials, but we interviewed the candidate anyway because of reasons I won’t go into here.

          The handful of times that person’s name has come in subsequent networking conversations (I’m in a small industry), I try to keep it vague, along the lines of “I’ve met Fergus before. I wouldn’t be comfortable hiring him at Teapots Ltd in any capacity.” That signals to people that yes, there are major red flags there, but sidesteps the issue of what those are or how I know them.

    2. MommyMD*

      Not worth it. Next step may be for this unhinged person to show up with a gun. Don’t think it is a huge long shot. Just let it go.

      Obviously if OP runs across this name again, application goes in garbage. But putting an unstable person on blast is foolhardy.

      1. RUKiddingMe*

        Could be his next step anyway. I think OP should be very aware of her personal safety for a while.

  21. CupcakeCounter*

    A friend of my BIL went through this several year’s back right before he got married. He realized that his last name had negative meaning to him (because of his father) and he didn’t want his new wife and future children to have that name. They had already sent out the invites so both of them went to and changed their names right after the honeymoon and used their thank you’s as the announcement. The cover story was that they were a new family and wanted to create their own journey and several generations back they each had a relative they were named after and the new name they chose was part of both of their full names (think she was named after Rebecca Morgan Bane and he was named after Jonathan Jacob Morgan so they are now Becky and Jon Morgan). Everyone thought it was really cool.
    The real reason was that his father was terrible and made a big show of disowning him at his HS graduation and he decided not to pass on that name.
    Unfortunately that type of cover won’t work for this OP since he indicates he’s already been married for many years and isn’t taking his partners name or that of a different branch of the family. For strangers or people who you will have no contact with outside of work I would feel free to say something like “oh people always confuse me with George Wambucks so I’m tweaking my name to be less confusing” or “I found this name in my family tree and really connected with it and can’t seem to get it out of my head so I decided to go for it” and “no, partner isn’t changing. They are firmly established in their name and it would be very hard for them – this is personal for me”.
    For close friends and family, stick with a very brief version of the truth. “I have some bad experiences with this name and feel that I need a fresh start.”
    Or say nothing at all – just correcting an error from a long time ago.

    1. iglwif*

      My bff’s mom did something similar after her spouse ditched her and their 3 young kids–came up with a brand-new surname for herself and her kids, moved to a new province, and started over. And to make her life easier going forward, she chose a name that’s short and easy for English speakers to pronounce and spell, instead of either her birth name or her ex’s name, both of which were long and full of those fun Central European consonant combinations. She did later reconcile with her own parents, but never went back to using their surname.

      Honestly, my terrible relationship with my biological father was a big reason that I took my spouse’s surname when we got married, with the bonus that I no longer have to spell my name every single time I’m telling it to someone, like I did for the first 23 years of my life :P

      So whatever OP4’s reason for the name change is, I am deeply sympathetic!

      1. sheworkshardforthemoney*

        I was birthed with a name that people immediately made jokes about, not funny the hundredth time you hear them. I married a worse name, more unfunny jokes. Finally with my second marriage I got a name that is as generic as Jane Doe. I told my husband that was the only reason I married him.

  22. Samwise*

    Counter Offer: Academia is notorious as a place where often the only way to get a raise (and, for non-faculty exempt positions, a promotion) is to do a job search and then let your boss know.

  23. Catsaber*

    OP #4 – I have a coworker who changed his last name several years ago. He has been working at my university for nearly 20 years, so the name change happened during his time here. He is from another country, and changed his last name to something else within his same native language. Whenever anyone mentions it, he just goes “Yeah…[subject change]” or “that’s my name…[subject change]”. He does it so fast and so blandly that I have never seen anyone press it further. Of course some people might have pressed, but I think doing something super short, vague, and bland like that will take care of most situations. Changing the subject, especially to something work-related, will get people off the topic, and they usually don’t push back, since it’s work-related.

  24. Jennifer*

    #2 It’s great you care so much about your friend but do you think you might be a bit overly invested in this? Calling her a sell-out is a little harsh. You gave her your opinion. Give her Alison’s opinion. Then let her make a decision, even if you don’t agree. Maybe she’ll learn from it.

    1. fposte*

      I had the same thought, OP. Maybe it’s a mistake to take the counteroffer; maybe Liza knows her workplace better than you. But she’s not a “sell-out”–she’s just doing something you wouldn’t do. Even if it doesn’t work out for her, that’s not a tragedy; she just threw the dice in a way that made emotional sense for her at the time and it didn’t pay off. I think it’s fine to say, like, once that you think accepting counteroffers is generally a bad plan, but then you let it go. Friends get to do things we wouldn’t and make mistakes and still be respected as friends.

      1. Jennifer*

        Exactly. No way would a decision a friend made about their work affect the way I feel about them as a person.

    2. OP#2*

      Yeah, I suppose that was harsh. It’s just that she’s been moaning about this to me for over a year and calling me in tears more than once. We’ve been planning her exit for months. It’s like a friend who complains to you about their shitty partner and you have been listening, giving advice, helping them plan their next move, and suddenly they tell you that when they tried to leave their partner, Partner starts promising this and that and your friend says, “But Partner said they will change! So I’m not breaking up with them after all.” Like that. That’s why I was annoyed. But yes, she’s still my friend, I still respect her, and I will be here if it doesn’t work out.

      1. MommyMD*

        Maybe then just tell her to either find a new job or accept the one she has. That the complaining has run its course.

      2. Jennifer*

        Now THAT I understand. I wish you’d included that in the letter. I’ve had to tell people to stop telling me about their crappy boyfriends unless they really needed my help. It was driving me up the wall.

    3. MommyMD*

      Completely over-invested. That was my first thought. I kind of don’t like the third party “my friend” “my coworker” letters that don’t really involve LW.

  25. That Would be a Good Band Name*

    I accepted a counter offer last year. I had secured a new job, 20% pay increase, and was down to literally my last two days of my notice period. My current employer created a new position with a 45% pay increase, had a job description all lined out, and the paperwork ready to go.

    I’m still unconvinced that I should have stayed. The position they created was definitely more in line with my career goals and of course the pay was a huge draw. But the underlying issues that caused me to want to leave still remain: work flow is too slow, little PTO, and no raises unless you get promoted and I’m as high as I can go without another degree.

    1. JJ Bittenbinder*

      Well, unless you signed a contract, the good news is that you can use your more advanced title and higher salary as a springboard into a position elsewhere.

  26. Snickerdoodle*

    OP #3: Don’t respond! The rejected candidate has only made himself look bad and proved why he didn’t get the job and now never will. It’s natural to want to defend yourself, but it looks like retaliation or like you have something to hide. Think of all the stories you’ve read here about bad behavior from rejected candidates: Everyone perceived them as nuts and moved on. That’s true outside of the workplace as well, e.g., if you’ve ever seen somebody trashing an ex online or something, who looked worse–the ex or the person who couldn’t move past it and had to try to tear them down to build themselves up?

    1. OP3*

      Yea, you’re right….it’s what I said above, I’m married with young kids and this person doesn’t live all that far away from me. Your brain can go to crazy places. We dodged a major bullet, and I hope this is their last attempt to be stupid.

      1. Fergus*

        with people like that it’s never their last attempt, the best thing to do is refuse any contact. That works usually the best.

    2. sheworkshardforthemoney*

      I was in a coffee shop one time and listened to someone on their phone after an interview. They cursed the company, the interviewers and talked about how stupid and short sighted they were for not hiring them. They ranted for about 10 minutes, the only one who looked bad was the rejected candidate.

  27. Countess Boochie Flagrante*

    LW #4 – I changed my whole name a few years ago, and dealt with changing it on the job. There was plenty of curiosity about the change, especially the last name change — I had a lot of people asking me if I’d gotten married or divorced, a few jokes about witness protection, and a lot of confusion from overseas colleagues whose country (I learned later) doesn’t even have a legal name change process, apparently!

    What I found was easiest was distilling my story down to two short versions that I could deliver blithely and carry on with my day. No one needs to hear the full story, no one I knew at work deserved the full story, and I didn’t need to deal with the emotions that went with dredging up the full story.

    Version 1:
    “Oh, well, you know, no one could spell my old name! This is much easier, isn’t it?” Deliberately tongue-in-cheek. Toss that off and carry on carrying on.

    Version 2:
    “This is just a name that I think suits me much better. I’m so happy with it, and it’s good not to be juggling two names anymore. Remember how I had that client the other day who asked if I had a dual personality because I signed my email Boochie when my email address is Jane? Well, no more of that!” It’s a pure deflection, but a little more involved, and firmly steers the conversation away from the family history.

    As far as navigating the change itself, I sent an email to everyone on my team and the people I worked most closely with on the overseas team, and kept it pretty factual. “As of [Date] I’ve completed a legal name change and submitted the update to HR, so Jane A. Smith is now Boochie E. Flagrante. We’re working on getting the email address updated, but everything you send to janesmith@company should automatically forward once it goes through, so don’t worry about changing your address books! – Boochie (formerly Jane)”

    Determining what I wanted to say and making scripts for myself ahead of time helped a lot in navigating in-the-moment nosy digging.

    1. Grace*

      Ooh. If it wouldn’t out your company, what country is that without a legal name-change mechanism? I’ve never heard of that before.

      It’s presumably one without a maiden/married name system, and I’d guess it would also cause problems for trans people sorting out name issues. Or is it more that names can be changes in *very* specific circumstances rather than ‘on a whim’? (Not that your name change was on a whim, but unrelated to gender identity or marriage.)

  28. RandomU...*

    OP3, I’m confused what kind of response you’re thinking of. Respond to the rejected candidate or response to your company?

    Of course now that I write that I don’t really think it matters, I think this is a ‘shake your head and move on’ scenario. The only thing I can think of is to keep an eye on your social media for awhile to make sure that this person doesn’t escalate things after getting no response from your company.

    -creeps up on soapbox for a short while

    This is one reason that I am against personal life being relevant in professional lives (What I consider vigilante justice). It great, right up until it’s you that is having to answer for something that did you in your personal life. The problem with this that people don’t get to pick and choose what it is that is used against them. It could be an old tweet, a facebook picture with a cocktail, or anything else really. There’s often a very low bar for proof and it can be devastating.

    -crawls off of soapbox

    1. New Jack Karyn*

      Yeah, I think firing a teacher for having a Facebook pic holding a Solo cup is ridiculous. I’m also okay with firing someone if they marched in a Nazi rally.

      1. OP3*

        I’d endorse that….and to be clear, the “offending” post was nowhere near that level.

      2. Asenath*

        The problem is that people think they support freedom of speech, right up to the point where they realize that it might apply to something they are strongly opposed to.

        I must admit I’m baffled as to why a Solo cup might be objectionable to some people. I googled it, and got photos of red disposable cups – ardent environmentalists dislike them??? And some references to them being used for drinking parties.

        1. ket*

          Red Solo Cup = stereotypical frat boy binge drinking and sexual immorality and questionable taste in music! Ok, really it’s just linked to heavy drinking, but when I was at Cornell after a big party they were literally raking the red Solo cups off the frat lawns…..

          1. Asenath*

            Ah, that explains it. I was never into the big party scene when I was a student back in the Dark Ages, but to the best of my limited knowledge, the drinkers didn’t use a particular brand or colour of cup. I’m guessing some of them engaged in sexual immorality though, and I’m sure their music was always played very loud and not to my taste.

        2. CmdrShepard4ever*

          It depends on what people mean by freedom of speech in the legal sense its the right to be free from government action for expressing your view, it does not mean being able to express your views without any personal/professional consequences.

          If I am your friend and you express hateful speech (short of inciting violence) I will defend your right to do and not be persecuted by the government. But that does not entitle you to continue being my friend, I will disown you.

          As to the solo cup, it usually is more a “think of the children, won’t someone think of the children” line of thought that teachers should not have an outside life and they should be “nuns in pure white clothing” they should not be able to go to the bar and have a good time, or go to a party, have some drinks. I have seen some stories of teachers being fired for posting photos of them having fun in a legal manner because it does not conform to certain moral values. Most of the stories tend to be from private schools rather than public.

          I think recently a public school teacher was fired, because a topless photo of her surfaced and was circulated among the student body. To be clear the photo was not sent to a student and/or minor, but to a consenting adult who was her boyfriend (now ex) at the time.

          1. Asenath*

            Some 30 or 40 years ago I knew a teacher who was encouraged by her employer to make things legal with her live-in boyfriend. I don’t think that would happen now. Locally, I don’t think drinking would cause problems for a teacher – well, within normal limits; obviously there would be problems if they showed up to work drunk. I think there’s a bit more tolerance for drinking here than there appears to be in other places – even for teachers.

          2. My boss is an idiot*

            I attended a public school system that was kind of different in that many of the teachers were veteran teachers who were on the older side (middle-aged, usually married and settled.) It’s only now that I’m in my twenties, and have some friends who are teachers, that I realize that in many public school systems, teachers are frequently in their early to mid twenties. So…that means they probably like doing what a lot of twenty-somethings do – going out, drinking, dancing, and whatever. I can’t imagine balancing this with being a teacher in the age of social media.

    2. OP3*

      Honestly I wrote the letter right after I found out this had happened (got a call from a higher-up at the company out of the blue). I felt really angry that this person would come after my family (I have young kids) and for that brief fleeting moment wanted revenge. I didn’t even have a specific thing in mind, the righteous part of my brain just felt like this person should experience SOME consequence in their career for trying to ruin mine out of spite. I realize now that’s a terrible idea and would only make them escalate on me. It’s enough that if I ever come across this person’s name again for the rest of my career I will make sure the application goes straight in the garbage and everyone knows exactly why.

      As for the soapbox, I agree. I think we all overshare a bit on social media, and I’ve since protected the accounts (that I don’t even use anymore….just LinkedIn and Instagram for me at this point). This outrage culture has gone so far, and my criticizing a politician over a pet issue doesn’t make this person suddenly qualified for the job. And to your point, they could’ve found a picture of me drinking a beer and sent it to the CEO claiming they employ an alcoholic. Crazy gonna crazy.

      1. RandomU...*

        I can totally understand the reaction to this. I would be on fire angry if someone threatened my professional integrity (not sure if integrity is the best word to use here, but it’s the only one I could think of).

        The good news is that people like this eventually find the bottom of their self-dug hole. You may never know about it, but I’m confident that the universe takes care of things like this in the end.

  29. Dr. Pepper*

    #4: The thing is, people don’t actually care. They’re interested for sure, but they don’t truly care. There’s a big difference. Whenever someone does anything out of the ordinary that is highly visible, people will speculate as to why because, quite frankly, it’s fun to do. It’s human nature, but it’s also not something you have to humor. Treat all inquiries with a shrug and a “that’s my name now” in the most bland and boring voice possible. Avid curiosity dies quickly in the face of tepidness, and if you yourself find nothing interesting about your name change, only the most boorish will pursue the subject. It’s only fun to probe when it seems like there’s something there to find.

  30. Lime Lehmer*

    When I was 16 I drove myself to the hospital for scheduled eye surgery.
    The surgeon asked me where my parents were. “Mom is in Houston and Dad is in Indianapolis on a case –
    Dad will be here later in the day.” Surgeon asked me if I had any one who could be with me. I said I could call Dad’s secretary if he wanted. The surgeon performed the surgery since he had known my family since I was born.

    Later as a parent I realized how truly odd this was. I feel sorry for the daughter, but I worry about liability for the admin.

  31. ket*

    There’s an internet person (a coach/writer) who used to be Anna Kunnecke and changed her name to Katherine North. It might be useful to read some of her posts to see how she publicly negotiated this change. I’ll point out that her brand has a good dose of empowerment & feminism & personal integrity, so that’s the lens she used to present her name change; you presumably have a different “brand” :) but the idea of fitting the name change into something people already know about you so that it “makes sense” — even if it’s not logical, per se — could be useful.

  32. Akcipitrokulo*

    OP2 – never use “building character” as a criteria for accepting an offer!

    It’s not relevant. What do you hope to get from it this improved character? If it’s not the job you want… what have you gained?

  33. MommyMD*

    The social media stalker is a nut job but never post anything on a public profile that’s personal. And remember everything you post lives forever.

  34. Schnapps*

    For OP1, if you’re driving someone around during working hours and you are being paid, it could be construed from a liability perspective that you might need to insure your car for business purposes. Before you go on that 3 hour round trip several times, you might want to check with your insurance company – if you’re in an accident, and they rule it was for business, you might not be covered.

  35. Koala dreams*

    I think you can push back citing the irregular hours. “I wanted to talk about my working hours. Because of personal obligations, I need to work standard office hours. I won’t be able to take on work in the morning/evening in the future. The last few times I was able to do X and Y as a favour to you, but I won’t be able to do these things regularly. ” You can also argue that doing personal errands makes you less available for your core work, if for example you are the one answering phones (or any other time-sensitive tasks).

    Sadly it’s a drawback of being thought of as family, that you have less standing to push back against doing personal errands. You might be more happy if you find a job where you are just a regular employee, not the child-of-so-and-so.

    As for the grandchild/intern, this is a very common thing in a small family business. My boss in very big on offering interning opportunities not only to children in the family, but also to other students of various ages as well as adults looking to get some experience to fill out their resume. This is both a way to help family and friends out, and a way of finding future employees who can help during the busy season.

  36. My boss is an idiot*

    #3 – ugh this is why I keep all my social media accounts private from the public. Even then, I don’t post anything to them – I just keep my accounts as a way to get in touch with people. Idk – I feel like there is nothing to be gained from posting things to social media. You will inevitably piss someone off or people will use the content against you.

  37. Ead01s*

    LW 1, is the daughter even comfortable with the idea of her mother’s co-worker driving her to surgery? That is such an odd ask. Unless you also happen to be old family friends, you would think the daughter would want a friend or other relative to take her. No one is in good form coming out of anesthesia, and you would also think they would want someone there who’s familiar with her medical history in case there’s an emergency.

  38. Fish Microwaver*

    OP4, “life’s too short to continue using a name that doesn’t resonate with me any more “, in a bright upbeat tone.

  39. I’ll think of a good name later*

    LW #1, if your wages are being paid by the business, any time spent on tasks not related to the business is not a valid business expense deduction on the business’ taxes. Doesn’t matter what the legal entity may be.
    I’m not saying you shouldn’t do these tasks – that’s been discussed thoroughly already. You should, though, keep track of how much time you’re working for the business and how much time is spent on personal tasks for the owner. Say that you only recently realized that Business Owner will need the information for her taxes. You could even offer an apology for not having kept track sooner; would they like you to try to reconstruct the information going back as far as you can? (Only if you think you can keep this perfectly deadpan, no smirking allowed.) It’s possible they really don’t realize just how much of your time is spent doing their personal chores.

  40. TeapotNinja*

    #5: Last time I was in the position of finishing up projects for a previous employer my new employer’s policies strictly forbid it. If that’s the case for you, that could be an easy out to use in your situation. Even if your current employer’s policies didn’t outright forbid it, you could still frame declining the work as something that would interfere with your current responsibilities.

  41. His Grace*

    OP 2: I agree w/ AAM; under no circumstances is a counter offer a good idea. If Liza’s manager and employer had valued her, they would moved to advance her before she looked elsewhere, not after. In addition, you mentioned that she had a verbal counter offer, not a written one. To me, this raises all sorts of red flags, not the least of which is that Company X could just simply renege on the deal (or even worse, try to add strings to the counter offer, like the letter on October 1, 2018 said happened to her). Company X is not bargaining in good faith and your friend is a fool to think they are.

    1. MassMatt*

      I agree with much of what you say but not the “under no circumstances “ part. Sometimes accepting a counter offer makes sense, and can work out well. Several commenters have said it had worked for them, and that there are fields (academia being one) where it is the norm, and in fact the only likely way to get raises.

    2. MassMatt*

      …and up-thread Alison specifically says accepting a counter offer is not always a bad idea.

  42. Ponyboy Curtis*

    LW1: “what you allow, is what will continue.” -Sarah Dessen
    In my experience, people will take advantage of you as long as you let them. But when you push back, at least 95% of them will back off.

  43. sange*

    #4 – one of my colleagues recently did this. She changed her name to something that was not connected to her marriage, birth name, or anything obvious to us. And she just sent out an email that was subject line Introducing Jane Smith, and it said something like Hello everyone, as of May 1, my legal name is Jane Smith. My email address and signature have been updated accordingly, and my former email,, will forward to my new address. Thank you for updating your records and systems.

    We’re a pretty liberal office, but I don’t think anyone asked her a single question. We’re friends outside of work so eventually I learned it was her grandmother’s maiden name, but she never offered the reason for the change and I never asked.

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