my boss doesn’t focus during our meetings, I matched with my interviewer on a dating app, and more

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

1. My boss doesn’t focus during our meetings

My boss considers himself a master multitasker. In reality, he’s pretty terrible at it. Like most of us, he’s not actually able to split his attention between two or three different tasks at any one time and this just leads to awkward and terrible interactions with him. For example, during my last performance review meeting in his office, he stopped the conversation every time an email came in (even mid-sentence) to see what it was. Some of those times he continued the interruption to actually respond to the email before turning back to me and asking “What was I saying?”

Just this week I was in his office to get some support and guidance on solving a problem that has been going on for some time. I was in the middle of saying “I’m just getting very frustrated about…” when he interrupted me to say he noticed that an upcoming meeting wasn’t showing up on his calendar. He then went on to call the office admin to ask her about it. Once that was done, he turned to me and said “Okay, so you were saying…?” I was so flabbergasted that I just cut to the chase and asked a simple question to get out of there before I reacted to the rudeness.

I know these types of interactions are happening with everyone, as it’s a common topic of conversation and annoyance among all of his direct reports. Is there any way I can give him feedback about this or professionally ask him for his full attention when necessary? In more casual settings the distraction is just an annoyance, but in certain meetings and conversations I find the lack of attention he pays disrespectful. I’m seeing this single behavior have a major impact on the team.

A fairly soft version: “When we’re meeting, we get interrupted a lot when emails come in. It tends to really disrupt our chain of thought — would it be possible to do these meetings away from your desk and computer so that we’re not interrupted so frequently?”

A more direct version: “Often when we’re talking, your attention gets pulled away by emails and other notifications that come in on your computer, and then you end up dealing with those before we resume the conversation. It can make it tough to hold a train of thought or work through things that take more focus. I know you have a lot of demands on your time, but sometimes I really need your full attention for 15 or 20 minutes. Is there a way to schedule our meetings at times when that will be more likely, or even to meet away from your computer if that would solve it?”

2. I matched with my interviewer on a dating app

I arrived quite early to a job interview this week, and after making sure I was settled in the waiting room and ready for the interview, I decided I’d kill some time by scrolling through a gay dating app on my phone (“dating app” is a polite euphemism for this kind of thing, they’re more for hook-ups than anything else). I looked casually through a few profiles (I didn’t send any messages) before I was called in for my interview time. You probably know where this is going … one of the men whose profiles I had just looked at was my interviewer!

Of course I didn’t say anything, and this probably wouldn’t even be an issue — except that this is an app that shows you exactly who has viewed your profile, even if you haven’t sent them a message. I checked the app later that day, and this guy (my interviewer) had also viewed my profile at some point (whether before or after my interview, I’m not sure).

I don’t know how to proceed! The profiles on these apps can be on the sleazy side (talk of sexual position preferences, kink, and the like are right up front) and I feel super uncomfortable that this guy who has hiring power has seen these things about me … and vice versa! If it was a coworker I’d stumbled across in this way, I’d probably block him or even make a joke about it, but the power dynamic with a hiring manager, and a stranger at that, is obviously much different. I haven’t heard back about the job yet, but that could be for any number of reasons — or at least that’s what I’m telling myself.

How should I proceed? Should I acknowledge the awkwardness or let it go? His profile and mine are both still up and active, but I’m scared to look again! (And yes, I know for the future, I should do something, anything else, with my pre-interview prep time!)

P.S. Maybe I should add that I’m an out gay man in a major metropolitan city, and to the best of my knowledge so was my interviewer (based on various Pride-related things in his office and, well, the fact that he has a clear face pic on a gay hook-up app that he’s active on while he’s at work!) — so there’s no closet-type issues at play here, nor am I worried about one of us outing the other in some awkward manner. And yes, I’m positive it was him in the profile on the app.

Don’t try to find a way to acknowledge the awkwardness; it’s too likely that will make it more awkward. Instead, wipe it from your mind and proceed the way you would have if you’d never seen him on the app.

It is uncomfortable that he has more information about you now than you’d want someone interviewing you to have, but I don’t think that’s solved by trying to acknowledge that. I’d just remember that you’re both on the app so there’s presumably/hopefully not going to be a ton of judgment, and he probably can’t tell the timing so precisely that he’d know that you saw his profile in the minutes right before the interview — and so it probably feels at least somewhat less awkward to him than it does to you. Ideally that makes it more of a “oh, weird timing” thing than an “OMG how mortifying” thing.

That said, my perspective is no doubt informed by writing this as a straight woman, and if gay male readers think I’m off, I’d welcome hearing it in the comments.

3. I have been working for free for three months

I’m 20. Three months ago I wanted to volunteer in a small company in marketing. I was contacted by a designer who once was famous and made lots of money. She was victim of a massive scam and now is illiquid. She has a new project to create a mid-range handbag brand and wanted me to be part of it. I said yes. I always wanted to work with a designer.

At first I helped her with small tasks, but then she started asking me for personal favors and giving me more responsibilities and bossing me around. I even cried once, because somehow I felt like a failure as she is very strict. I would be with her from 7 am to 7 pm.

She always says that when the company starts running I would be hired as the manager’s assistant, but it has been three months and we have made barely progress with the limited resources. Every time I want to bring up payment or at least to get recognized for transportation I remember she doesn’t have money.

I once made my mind that I would stop working for her, but I have been a witness to all the hard work we’ve been through and she’s alone and we have somehow became close. It also has been difficult to get another job interview as I have zero experience. What should I do?

You’re probably never going to get paid for any of the work you’ve put into this job, or any additional work you do for her.

It’s not reasonable — or legal — for her to expect you to work for free. Promises of a future position are not compensation for the work you’re doing now (and may never come to fruition). Plus, you’re spending 12 hours a day doing this! If you wanted to donate a few hours of your time per week, so be it (still not legal, but not nearly as much of an outrage), but you’re working more hours than most highly paid professionals work, and doing it for zero money — while leaving yourself no time to find a paying job. Plus, you’re working for someone who sees you as a personal assistant (not what you signed on for) and makes you cry. While you work for free.

Would you continue doing this work if you knew for sure you’d never get paid for it? If not, then quit now, because that’s a very, very likely outcome. But if you can’t stomach quitting yet, then you need to least scale your hours way back. Explain to the designer that you can’t afford to continue to work these hours without payment. Anyone with business savvy will understand that, so if she reacts badly, take that as confirmation that this is a sinking ship.

It is difficult to get interviews without work experience and it means you may have to aim fairly low at first — but people do it successfully every day, without having to trade 60 hours a week of their labor for free. (And meanwhile, you can put this experience on your resume!)

4. There’s nowhere to lock up company electronics in my new space

Our office is consolidating office space. We will soon be renovating one of the offices to fit more and smaller cubicles. Due to my position as web designer, I have a lot of company-owned electronics like laptops and tablets for testing purposes. I asked my manager whether there will be enough space in the new cubicle to lock the company electronics, and if I cannot do that, if there is another place in the building I could lock them. He said he brought the issue up to the people in charge of the new office layout, but could not give me definitive answers about whether I will have enough space to lock them.

I currently am situated by an entrance where not just employees, but delivery people and many outside vendors come through. According to what I have been told, I am slated to be situated in this same area after renovations are complete. There are no cameras, check-ins, or any formal method of logging and monitoring who comes through the door. (There is also no receptionist, or anyone who is assigned to do something like this.)

If I am stuck in a position where I can’t lock company valuables, what would your recommendation be? My concern is that these things will get stolen and I will get blamed for it. Is resigning over something like this wildly out of proportion?

Resigning over it seems premature. Why not propose a specific solution (a locked safe or locked filing cabinet, neither of which costs a lot) and ask your boss to approve the cost? It would be odd for your boss to refuse to pay a couple hundred dollars for a pretty routine work expense.

But if for some reason that doesn’t work, tell your boss that if you won’t be able to lock things up, you want the two of you to agree on a plan for handling valuables — both how to store them in an insecure area, and what to do if they disappear. Be explicit that you’re concerned you’ll be held accountable for thefts, and ask for a concrete plan of what will happen if things go missing.

Read an update to this letter here.

5. How do I respond to a job rejection that mentions other future positions?

I recently interviewed for a job that I was really excited about. The interviews went well and it was with an organization I would love to work for. The work, the mission, the office culture all seemed like a great fit for me.

The hiring manager called to tell me that they offered the position to someone else and the only reason I didn’t get the job was that “she couldn’t hire two people.” They were impressed with me and they are “committed to finding me a position” in the organization, ideally working closely with the department that I interviewed for. She asked if it was okay to share my resume with hiring managers for positions opening up soon. She mentioned that there wasn’t anything open right now that I’d be a good fit for, but that she knew of a few positions that would be open soon.

I reiterated my interest and asked if there was anything else she needed from me, and she said that she had everything she needed. This is definitely the best job rejection I’ve ever received, but I’m not sure how to move forward. How seriously should I take this? At what point should I follow up? I’ve applied for a few other positions at other places, but I’m not sure how to be proactive about this option. I’m pretty unhappy in my current role and would ideally like to move on soon, but I am also very excited about the possibility of working for this particular organization.

Take this as a sign that she really liked you and will put in a good word for you for other jobs there, but assume that it’s likely that it won’t actually lead to a job offer. I mean, maybe it will! But you definitely don’t want to assume that, and you shouldn’t in any way count on it because this kind of thing often doesn’t pan out. (Hiring plans change, hiring managers turn out to have someone else in mind who they’re already sold on, stronger candidates emerge, etc.)

Put a note on your calendar to reach out to her in four to six weeks, at which point you can say that you’re continuing to actively search and ask if she knows anything more about the positions she mentioned might be opening. If that doesn’t produce anything, at that point it’s in solidly in her court and I wouldn’t keep following up. But meanwhile, keep actively searching, assume this won’t lead to anything concrete, and let it be a pleasant surprise if it does.

Read an update to this letter here

{ 383 comments… read them below }

  1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

    OP#3, please imagine me saying this in the tone of a concerned friend: You have to get out. You have to come up with an exit strategy, including an alternative way to get experience. Because what’s going on with you and this designer is not giving you that experience, and it’s also increasing your financial insecurity and undermining your ability to job search. That basically sets you up for a dependent relationship where you have no other options (or you feel like you have no other options).

    This doesn’t sound like someone who has her act together. And it is fully illegal (like all caps, blinking red illegal) for her to even allow you to work for her for free, let alone to try to guilt you into it with false promises of a future job that will never come to fruition. You are not her PA. You are not her employee. She is not going to pay you. You can leave graciously, and I think it’s time to come up with a gameplan.

    1. Story Nurse*

      This, all of this. OP, I am especially concerned about you saying “we’ve become close”—what you’re describing doesn’t sound at all like HER being close with YOU, so you describing it in those terms sounds like she has manipulated you into feeling personally responsible for her personal happiness and professional success, which is what keeps you from leaving a really sketchy situation. As you describe it, there is nothing in this that benefits you: no pay, no valuable work experience, no connections. There’s only your feeling that you somehow aren’t allowed to leave, because you’ve already put hard work in and if you walk away, this designer will be alone.

      Regarding the time and effort you’ve put in, don’t fall victim to the sunk cost fallacy. Those hours and ergs are gone. Sometimes investments don’t pan out. In this case, they have not. The sensible thing to do when an investment doesn’t pan out is to stop investing, not to keep throwing resources into a pit that will never give anything back to you. Bid farewell to the past, be grateful for the lessons you’ve learned from this experience, and move forward.

      And regarding your personal relationship with the designer, I can’t stress enough that you are not responsible for her being alone. She’s a grown adult, and responsible for herself. It sounds like she’s at least twice your age, so it’s especially disturbing that she’s set up this dynamic. She gives you orders and you can’t question them or be compensated for your time or effort, but she’s not your parent and you aren’t required to put up with that. You also aren’t her caregiver (caregivers get paid!) and you don’t owe her anything. You can feel sympathy for her while protecting yourself.

      Please do whatever you need to do to clearly and cleanly separate yourself from this “job” and find a real job somewhere else. You are also an adult, and you deserve respect and compensation for your time and effort. I suspect you’ll have an easier time marketing yourself to prospective employers once you’re no longer tangled up in this exhausting, stressful situation.

      1. WoodswomanWrites*

        Yes to everything mentioned above. OP, regardless of how this designer is presenting the situation to you, what you’re describing is exploitation–illegal, unethical, and unacceptable. With a 60-hour week no less.

        You deserve so much better than this. Everyone in the work world starts out at an entry-level job and there is a real one out there for you, working for someone who will respect you, provide you with a 40-hour week, and will pay you.

      2. Who Plays Backgammon?*

        Yes yes yes. What’s worse, this woman sounds like such a train wreck that she’d be unreliable as a reference for you, because she’s got you where she wants you–working for her for free and feeling sorry for her–and doesn’t want to make it easy for you to move on to paying employment. Even if she agreed to give you a reference as an “intern,” I wouldn’t trust her to do so.

        1. Michaela Westen*

          Feeling sorry for her – sounds like someone who does “poor little me”. No matter what’s actually going on, they have a dynamic of “poor little me, I’m broke”, “poor little me, I need help”, “poor little me, take care of me”, etc.
          I worked for a woman who did this. She had a company that was making money (one of the things I did was bookkeeping), and she also owned valuable property. But she talked and behaved as if she was starving and the world was against her. She was manipulative and stingy and didn’t appreciate what she had or the people around her. She would take full advantage of any situation.
          My experience of “poor little me” people is they try to draw others in to take care of them instead of making an effort to take care of themselves and their lives. If your boss is doing this, OP3, she will never stop even if she gets the company going and has plenty of money because this is what she does, and she will need therapy to stop this. You need to move on and set boundaries with such people going forward. Good luck!

      3. boo bot*

        I agree with all of this, but I do want to highlight that, as exploitative as it has been, this does count as work experience! You can list this job on your resume – even though you haven’t been there very long, describing it as work leading up to starting a new company (or an internship, or whatever makes most sense) which will pretty much explain the short duration.

        If you’re concerned people would ask why she’s not a reference, I think some better-phrased version on, “I left because I wasn’t able to work for free indefinitely, and I think her reference would be based on that and not my work,” makes the situation clear, but that’s too blunt – I’m not sure how to put it in a way that gets the message across and doesn’t sound drama-inducing. Maybe others have suggestions on how to word it?

        Or possibly, explaining why you left the job with “I wasn’t able to work for free indefinitely,” will mean nobody even considers talking to her as a reference. Lots of situations are complex and hard to convey concisely in interviews, but “they weren’t paying me” is pretty universally understood.

      4. Busy*


        And I just want to really press here to the OP how absolutely exploitative this is by clarifying some things for the OP who just may not realize it (as a lot of people do not!).

        1. Being “illiquid” does not mean destitute. Filing for bankruptcy does not mean destitute. It just means things fell apart. She is not without means to pay you!!!! She has to legally pay you!!!
        2. “She” is likely not illiquid. Her business likely is – as businesses are usually their own entity (to protect owners). So again, SHE has the mean to pay you – her past business may not.
        3. Famous designers who haven’t burned all their bridges have connections – and she should be able to find a way to make money RIGHT NOW to pay you. Unless what happened was much more egregious then falling for a scam.
        4. Older people who behave like this (even the destitute ones) never tell the entire story to anyone. Ever. Especially to the people they are exploiting. They have the years to learn how to manipulate people with less experience. She isn’t going to introduce you to anyone; she isn’t going to eventually hire you; and she is 100% working a different angle while using you. There is a reason she picked a 20 year old who is removed from her circle of industry peers to help her!!!!!!

        I am just pointing all this out, because, again, the OP just might not be aware of all the screaming red flags here. I do hope she gets out!!!

        1. Gazebo Slayer*

          Yeah, there’s no way “fell for a scam” is the whole story. Either she never even was a famous designer at all… or yes, she burned her bridges, possibly through exploitative behavior like what she’s doing now.

        2. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

          Strongly co-signed. And I really appreciate that you broke this down for OP, who may not know how liquidity, bankruptcy, and self-owned businesses work (apologies to OP if they do know all of these things). This woman is absolutely trading on OP’s naivete by spinning a bunch of stories—and I do believe they’re stories, although there may be a small kernel of truth somewhere in there—to justify her totally illegal and unethical behavior.

        3. AKchic*

          All. Of. This.

          LW is never going to see a penny, is never going to get a reference, and will probably be spoken of badly when she leaves this “designer”.
          She, herself, was targeted by this older “designer” for a reason and is in all actuality the victim here, not this “illiquid designer who needs 12 hrs a day free help”.

      5. Gazebo Slayer*

        Seconding everything PCBH and Story Nurse said. I see so, so much of my younger self in OP3; when I was in my 20s I too fell for an unpaid “internship” that would supposedly become paid after a week but never did.

        Like yours, my boss was manipulative – but he had an entire company of people he’d been stringing along or irregularly paying peanuts to for years. He liked to hire young people fresh out of college, older people who’d just been through a divorce or left a long-term job for a totally new career, recently homeless people…. basically anyone exploitable. He’d take weeks to pay, if he paid at all; one time he told me after I had already finished a project that it wasn’t going to be paid work because it was “a favor to his friend.” He paid his office manager $6 an hour for about 60 hours of work a week… and she, young and naive, thought she had a great job. He paid his assistant so little that the only place she could afford to live was the $200 a month room in his house that he “generously” offered her in exchange for being on call at all hours for him if he needed maid service. (And yes, he made it uncomfortably clear at the office that he found her attractive. She knew the situation was sketchy as hell, but she couldn’t afford to leave.)

        He was very funny, friendly, and charismatic, which is what sucked me in. At my interview, he found out I played Dungeons and Dragons, which he did too, and we had a long enthusiastic conversation about it. He was also very outspoken about politics; he positioned his company as the scrappy little guy fighting The Man and blathered constantly about how progressive and ethical he was. “I’m making a living, not a killing” was his favorite expression. (For one thing, he refused to send deadbeat accounts to collections or take legal action against them – and this was a tech firm, not a company providing essential services like healthcare. This was part of why the company wasn’t solvent. He was also a crackpot 9/11 truther who’d proselytize about this to anyone, worker or client, who walked in the door.)

        When I quit after receiving a grand total of just under $250 for three months of work, he told me to “get a roommate” so I could pay my bills. He also told me that he had been doing me a favor because I wasn’t smart enough or hardworking enough to get a job anywhere else.

        I left the cluster of small towns where I used to live partly because the job market there was crawling with such people.

        Get out, OP3. This letter hurt my heart. This woman is manipulating and exploiting you, and you deserve better.

      6. TootsNYC*

        (” Those hours and ergs are gone. A total aside: I’m so thrilled to see someone else using “erg” the much way I think of it–mental, physical, and emotional energy. I thought I’d kind of made it up, based on the Legion of Super-Heroes character ERG-1 or Wildfire, and I find it a useful way to talk about our personal energy, not just physical)

        1. TootsNYC*

          (well, I knew that an “erg” was actually a thing, but I’ve never really heard it used in a more metaphorical context)

          1. Kathleen_A*

            Almost the only fun thing about the Chem 1A class that I took as a freshman (chemistry is fine – I’m not very good at it, but it is interesting – but the teacher was a sexist a-hole) was this definition of an erg from the course textbook: “Roughly the amount of energy used by mosquito to do a pushup.” I love that so, so, so much.

            Anyway, I’ve never heard it used metaphorically either, but I do rather like it!

      7. AKchic*

        And I am truly questioning her insolvency story. Unless the media reported it and there are court documents to back it all up proving that this individual was actually bilked of her entire worth, something smells rotten here. A *lot* of wealthy people can overspend, do poorly (especially in the economy we’ve had over the last 25 years), and become insolvent. I have seen a few formerly well-to-do folks who insist that they are still as well-off as they once were, or act “temporarily embarrassed” (as they used to say) rather than admit that they don’t have two pennies to rub together and should have sold the home they were given by some relation or another, and downgraded from their Beemer to a more affordable vehicle. Oh no… the stocks you know, dear, the stocks. Give it time, we’ll be fine soon. This is our retirement! This was our inheritance!

        Either way, I agree, the sunk cost fallacy is 100% playing out here and it is time to jump ship. Document the time, effort and actual contributions you’ve put into the project(s), but get out. If this person actually does get anything up and running, then you can come back and ask for compensation for helping in the beginning, but really, I don’t think you’ll ever see a penny.

    2. VictorianCowgirl*

      Seconded, motion carried. This letter was so concerning to read. I do wonder if OP can file for back wages at least at minimum wage with the Department of Labor. Perhaps a question for an employment lawyer.

      OP please don’t allow this person to exploit your humanity, kindness, goals and empathy. She is a grown woman who has made her choices and can reap their results, and is repeatedly making the choice of taking advantage of your free labor. A good person who deserves your time and energy wouldn’t do that. You don’t owe her any of what you are giving her, or anything moving forward.

      1. Rebecca*

        I wonder if the OP could put together a spreadsheet or chart showing all the hours she worked over the past 3 months, email “designer” and simply state, “I learned we are afoul of the labor law in [our state], here are the hours I’ve worked, and I need to know when I’ll be compensated”? Or a phrase along those lines, so she could get the reply of “you’ll get paid when things take off”, and then give that to the Dept of Labor and let them deal with it.

        This is a red flag warning if I’ve ever seen one. OP, it’s Tuesday. Please just don’t show up any longer, block this woman from your life, and move on. There are real jobs out there that pay money and benefits, and you will find one!

      2. WellRed*

        Interesting. I got the impression she was not in US, therefore DOL would not apply. At any rate this has gone so far off the rails, the only advice I have is run. And maybe therapy.

        1. Emily K*

          I thought the same, though there may be some equivalent body/procedure for claiming back wages in LW’s country that he or she could look into.

    3. Please get out. Now.*

      +10000 to all of this. Honestly, it sounds more like a hostage situation than a viable work situation. Think about all you’re doing for her and the future promise is just a position as the manager’s assistant? I could see maybe if she were promising you equity in the future company, but she’s both abusing and undervaluing you, even with her promises.
      It also sounds, from the letter, like you haven’t discussed a lot of this with her, perhaps for fear of upsetting her and making her feel bad.
      Do you have a friend or trusted family member who could help you make a plan and extract yourself from the situation as soon as possible? Also, after the dust has settled and you have a paying job, please get some therapy so that you can understand how this happened and how to prevent it in the future. I know we have incomplete information from your letter, but I’m really concerned about you. Please, look after yourself and let us know how things go.

      1. EPLawyer*

        Call me old and cynical. OP do you really know if she has very little resources? Presumably she is still eating, wearing nice clothes and paying her bills. But yet, somehow there is no money to even try to compensate you?

        She found a PA who will work PA hours with no pay. She’s in heaven. There is absolutely no reason for her to change a darn thing. She even has you believing that if you leave the world ends. Spoiler Alert: It won’t. Not for her. She will go on just as she is.

        This person is not your friend. She is not your employer. She has no interest in helping or protecting you. You need to protect yourself. Get out now. Do not look back.

        1. SigneL*

          yes, one of my first thoughts was, how is the designer living? I’m also a little suspicious of “I had a lot of money but lost it due to a scam, poor me!” (It may be true, but….)

        2. Isabelle*

          You are not cynical. My first thought was how does LW know the designer was truly the victim of a scam? Even assuming it was true, only a few scams end up completely obliterating someone’s finances. This is highly suspicious.

        3. Dust Bunny*

          This was my thought, too: Scam, my ample posterior. (I am very definitely cynical, though.)

          Diminished circumstances due to being passé, perhaps. Or because she participated in something shady and it backfired. But I bet she’s not broke.

          None of that matters, though, OP, because she’s still an entitled jerk who is treating you terribly and cannot be trusted the length of your nose. Get out of there. Flip burgers if you have to; at least you’ll get paid.

          1. AKchic*

            Oh, there’s a scam all right… too bad it’s the LW who’s being scammed and not this “designer”.

        4. long time lurker*

          Without saying too much: I’ve found that it’s sometimes the people who are most able to pay are the least willing.

        5. Please run and good luck*

          Yes, this. Even if she’s a great designer and has been successful in the past, that doesn’t mean she got there without exploiting others. She is either paying herself, or has enough resources that she’s living off past successes. **She’s taking care of herself but choosing not to pay you**. She probably doesn’t even plan to start paying you or wants to put it off as long as she can, but if she does truly want to pay you, it is clearly her very last priority. Her business plan is terrible if she’s relying on manipulating free labor to get this new business started. What you’re worth to her right now is way more than what your salary should even be. She’s doing all of this on your back.

          Also, are you SURE that she was a victim of a massive scam? Obviously you know her better than any of us, but this is a red flag to me. Good people get scammed, definitely. But it’s also the kind of thing a manipulative person would say if their previous businesses had failed because they made terrible choices, or were sued by people they weren’t paying, etc.

          1. TootsNYC*

            And if she was the victim of a scam that turned her completely “illiquid,” does that say something about how un-savvy she is?

          2. Danger: GUMPTION AHEAD*

            The “scam” might be former employees suing for poor labor practices, unpaid wages, etc.

          3. Gazebo Slayer*

            Or she was the victim of one of those scams where the mark thinks they’re scamming the scammer!

        6. General Ginger*

          If you’re old and cynical, then I am, too, because this is the first thing I thought. She found a PA willing to work for promises; I’m sure she’s thrilled, and has no plans to change any of this until you leave, and she finds another person, who will hear a “my ungrateful PA left me in a lurch after all I’ve done for them” story.

        7. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

          I mean, there’s definitely a scam going on—the one she’s pulling on OP.

      2. Iris Eyes*

        Modern definitions of slavery do encompass the understanding that sometimes its emotional and psychological threats rather than chains and physical punishment that allow for a person’s labor to be exploited without them feeling like they have the option to leave.

    4. Psyche*

      Also think about what you are actually getting out of this. It sounds like you can’t put it on your resume and she won’t be a reference because you don’t officially work for her. Since the current arrangement is illegal, it is unlikely she will want to tell anyone about it and if anyone does a background check, this experience won’t be verifiable.

      1. Dust Bunny*

        Plus she’s likely to be incredibly vindictive if you try to leave. Even if this were a legitimate internship, I wouldn’t trust her for a reference simply because I cannot believe she won’t try to torpedo your next job prospects so she can keep you in thrall.

      2. Who Plays Backgammon?*

        Do you have access to files/documents that might reveal names of past “assistants” or even if there have been others she did this to? Back in the day of actual secretaries who initialed the letters they typed, I found out that no one had stayed in my nice new law office job more than 2-3 mos., EXCEPT a young woman who was there a year, got caught in a huge error, went to lunch, and never came back. The boss wrote “poor me” letters to the authorities blaming her to try to wiggle out of his responsibility in his disaster of a firm.

    5. Oxford Comma*

      You need an exit strategy. Chalk this up to experience learned. Thank her for the opportunity and go find a paying job.

      I want to stress to you that this designer’s personal financial situation is not your problem. You are doing work–12 hours a day!–and she needs to pay you for it. Since that is not going to happen, you need to leave and find an actual legit employer who will.

    6. The Original K.*

      I could not agree more. OP, leave. You’re being exploited and it’s not going to get better.

    7. Genny*

      Agreed. LW, think about where you want to be professionally and personally in 5 or even 10 years. Does this job as it currently is (not what it could be if she got her act together) get you closer to that goal? Are you gaining useful skills, experiences, and contacts (again, not hypothetical contacts, people you can actually tap during future job searches; not future skills or experiences if you just hang around long enough for them to come to fruition)? Are you being challenged and allowed to grow in meaningful ways? Does this woman care about your professional development and mentoring you? Does this situation allow you to start saving money/paying down debts/moving towards financial freedom or at least put you in a position where that is in your near future? There’s paying your dues and then there’s being used. This situation sounds more like the latter.

    8. Valentina*

      Thank you for your reply! I took a few days to take care of a personal matter thinking I could think about it and I have set my mind I will quit this week.

      1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

        Oh, thank all the stars individually and by name.

        If there’s anything we can do to help support your plan to quit, please let us know! Alison has provided great scripts, and it may help to role-play them with a trusted friend. I suspect the designer will behave outlandishly (since everything so far has been outlandish), and it may help to be prepared for best and worst case scenarios.

      2. Fashionable Pumpkin*

        You’ve gotten a lot of good advice- I just wanted to say that you are not the first and won’t be the last fashion industry newbie who gets scammed by a famous designer. I interned for one whose whole design department on interns- the only paid workers were his seamstresses and his significant other (who, tbh, didn’t actually work).
        He agreed to be a reference but my current employer said he never returned their call. I still got hired, and you will too!

        Avoid famous designers and aim for something low level at a big company like nordstrom, target, or belk. They’ll pay better, have better benefits, and will behave professionally.

      3. AKchic*

        I am so glad you’re going to quit. You deserve so much better than what you’ve accepted, and I am so sorry that you’ve fallen victim to this person’s game.

        I wish you the best of luck, a high-paying job, and a wonderful future.

      4. WoodswomanWrites*

        Good to know! Once you’ve made the break–and I imagine that is taking all of your energy right now–I hope you’ll consider the suggestions others have made about contacting the state or federal Department of Labor about how to file a claim for unpaid wages. You absolutely deserve to be paid for what sounds like about 700 hours over three months. Even at minimum wage, that’s a lot of money.

        If you’re up for it, it would be great to read an update in the Friday open thread. You have a lot of people here cheering you on!

    9. RabbitRabbit*

      Spelling it out for OP#3: You are not legally ALLOWED to VOLUNTEER for a for-profit business in the US. Please do not do that ever.

  2. Anne Noise*

    #2: as a very out gay man I find it unsettling that anyone would be browsing a swcually explicit hookup app while waiting for an interview – in their waiting lobby?! That content has a time and place, but that’s not it, and knowing what kinds of apps he’s referring to, it’s not hard to imagine a loooot of dick pics.

    Most men using them understands the basics of public privacy – if you haven’t spoken about being public with your relationship, there’s no relationship to discuss. Seeing someone on an app is not a relationship.

    1. Jasnah*

      Honestly I was confused about this as well, OP seems shocked that “he has a clear face pic on a gay hook-up app that he’s active on while he’s at work!” yet…you were active on the very same app while you were in a professional context as well! So I think your best bet is to never look at his profile again, never mention it and pretend you never saw it, and hope he does the same due to mutually assured destruction.

      1. Wake up !!*

        He doesn’t seem shocked. He’s just assuming that the interviewer is out and that’s one piece of evidence. Nothing he wrote suggested that he thinks the interviewer was unprofessional or scuzzy for being on the app at work. You’re projecting all over this.

      2. fhqwhgads*

        There was zero shock in that comment. The point of “clear face pic on app” was certainty the dude isn’t closeted.

      3. anon today and tomorrow*

        I don’t think the OP was shocked. The comment about a clear face pic was more to show he’s out since a lot of people on LGBT dating sites don’t show their faces in their profile pics, usually when they’re closeted and don’t want anyone accidentally finding their profile.

      4. TootsNYC*

        I agree with Wake up !!.

        That info wasn’t given to say the OP was shocked, but rather to predict that the interviewer probably won’t be shocked that the OP is on that site.

    2. Wake up !!*

      OP already said he knows he should find some other way to kill time while waiting for the interview so this comment probably wasn’t super helpful or necessary.

      1. Anne Noise*

        I mean, I clearly disagree that his behavior was appropriate for a pre-intervire setting. I don’t think that casual brush-off was an appropriately weighted reaction to something that I personally found professionally radically inappropriate.

        1. mamma mia*

          Again, the OP already stated that he knew this was a mistake and that he won’t do it again, so you’re not actually disagreeing on anything. What exactly would you like him to do for you so you’re satisfied? Beg for Alison’s forgiveness for being an awful person and whip himself as penance?

          1. Anne Noise*

            I guess I did expect the issue to be more directly addressed, yes. I understand that wasn’t his question. Maybe I’ll write in more specifically about dating apps in the modern workplace.

          2. Ask a Manager* Post author

            Right, exactly. Of course you shouldn’t be scrolling through hookup apps in the waiting room for your interview. But he already knows that and says he realizes he shouldn’t do it again. What’s the point in chastising him over it? He already knows. I’m not going to demand he self-flagellate in penance.

            1. Nonke John*

              Hmm. I know this isn’t the direct topic of the question–and the situation is over for OP2, anyway–but I’d be very interested to read your (Anne N’s or Alison’s) explanation of why this is so obviously bad.

              I understand that you don’t want your interviewer to see you reading anything that isn’t the company website or something similarly improving. And that you shouldn’t use company WiFi to read NSFW sites or apps, assuming they’re not blocked anyway. And that there’s the danger that you won’t shift gears fast enough and will leap up to answer your interviewer’s greeting with “Hi, Jeff! Nice meat…erm, nice to meet you, too!” But if you’re on your own phone and are taking care to keep the screen out of others’ sight and can trust yourself to be switched on when the interviewer appears and it’s show time, I’m just not seeing what the problem is.

              1. DreamingInPurple*

                Alison has addressed this in a few other letters (sorry, I don’t have a link handy but maybe someone else will!) – it’s not appropriate to be trying to titillate yourself in almost any professional setting, and to an extent that’s what this would be.

                1. JM60*

                  While I agree that you shouldn’t be active on a hookup app at work (since it’s a bit pornographic), you can be on such an app without titillating yourself at that moment.

              2. Jasnah*

                It’s not appropriate to look at sexual content in professional contexts. That’s why.

              3. Nonke John*

                Thanks, both of you. I guess that, to me, those are just restatements of the position, but I’m happy to acknowledge there may just be something I’m not seeing and let it drop.

        2. P peace*

          And that’s good. But the advice the man seems to be looking for is hes single or something, on a dating site or something like one, own it and get on with his life. Social medias exist. How bad would it be if the other man judges him for the same thing he is doing himself. Aam’s last sentence is noteworthy though.

          1. Reality.Bites*

            I’m a retired gay man, but way back in the mid 90s it turned out the closeted (everyone knew) president of my company’s partner used to work with my cousin’s wife’s brother’s partner. And the partner filled in the names on a story I’d heard from MY boss (a VP and head of HR) about when they’d both worked at a larger company. (He was a HUGE gossip, and, well, so was I)

            We’re a small minority and even in the largest cities there are connections like this between pretty much everyone.

            I recently saw the profile of someone I know (a professional acquaintance of a friend) on a dating site because I changed my search criteria. He’d been there for years, as I’ve been. I have no idea if he’d ever seen my profile or not, but if he has he’s never mentioned it, nor have or will I.

            Just part of life. You tell your friends and laugh about it.

    3. Ross*

      You’re off base, people are nervous when they’re waiting for an interview, going on a dating app seems a pretty tame thing to do actually. And the interviewer was on it at work too! OP, don’t mention it and try not to worry about it! Also, happy Pride.

        1. Emily K*

          This is one of those places where gay culture does not translate 1-for-1 to straight culture. Most of the men’s gay dating apps are more hookup oriented than dating oriented – so there’s somethat more normalcy around say, a gay man browsing Grindr vs a straight person browsing FetLife, even if the content of the apps is very similar, the real world context is colored a bit differently by how relatively commonplace and unremarkable it is to be on Grindr vs how relatively uncommon it is for straight people to be on FetLife.

          1. Karen from Finance*

            I get it. Grindr is more like Tinder in the sense of how normal it is to use them, while not in their content. However, it’s still a bit odd to be using an app that is this sexually explicit while in a business context, precisely because of the awkwardness that OP is in now. And because of sexually explicit content that others could see over your shoulder. But OP already took note of this, so.

              1. Karen from Finance*


                And believe it or not, there’s actually TWO of us that thought of using it. The first to use it is less regular than me and kindly let me keep it, but every now and then posts under “The Original Karen From Finance”.

            1. TootsNYC*

              Actually, the awkwardness would probably still be there, just at a different time. Because they’d both get home tonight and flip through and find each other.

              1. Karen from Finance*

                Not necessarily. Those apps often show you people in close proximity. And even if they still matched, I bet OP would’ve felt way less weird about it.

          2. Anne Noise*

            Sorry, in a workplace setting, nudity and sexual content are nudity and sexual content! I’m a gay man, an open pervert, a big fan of kink and sex, but it’s really about keeping your work environment PG-13 unless you’re explicitly told that potential nudity on another coworkers device during work hours is acceptable.

            Responding to texts or emails from a hookup site is one thing. Actively cruising one is not acceptable.

    4. tamarack and fireweed*

      I used to live (for 15 years) in major metropolises and am now based in a small college-plus-military town with the next thing that could be called a city hundreds of miles away. It is amusing to me about how disconcerting it can be for many big-city dwellers to have their habitual anonymity breached in ways that are commonplace in my life. It is completely normal for me to deal professionally with two people only to notice after a few months that they’re married to each other, or to know the same person because she’s my orthopedic PA, a member of my knitting group and involved in a canine sports event I too am interested in. So you’re an out gay man who uses a gay hookup app, including during breaks in your daily professional routine, and you ran by chance in a job interview situation into another out gay man who uses the same gay hookup app, including during breaks in his daily professional routine. I see no issue here. You should be able to just not access his profile any longer, and pretend nothing happened.

      And in case you get hired there, I would dissuade you from the idea of taking it further, at least not until and unless you think you have found your one and only soulmate. Even if you get rejected, it may not be the greatest idea to follow through with the app, either.

      1. tamarack and fireweed*

        (FWIW, I forgot to say, I’m a very out lesbian, but married to another woman and not a user of such apps. But younger single lesbian friends of mine are – though the population is so small that they tend not to use specialized LGBT apps here.)

    5. LGC*

      Like, I’m not overly scandalized by LW2 looking at the app of his choice (I mean, it is inappropriate but…), but you nailed it with your last paragraph. I’m assuming that neither LW2 or his interviewer have their full real names on there, so that might make it a little bit easier for the LW to pretend he didn’t just get interviewed by LeatherDad69 (and vice versa).

      It sounds like they’re both in situations where being “outed” isn’t an issue, which is good.

    6. Guy Incognito*

      This comment isn’t helpful at all. He was killing time before his interview.

      1. Anne Noise*

        A prospective hire killing time in a building he was being interviewed at looking at sexually explicit material isn’t a problem for people?!

        I continue to find this amazing and do NOT consider being queer or cultural differences as an excuse for inappropriate behavior! I would not want to be on Scruff at work and I sure don’t want new hires cruising at work either! This isn’t OK Cupid or texting with a friend or hookup. This is cruising! Just like it’d be inappropriate to tap your foot under the stall at work looking for a BJ!

        1. ChimericalOne*

          I don’t think he was really cruising, is the thing. Lots of people do things mindlessly when they’re nervous. It sounds like he habitually peruses Grindr. He had a few minutes before his interview & didn’t want to do anything that he would actually get deeply engrossed in, so he opened the app and started flipping through it to distract himself. It’s more like flipping through a magazine that has some tame content and some explicit content than actively cruising while at his interview. Or scrolling through Instagram, if your Instagram has borderline stuff in it. It’s not a great idea (and he acknowledges this), but it probably wasn’t really cruising.

        2. EventPlannerGal*

          I’m just sort of unsure what the OP is supposed to do about it at this stage. He did it, this unfortunate situation happened as a result, he’s learned from it and he’s not going to do it again. Is there much point in telling him again what a dumb idea it was?

        3. fhqwhgads*

          I think from the tone of the letter OP wasn’t actually actively seeking a hookup in the waiting room. I took it more as, of the many apps on his phone he could’ve chosen to idly scroll thru while sitting there, he happened to chose this one and promptly realized that was not a good choice. I get that the profile details are sometimes more explicit than run-of-the-mill dating app, but I don’t think it’s quite the same as “looking at sexually explicit material” in the way you’re implying. He wasn’t getting off on what he was looking at. He was basically just scrolling, at least that’s the way it read to me. Given that, combined with he seems to have already learned his lesson not to look at this sort of thing in a work setting anymore, I just don’t think this is worthy of the outrage. It’s beating a dead horse. The guy already gets it and doesn’t intend to do it anymore.

        4. Ethyl*

          I really, really, really do not think soliciting anonymous sex in person in a restroom during an interview and scrolling mindlessly through a hookup app without really engaging it are remotely the same. Come on.

          It seems to me that the way lots of people use Tindr and Grindr are as ways to pass the time when they’re bored. They’re not necessarily actively engaged. Just like someone might scroll through Twitter or Tumblr and not really pay attention. While the content may lean towards explicit, it doesn’t necessarily follow that the person glancing at it is *doing* explicit stuff.

          Would it be ok for someone to listen to the Savage Love podcast while I wait? Or read Cosmo? What about scrolling through romance novel recommendations on GoodReads?

          1. Kendra*

            I’d put it on about the same level as sitting there playing Candy Crush, to be honest; it’s probably not helping you focus into a business frame of mind, but distracting yourself with something that’s basically harmless might be an okay strategy, if you’re prone to excessive nerves.

            Now, is a hookup app harmless in this context? Eh, it’s a risk; some people who noticed what you were doing would probably judge you for it, but some wouldn’t care. I’d compare it to a visible tattoo in an interview; some interviewers would be horribly put off by that, some wouldn’t care, and some might actually be more comfortable with you. In fact, a similar feeling could be a best-case scenario here – after seeing him on that particular app, at least the OP’s interviewer can be reasonably sure he’s not a homophobe, which he probably doesn’t know for sure about any of the other candidates (it’s not like you can ask!).

            Although I do think it would be a very bad idea for either of them to acknowledge seeing the other on there; there’s just too much risk of the whole thing straying into sexual harassment or discrimination territory. This is not laughing off the awkwardness of accidentally spilling coffee on your interviewer; this is the kind of thing that could get the interviewer sued (by the OP, if there was some reason to suspect the interviewer was trying to force some kind of quid pro quo situation, or by one of the other candidates, if they could argue that he hired you specifically because he knew you were also gay, and thus passed them over because their orientation was something else.) He can’t officially let it influence his decision, so explicitly pointing it out to him and forcing him to acknowledge it puts him in an even more awkward position. (And with that in mind, if he brings it up himself, RUN AWAY.)

        5. Rumbakalao*

          Anne Noise, I feel like you’re really trying to get people outraged over an issue that many of us do not find nearly this shocking and terrible. You’ve made your point several times.

          1. Alaska*

            Not the previous commenter, but gay (f) in a large metro area and I can tell most here have no idea what gay hook up apps are like–cosmo??? Don’t make me laugh. These apps typically feature close up shots ofgenitalia–the guy was basically scrolling through hard core amateur p0rn right before an interview. And I don’t know if tyoure familiar w hard core p0rn but let’s just say… it doesn’t put you in the right frame of mind for an interview.
            I also get where anne noise is coming g from–I feel like all the straights here are going, it’s totally fine for the gay guy to be constantly on grindr throughout the day! That’s what the gays do! So sexual, they can’t be contained! I think there’s some subconscious stereotyping going on here.

            1. Eukomos*

              I don’t think this is a gay culture vs straight culture thing like a lot of people are suggesting, I think it’s a younger culture vs older culture. A lot of millenials and younger treat dating and hookup apps as something to fiddle with on our phones in moments of downtime, and don’t have a super strong mental differentiation between them and any other social media. A lot of us also get reeeally jaded to naked pictures on the internet, even those of us who don’t spend our free time on Grindr. He fell into a habitual phone use pattern and didn’t twig that this one is NSFW until work forcibly reminded him of it. Whereas for older people who had to meet people in person back when they were dating/hooking up, hook up behaviors were very strongly differentiated from work appropriate behaviors, and it would be pretty hard to fall inadvertently into a hookup-seeking habit while at work. I imagine coming from a strictly IRL hookup culture it would be hard to internalize how much apps make it basically a phone game, like Candy Crush or something.

            2. Eric*

              I know this thread is a week late, but I need to respond to one thing you said: gay hookup apps typically do NOT feature “close up shots ofgenitalia” (sic). The most salacious thing you’ll see is a shirtless pic, because the iOS and Android app stores have strict guidelines surrounding sexual content. People can send you pics privately, but it’s not like the OP was scrolling through a bunch of dickpics.

    7. Boomerang Girl*

      I think that it’s inappropriate to be looking at any sexual material (words or pictures) at a place of business (or a school, for that matter). However, the reality is that he could just as easily have come across the profile at home the night before. So the main thing is how to deal with the knowledge, to which my answer is pretend it never happened!

      1. new alias for this too*

        “he could just as easily have come across the profile at home the night before.”

        Some hookup apps prioritize views by current proximity – which is very handy if you’re in the same bar or coffee shop, more awkward if you’re in the same small office building, and even more potentially inappropriate if you’re in that small office building for professional business with strangers.

        Act like it didn’t happen. Lesson learned.

    8. ooo*

      I’m not as familiar with M4M hookup apps as a lot of guys are (I’m bi and married a woman before they were really a thing), but if the interviewer’s profile showed up on the app while OP2 was waiting, doesn’t that mean the interviewer had checked it recently too? My wife and I were perusing one recreationally awhile ago, and if I recall correctly, your profile doesn’t pop up unless you’re online or were just online — if you’re looking for a hookup, you don’t want to see all the guys in the area (because yes, as “new alias for this too” notes, the apps search by proximity) who installed the app but haven’t been on it in weeks.

      My guess is that the interviewer was putzing around on the app too, not long before the interview, and as such is hardly likely to hold it against OP2. Either way, though, I don’t want to invalidate Anne Noise’s lived experience, but this seems like the kind of thing most of the gay men I know would more or less laugh off.

      1. ooo*

        (It also seems like a great setup for a piece of office erotica that ends with OP2 being hired as the interviewer’s “very personal assistant.” Remember, folks, what’s sexy in workplace fiction is so often illegal or borderline illegal in real life. Smdh.)

        1. Alaska*

          I am not sure any of this actually happened,tbh. Specially in large metro area where it of people are out…the pool is larger and it’s just very, very much of a coincidence, if this did happen.
          Unless he was interviewing at Act up or something or lambda legal in which case I withdraw my previous comment.
          You don’t need to be currently active on the app, tho I suppose it depends which one he was using

      2. JM60*

        “but if the interviewer’s profile showed up on the app while OP2 was waiting, doesn’t that mean the interviewer had checked it recently too?”

        Not necessarily. If you opened grindr earlier, and haven’t swiped it closed, you’ll still show up to others even if you haven’t had the app in the foreground. It sounds like the OP was using an app other than grindr, but I wouldn’t be surprised if it works the same.

  3. Tiara Wearing Princess*

    OP 4 – document your concerns and your conversation with your boss. Email him about it so you can have clear evidence that you were being proactive about this and that you will not be responsible for any losses.

    Alison’s advice is spot on – try to present a solution. Good luck.

    1. Wake up !!*

      I’m just not seeing a problem here that requires a big document/CYA approach. Both OP and you seem to be assuming there’s some major issue that’s going to come up, with disastrous consequences for the OP. It seems like OP was like “what is the locker situation” and boss said “IDK yet,” which is beyond reasonable for a new space. It seems this is OP’s top priority (reasonable) but it’s probably fairly low on the list of things boss cares about. Everyone needs to chill out a little.

      1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

        I think OP and Tiara are rightly worried about risk management. But it’s not clear that OP’s boss understood that OP is concerned about anti-theft precautions, as opposed to being generally curious about storage. I suspect reframing the issue for the boss may help escalate its priority level on the boss’ list.

        Although I don’t think OP is at risk right this moment, keeping this on the boss’ radar, and keeping track of those efforts, isn’t cumbersome and could be helpful to OP in the future.

        1. EventPlannerGal*

          I agree that the OP should follow up and be clearer about what their concern is, but they’re talking about *resigning* over the issue. Whether there’s a risk or not I think it would help for them to walk that attitude back a little and consider whether they communicated their concerns clearly first, rather than immediately going for the CYA/document everything approach.

          1. jf*

            It seems pretty clear to me that OP is hoping for a ‘better’ space than whatever the standard is, either an office with a locking door or a larger cube, or something, and has seized on ‘security’ as the best path toward that. It’s the missing third option, as in, one, give me the better resource; two, work with me on some Rube-Goldberg-esque security policy and plan; or, three, I resign in protest. It’s clever, but I’m guessing the third is the most likely outcome here.

            1. Marthooh*

              “I asked my manager whether there will be enough space in the new cubicle to lock the company electronics, and if I cannot do that, if there is another place in the building I could lock them.”

              I don’t read that as “Give me an office, or give me Rube Goldberg!” It sounds to me like the OP is frustrated by the boss’s cavalier attitude. Resigning over the missing locks seems pretty extreme, but I assume there there are other issues not mentioned in the letter.

              1. jf*

                I agree about other issues. I guess I’m just thinking the desire for a better workspace is a plausible additional issue. And OP has definitely positioned that as the Occam’s Razor solution to this problem.
                (All of this could be true, and OP may have a very good justification for wanting this, if that is in fact the case, just to be clear.)

              2. Works in IT*

                This accidentally nested very far down the page, reposting here.

                I don’t know, if I was suddenly expected to have tons of expensive electronics in a high traffic area with no way to lock them up, and had previously been told I am responsible for locking them up to prevent theft (this is true of my position, no idea if it’s true of OP’s)… if I tried to tell people this wouldn’t work without some way to lock up electronics and sensitive papers, and they brushed off my concerns as thinking I just wanted a better office, I would probably be job hunting too. That is a situation that cannot end well for the person with no ability to lock up their stealables.

                1. boo bot*

                  Yeah, I was thinking this too. It’s not a big deal – until something goes missing and the OP is held responsible. One of my guiding principles (at least for work) is, “don’t agree to take responsibility for something I have no control over.”

                  I would absolutely resign over this (although I would try to get them to take it seriously first – just saying explicitly, “I’m worried that I’ll be blamed if something goes missing,” might jolt people into action.)

                2. Dust Bunny*

                  This exactly.

                  This is another version of the “all the responsibility, none of the authority” trap: She’s apparently responsible for the security of these items but doesn’t have the authority to demand a proper storage space for them. If she’s going to get penalized when one disappears, yes, she’s right to be upset about it.

                3. Busy*

                  Yes. Nothing seems like a big deal until shit goes missing!

                  I once worked at a place where a freaking digital camera went missing. You would have thought it was the crown jewels. Office desks were searched! Committees were made!!! It went on for weeks. The camera was just moved from one shelf to a higher one when someone came to visit. Haha omg the relationships that were ruined in the process.

                4. Gazebo Slayer*

                  Absolutely agree. I would be terrified that I’d end up getting sued for the cost of the missing electronics – and maybe out more money that way than I ever earned at the job – or even criminally prosecuted for theft. I would 100% quit over this, and the suggestion that this is somehow all only a ploy to get a nicer office is frankly bizarre and unkind.

            2. Emily K*

              I got a little bit of the same vibe when resigning was suddenly put on the table. The concern is a reasonable one to have but jumping straight to considering resigning before anyone’s been moved or any reno plans have even been finalized gave me the impression there’s more that LW is unhappy about and has seized on this security concern as the most legitimate way to voice their objection to the plan.

              As Alison said, a locking cabinet or similar is a very low cost reasonable expense that any reasonable manager would be very likely to agree to. LW is already giving consideration to what is probably about the fourth option behind 3 more reasonable ones – asking for locking equipment, asking for some other security plan, and asking to confirm he will not be held personally responsible if they fil6l to implement a security plan. Either this company is very dysfunctional if LW has already figured that none of those options are likely to work, or LW has another reason for bringing resignation into the picture.

              1. EPLawyer*

                I didn’t. The guy is rightly concerned about security. Raised the issue and got a cavalier IDK. If this is their attitude to security, I would be very concerned that the company would just blame me for not doing enough. Getting accused of theft can ruin your future job chances. Better to get out before that happens. And it will happen. Things will go walkabout even with security. But with a plan he can at least show protocol was followed.

                When you care more about thousands of dollars of equipment than the company does, it’s time to get out. The attitude towards the problem is the symptom of the larger disease.

                1. Emily K*

                  We don’t know that there isn’t going to be a plan yet, though, which is why people are saying it’s premature.

                  “He said he brought the issue up to the people in charge of the new office layout, but could not give me definitive answers about whether I will have enough space to lock them.”

                  So he went to his boss, his boss noted and carried his concern to the relevant people, but no decision has been made yet. He mentioned that he’d asked the boss if 1) he would personally have space to lock up the items or 2) there would be somewhere else in the office to keep things, and boss came back saying that LW may or may not have the space in their personal area – not even that there may or may not be a way to secure things anywhere in the office, just that LW’s own space may or may not accommodate it.

                  It would be fairly unremarkable for the designers not to commit to specifics if the layout and reno plans haven’t been finalized. “I can’t tell you exactly what it’s going to be yet,” isn’t the same as, “There won’t be any,” so it does suggest there’s more to the story if LW thinks at this early stage that he can already predict they will force him to leave valuables unsecured and them also hold him responsible ifv something happens to them. That’s not a normal outcome to expect in a functioning office.

                2. Observer*

                  So he went to his boss, his boss noted and carried his concern to the relevant people, but no decision has been made yet.

                  That IS totally cavalier. What Boss’ bosses should have been able to tell him DEFINITIVELY is that there WOULD be some way for those electronics to be locked up, even if they have not finalized the plans.

                  How could there even be a “decision” to be made about WHETHER there should be a place to lock this stuff up? To be clear, the Boss has not only not gotten an answer about space in the OP’s space, but whether there will be ANY space to lock this stuff up!

                  I do think that threatening to resign is not the answer, but the OP has a legitimate issue here.

                3. CmdrShepard4ever*

                  @Observer could the boss have said “there will definitely be a way for you to lock up electronics even if it is not in your office.” yes but the boss just told OP no decisions have been made yet about OP having enough space in the office, and we don’t know exactly what question the OP asked. I can’t tell you how many times I have had miscommunications with others because they ask “Do we have llama brush?” and I respond truthfully with “Yes.” then the other person gets mad because I don’t provide them with the llama brush and what they really meant was “Can you bring/hand me a llama brush?”

                  I do think OP has an issue, but one that can be dealt with a little bit of patience. I have never had to deal with the logistics of moving offices, but I have made personal moves and I imagine office move is more complicated.

                4. Works in IT*

                  There might be a plan later on, but at the very least, the OP should be job hunting. The job hunting process takes a bit of time, and if the renovations are going to end and leave the OP without even a locking desk drawer, job hunting now will put them in a better position to be able to resign if that happens.

                5. Emily K*

                  I did say up front that the concern is a reasonable one, just that the quickness to be thinking about resignation already signals there seems to be more going on than just “boss couldn’t answer my question about security” – in a healthy office where LW felt trusted and pleased with the way things were being run, they would give boss the benefit of doubt that this will be worked out before the move actually happens and wouldn’t start envisioning worst case scenarios of completely unsecured valuables being stolen and blamed on him, forcing him to resign, just because they haven’t decided if they’re going to give him a safe at his desk or make him lock supplies in a closet somewhere else in the office instead of at his own desk. That’s such a 0-100 escalation that there has to be something else going on that LW is unhappy about.

                6. Emily K*

                  (In fact, further down the page I’d also told LW that they don’t need this as a reason to resign if they’re unhappy, because that’s what it sounded like to me when I read it. Someone who isn’t happy and is looking for a respectable way out.

                7. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

                  Agreed—I think assuming this is about jockeying for a better office is an uncharitable reading of the situation. And I understand why OP is concerned to the level of considering resignation. That may seem overblown to folks until you think about what happens if things actually do go wrong and something is stolen. Not only would OP be at risk of losing their current job, but it could get them blackballed entirely from their local industry.

              2. WellRed*

                Yes, is she moving from an office with a locking door to a cubicle? Where doe she currently lock stuff up? Lots of people don’t lock stuff up every night (please, IT folks, no lectures please, this is a know your office for me). Resigning is extreme and I wonder what else is going on.

                1. EPLawyer*

                  this person isn’t not locking up their own stuff that everyone else has sitting on their desks. She is in charge of fixing the broken stuff. So has a lot more electronics on her desk, in h er workspace than others have. It’s kinda her job to be thinking about securing them.

                2. Works in IT*

                  Generally, if you’re in a position where things (occasionally or frequently) get sent to you for safekeeping or fixing, you will be held accountable if the thing you’re fixing/guarding goes missing. I had to keep a spare computer in my office a few months ago and it had me very nervous because I didn’t have a locking cabinet to put it in, so I had to remember to lock the office door every time I left. The implication is if you were in charge of fixing it and it got misplaced (stolen) that is on you because you lost it, and you should have done a better job hiding it. If someone steals your regular workstation, that is on whoever was in charge of setting up the workstations who made them easy to steal.

                3. pentamom*

                  It’s not about fixing broken stuff. She’s a web designer, and has some extra devices for testing. That means a few more different devices than others would need so that she can test the designs on a variety of platforms. But they’re probably all devices permanently assigned to her, and a fixed number, not a whole pile of stuff that belongs to lots of different people.

              3. fhqwhgads*

                I think the concern is about more than security, but I don’t think it’s an overreaction to want to resign. I take it more as this redesign is going to make doing the actual job more difficult, and OP asked the original questions wondering if they’d fully thought through the effects on this particular job. And based on the answer, doesn’t think they’ve really considered it properly. So the path to the discussion is about the security of the items, because that’s the biggest most obvious thing the People Actually In Charge should’ve considered. So I’m guessing, it’s that if they didn’t even consider their big ticket electronics, there’s no chance they considered other smaller things that may only seem meaningful to the person in OP’s role. And there might be enough of those smaller things that it all adds up to not wanting to put up with any of it. But in terms of trying to get it to change, one big thing is an easier avenue than 37 smaller things.

              1. Works in IT*

                I’m not happy about the fact that apparently there will be lots of open workstations in a high traffic area with no ability to keep the general public out, but maybe their workstations don’t have accessible usb drives and aren’t as easy to steal as my workstation’s laptop… but ahhh the data that could be on a laptop that’s just sitting there : (

        2. Lynn Whitehat*

          Yes. From the other side, an office move is a huge project with a lot of moving parts. It can be maddening when people hyper-focus on one tiny issue and not let it go. The boss has probably had a lot of these conversations, where people desperately need to know right now exactly where the microwave is going to be or whatever. The conversation would probably go better if LW was more explicit about what their concerns are.

          1. Emily K*

            Exactly this. We don’t know what stage the move or layout design is in. It’s a big project with many stakeholders’ needs to be met. There will necessarily be a period at the beginning where not all needs have been surfaced or addressed yet because it takes time to do that. I would only become concerned if they moved to finalize the plan without having heard my needs or flatly told me they didn’t think securing the equipment was important and were not going to buy me so much as a safe or give me keys to a locked closet or any other option. It’s really unfair to expect the person managing the move/reno project to deal with your issue before anyone else’s, and assume that if they don’t deal with it first they don’t care about it at all. Things don’t always happen in the order of their general importance.

            1. Observer*

              Actually, we know that the project is at a point where people are being told where they will probably be sitting. At that point, management should already have a good idea of how they are going to handle things like security. The fact that they don’t means that they probably will not deal with it.

          2. Observer*

            This is not hyper-focus on a minor issue. The OP is bringing up a SIGNIFICANT issue. And they are NOT asking for all the details to presented now, just reassurance that this WILL be taken care of.

            And the Boss said “no one has decided.” That’s a huge red flag.

          3. noahwynn*

            So agreeing with this. The company I work for is combining two offices by renovating one and moving everyone over. There seems to be endless questions and sometimes the answer from facilities is “no decision has been made yet” because that is the truth. They are trying to work everyone’s little issues together and come up with a cohesive plan.

        3. nonegiven*

          DH’s talk with the boss about where the 2nd outdoor security camera should go. Well, that 1st truck there has $10k worth of tools on it, and there are 5 more trucks parked there every night.

      2. Artemesia*

        The OP has made clear to us that he has lots of electronic candy near an unsecure door where delivery people and others come and go all day and can see it and could easily heist it without being seen or video surveiled. He needs to lay it out that clearly to the boss. ‘This new space puts thousands of dollars equipment in sight and at risk from any rando who walks through the door, spots it and tells his friends. We have no security on this door, not even cameras and so this stuff could walk off easily and probably eventually will. It is critical that we have secure locked storage — in the space so I can make sure it is secure evenings and when I am away for any long stretch for lunch or whatever. A lockable filing cabinet might work (or identify something you think might fit and work specifically so they don’t have to do any work besides okaying the order) but I think it is pretty urgent. I am really worried about this stuff.’ NOT ‘what are the plans for storage?’

          1. Blossom*

            His locked door? They’re moving to open plan. Right now, the electronics aren’t really visible outside his office, regardless of its position in the building.

            1. Blossom*

              (tangentially, I find it interesting that many commenters – myself included – are picturing this LW as a man, despite no concrete clues)

        1. Not One of the Bronte Sisters*

          Beautifully put. I think the boss just doesn’t understand that this is a serious loss prevention issue, not just a random storage question. I would add, to Artemesia’s excellent script, the advice that it should be emailed to Boss, with a cc to Risk Management in the company, IT and probably Legal because, frankly, the loss of the hardware is probably not the biggest potential issue here.

      3. Observer*

        Actually, it’s totally NOT reasonable at this point, when you are dealing with items that have an extremely high likelihood of being stolen.

        It can be quite hard to add storage into a space that doesn’t have the space for it designed in. So, if no one has addressed this yet and they already have a good idea of the layout, it’s a pretty good indicator that there is not going to be any space.

        With the set up being described, the chance of there not being a problem is pretty close to zero. Given that it is almost certain that there is going to be a theft, the OP is being quite reasonable to be concerned.

        1. Garland not Andrews*

          Exactly. My thought was the situation is not “if” something goes missing, but “WHEN” something goes missing!

      4. Brett*

        I think it is a pretty safe assumption that some major issue will come up. Every environment I have worked in with portable tech laying around has ended up with thousands of dollars of that tech going missing at some point. This was despite all of them being significantly secure facilities with cameras, swipe badges, security, etc (I mean, one of them was literally an underground public safety bunker).
        With the situation OP described, something _will_ get stolen. And when OP is the main person in charge of that tech, it will be something belonging to OP. As a side note, I would be more worried about the data on the devices than the devices themselves.

    2. Seeking Second Childhood*

      Another possibility if you do not get a drawer and are expected to keep the equipment out: Get a locking cable that is permanently attached to your table. You & boss would be the only people to have the key/combination.

      1. OtterB*

        But OP said they have multiple tablets and laptops for testing purposes. It seems like it pretty much has to be a locking cabinet of some kind.

    3. Jenn G*

      Depending on how many laptops and tablets we’re talking about, a locking file drawer would probably cover this fine. Most offices can cram a locking cabinet or file cabinet somewhere. It might not be right in the OP’s cubicle but accessible.

      I wouldn’t freak out or get close to resigning yet, just send an email saying that you are concerned about security and that you would like to proactively request a cabinet the size of (give the size you need) to store the items.

    4. OP #4*

      Hi everyone – thanks for the replies. I am sorry I got to this quite late; it is a very busy time at work. To answer some questions:

      -Currently, I have a large cubicle that has a lockable desk with 3 drawers and 2 locking cabinets. Each cabinet has 2 drawers. I lock all electronics before I leave the office, with the exception of 2 external monitors, neither of which are particularly valuable. With the exception of the 2 external monitors, I hide or lock all electronics whenever I am away from my desk, including trips to the bathroom.

      -The external door is locked, but anyone who rings the doorbell is guaranteed to get into the office. Even if you aren’t here for a legitimate reason, whoever answers the door won’t know that and will be pressured to let whoever in so that they’ll stop ringing the doorbell.

      -Perhaps I should have brought this up in the email, I apologize for not doing so. I guess I did not want to share it because I have spent much time questioning myself over whether I am being unreasonable. I did share my concern about theft and being held accountable for it to my boss. His reply was that no one at our company has ever been held personally accountable for theft and he was upset that I did not trust him and/or the company more. Although he says that, it just doesn’t sit right with me. I would like something more concrete like a written document stating such. I am prone to being a worrywart and second guessing myself, so this is why I have a hard time questioning whether I am letting my worries take over or if it is legitimate.

      -If I was assured that there would be some way to lock up valuables (whether that is an extra cabinet, a different cubicle to accommodate that, a separate space in the building, etc), I would not be worried. As long as I am able to lock them up somewhere in this building (even if it is inconvenient), it would put my worries to rest.

      -I had this conversation with my boss a few months ago. I spent the last few months trying to convince myself that I am just worrying too much and it isn’t a big deal. The plans are now finalized and we are preparing to move to temporary spaces so workers can renovate the suite. My temporary desk space has enough locking cabinets. I chose my temporary desk space and it already had those cabinets, so it isn’t this way because my manager heard my concern and specifically arranged this. I don’t have enough details regarding whether the new desk space will have enough locking cabinets.

      1. Observer*

        Your boss got offended that you were worried about being help accountable? What an idiotic response.

        You are right to be concerned. On the other hand, it’s possible that there will be something in place.

        If you wind up being moved into a space that doesn’t have something and you can’t get permission / space to get adequate locking cabinets somewhere, put your concerns in writing. Point out that you asked about this several months ago and were only told that the decision makers had been notified of the problem, but nothing else.

        1. Michaela Westen*

          Document all this now with dates, names and as much detail as possible. Document it going forward. Nothing wrong with having it if you need it!
          Your boss being offended that you don’t trust him and the company puts my guard up. That’s the kind of thing con artists say when they’re called out. This makes me even more cautious about covering all the bases and making sure everything is documented.

      2. EinJungerLudendorff*

        Yeah, your boss does not sound very trustworthy right now.
        I’d definitely try to get clear evidence that you tried to address this, and that you were told that you would not be held responsible for sny lost items.

        And possibly start looking for a new job, just in case this goes bad.

  4. Casper Lives*

    OP1, your boss is rude! It sounds like he doesn’t value your time at all. Almost a power move to stop you because something wasn’t showing up on his calendar and he couldn’t possibly be expected to pay attention to a mere worker. He could write that down, pay attention to you, and get back to it later. …I could be projecting. I’ve had bad bosses who wanted me to know they were more important than me and had power over me.

    OP4, resigning definitely seems premature. I’d get a procedure from your boss in writing about the security of the devices. If he says not to worry about it, I’d send an email to him confirming that. I’d say your company can’t blame you if a device goes missing, but many companies would.

    1. Wake up !!*

      It’s probably not a power move. A lot of people get distracted easily by emails and calendar alerts. It’s pretty rude but I highly, highly doubt it’s on purpose.

      1. Karen from Finance*


        I could very easily see myself doing this. I do not like this about this, but I have the attention span of a canary and if I’m not careful, I can be thoughtless about others like the OP’s boss. It’s likely not intentional and the boss might not even realize he’s coming off as rude. I suggest trying to talk to him about it.

    2. Washi*

      Re: OP1, I have a coworker like this, and it tends to feel very performative. But not in a “power move” way, more in a “look how much I have going on!” kind of way. It’s like they slightly enjoy the drama of being pulled in a million directions and prefer the “everything is a priority!” mindset rather than actually, you know, prioritizing.

      Alison’s script is good, but if the boss genuinely thinks that jumping all over like this is an effective strategy (and maybe it is for him, idk) not much is likely to change.

      1. Michaela Westen*

        I’ve known many people like this! It seems like “look, I have all these important things going on, I’m a businessman!” sort of thing. It does go hand in hand with rushing around, distraction, and making fast decisions without all the information. It’s usually not a good strategy, but it’s fun for them.

    3. Former Professional Computer Geek*

      Very, very important in times like this to have a CYA email in the works. “Dear Boss, Just wanted to confirm what we discussed about securing the [equipment list]. Until we can do XYZ, I will do ABC. Please let me know when we can do XYZ and if anything changes. Thanks.”

      And then you print out a copy of it and/or forward it to a not-work account (if that’s allowed by your IT policy), because if stuff goes missing and they decide to blame you, you can’t count on having access to your work email.

    4. Antilles*

      I agree 100% on your comments about OP#4. I actually think Alison’s wording on this was a bit too soft – you don’t just want to “agree on a concrete plan”, you want that plan to be written and documented. Even if your boss doesn’t see the need for a formal written document, you need to at the very least document the conversations via email…because the very first time something goes missing, you’re going to get blamed in some fashion – the company might think you stole it outright, or at least question your judgment in leaving valuable equipment sitting out in the open in such a heavily trafficked area.

      1. Michaela Westen*

        Cosigning getting a security plan documented and in writing. Save it in two or three places you can get it if you can’t access your work email and documents. I would save a printout at home as one of these places.
        Also document all your attempts, so far and ongoing, to get something done about this. Document that you questioned being located by the unsecured entrance and what the response(s) was (were). Document everything about this and keep it in those two or three places. Remember the rule with documentation: Better to have and not need, than need and not have!
        Good luck!

    5. SheLooksFamiliar*

      Caspar, I think you could be projecting a bit. Sure, some managers behave the way OP1 describes because they feel the need to truly establish themselves as The Boss. In my experience, it’s more likely they’ve got a lot to do and not much time to do it – or maybe they’ve simply been conditioned to respond to everything that dings or pops up on their screen. When I’m getting 300+ general work/project/employee request/situation-specific emails a day, you can bet I couldn’t really ignore my inbox messages. This is why I think it’s more likely that the OP 1’s boss isn’t truly aware he’s so off-putting. Insensitive and possible scattered thinking, sure, but not likely deliberate.

      I’ve had bosses behave this way, too, for the reasons I mentioned. And yeah, one or two were establishing their power. It happens. Regardless, if I really needed their undivided attention it was on my to ask for it – directly, respectfully, and firmly.

    6. CoveredInBees*

      So, I’ve had bosses where that would be a power move or at the very least a signal of disdain.

      However, I also had a boss who was like that with *everyone*. She really thought she was multitasking but she was basically just driving everyone up the wall. Sending things via email was hit or miss because she was “so busy” she missed things in short emails with important points in bold. We had to have people sit in on meetings with important people to run a bit of distracting interference because she’d do it then too, albeit far less.

      1. Paulina*

        It is disdainful, even if unintentionally. It signals that the boss isn’t considering their employee’s time and attention as valuable. Some do this deliberately as a show of power, while others just haven’t thought about what they’re doing.

        1. Cherries on top*

          Like that friend that say they’re listening while they play with their phone.

  5. Anon in Texas*

    #2. I can’t speak for other offices, but we collectively have an unspoken “vow of silence” on all things seen on the apps. I’m also in a largish city that’s LGBTQ friendly. I would say your interviewer likely had a chuckle that he was interviewing a match, potentially blocked/hid you on the app to draw the line between work and personal, and then moved passed it because it’s really not the biggest deal. It’s one of the things that comes with the territory with gay male apps because they’re all geo-locating other users around you… (my .02)

    1. Wake up !!*

      Yeah, this is a classic situation of awkward for you while the other person is barely thinking about it. If I’m thinking of the right app, people match with tons of people they never even message so it’s not even a conflict of interest. I am totally cringing for OP because I know I’d feel awkward/embarrassed too but it’s truly nbd.

      1. Reliquary*

        LW #2 must be young, because they don’t know the etiquette of these situations yet. I am not a gay man, but I am a queer person in a large metropolitan area. However, I learned about how to handle situations like this long before apps even existed! It’s the “adult video store” polite fiction. You didn’t see your boss/direct report/ professor/student/minister/other non-peer there. It didn’t happen. Here’s why: No one is allowed to be horrified or offended, because you are both adult willing participants in the (potentially embarrassing venue/event/app). So in order to proceed, when you see one another in polite society, you pretend you did not see the other person there.

        1. Reliquary*

          In other words, no one has anything to hold over the other person, because both are adults who made their own choices about participation in the app/event/whatever. So it is conveniently forgotten, at least until some situation arises in which the two parties become truly peers. Then it can be discussed and chuckled at.

        2. Ross*

          Yep, one of my friends was/is looking for a 3rd with his husband and got matched with a coworker (big company), he wasn’t even concerned.

        3. Anastasia Beaverhousen*

          I’d extend the polite fiction to peers, as well – at least peers that you’re not into/it wouldn’t be appropriate to date, like a classmate or coworker. (Sidebar: I once had a coworker who ‘found’ me on a dating site. He’d have had to look through the profile a while to be sure it was me, too – I had no face pictures. He started talking to me about it the next day. So so weird. He apparently did this to multiple women in the office…)

          1. Mike B.*

            “He apparently did this to multiple women in the office…”

            This is like a horror movie.

            I mean, I was perceptive enough to recognize my office crush on Grindr from a single picture of him in a polo shirt that cropped out his face (confirmed later when he went on vacation and replaced it with the full version). But I sure wasn’t going to say anything about that.

        4. JamesTiptree*

          Absolutely! There’s an etiquette to these things (although it can be quite mortifying at first!). When I was a young gay college instructor, I’d run into (adult) students pretty regularly at, let’s say, explicit drag shows on the weekend. At most, we’d nod recognition across the bar and then move on with our lives. Give the other person space, and cultivate your blinders. Apps like this are the new gay bars, and the “vow of silence” is pretty common for most of queer spaces.

          Also: Don’t hesitate to block on these apps! Of course you couldn’t have blocked him before the interview (because you didn’t know it would be him), but the block function hides your profile from the user, and most folks use it for all sorts of reasons. I block plenty of my friends because I don’t need to know their kinks or exact distance from me at all times.

  6. Heidi*

    Hi OP3. I get it. It’s like you’ve been standing in the line for Space Mountain for an hour and it’s so hot, but if you leave to see if Pirates of the Caribbean has a shorter wait it’ll be like that whole hour was for nothing. But the difference is that Space Mountain exists, and this paying job does not exist. On the bright side, you have more power here than you think. Your boss doesn’t have a paycheck to hold over you, so if you take a day to go for an interview, what is she going to do, fire you? Also, despite your feeling that you two are close, it sounds like she is really not treating you well. I hope you can come around to seeing that experience or not, you deserve better.

    1. Karen from Finance*

      In other words, the sunk cost fallacy.

      Yes OP, get out. This is not good for you, and you can get something better (like an actual paying 8-hour job).

      1. Reba*

        The sunk cost fallacy, plus it seems like some star-struck-ness or the prestige of the designer, plus horrible work conditions and “paying your dues” are rife in fashion, unfortunately.

        OP3, if you were watching a friend struggle in this position, would you advise them to stay? Probably not, right? In fact, maybe checking in with some friends who are in entry level jobs or in your field would be a good idea right now, to try to better calibrate your sense of what’s normal in work! Good luck.

      2. BadWolf*

        Indeed, save this for that crazy first (ish) job (ish) story when you need a funny story at a dinner party. That’s what you are getting out of this.

  7. min*

    #3 – I’m curious, what would be the best way for the OP to list this experience on her resume?

    1. Yvette*

      I probably wouldn’t. As Who Plays Backgammon? pointed out, (June 4, 2019 at 2:47 am) this designer is not likely to provide a good reference for several reasons. The OP is 20, she says that she has no employment experience. That reads to me a fresh out of school. Many people fresh out of school have no real employment experience and three months is not an unreasonable gap. New grads often start out slowly in the job search, they take a few weeks after graduation to catch their breath etc. Alison has tons of advice on resume writing for new grads with little or no experience.

      OP, you say “She was victim of a massive scam and now is illiquid. ” Well she is putting you in that position. She is scamming you into working for free. You said she reached out to you, how did she find you? Most for profits (or potential for profits) do not rely on volunteers. Is anyone else there getting paid? What if this never gets off the ground? If you are in a position to offer your time for free I am sure there plenty of legitimate charitable organizations that need marketing and would love to have some of your time and effort. They would also most likely be able to be counted on to provide a good reference. (Should you earn it, and from your letter it sounds like you would.)

      Please, your time and you are of value. Don’t let this person make you feel obligated. You deserve to be treated better than this.

      1. valentine*

        Is anyone else there getting paid?
        I get the feeling they are alone. I’m not sure if bystanders make this worse or better.

      2. Flash Bristow*

        Ooh, I dunno.
        Years ago when Brainbench was a (new) thing, I spent idle moments acquiring enough of the skills to at least pass their exams. Putting the results on my CV was better than nothing. If you’re self taught, find a way to demonstrate it. And then it can go on your CV!

        1. boo bot*

          Yeah, I would definitely list it on the resume, and I’m not sure why she wouldn’t? It’s not like she’s not doing the work.

          She doesn’t have to make a big deal about the circumstances of the job – I think she can even downplay it totally if she wants to and say she found out she won’t be given a paying position so she’s moving on, which sounds like a relatively normal internship experience.

          I think a lot of us end up in crappy situations at some point when we’re new to the workforce – if we can’t list jobs for shady employers, then I’d have to scrap like half my resume before age 26.

        2. Gazebo Slayer*

          Yes! If you can’t list this “internship” because of what she might say about you, list the skills you learned doing it.

    2. AcademiaNut*

      Best case – she could list it as a full time internship. But I really doubt that the OP is going to be able to use this at all.

      Her ‘boss’ is willing to use an inexperienced 20 year old for a 60+ hour a week, demanding job, heavy on the guilt trips and pressure, with personal favours thrown in, without paying her and making vague promises about rewarding her with an actual job at some point in the future if things work out. This is so far outside of what is reasonable that I strongly suspect that when the OP tries to enforce realistic boundaries (or quit to work for an actual paid job) she’s going to react badly and be useless as a reference.

      So OP – please, leave this situation as fast as possible. You’re being taken advantage of, and all it’s going to get you is a soul sucking, health destroying gap in your resume.

      1. valentine*

        vague promises about rewarding her with an actual job
        And the fantasy job is still personal assistant, when she wanted to be in marketing.

        1. alphabet soup*

          V. important point.

          The LW isn’t learning any marketing skills. Even if said future job ever does materialize (highly unlikely), this boss only sees them being an assistant. LW, do you want to be an assistant? No, you want to work in marketing. You’d get more marketing experience if you got a retail/food service/general office job to help pay the bills in the short-term, and then volunteered a few hours a week at a legit non-profit.

          This person is abusing your good will and enthusiasm to learn. Don’t let her.

    3. Jennifer Thneed*

      Just like any other volunteer/intern job, without going into the crazy-making aspects or the fact of the boss’ business history.

      And as far as that goes, the boss “once was famous and made lots of money. She was victim of a massive scam and now is illiquid” and how does OP know this? From industry newsletters? From the designer herself? I’m guessing the latter, and I’m guessing it’s not true. This really smacks of “do it for the valuable exposure” that I hear referenced so often on sites like Clients From Hell.

  8. UKCoffeeLover*

    I think you need to start extracting your self from this situation and you can start by Curt the hours down.

    7am to 7pm is far too much as Alison said. Decide what time you can offer to help this person, for example 9am to 12 noon twice a week. But make it clear that you will be job hunting and will drop these hours when you find full time paid work.
    You need to pay bills, you don’t say how your supporting yourself but presumably this can’t last forever on your side.
    She maybe alone but you have to question why, maybe she has always treated people this badly?

    1. valentine*

      make it clear that you will be job hunting
      No. The boss may be vindictive, in addition to being an abusive scofflaw.

      1. Alli525*

        But what’s the worst that could happen, realistically? OP could get fired from a nonpaying job? Her boss won’t be a reference (again, for a 3-month stint at a nonpaying job, which arguably doesn’t need to go on a resume)? There’s not much real risk here IMO.

        1. Gazebo Slayer*

          It’s possible her boss might try to sabotage her job prospects by contacting other employers? But I don’t know if this boss is someone that anybody would take seriously if she did.

          1. WellRed*

            I am guessing the boss has no power to do any thing like that. Most people don’t, they are just masters at making the naive and scared think they do.

  9. Language Lover*

    It’s late and I read #1 as “Master Manipulator” instead of Master Multitasker so I was imagining the boss being unfocused because he was coming up with devilish schemes and revenge plots instead of work. But instead of Dr. No, he was more Dr. Evil and you were going to be able to going to be spending much of your time thwarting them–albeit easily.

    Time for bed.

  10. Beth*

    #2: I’m a gay woman, and while I know our dating culture isn’t always the same as gay men’s, this isn’t something I would worry about too much. It’s just part of dating apps (and social media in general, really–I’ve seen instagram be bad for this) in the modern world. There are things that we’d rather specific people in our lives not see, even if we’re ok with others we know from a different sphere/strangers/the world in general seeing them. Sometimes a site’s algorithm makes a really awkward connection, and the exact wrong person happens to see the exact wrong piece of info. As long as it’s a normal-but-awkward thing like dating preferences (and not, say, your boss stumbling across your standup comedy routine about how terrible your boss is), the odds are good that everyone involved will simply do their best to pretend they never saw it.

    If there’s any info on your profile that you really, really don’t want people in your life knowing, this is a good reminder that you should take it off. (You can always say something like “Let’s chat about (general topic) privately!” if you want to hint at it without being too explicit.) But for the most part, this is part and parcel of socializing and meeting new people via the internet. Anyone else on these sites is risking the same, and is likely aware that the whole experience is better when no one’s a jerk about it.

    1. MicroManagered*

      This is kind of my understanding from numerous gay friends, male and female. The gay community accepts that there is a smaller dating pool as a matter of course, and is not as sensitive to that intersections on the Venn Diagram where “the world” and “my dating pool” overlap.

      1. Jaybeetee*

        You know, saying it that way kinda highlights how weird we (straight) people are about online dating these days – of course, “potential employer” has generally never been considered part of one’s “dating pool” – but “the world” literally was. And now we’ve bifurcated them so much that it’s awkward to see someone IRL whose profile we’ve seen on a dating app?

    2. Gazebo Slayer*

      I love the mental picture of a boss accidentally finding someone’s standup comedy routine about what a bad boss they are!

  11. Beth*

    #3: This designer may have been the victim of a scam once, but she is now scamming you. She’s dangling the promise of paid work over your head to convince you to put up with absurd hours and treatment, knowing full well that she’s not going to deliver anytime soon (and very possibly intending to never deliver).

    Even if you have absolutely no work experience on your resume, you can absolutely find a paying job. Everyone starts somewhere. Your first job probably won’t be fancy–it might be retail, or waiting tables at a restaurant, or manning the front desk in an office, or whatever the lowest rung is in your field if you’ve got some education in a specific field–but it will pay, it will probably have set hours, and it shouldn’t make you cry on a regular basis. And once you have even one job on there, voila, you have work experience on your resume!

    If you do have trouble finding that first real job, maybe devote your volunteer time to a more official organization that you can count on for a reliable, positive reference. “Shows up on time for scheduled shifts, does the work, has a good attitude” counts for more than you might think, and a volunteer position (at least, one at a reputable organization with a clear structure and not-so-volatile supervisor) can definitely give you that.

    1. Artemesia*

      This. All this slave labor won’t count for anything because this woman will probably give you bad references after wringing you dry because you didn’t continue to serve as unpaid slave labor. Spin this as a short term internship that was intense; see if you can get her to document some of it that way; look madly for another position.

      1. boo bot*

        As awful as it is, it’s not slave labor – she is free to go! (and she really should!)

        I agree about the internship thing, if she can make it happen, and looking madly for another position.

    2. Anastasia Beaverhousen*


      The worst employers are always the ones who want you to feel that you’ve “become close” – so you feel guilty about enforcing sane boundaries. I’ll also point out that, while it sounds like her business is not successful yet, you do say there’s been limited progress and ‘little’ resources; I’m assuming that ‘little’ is not none, and that the woman has made some kind of arrangement (loan? investors? something?) to invest into the business – to buy materials, a workspace, other basic business expenses. If she was really motivated to do so, she could (and should!) consider *your pay* to also be a basic business expense – the amount it would cost to pay you for the original arrangement of part-time, with zero work experience, would be pretty minimal. She is *choosing* not to pay you. She is *choosing* to ask you to work insane hours, and *choosing* tasks that are not what you signed up for. You get to make some choices, as well.

      My advice would be to go volunteer somewhere that’s really volunteering (read: a non-profit organization), part time, or find an internship (but I honestly dislike the very existence of unpaid internships, they end to be exploitative) and work on job-hunting for something that actually pays. If you live in a reasonably large city, and especially if you have some education, consider signing up with a few temp agencies – the work won’t be glamorous, but it’ll get you work experience and an actual reference. (Temping can also be a great way to try out different roles to see what you actually like, and better temp agencies can try to set you up with a temp-to-hire position that could become permanent.)

  12. Gleeze*

    “Is resigning over something like this wildly out of proportion?”

    I’m probably reading too much into this but are there other issues at work besides this one? It seems like an overreaction to an (possible) issue that could be easily resolved as its also in the company’s interest (as Alison outlined) My gut reaction was that you are looking for an excuse to resign.

    1. Rez123*

      I agree. It’s quite a big jump from not having a locked cabinet to resigning. Especially since you’ve brought this up with management and they know that they are not locked.

      1. Psyche*

        It depends. If they won’t provide a solution or agree that the OP is not responsible for the devices, resigning would be reasonable. With an agreement that the OP is not responsible if anything is lost or stolen, it is fine.

        1. Rez123*

          Then this is a different thing. Based on this infomation it seems to be OP saying that there is no safe space for valuables and a manager saying that at the moment he doesn’t have a solution. In my mind the next natural step is not resigning.

          Company having history of things being stolen by outsiders and then blaming and firing people who the stuff belonged to. Or them stating that OP is at fault whatever happens to the stuff etc. Then we are talking about crappy work place. In which case it’s best to look for something else. Based on the limited information in the letter I’d say resignition is a bit of a leap.

          1. Psyche*

            I don’t disagree that it is not the next logical step. There are plenty of possible solutions. But if absolutely no solutions are found AND the company refuses to agree the the OP is not responsible for anything lost or stolen, then I don’t think it is unreasonable for the OP to refuse to be responsible for something that they have no ability to control.

          2. That Girl From Quinn's House*

            Yeah I assumed that the company put undue burdens of responsibility on their staff. I’ve worked places like that, and once you get used to it, you get very well attuned to situations where management is setting you up to be the scapegoat.

            Ex: Employees may not use the restroom unless they secure their area. Employee is not provided a means by which to secure their area. Therefore, the employee must not use the restroom all day in order to remain compliant with their job description. But since that’s not possible, the employee will have no choice but to break the rule and hope nothing goes wrong, because if it does, they’re fired.

      2. Dust Bunny*

        I suspect this company might have a history of not providing employees with adequate resources and then being punitive when things don’t work out. This reads like somebody who has been taught to fear being punished for something s/he couldn’t actually control.

    2. Jasnah*

      At first I read it as resigning in response to being made a scapegoat/being blamed for stolen property. But if that happened OP could be fired so no need to resign, and this is all future hypotheticals anyway. Plus as has been pointed out, it’s in the company’s interest to address this concern.

      OP I don’t think it’s sensible to resign over a problem that hasn’t happened yet. Either your “time to go” sensor needs recalibrating or this feeling is stemming from other issues you’re having at work.

    3. Kiki*

      I thought the same thing. Is this a straw that broke the camel’s back sort of thing? Otherwise considering resigning over this does seem really out of proportion and premature. Especially since the renovations aren’t finished yet and small lockable cabinets can be easily added at low cost. And LW’s company hasn’t blamed them for the loss of any electronic devices yet. Have there been issues at LW’s job with how stolen property is handled? I see how it can be frustrating to not get an answer right away, but it seems like a pretty small thing to be very worried about at this stage in the game.

    4. hbc*

      Yeah, I’m firmly in the “wildly out of proportion” camp. Let’s even say that they are casual about this sort of risk–a good assumption given that they’re already letting randos wander through unchecked. We might argue that it’s bad policy, but it’s not unethical, and the chance that they’ll come down on any one person when there are tons of suspects is pretty low.

      Frankly, I’d be a little worried about hiring someone whose reason for leaving their last company was “They didn’t lock up company equipment and I assumed I’d get blamed if anything went missing.”

    5. Emily K*

      And LW, while resigning would be an overreaction to this specific issue, that doesn’t mean you need to stay there if you’re unhappy. There are lots of reasons to want to leave, running the gamut from wanting a different cultural environment to wanting different work to just wanting a new experience. It might not hurt to see what’s out there!

    6. Clever Name*

      I’m wondering the very same thing. OP, if you aren’t happy with the working conditions at your job, it’s perfectly reasonable to look elsewhere. Security concerns or no, I think it’s super reasonable to be unhappy in a cube right next to a busy front entrance.

  13. Marzipan*

    “She was victim of a massive scam and now is illiquid.”
    #3, this right at the beginning of your letter was a red flag, for me. I am sure that she’s presented whatever happened to you as this, and this may also be what she believes happened, but… I mean, yes, this is a thing that can happen in the world. But at a very minimum, and with the most generous possible reading, it suggests her past business activities haven’t run entirely smoothly, and that’s highly relevant to you even if this future job somehow magically manifests. Which is not something I’m optimistic about, in no small part because of the ‘illiquid’ thing.
    I know I sound harsh, but I promise that harshness is all aimed at her. #3, for you yourself, I have nothing but compassion. You’ve been swept along by this woman, and by the dangling promises of experience and prestige and the fact that she seems to really need you, and I can absolutely see how that happened because you come across as someone kind and compassionate and keen to work hard.
    Please get out of this situation, as soon as you can. You can and will find other opportunities, ones where they will pay you and value you and not make you cry; ones where you’ll be able to work normal hours and have a life outside of work. The very best of luck to you.

    1. MK*

      Heck, she doesn’t even have to be intentional about it. It’s possible she actually believes she is going to make a comeback really soon and be huge again and the OP will be coming along for the success ride and be compensated for all her work and then some and be catapulted into the position of head assistant to a star designer. But in the real world this is pretty unlikely to happen and the OP needs a more realistic career plan.

      1. Who Plays Backgammon?*

        Even if designer does become the Comeback Kid, if this is how she treats someone who’s helping her for free–by being a mean slavedriver–can you just imagine what kind of actual paying boss she’d be? I envision life in hell. She sounds like she doesn’t appreciate a damn thing. Wonder if OP knows anyone who did used to work for her when she was liquid? A boss reference would be a good idea.

  14. HA2*

    #2 – this is the kind of thing the phase “polite fiction” is about! You pretend you never got matched with him on a dating app. He pretends the same. It’s a known “danger” of dating apps that you might run in to someone on them that you know in other contexts, and “don’t acknowledge it” is a standard response – no need to worry.

  15. DiscoCat*

    #3 Please also remember to document (BCC yourself) exchanges with your “boss” where she gives you jobs to do and instructions/ feedback etc. So that when she fails to give you reference or misrepresents your time with her, you can always pull these up (for yourself- I’m not saying to presemt this documentation to future employers in lieu of a refernece). Another thing you can do is when you discuss leaving and hand over that you write a protocol detailing all your tasks and acheievemts and a) email it her and b) present it to her for acknowledgment and maybe even signature. If she doesn’t get back to you after the 3rd reminder you can email her saying “I haven’t heard back from you regarding the hand-pover protocol so I take this as you being in agreement about the contents.” She sounds as if she’s too caught up to reply and you have some sort of record of what you did for her. At this point if I were you I wouldn’t worry about burning bridges- she’s a mess and she’s abusing you.

    1. Lady Ariel Ponyweather*

      Yes, absolutely this. You need proof you were there. I really like the plan of documenting the hand-over protocol. I’d also say to document everything else that you can, get copies and protect yourself. I wouldn’t be surprised if forcing you to work without pay isn’t her only crime. (You’re actually well within your rights to walk out right now, but if you want to try and preserve the relationship, then scaling back is a good idea.)

      Also, leave a Glassdoor review, if you can. Warn others about what she’s like.

      Good luck finding a new job. You sound like a hard and conscientious worker, and you deserve much better than this.

      1. quirkypants*

        I’d wait on the Glassdoor review if you have any hope or expectation of getting a reference from her. She’ll almost certainly figure out you wrote it…

        Also, even if you don’t note her down as a reference it’s possible a future employer will be connected to her and could reach out to ask for a reference (this happens ALL THE TIME). I definitely understand wanting to warn others but I’d only do it if you are sure it won’t be tied back to you.

        1. Lady Ariel Ponyweather*

          Oh yes, very true. Wait until some time has passed. And it wouldn’t be a surprise if other complained about her in the meantime.

      2. Colette*

        How will documentation help? It will not replace a reference, and I’m not even sure that it will help with a complaint about not getting paid. (Does she even have a business? Or is this just a pie-in-the-sky dream?)

        1. CM*

          I don’t see how documentation would be useful in this scenario unless you are planning to sue her. This is not a situation where you will ever get paid. It’s not even a business, as I understand it — it’s just one person.

        2. Lady Ariel Ponyweather*

          I thought it was a business because the OP is volunteering at a marketing organisation and the designer is part of that? But maybe I missed something.

          My thought was that in case the designer denies the OP working there, she’d have proof that she did. The other reason for documenting is to protect herself from any problems the designer may cause or blame the OP for in the future.

          As for not getting paid, OP could report the designer to the relevant department of employment/labour. It’s not a guarantee that something will be done, but it could be worth a shot. At any rate, documenting won’t cause any harm and it could protect OP if the designer tries to cause trouble in the future.

          1. fhqwhgads*

            I thought it was a design business but OP “volunteered” to help with marketing, to get marketing experience, but the reality of the role is basically personal assistant type work and no marketing at all. So not only is OP not getting paid, OP is not getting the marketing experience that was the whole point of this endeavor.

  16. Artemesia*

    #5 My daughter had the same experience of being someone they didn’t hire but were very positive about. They invited her to the Christmas party and then later hired her for a contract project and then later hired her full time and she ended up in the C-suite. Small company, didn’t make it in the long run, but she had a great stretch there. So sometimes it works out. Assume it won’t. But follow up in a few weeks and good luck — sometimes it isn’t just babble.

  17. Number Two, kinda*

    I had a similar situation to OP #2… I (straight female, late-20s) got unsolicited d*** pictures from a guy via a dating app. A few weeks later when I rock on up to a job interview, guess who is on the interview panel? The unsolicited photographer himself. Ack! I’m not sure if he made the connection, but I sure felt awkward. Do I ignore this?

    1. Lady Ariel Ponyweather*

      No, I would report him. In the moment, I’d probably have been too stunned to react, but I would have reported him later. That’s so gross. Sorry you had to deal with that.

      1. Nonny*

        A sincere question: on what grounds, given that this happened before they’d ever met? If he sent them afterwards, and there was a plausible case that he was trying to take advantage of his power over her as interviewer, I think that would definitely be of interest to the company… but in this case, what is the company’s stake in this?

        (I am not, to be clear, arguing that unsolicited dick pics aren’t gross! But I’m not sure there’s a case that this is a business issue, just a weird coincidence.)

        1. RUKiddingMe*

          Maybe just do they have some insight as to his character. If he did it in the real world it would be a crime. It should be online as well. Ergo they should know they employ a flasher…

          1. mamma mia*

            It’s gross but it’s not a crime even if you think it should be. That’s not how the justice system works. Reporting someone to HR for something they did on their personal time to someone who is not a fellow employee of their company that does not constitute a crime is a HUGE overstep. And employers really don’t need “insight” into their employees’ characters; that’s wild. I don’t expect or want employers to be moral arbiters for their employees. By all means, report him to the app but this is not an HR issue in the slightest.

        2. Mike B.*

          Private behavior of employees does reflect on the organization, and this kind of thing is so outrageous that people would have trouble working with him if they knew about it. People are appropriately fired for posting racist comments on social media under their own names; committing virtual sexual assault is certainly a comparable offense.

        3. Lady Ariel Ponyweather*

          Looking at the responses, maybe ‘tell the company’ is better phrasing than ‘report’. Depending on the job, whether I’d be working with him, how much I needed the job, etc, I would let the company know. Something like what CDM said below, that given he’d sent unsolicited explicit images, I don’t want to work with him.

          I also believe some places are classifying sending unsolicited images as a crime, so you could also report him to authorities. Whether the company or authorities would do anything is another question, but I’d speak out and say something to the best of my ability.

      2. RUKiddingMe*

        Yup. Unsolicited dick picks (i. e. Flashing) is not the same as matching on an app. IMO those unsolicited pics should be prosecutable because…its flashing, which us illegal.

        1. Lady Ariel Ponyweather*

          I agree completely. I should add that it might not be possible for everyone since OP might need the job more than justice. But it’s something I’d definitely follow-up on since this behaviour never, ever stops with ‘just’ a picture.

    2. LKW*

      Report him for what and to whom? He wasn’t sending it as someone on the interview panel. He was sending it as a private citizen. Now, I personally find it gross and shows a clear lack of judgment as well as an understanding of 99% of women, but I’m having a hard time understanding how this connects to his role as an interviewer.

      It was just a bad and gross coincidence.

      Had he sent it after the interview or alluded to the interview in his communications (pre-or post)- yes, I would absolutely say report it.

        1. Mike B.*

          The only reason I agree is that it’s unlikely she saved screenshots to back up her story, not knowing that she would need them later. I wouldn’t put the company in that difficult position without evidence (I don’t care what happens to the guy).

          1. JM60*

            Would you send the dick pics to the employer though? To be clear, this is sexual harassment (assuming the app wasn’t one where being on the app is often assumed to be implied consent to recieve nudes). However, I’m not sure if sending them to the employer is the way to go. I’m not even sure if it’s bad enough that someone should be fired for this, (flashing someone online without their consen, while not okay, isn’t as bad as offline, partly because it doesn’t come with the same level of physical threat).

        2. Guy Incognito*

          Yeah, I have to agree with this. It’s gross, and it should be reported to the app (depending on the app) but what purpose does it serve to say “This guy sent me an unsolicited pic weeks before the interview”? It’s not going to make you look any better. At best, they repimand him. At worst, you look like someone who bombed an interview so you’re trying to get revenge.

      1. Not Me*

        I think report him to the company as well. He’s interviewing people, which means he has a reasonably public facing position, the possibility of him coming across strangers in his professional capacity is high. His behavior outside work, sending unsolicited naked pictures, can absolutely have an impact on the company. As evidenced by the post from Number Two, Kinda.

        1. Lady Ariel Ponyweather*

          Absolutely, yes. Tell the company. Maybe he’s done this to other women, who knows.

    3. All the yikes*

      This isn’t really the same thing as the OP poster at all, he was in an app where he chose to consume the content – the exact opposite of unsolicited, he sought it out.

      Participating in a gay hookup app and looking at suggestive profiles is different from an unsolicited dick pic.

    4. CDM*

      Depends on how much you need/want the job and if you’re willing to ignore it.

      Myself, I’d probably email a polite withdrawal to HR along the lines of “Having received unwanted sexually explicit photos from Fergus Interviewer a few weeks ago, I am not willing to accept a position working in proximity with him.”

      But I also wouldn’t expect his company to actually do anything about it. OTOH, you never know if HR is already documenting other inappropriate behavior by him.

    5. pleaset*

      This is different. Unsolicited pictures like that are offensive and projected onto someone. Not like simply putting oneself out there on a hookup app.

    6. Maya Elena*

      Report to the dating app, unless it’s a dating app where that’s the kind of thing that’s normal there. I’d report it if it were OKCupid, for instance.

      Don’t think it should be reported to the employer. Most people seem to separate their weird personal lives from their professional lives pretty well; otherwise I don’t know how society could function. Also, he’s unlikely to face consequences; and if he did, I’d bet money that his opinion of women would not improve.

      1. Observer*

        Except that this is not “weird personal life” stuff, but a real over-step of reasonable boundaries.

        I don’t care that it won’t improve his opinion of women – people who do this stuff are never going to have their opinion of their victim group improve as a result of negative consequences for their bad behavior. On the other hand, NOT pushing back doesn’t make their opinion of their victim(s) improve either. The only thing one can hope for is that they learn to stop the behavior even if it purely to avoid the negative outcomes.

    7. Clever Name*

      Maybe this makes me evil, but I’d be inclined to send a group email to everyone on the interview panel saying something along the lines of:

      “I wanted to thank everyone for the opportunity to interview with ACME, Inc. However, I have decided that ACME, Inc. is not a cultural fit for me because receiving an unsolicited photo of John Interviewer’s penis via Dating App on June 1st made me feel very uncomfortable. So I am withdrawing my candidacy. Best wishes finding the right person for this position.”

      1. Gazebo Slayer*

        If you’re evil, I am right there next to you steepling my fingers and purring “Eeexcellent” like Mr. Burns.

    8. Koala dreams*

      You can ignore it if that’s what feels best for you. You have no obligation to warn other people, and honestly, some people don’t care or won’t listen to you. If you want to do something, I would start with reporting it to the dating app and, provided it is a crime in your jurisdiction (it is in mine), to the police. If you want to, you could also inform the employer, for example HR or the hiring manager.

  18. Lady Ariel Ponyweather*

    OP#3 – Also, brainstorm with a couple of friends about your experience and what to put on your resume. I’ve known a few people who were convinced there was nothing they could put on their resume. But as we talked, it turned out they had quite a few things they could put on there. It can be hard to see what you have to offer, but other people often have a perspective that we don’t. Good luck and let us know how it works out!

  19. NewHerePleaseBeNice*

    Oh, OP1, I have had so many bosses and colleagues like yours, and it’s just plain old rudeness on the part of the boss, perhaps coupled with the assumption that they’re so important they can’t possibly wait thirty seconds to check an email. I’m sorry you’re having to put up with Mr Distraction.

    In my case recently, I asked my boss if we could have our regular catchups in the coffee bar not the office. And of course, he brought his laptop, and left it open on the table. Sigh…

    1. SezU*

      We just keep trying though don’t we!? One of these days I am just going to be in the wrong mood for my grand bosses BS and just keep repeating, more and more tersely each time, what I need from him. He’ll get defensive and pissed off because that’s what he does, but I don’t care if I can just get some answers from him. I get it. He’s a big shot. I’m not impressed.

      1. NewHerePleaseBeNice*

        Yes, we just have to keep trying. I guess if Boss didn’t bring his laptop he’d be looking at his phone!

    2. Antilles*

      it’s just plain old rudeness on the part of the boss, perhaps coupled with the assumption that they’re so important they can’t possibly wait thirty seconds
      I think there’s also a lot of obliviousness in play. If the Boss showed up in the comment section, he would probably argue that (1)he’s excellent at multi-tasking, (2) the emails don’t interrupt his flow at all, (3) it’s just a quick 30 second email, why is this a big deal, and (4) I can listen and check emails at the same time.
      Of course, the reality is that *none* of the above are true, but I really doubt he realizes just how much this is affecting everyone around him.

      1. Karen from Finance*

        Yes, I think that (5) he may not even realize how often or how much he’s doing it. In his head it’s probably “just a second”. It IS inconsiderate, but because it’s exactly that: not-considering of the other, he may not even realize how bad it can get.

        Source: I’m this person. I don’t have anyone who reports to me, but my superiors have often asked me “are you taking notes in there or are you multitasking?” and often the honest answer is “both”. I’m working on it.

        Just to show the other perspective, the difficulty is that when you have this type of personality where you’re easily distracted, this is what’s going on (at least for me). You’re talking to someone, and say you see out of the corner of your eye that you got an email. Your mind starts to focus on the other thing (“there’s an email, what’s the email, that email could be important, that person’s waiting for a response, I need to answer the email, email, email…”) and then you’re not answering the email and you’re not paying attention either. So sometimes it’s just easier to do the thing, reply to the email and get back to the conversation. But then the other person gets mad. If you don’t bring your computer or cellphone at all to the meeting it’s worse, because then your mind is “what if something super important is happening? what if everyone is looking for me and no one can find me and all of my accounts are on fire?” and so on. For me, it has a lot to do with anxiety.

        None of this is on the other person of course, which is why I’m working on being more considerate. Which is why I suggest assuming the best from OP’s boss (he’s probably not doing it AT OP), and trying to talk to him about it. See how far that gets them. But these changes in behavior take time.

    3. Interviewer*

      OP1, my boss has an Apple watch. Big group of us in multiple offices onscreen during a video conference, one of us is providing an update on our project, and the boss’s head is focused down on that wristwatch, scrolling away. No phones, no laptops, we’re out of the offices and in a conference room, and still, the boss’s attention is elsewhere. It is SOOOO annoying.

      1. Gumby*

        We’ve almost succeeded in using peer pressure to make being distracted by your cell phone socially unacceptable when dining out, maybe we tackle this next…

  20. Cynthia*

    “…a designer who once was famous…”

    I can’t imagine who this would be. If we’re talking about Graphic Designers, which I believe we are, then I can count on one hand who would be considered a “famous designer” – and that’s only inside the small Graphic Design community. The average non-designer would never be able to name a single designer outside of someone they know personally.

    Who could it be… hmmm…

    1. Famous internet cat*

      I understood it to be fashion designer, considering that the new project is handbags.

    2. Countess Boochie Flagrante*

      Alison has asked us not to try and guess at these things. OPs are writing in with the expectation that their anonymized details will stay that way.

    3. Angelinha*

      Is this a joke? Surely there are hundreds of famous graphic designers in the world…

      1. pleaset*

        Yeah, depends on how deep you are in the field. I’m not in the field (adjacent to it) and can think of a dozen, though perhaps a couple of those are dead by now. If I was in the field I’d surely know many more names.

        1. MissDisplaced*

          Lol! I’m a graphic designer and most of the ones I can think of off the top of my head are deceased. Terrible huh? Back in the 90’s I did know many more.

          Fashion design is its own unique animal, where people would kill to work for free at Chanel, Louis Vuitton, etc. But it’s funny because I used to work with a graphic designer who interviewed at a famous purse designer place, and she claimed they stole her interview/test design and made the purse!

  21. Klingons and Cylons and Daleks, Oh My!*

    Boss is doing that deliberately to remind you that he’s the boss and he sees you and your time as valueless.

    Please reconsider whether you want to continue working there.

    1. LKW*

      I don’t think that’s it. I don’t want to arm chair diagnose but I suspect it could be an attention issue. And as someone who occasionally does this … and I do know how rude it is… sometimes something more important does come through the multiple channels that are at my fingertips. And that is part of the problem. I have two computers – either one can be flooded with email and IMs and when that isn’t enough – my phone will start buzzing with texts.

      His behavior isn’t right – and I think Allison’s scripts are a good start, but I recommend that the LW go beyond “Frustration” to consequence. “If I don’t get this information from you and resolve the following issues 1., 2., 3. then this will be late and will require this much money.” Or whatever thing motivates this guy to get highest priority in his list.

      1. Kate the Great*

        Points for honesty. I agree and feel the same way – we often chastise ourselves and others for not being completely focused, but urgent messages – both professional and personal – do come in, so how can we completely blame ourselves?

        I’ve both taken and ignored (temporarily) calls, texts, and emails that were completely urgent: Co-workers at trade shows with questions or issues, or visiting customers, or problems with a website being offline, approval on an ad going out – not to mention personal issues with my husband, son, and other family members and friends ranging from minor medical issues to car accidents to, sadly, an unexpected death. As bad as those messages can be, I’ve been much happier when I’ve been there to immediately accept them than when I thought, “Oh, this can wait” and put them off to pay more attention to what’s going on around me at the moment which is often important, but not critical.

        Once you’ve experienced those kinds of things, how can you not feel compelled to answer? Maybe we need a better system that can triage messages better.

        1. Gumby*

          I cannot react as if any call that comes to my phone could be an urgent message – that way lies madness. (Also, roughly 80% of the calls are spam calls anyway so I regularly ignore incoming calls.)

          If I had a position in which I was responsible for being on call – sure, I’d answer. If I know there is an ongoing situation (like someone in the hospital or travelling and needing a ride from the airport) that might need attention, I will check my messages more promptly. Otherwise? The phone exists for *my* convenience, not for the convenience of people calling me. Also, I’m just not that important of a person. I’m not a surgeon or an ER doctor, I don’t make multi-million dollar decisions for my employer, I’m not a cop, there is basically no situation in which someone needing to wait 20 minutes for my attention would lead to loss of life or livelihood for hundreds of people. If I’m busy with something or someone else, I will maybe glance at it to see who is calling but don’t generally answer.

          Ever since I got a call at work about an unexpected death in my immediate family (~7 years ago), getting calls from family during the work day freaks me out a little. So those I would answer. But that is because it is well out of the norm for us. We are not a ‘calling just to chat at 2 p.m. on a Tuesday’ sort of family.

    2. Emily K*

      I don’t know why someone always jumps to, “Master manipulator engaging in strategic psychological warfare to undermine others” when “garden variety jerk acting without considering others” can explain the behavior. (There was a similar reaction recently to the busy boss who kept cancelling check-ins with a LW, where people jumped immediately to “he’s passive aggressively signaling that he doesn’t value you and thinks he’s a hot shot” instead of “he is busy, has poor time management skills, and hasn’t considered how this pattern is emerging from LW’s perspective.”) The first type of people do exist but they’re really not that common and it would be manifesting in a lot more than just being easily distracted in meetings.

    3. Iron Chef Boyardee*

      “he’s the boss and he sees you […] as valueless

      Can’t be too smart a guy if he relies on a “valueless” person as much as he does.

    4. Zephy*

      I had a supervisor who would call me, for something work-related, and then put our phone conversation on hold to take a call on her other phone. It was not unusual to see her with her work iPhone and her personal iPhone both pressed to her face, because if she set down one to take a call on the other, there was a nonzero chance she’d forget to pick the first up again. A year after I left that job, she made what was ostensibly a social call to catch up with me…and again, interrupted the conversation that she started to take another call. It’s not always a power-play, some people are just Absent-Minded Sims who can’t hold tasks in their queue. She’s 60-something, she’s probably had this kind of attention/executive dysfunction her whole life, this is the strategy she’s settled on to function in everyday life.

    5. Karen from Finance*

      This is like the people who assume that people who are late often do so because they think your time is not important, rather than “they are very disorganized” or “they aren’t quite together” or so on.

      Why jump to malicious intent?

      1. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

        +1000, “you’re being late at me!” is my pet peeve.

        Boss is being scatterbrained because he’s scatterbrained. That’s all there is to it.

        1. Karen from Finance*

          So, I once got publicly scolded by a professor for being 2 minutes late for a college lecture. He called me inconsiderate and disrespectful of him for being late. And that the only reason I could possibly be late was that I didn’t care about his class. I was late because I had missed the correct bus stop because I dozed off in the bus, because this was a 7 am class and I was also taking night classes that ended at 11 pm. The class the teacher who scolded me was teaching, ironically, was Business Ethics.

          I HATE people who do this. Like I said. Why jump to malicious intent? People rarely do things AT you.

      2. Gazebo Slayer*

        As a disorganized, frequently late person with executive dysfunction I endorse this statement!

  22. Delta Delta*

    #1 – I had that same boss (and now I wonder if OP 1 is someone I know…). Boss could absolutely not be bothered to walk away from his desk to have a conversation with someone and declared he was awesome at multitasking. In reality, Boss couldn’t follow a thread of a conversation because he permitted himself to be interrupted. I eventually got to the point that I stopped talking to him about issues, questions, etc. Things came to a head and I resigned (not because of the inattention, but because of other larger systemic issues). During my “I gotta GTFO” meeting with him he continued to read emails and take phone calls. then at one point he said, “I don’t understand why you’re leaving – you should have come to me with these issues.” So, yeah, I don’t work there anymore.

  23. MsM*

    OP#1, I have a similarly distractible boss. In addition to the “no computers, please” request, I’ve found it helpful to go in with a detailed agenda. The less room there is to wiggle off topic, or at least get too far without being able to point to where you’re supposed to be in the conversation, the more we get done.

    1. SezU*

      Not OP, but in the same boat. I’ll try that… but my grandboss sure can get off track. He will talk about anything…. except what he’s supposed to. Ugh.

    2. LoopDeLoop*

      Same. My boss doesn’t look at his computer during our meetings, but he gets lost in his own trains of thought and interrupts me to ask semi-related or unrelated questions. It’s extremely annoying and feels disrespectful at times. Giving him a written agenda at the beginning of the meeting has really cut down on these tangents and made it much more bearable when they do happen.

    3. Mockingjay*

      I like using an agenda to keep on point. Also, in my experience, bosses like this often respond better to quick choices or presented solutions. “Boss, regarding Issue X, I researched Solution A. Can I implement?”

    4. Blue*

      This is what worked best with my multi-tasking boss. I’d go in with a clear agenda and would pointedly say things like, “It looks like we’re running out of time, and there are a couple more things on my list” when he started looking at his apple watch or whatever. And sometimes I’d just continue the conversation as if he hadn’t started randomly typing an email. I’d often have to repeat myself in those cases, but it rarely took long for him to be like, “…oh crap, I have no idea what she just said.” Those things worked because he actually did care about what I had to say and making sure I was set up for success – if he hadn’t, I’m not sure where I would’ve ended up. But it’s definitely worth a try!

  24. Just need a door...*

    #4, I was in a similar situation about a year ago. I work with sensitive materials that need to be secured when I’m away from my desk, to the extent that my profession has security guidelines. Regardless, a little over a year ago, we moved offices, and I had to fight to get a locking area. Admin kept handwaving my concerns, saying we didn’t need anything and that the space is secure (it’s not). I was persistent, and managed to get a locking space. I think Alison’s advice is spot on. You know your work better than anyone. I think being persistent but polite, and going in with specific suggestions and prices, is your best approach. Good luck!

  25. SezU*

    My grand-boss is like that.. always checking his phone, checking email (if at his desk), and has actually gotten up from the small conference table in his office during a meeting to go look at his computer. Once we were on a conference call with someone and he just got up and left the room in the middle of it!
    We have tried talking to him about it and working around it. He just gets defensive and pissed off.

  26. LGC*

    Oh dear, LW2. You were just looking for an open position, and then you found out that there were way too many available.

    Anyway. On behalf of The Gays, you have my full permission to pretend you never saw this guy online, and to block him if you so choose. It sounds like you guys just looked at each others’ profiles, and didn’t contact each other – to be honest, it’s pretty easy to just browse!

    Good luck, and hopefully he’s also embarrassed enough to pretend this never happened.

    1. Environmental Compliance*

      “You were just looking for an open position, and then you found out that there were way too many available.”

      I see what you did there. Heh.

      1. LGC*

        This letter was difficult for me because I have jokes for days, but I also know what website I’m on. (That was about the tamest I could get.)

        I’d actually left out something since I was typing quickly – I suggested LW2 block the hiring manager mostly for his own mental well-being. In my opinion, if either of them tries to hook up that would be REALLY, REALLY BAD (it’d be a great story but a terrible idea), but again I don’t know if there’s a danger of that. If he doesn’t get the job then he could unblock if he wants.

  27. JediSquirrel*

    When OP3 says “we’ve become close” it sounds a lot like Stockholm Syndrome to me. Time to get out and move on.

  28. Bookworm*

    #5: Rejection is no fun but am glad it appears they really do seem interested! It has never worked out for me, but I hope it does for you!

  29. WellRed*

    I’m always curious how people who aren’t being paid but can’t afford to leave positions that amount to modern-day indentured servitude, are actually supporting themselves. If she’s somehow supporting herself despite the efforts of the “designer,” leave. Usually in a case like letter 3, people say run, but there are comments suggesting she cut back on hours, etc. Why? What’s keeping her there? The reference? There will be no reference from this woman, no back pay and no future job. Just go!

    1. Rebecca*

      I thought maybe the OP is living with parents? As a parent I’d be concerned about this, unless they’ve been taken in as well. And I don’t think cutting back on hours is the answer, I’d say just walk away, block phone and text contact, and move on. Consider it a learning experience.

    2. Pilcrow*

      Yeah, I’m not getting the “cut back” advice either.

      Two possibilities I can think of:
      1) To ease the OP’s transition/(unfounded) guilt at leaving.
      2) To give the OP a chance to spin this into an unpaid internship, as other’s have suggested. (I suppose maybe the formerly famous designer could go for it – “you don’t have to pay me, but you have to sign some paperwork to make it ‘official'” or somesuch.) Personally, I think it’s a stretch.

      OP would be better served putting those 12hr days into getting some job skills training and looking for paid employment.

      1. Ask a Manager* Post author

        Because if the OP isn’t willing to quit (which is often the case), this is the next best thing. I don’t want to give only one option if they’re not going to take that.

    3. Oxford Comma*


      OP is 20, not 40. So we’re not talking about long gaps on the resume that need to be accounted for. In fact, in this case, I would argue it’s best to go as soon as humanly possible. There’s no upside to staying with the designer.

      OP: Just go. Write a “resignation letter.” I put that in quotes because this is not a legit job or you’d be getting cold, hard cash for your 12 hour days. Thank her for the opportunity. I don’t even think you need to give her much if any notice and walk away. Do not stick this out. The only reason I think you bother with a resignation letter (sent via email, btw) is to CYA in case she comes back at you with some wild accusation. And yes, as per Rebecca below, I would block text and phone and move on.

    4. Gazebo Slayer*

      Speaking as someone who’s been there: family support, savings, credit card debt, or a combination.

      1. Gazebo Slayer*

        Posted too soon; OP has only been there a few months, and for a few months it’s possible to tell yourself “this will all be worth it soon when the money starts coming in” while your savings dwindle and your credit card balance grows.

  30. staceyizme*

    For the boss who onterrupts- YOU get to decide who you want to work for. You can’t control someone else or their behaviors, but you can control your own. I am not sure why you would act as if it’s normal to be interrupted at that level. Level with your boss and do it in the moment. Keep it to just the facts. And use email for everything that you can. It will ease frustration. But there is no need for you to waste time. Two interruptions and I’d reschedule that meeting. You need access, but he needs information. Make it unrewarding for him to stop the flow. In your shoes, I’d push back strategically, consistently, professionally AND I’d be looking for another job.

  31. LQ*

    #3 something that is incredibly important is it sort of sounds like you haven’t actually brought up that you need to be paid. If you are hesitating because you know the designer’s financial state, don’t. I think that the most important lesson you need to learn here is no one, and I mean that, will advocate for you the way you deserve. Everyone is expected to advocate for themselves. A little of this is people get caught up in their own stuff, bosses (even the best bosses) have other things on their mind, don’t know what you need better than you do.

    You have to speak up and ask for money. You have to speak up and say you can’t keep working this many hours. You have to stand up for your own needs. It’s going to be hard. But you’re already undercutting yourself in your own negotiation, HARD, but not even asking for money. You have to ask and let other people respond. You can only be half of the negotiation, yours. You cannot be their negotiator. (I say this as someone with a couple decades on you who still fails at this ALL THE TIME. It is really hard, and if you can learn it now you will be better off for the rest of your life.)

  32. Person from the Resume*

    LW#2, I agree without Alison, don’t mention it. That’s the professional response.

    You didn’t mention it, but lots of these app are geographically and proximity triggered. He was probably one of the closest app users. That’s why this should never be browsed while waiting for an interview or even at work.

    IDK the specifics. I’m a lesbian and I browse a couple of dating (not hookup) apps in public all the time, but there’s no explicit content. If I were to encounter someone I know in a professional context there’s only the info that they’re gay and dating which isn’t private data.

    1. Seeking Second Childhood*

      OP2, I *just* this morning completed an online training program on conflict of interest. Our official company policy for that interviewer would be for him to remove himself from the hiring process because of potential of interest. I’m pointing this out just in case you get a repeat interview that seems to go over the same material. That would often be a warning flag of a disorganized company — but in your specific uncommon situation would instead be a good sign that the company is serious about fairness and the appearance of conflict of interest.
      (I also think that this training program should be broadcast internationally before all elections on all channels & stations & networks but that’s another matter…)

      1. Person from the Resume*

        I’m not sure that someone popping up as a potential date or hook up on an app and nothing else is a conflict of interest for an interviewer.

        It is highly unlikely that the interviewer looked at the app before the interview given the timing so he probably didn’t even have this info before the interview and before writing up his impressions right after the interview.

  33. Antti*

    OP2: block him straight away, and then pretend it never happened. I actually would’ve blocked him as soon as I realized who he is, once I was done with the interview (it sounds like you only realized it after you met him face to face?). Definitely don’t call any attention to it going forward. Just let the polite fiction that it never happened continue.

  34. Works in IT*

    I don’t know, if I was suddenly expected to have tons of expensive electronics in a high traffic area with no way to lock them up, and had previously been told I am responsible for locking them up to prevent theft (this is true of my position, no idea if it’s true of OP’s)… if I tried to tell people this wouldn’t work without some way to lock up electronics and sensitive papers, and they brushed off my concerns as thinking I just wanted a better office, I would probably be job hunting too. That is a situation that cannot end well for the person with no ability to lock up their stealables.

  35. nose*

    OP #2 here! I sent that letter to Alison a while ago so I’ve got an update already:

    Didn’t get hired. Did (later) hook up with the interviewer.

    So I did end up getting a job out of the situation, just not necessarily the job I was applying for. ;)

    Life is a strange tapestry! Happy Pride!

    1. Lily Rowan*

      Ha! That’s perfect. (I mean, maybe getting the job would have been more perfect for you, but this is a better story for us!)

    2. CoveredInBees*

      Nose, it’s people like you who make it so hazardous to read AAM while consuming any beverage.

      Congrats on the job. ;-)

    3. Nonke John*

      Jobs come and go, but a guy who actually shows up and gives you a good time after chatting on a hookup app is priceless. Good for you. Hope you made out well with the job thing later, too.

    4. Myrin*

      Ha, I did not expect that update. Good for you!
      (But, of course, sorry the job-job didn’t work out.)

    5. annakarina1*

      Congratulations! I’m sorry you didn’t get the job, but I’m happy that worked out for you.

    6. Not One of the Bronte Sisters*

      Nose, well done you! See, life has a way of working out! You will get another (wonderful) job.

      Happy Pride!

    7. Alaska*

      Update your resume and give the job another shot–youve now got an in at the company
      (unless they got an in at yours)

  36. Lily Rowan*

    For #5, I would keep my eye on the company’s posted positions, and only reach back out if I saw one I was interested in, so I was a little surprised to see Alison suggesting contacting them again on spec. I don’t think it’s a crisis either way, but I will say from my experience, that hiring managers really mean that kind of thing and do want to try to hang on to good candidates.

  37. CoveredInBees*

    The page loaded funny and this reply was meant to go elsewhere. Feel free to ignore, although Nose’s update was funny.

  38. Nonke John*

    OP2, did you tap him even though his profile specified no taps? If so, you’re definitely not getting the job.


    I doubt he gave it a second thought, unless you sound like an arrogant jerk in your profile. Positioning your phone so X pics were visible to others, or making some sort of matey sex joke when you saw his office decorations–that would have shown poor judgment. There’s no poor judgment in having a profile up on an app that you assume will be viewed by others with the same interests, or in opening it as a distraction while waiting for an interview.

    And I don’t really think this gives him much power. If during the inteview, say, you’d described your work as treasurer of the gay men’s chorus, he would have known that you don’t just get together with other guys to play canasta. The only additional information he has now is the specific types of non-canasta you play and, possibly, what you look like with your interview suit off. He presumably knows from experience that it’s possible to like sweaty, raunchy fun in private while being correctly attired and professional at the office, and I’d bet he figures you do, too.

    1. Zephy*

      OP2 posted an update in the comments – the job was a bust, but he did hook up with the interviewer, lol.

  39. Mike B.*

    #2 – I think you’re projecting some of your own feelings here. Your interviewer isn’t quite as nervous about the situation on the whole (since he’s already got the job), so he likely just sees it as a simple coincidence and accepts that he isn’t morally superior in any way. In a big city you’re likely to encounter a LOT of people you know on apps. I’ve seen colleagues, subordinates, etc; I haven’t seen an interviewee yet but that’s probably just because of lower numbers. Everybody pretends it’s not happening.

    Checking out apps while waiting for your interview isn’t a good look, though. Your focus should be entirely on the job while you’re in their offices. (But again, I doubt your interviewer is judging you for anything–the apps don’t typically have very precise or accurate timestamps, so he has no way of knowing whether you looked at his profile from the lobby or before/after the interview.)

  40. Phony Genius*

    I wonder if OP3 is worried about being blacklisted in the industry. Since the designer was once famous, and likely has some pull in the industry, this could be a legitimate concern.

    1. Gazebo Slayer*

      True… unless she’s now actually regarded as disgraced or as an embarrassment who shouldn’t have been famous in the first place.

  41. Observer*

    Alison, there is an issue with your answer on the electronics storage. The cost of a locking cabinet or the like is not the only issue here. SPACE is. I’ve seen cubicles that really ARE too small to allow a decent sized locking cabinet to fit. That seems to be a concern here. Do you have any suggestions to deal with that?

    1. Yorick*

      They can find a space for a locking cabinet, even if it’s not in the OP’s cube.

      1. Observer*

        That assumes that it’s being taken under consideration. Keep in mind that the OP specifically states that they asked if there would be a space elsewhere if not in their cubicle. And they were told “no decisions”. Given the focus on reducing the amount of space the company is using, it really is quite possible that there just will not be a space. Period. OR only in an office belonging to a higher up, which is going to present its own set of challenges.

    2. Mockingjay*

      Most cubicles have modular components, including locking drawers that can be added. The company could also purchase a small locking cabinet from an office supply or big box store which will fit under the desk surface.

    3. BadWolf*

      Space could be an issue — but they make those roller pod things that roll under desks so unless the OP only has 1 chair width of space, they should be able to find something for tablets for sure. Laptops could be cable locked to something (Unless the OP is dealing with many laptops and doesn’t have surface area to stack them somewhere…if that’s the case, unsure how OP is going to test with them). Sure, locking to a desk leg is only so secure, but I think the OP needs to prevent the casual grab here or they’d probably (or not, who knows) be more concerned to begin with.

  42. Kathenus*

    For #1 – I used to work for someone who did this. He was someone I had known professionally, and become business-friendly with, for years before he was hired at my organization. Due to this I was a bit more comfortable being somewhat bold in how I handled it. After just dealing with it for a while, and being frustrated every time it happened, I decided on a new strategy. Whenever he would turn his attention away to something else, I just stopped the conversation and waited for him to re-engage. If he said something like ‘go on, I’m listening’ I told him that I’d prefer to wait until I had his full attention, so go ahead and finish what he was doing. I said it politely, but it got the point across, and he got a lot better with it over time. I know that won’t work for everyone, but it helped in this situation.

    1. Gumby*

      Yes, this.

      Also, my response to “where were we?” would be “What is the last thing you remember?” Because who knows how much of what has already been said stuck.

    2. Bananatiel*

      My boss at my previous job was just like OP 1’s and I didn’t even really regard it as bold to just stop talking every time she turned to read an email or respond to an instant message. It just made sense to me. Unfortunately, in my case, she was completely fine with me just sitting there silently and even started to thank me for my “patience” by the time I was getting ready to resign for other reasons. So I’d recommend OP have the scripts in their back pocket if they try this and it backfires.

  43. MistressManipulator*

    Letter #3 QUIT THIS PERSON.

    Change their contact name in your phone so seeing their name doesn’t trigger a response (using spaces, random text, or “Do Not Answer” has worked for me.) Delete their text threads so the top few that you see when you open texts are friends and family and other jobs, instead of theirs. Ditto any recent phonecalls / emails of theirs. Change their contact ringtone if you can.

    1. MistressManipulator*

      Forgot to say – it sounds like you’re in a bad friendship with this person.

      Have you had one of those? A ‘friend’ who needs you to constantly drive them places, let them crash on your couch, do favors for them? You do have one of those — but because it’s a work situation, you’ve become convinced that person is the gateway to this career.

      There are other ways in. Get away from this one. It’s a sinking ship.

  44. Name Required*

    OP#1, I’ve had the same distracted boss. I tried the techniques Alison’s suggested, and boss would still bring her computer to meetings in other locations, or check her phone instead, even when she committed to “giving me her full attention.” I also tried bringing my own computer in and continuing my work while she did her interruptions; that worked better for my time utilization, but didn’t work well for us actually having a real conversation.

    I eventually resorted to cheerfully saying, “Looks like this isn’t a good time to talk; I’ll get back to the [whatever report, x project]. Let me know when you have a minute” every time she stopped our conversation to take a phone call or send an email that I knew was going to make our 15 minute meeting into a 45 minute meeting, where I mostly sat waiting for her. I would then get up and leave her office. That did help her see the issue, and while she improved, she never stopped entirely. I took what I could get, and it was one of the reasons I eventually started looking for another job.

    1. Mimmy*

      I eventually resorted to cheerfully saying, “Looks like this isn’t a good time to talk; I’ll get back to the [whatever report, x project]. Let me know when you have a minute” every time she stopped our conversation to take a phone call or send an email that I knew was going to make our 15 minute meeting into a 45 minute meeting, where I mostly sat waiting for her. I would then get up and leave her office.

      I’m like that with my supervisor. She’ll get interrupted by a phone call or a coworker while we’re talking. I would say “I can come back” and get up but she usually insists I stay. She has a lot of demands on her time, sometimes unexpectedly so, but she often promises to make time for me / says I can come by only to have her be pulled away yet again. A couple of my coworkers have had similar complaints that she’s hard to get time with.

  45. milksnake*

    OP #5
    I’m wrapping up a job hunt and just had something similar happen to me. The interview, office culture, position, etc all seemed like an absolutely amazing fit but they couldn’t move forward until the department manager was back from a three-week vacation. So I kept searching, but hoped to hear back in three weeks.

    Well in the meantime I had another interview, with better pay and benefits, and they offered me the job within a few days. I called the other company to let them know and they ended up asking for a second interview, but their time frame didn’t match up with mine, and ultimately I wasn’t willing to let the better paying job go so I politely told them I was accepting another offer but hope our paths cross in the future.

    Keep looking, and if another interview leads to a job offer you can call the organization and say something to the effect of “I’ve received a job offer from another company and didn’t want to move forward until I had a chance to touch base with you.” It might spur them to move forward with something, or you may just end up with a better job somewhere else!

  46. LaDeeDa*

    OP#3, my heart goes out to you. I know you want to believe that this talented designer will mentor you, pay you, and remember all your dedication and hard work if they ever make it big again, but the sad reality is they probably will not make good on any of that. An honest and good person who is not entitled would never allow someone in your position to do what you are doing. They couldn’t, in good conscious, take advantage of you like they are. Someone who felt about you, like you feel about them, would be using their connections and influence to find you a paying internship or job, or at the very least coaching you into finding those connections yourself, not working you to exhaustion for FREE.
    So please, please, listen to all the commenters and Alison, and make your break.

  47. theletter*

    OP #5, the job I’m in now was a ‘forward this resume to this other hiring manager’ situation. It worked out. I think you just have to treat it as yet another job lead, possibly a very solid one. Keep up your application momentum while you wait. Good things are coming. You’re getting close.

  48. Jaybeetee*

    LW3, your situation sounds shady as hell, and if this person you’re working for is actually experienced in the field (any field), she *knows* it’s shady as hell, and she’s doing it anyway. She’s aware that “volunteers” don’t work 60-hour weeks – especially very young adult volunteers who are clearly trying to get somewhere in the industry. On top of that, it sounds like she berates you to tears. You suggest at one point in your letter that you’re actually *incurring* costs working for her – transportation, etc.

    I know you’re young, inexperienced, trying to get a foot in the door. This is how people get exploited, and that’s what’s happening to you. Even flipping burgers would be a better deal at this point – at least then you’re getting paid and would likely work fewer hours.

  49. Hlyssande*

    For OP4-

    I agree that having a secure lockup for company-owned equipment is absolutely critical and that CYA is needed here.

    That said, I’m wondering about the physical position near the door. Who wants to bet poor OP4 is going to end up as the de facto receptionist for everyone who comes in there? =\

  50. Perpal*

    OP 3 – nooooo! There’s a reason so many creatives joke (negatively) about being “paid in experience” and “exposure” (ie “another artist dies of exposure” jokes). It’s because PEOPLE ARE TAKING ADVANTAGE OF YOU. You’ve already done 3 months works; list it on your resume as some kind of volunteer experience, and move on. If you feel guilty somehow, give her a few days notice. Demand to be paid at least min wage for what you are doing or stop. Do not fall victim to “sunk cost fallacy” – I know you’ve already put a lot of work in and you can’t take that back. But more work is going to just be wasted. Get out now and list it on your resume under a type of experience, and look for a real job that isn’t abusing you.

  51. Anonymeece*

    OP #3: One thing that’s here that I’m noticing is… you said she’s very strict and made you cry. Honestly, she’s getting free work. You’re working 12 hours a day. If someone is still rude to you when you are, in essence, doing them a VERY BIG favor, they’re not close to you. They’re looking for someone to exploit. If she were grateful and treating you right, it might be a different story (though I’ll still say that it’s not good to work for free), but she’s not, and that’s detrimental to your health and situation.

    Quite frankly, you have the power here, not her.

    Get out now.

  52. MOAS*

    Re #3- oh my goodness, this is sooooooo like my experience I had 7 years ago trying to get a job. I was working for a month in a pharmacy for free and kept getting strung along. I had the exact same hesitations about not having enough experience and the time wasted. This kind of abusive behavior really makes life shit– you keep thinking the more time you put in eventually it will pay off when the person using you has no intention of paying you.

    It would be so satisfying that if in a few years this person did make it big again and get really popular, OP would sue them for wages. I know it’s not likely, but man ppl who do this deserve everything that comes to them.

  53. Sleepy*

    #5 – My small organization sometimes has second favorites we couldn’t hire. There just aren’t that many openings. We sometimes do reach back out over new openings, but that can be up to a year later. I’d say keep job searching and view this connection as a next-next-job possibility; find something and when you want to move in from that position, reach back out to these folks.

  54. Sleepy*

    #3 – don’t let yourself be strung along any more! If you’re willing to work for free for a time, look for an internship with an established company. If nothing else, you’ll learn more about professionalism and how your industry works. This woman sounds like she’s probably teaching you very wrong lessons about both of those things.

  55. Hooptie*

    #1 – I feel for you. My boss uses our 8 30 am check in times to drive into the office. Between his cell phone cutting out every 2 minutes and not being able to screen share with him, it feels like a major waste of time. But there’s no other time that I can get in front of him, so I try to be happy with that. Oh….I’m his EA. :(

  56. Valentina*

    I am OP #3. I think I may have missed a few things in my post. I am a recent grad with a barchelor in Business Administration. I speak English, Spanish and French. I have always had my goals clear. I want to work abroad and have my own clothing brand. That’s why I was so keen to work for free, she totally sold me this idea that I could learn a lot from her as she is in the fashion world, met a lot of ppl and if she had to travel I could go with her. I even turned down a job offer in another city. But more than all the hours, I got tired of her attitude. She is very bossy and manipulative. One of her old workers opened my eyes and said she was Ursula. She was very stingy and strict. I have mentioned it to her lately that my mom’s company is having financial problems but she mentions that we have to give “faith steps” and I even told her I had another job offer in Marketing which I wanted. She said she was about to tell me about meeting up and discussing monthly wage. That I could work mid time. Then spent 45 mins talking about how I could learn more from her, that she sees potential in me, that it was a lifetime opportunity and that Marketing is useless and that I needed to behave like an adult and professional. I just knew right there I had to let go.

    1. Observer*

      Does this mean that you’ve taken the other job?

      I really, really hope so. I’m so glad that you’ve realized that you need to walk away!

    2. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      She’s manipulating you and that’s why it is so hard to break ties.

      Honestly, if she has to try to convince you that she’s “so amazing” and will get you “so many opportunities” it’s more likely that she’s bottomed out in her career and grasping straws at this rate.

      You are young and eager to learn, this woman is not the right person to mentor you and get you where you want to be! Do not let someone boss you around so viciously when they are paying you in empty promises of what they will bring you in the future. That’s classic Evil Witch behavior, Ursula is a great way of describing her after reading your additional information!

      Best of luck, you’re going to do great but this path is best forged without this woman clutching onto you.

    3. WoodswomanWrites*

      It’s good get this update. Can you let us know if you have left and found another job? Hoping so!

  57. Bananatiel*

    #1 – So this isn’t something I’ve tried but something I’ve realized in retrospect having dealt with a very similar boss. My current boss is fully present in all of our weekly meetings and I’ve realized that she is on top of EVERYTHING. No need to constantly re-state information I’d already provided. With my last boss meetings were distraction-filled and it makes sense to me now that she simply wasn’t processing what I was saying and then it’d come up as an issue later.

    Knowing what I do now– if you think that might be an issue for you too I would work that in as well, in a gentle way. Something along the lines of “Oh we discussed that in our last weekly meeting but…” so that your requests to have tech-free meetings have a little bit more weight to them.

  58. Rust1783*

    Gay guy here. #2’s situation is EXACTLY why I keep clear face pictures out of my main profile on apps like this, and exclusively send them via messaging. It’s true that hook-up apps are often more focused on quick-and-dirty info exchange, and some people will never make the first move on someone without a face pic in their profile. That just means I usually have to make the first move, which is fine, but other people will never ever make the first move and expect their face/body pictures to be like fishing lines.

    For those folks who don’t use or think about these apps much, maybe you can see how complicated the dynamics become around a simple decision like including your face picture.

  59. PaperGirl*

    With regards to #2…
    There may be some chance that it didn’t even register with him that you were the interviewee, OP. Maybe you looked familiar…but there’s a chance he couldn’t place you. I say this because no matter ho clear the pictures or how “honest” the angles, I never can confidently ID a person from a picture if I’ve never met them before. I matched with a double amputee paralympian once…conversation fizzled out so I never met him in person…until he was brought in as part of a lecture series my office does… So there is a very athletic, attractive man…from my area…with a name I’ve seen before…oh…and with no legs…and I still didn’t recognize him. It did make things awkward when he recognized me and made a joke about how he had to get into motivational speaking to finally meet me….in front of my coworkers and bosses…. but yeah, there’s a chance your interviewer is as doltish as I am and didn’t even register you as his hookup app match.

    Also, I am a straight cis woman only familiar with Tinder and Bumble…can you not slyly unmatch on this app?

    In any case, don’t do anything. I don’t think it’s that awkward of a situation, but, like what seems to be the general consensus here, I do think saying anything has the potential to create awkwardness.

    1. Brogrammer*

      Many gay dating apps still follow the older method where you can view and message any profile, and “matching” is more of an icebreaker than anything else. Blocking works the same, though. That said, OP2 reported upthread that he didn’t get the job and did hook up with the interviewer, so all’s well that ends well!

  60. Cats and dogs*

    OP #3: something like this happened to my brother. After 4 months they said they sent a Contract in the mail. He felt indebted to them and wanted to get paid so stayed. After 6 months he got the hint. No contract in the mail. No back pay- nothing to show for it. They got free work. Please leave and use whatever excise you can muster to make yourself do it. In a year you will wish you left sooner and won’t care so try to get there quicker.

Comments are closed.