can I report my daughter’s affair to HR, exit interviews in tiny organizations, and more

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

1. Can I report my daughter’s workplace affair to HR?

I am a supervisor in the security department at a hospital. My 27-year-old daughter, with two young daughters of her own, also works at the hospital in a different department. She has since entered into a relationship with a married gentleman who works directly under me.

I have spoken to both of them about terminating this relationship because I feel it is improper. Their behavior is also causing lots of gossip at work, which makes me very uncomfortable. Do I have a case for going to HR?

No. As long as neither of them has authority over the other, and as long as their relationship isn’t causing disruption at work, their private relationship isn’t something HR would have any standing to intervene in (nor do you as this man’s manager, for that matter). You also risk a serious breach in your relationship with your daughter if you attempt to jeopardize her employment by involving HR.

I can understand why you’re dismayed and disappointed, but you can’t use her employer as a cudgel here.

2. Was I rude to the person taking my fast food order?

The other day, I walked into a McDonald’s. The cashier ran outside with someone’s order and stated she would be right back. No problem there. When she got back, she let me know she was ready for my order. I waited a couple seconds for her to get behind the counter, and as I’m about to order, another employee next to her butts in and asks her what time she gets off today. I said, “Excuse me, it’s my turn to order, you can gossip later.” Did I go overboard here? Should I have just stayed quiet and put my tail between my legs? I felt it was rather rude she interrupted her on my time.

Yes, you were rude. You could have said, “Excuse me, I’m in a bit of a hurry — would you mind if I ordered now?” But “you can gossip later” was weirdly hostile. (Plus, asking someone what time their shift ends isn’t gossip — and for all we know, could have been a work-related question with some urgency to it if they were trying to determine coverage.)

3. How to approach an exit interview at a two-person organization

I have given my two weeks notice at a very challenging job at a very small nonprofit, and I am trying to plan so my last days go as smoothly as possible. I have an exit interview with my boss this week.

How can I best approach an exit interview conversation when my boss is the only other employee here? There are only two of us, so there is no one else who could conduct the interview. She has emphasized that she really hopes I can be honest about why I started looking for other jobs, what worked about my position, and what was challenging either about the position or about how I was managed.

My boss is a large part of the reason why I am leaving. I told her when I gave notice that I was leaving for a “great” opportunity, but the truth is it’s a lateral move that gives me better benefits and more coworkers. I was told I was hired to learn and grow with the organization, but I was given no oversight, support, or structure. My boss is too busy to be a manager, and I always felt as if I were wasting her time when I asked questions. Additionally this tiny organization has terrible benefits, and a huge part of my salary was going towards trying to make up for not having benefits by planning for healthcare and retirement. Is it best to stick to the shortest version of the truth like I did when I gave notice, or would it be beneficial to let her in on more specific reasons for leaving she asked about, some of which involve her directly?

How open is your boss to hearing feedback about herself? Is she someone who gets defensive, or does she have a track record of being truly open and handling dissent well? If she does have a good track record, you could consider sharing some of this with her — although even then, I wouldn’t dump it all on her but rather would pick two or three things to share. (Even if she’s great with feedback, hearing a litany of all the ways you were unhappy might change the way she thinks of you, regardless of how open to it she wants to be.) But if she doesn’t have that track record, there’s no incentive for you to risk harming the relationship just as you’re leaving, and potentially jeopardizing future references from her as well. In that case, I’d just mention the benefits thing, as that’s pretty impersonal feedback, and otherwise stick to what you said when you gave notice.

4. Will it reflect poorly on me if my husband turns down a job with my company?

My husband has been unemployed for several years due to moves, career changes, and plain bad luck. I have been at my new company for four months now, and it’s a great fit for me. I really like my boss, the people, and the culture. It’s a privately owned, local company and they tend to give hiring preference to relatives and spouses of current employees. I told HR my husband was looking for a job and they were kind enough to bring him in for an interview when a position opened up. He didn’t hear anything for about a month after the interview with my company, which is fine, but during this time he accepted a conditional offer for a government job. This job pays about the same as the job with my company, but it has much better benefits and aligns more with his career goals. However, he is still going through the background check and clearance process for the government job. He has no start date yet, so even though he really wants this position he’s been trying to continue his job search. Just yesterday he was told by my company that he is one of the top three candidates for the position he interviewed for, and they invited him to come back in for one final interview before they make a decision.

His first choice is the government job, but I think he is doing the right thing by continuing to pursue other opportunities until he completely passes the background check and has a firm start date. My company would be his second choice if the government job does not work out. What I’m wondering is this: if he ends up receiving an offer from my company, would it reflect poorly on me if he turned it down for the government job? I really appreciate my company giving him this opportunity, and I don’t want them to feel like they wasted their time meeting with him. If the government job does not pan out he would definitely accept the job at my company, so I don’t believe he is acting in bad faith but I would just like to make sure.

No, not at all! Interviewing for a job doesn’t obligate you to accept it. And most job seekers are applying with multiple companies, which always means there could be competing offers — and even if there aren’t, people can turn down jobs for all sorts of other reasons (like not being able to come to terms on salary, realizing the fit just isn’t right for them, etc.). None of that changes just because he’s married to an employee there.

The one caution I’d give is that he shouldn’t accept the job with your company if he might quit it soon afterwards once the government job comes through. That risks reflecting badly on you. But simply turning down the offer is absolutely fine. (He should do it graciously, of course — meaning he should thank them for the opportunity, express appreciation for their time, and explain the other job was simply too good to pass up.)

5. Can I ask to work from home because of my terrible allergies?

I have terrible, terrible allergies, and lately things have started to get pretty intense. My doctor currently has me taking four different prescription medicines, and I am planning on starting immunotherapy/allergy shots soon to start getting my symptoms under control. The medicine and the procedures are really starting to take a toll on my energy levels, to the point that I think it might be worth considering working from home one or two days a week. I’ve worked from home a few times before on the weekends to help with heavy workload (the summertime is an incredibly busy time of year in my field), but we’re a fairly small business of 20-30 people and telework is generally only used for employees who once worked in the office but had to move out of state. I’d prefer it to be a temporary arrangement too, only for the seven months to a year, in the “building-up” phase of treatment.

My husband is encouraging me to ask, but I’m hesitant. He’s a graduate student, which affords him a lot of flexibility that is not often found in my professional field. Am I overthinking this? And if I am, how would I request telecommuting in a way that shows my employer that I am not trying to take advantage of them? I can’t shake the feeling of how silly it feels to be asking for work privileges for allergies.

It’s not silly to ask for accommodations for terrible allergies. Allergies at their worst can be debilitating. Talk to your boss and explain the situation! And don’t just say “allergies,” but explain how severe they are — that you’re on four different medicines and are starting shots soon because they’re still not controlled, that your symptoms are X and Y, and that you’re finding it impacts your energy on days when you go outside (or whatever the case is). And then explain what you’re asking for and why it would help. The answer may or may not be yes, but in an office where people can go fully remote when they move, I think you have a decent shot at it, but even if you’re turned down, it’s not going to come across as presumptuous or weird to ask.

Read an update to this letter here.

{ 818 comments… read them below }

  1. Wanda*

    OP #5: You might have more success if you frame it as an “immune disorder” that causes allergies. Because what you’re describing is severe enough that it might be the cause.

    1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

      I also wonder if OP might request intermittent FMLA and frame WFH as an ADA accommodation? At this point, OP’s allergies are so severe that they may rise to an ADA-qualifying condition. Framing it that way may help hammer home how uniquely bad their symptoms are.

      1. Fortitude Jones*

        Intermittent FMLA is the route I’d go if I was the OP (and, of course, if OP’s company is big enough to have to offer it). I’ve gotten permission in the past to work from home when I was under this, and the position I was in did not typically have that option -FMLA basically forced my grandboss to get over his aversion to WFH, and I was very grateful for that protection and HR’s assistance.

          1. tiffbunny*

            Intermittent FMLA specifically addresses WFM, in cases where the employer has sanctioned the WFM, as they’re not required to allow it.

              1. Adric*

                Now I want to know what “WFM” stands for, Work From Moon? Work From Mine? Work From Mississippi? (Further question: river, state, or employee’s choice?) something else?

                1. ToS*

                  Work from Moon is VERY intriguing, however the lag for the communication is significant. Communication has the pace of a tennis game, not quite back-and-forth.

                2. Seeking Second Childhood*

                  Work from Mansion, for the upper level executive.
                  Work from McDonald’s, for someone whose home wifi goes out.

          2. Fortitude Jones*

            Intermittent FMLA deals with deals with absence and whatever else your company deems it cover for short-term periods of short term leave of the office, which in my company’s case also meant WFH opportunities.

      2. AcademiaNut*

        The OP says it’s a business of 20-30 people, which would mean that FMLA is not applicable. I do like the framing as an immune disorder – it gets to the severity of the issue.

        If it’s a situation where working from home provides a significant advantage (like staying in a climate controlled room with an air-filter), that’s one way to approach the request. Going into energy levels would be okay with a reasonable employer, particularly if you stress that commuting to the office increases the energy problems.

    2. Engineer Girl*

      I realize that many people think allergies are hay fever, so may not understand the severity of bad ones. That said, the minute you say immunotherapy they usually get that it’s more serious.

      I agree on asking for ADA and FMLA accommodations.

      I had to go through immunotherapy myself when I was in university. It’s a big time commitment. You go in for your shots and then sit there in the Drs office (usually for 30 minutes) hoping you don’t have a bad reaction. Then you do it again and again on a regular basis while you build up your tolerance. It’s also quite expensive.

      And it is totally worth it!!!!!

      When I was young I spent every spring pumped full of cortisone shots. I could barely breathe. I’d be so pumped full of antihistamines I couldn’t stay awake. And of course there’s the Epi-pen. After the immunotherapy I only have seasonal hay fever.

      My immunologist changed my life.

      1. RUKiddingMe*

        It was a life changer for my son, who was allergic to everything on the planet…except cats (go figure).

        Me, my sister, my dad…all have cat allergies to one degree or another. Son…nope.

        1. Michaela Westen*

          I have several food and several airborne allergies, but no allergies to animals.

      2. CJ Record*

        Twice a week, for months, not fully covered by insurance, and honestly? Best money I’ve spent on health care in my life.

      3. Yellow*

        I’m 7 years into immunotherapy shots. Yes, 7. I go every week, but I’m sick a lot less than I was before, and I can go outside without wanting to die!

      4. Else*

        Mine too! It has by far contributed most profoundly to my personal well-being and quality of life. They work great for me, but I have to do it again every time I move to a new climate – and I’ve moved a lot! I’m on my fourth set now, and I’d still choose to do it every time. It’s the only reason I’m alive and functional.

      5. Seeking Second Childhood*

        I got part way through allergy shots and stopped when I got pregnant. (There are safety reasons to not increase the exposure during pregnancy.) Even with only HALF the treatment, my allergies have been so much improved that I actually *gave away* antihistamines that were nearing expiration.

    3. SigneL*

      Surely your coworkers have seen how bad your allergies are? But yes, I’d reframe this as an immune disorder and get documentation from my doctor. When I lived in New England I had terrible allergies, so bad that I had to move, so I sympathize and hope you find an answer that works for you.

      1. Turquoisecow*

        Good point. When my allergies were bad, EVERYONE in the office knew me as the one who sneezed all the time. While they might have been jealous if I was able to WFH, they also might have welcomed the quiet.

        1. Rusty Shackelford*

          After my office neighbors have said “bless you” a few times, I tend to tell them they’re free to stop for the rest of the day.

          1. Seeking Second Childhood*

            “Bless you times X , X being the number of times that you sneeze.” –my college roommate the scientist

              1. Galloping Gargoyles*

                A lot of times I say to my colleague “bless you for the rest of the day” after the 4th or 5th one.

      2. Late to the game*

        I have mast cell activation syndrome and mastocytosis and while I do get sneezy and rashy, I often just have ginormous swollen joints and awful body pain- and that’s not always super visible. I once got complimented on my outfit and was thinking “this is literally the only thing my giant, swollen joints could fit in today without wanting to de-limb myself”

    4. Seeking Second Childhood*

      Also worth considering framing it as request for TC “during the treatment period” , especially if your allergist is closer to home than to work and it would save you time.

    5. OP #5*

      OP#5 here. I just wanted to update everyone and say that I talked to my boss about the situation and my telework was approved immediately. Thank you Alison, and all those who commented, for encouraging me to ask. I don’t think I would have acted without your advice.

  2. Fortitude Jones*

    OP #2: Have you ever seen the movie “Waiting?” Yeah…after your response, I don’t think you should have eaten whatever you ordered. Yikes!

    1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

      Thankfully they probably didn’t adulterate OP’s food, but OP’s behavior was rude and unnecessarily hostile.

      It’s also a little . . . intense? . . . to perceive waiting for service as “wasting your time.” Of course no one wants to wait for ages, but this sounds like a 10 to 30 second delay. And for all OP knows, the woman helping OP may have said, “Just a sec, let me take this customer’s order” if given the chance.

      And for better or worse, OP’s response also read as a gendered insult to me. Asking when someone’s shift ends could easily be a business-related question. Calling it “gossip” is weirdly loaded in this context.

      1. nnn*

        Yeah, I find myself wondering how OP arrived at the word “gossip”.

        Do they use that word for any conversation they don’t like?

        1. Swampy*

          I wonder if they thought the other worker was asking in order to invite her to something and make plans instead of figuring out how well the store would be staffed later on. If they had never worked in a store or restaurant they might not know that this is a common work question where as in an office environment it would more likely be a social question.

          1. Really very*

            “If they had never worked in a store or restaurant they might not know that this is a common work question where as in an office environment it would more likely be a social question.“

            This is a great point, but the gossip comment would have been rude in an office too.

          2. Mookie*

            Ah, that makes sense, and makes the LW look worse by consequence. There are very logical, adult reasons colleagues need to know who is working when, LW. Your assumption here has some very loaded implications I’d recommend examining in private.

          3. Yorick*

            I’m sure that is what they thought, but that wouldn’t really be “gossip” anyway!

          4. Ra94*

            But even so, the relevant (still rude) comment would be something like, “Oh, is it social hour?” Gossip does seem weirdly gendered and out of place.

          5. AKchic*

            Yep. The time a person clocks off can control when they go on break (and who would need to cover that break), whether or not that person can cover other breaks, who would need to relieve that person, if that person can start a time-consuming project, etc.
            It’s not “gossip” to answer a question. It takes less than 2 seconds for the exchange and is certainly not wasting a customer’s time because the customer is still quite able to order their food and go. For all we know, the poor cashier could have said “5 minutes ago” as an answer and the cashiers could have switched, thus giving OP 2 a fresher, faster worker.

            OP 2 was oddly antagonistic and I would have been fake nice from that point on, but would not have gone out of my way to do anything more than the bare minimum of my job for them. They lost my goodwill.

        2. Myrin*

          Yeah, I did not get that at all – that’s one single question, not gossip.
          (Swampy’s point makes a ton of sense, though. But even still, at this point, it was only one sentence – you can call it gossip once it’s morphed into a more elaborate back-and-forth, not after hearing one question. I can’t get over that.)

        3. Anoon*

          Not sure what the optics were on the cashier, but LW came across as privileged, and seemed to be pulling rank on I-don’t-work-at-this-level, or maybe it was age-bias (young)

          Yeah, no call for slandering someone’s conversation.

      2. Engineer Girl*

        I’ve been on the other side of this.

        The cashier will quickly wait on the men if front of me. Then she’ll tell me to wait as she does maintenance chores and then gets back to me a minute later.

        I’ve also seen where the other workers feel free to interrupt my order to talk to the cashier.

        In short, I don’t get treated the same as the men.

        But calling it gossip is over the top.

        1. Really very*

          Wait, what?

          We’re talking about gender because the criticism of the cashier was gendered.

          1. Engineer Girl*

            And I’m talking about gender because cashiers can treat females customers differently than males.
            First, the cashier made the OP wait so they could deliver an order. Then the other worker interrupted the OPs order to ask about work times. Why didn’t that worker wait until the order was finished?
            You don’t interrupt a customers order. Especially after you’ve already told them to wait.
            While the gossip comment was totally wrong, it was also wrong to keep the OP waiting – twice!
            As I’ve said, I’ve seen cashiers give males all their attention and focus. Not so much for females.

            1. Arctic*

              It wasn’t remotely wrong to keep OP waiting. The person getting their food (likely drive-thru) was there first. And it would have been faster to let the cashier answer than to interupt rudely.

              A cashier’s job is not just to serve you immediately. There are many competing tasks.

              1. HarperC*

                I agree. The cashiers are responsible for delivering the food. Sometimes, there will be a manager or floater who can run delayed orders out to the cars they tell to pull forward, but when understaffed, the person working the register has to do it. That’s just how to goes. That’s also true with other tasks that are sometimes hard to get to when you have a steady stream of customers.

                1. Emily K*

                  Also, let’s be real here, “on my time?” This is a McDonald’s, not Zara, and the $5 you spent on fast food is not a retainer.

            2. NothingIsLittle*

              Not responding to the gender thing, but clearing up some confusion I think you may have. My first job, where I worked for two years, was as a front counter and drive-thru cashier in a high volume McDonalds. Company policy is explicitly to run food to any parked cars before taking front counter orders in order to minimize excessive wait times, which doesn’t start being tracked until the first item is input. The cashier was doing her job, in that regard.

              Then, a worker jumped in with a question that, in a customers mind, can wait until after they’ve ordered. What you’re not considering is that the cashier may have been mandated for a break at that point, as in my location they waited until either the last possible moment or the last possible moment before the lunch rush, to give them. Or the cashier may have had a necessary task before she clocked out and that clock out time was rapidly approaching. It’s an urgent question so that the coworker can arrange coverage, or can cover her, as some others have said. Why didn’t that worker wait? Because in certain cases, the coworker would have immediately taken over the order and OP would have gotten more attentive service for it.

              You need to understand that the customer is not the metric success is measured by, it’s time. Knowing how a McDonalds handles that, this situation is pretty much exactly as you’d expect, right down to the customer getting huffy because they perceived themselves to have been inconvenienced.

              And frankly, for minimum wage or barely above, it’s thankless work and you shouldn’t be a jerk about it. Anyone who thinks that they can be snitty with service workers, especially fast-food workers, needs a serious reality check. They deal with jerks all day, there is no reason to be one of them.

              1. Michaela Westen*

                I’ve always thought restaurant workers are terribly undervalued. Look at the skills required:
                1. Advanced people skills including coping well with other cultures
                2. Ability to organize work in your head while moving quickly to do other things
                3. Flexibility to adapt quickly to changing situations
                4. Technical skills to handle food safely
                5. (in the case of servers) the dexterity to carry plates of food without touching the food or spilling it.
                In other contexts these skills would be very valuable and most executives couldn’t do this work if their life depended on it.

                1. Anonymeece*

                  I worked at McDonald’s and once had to explain the tax system to a woman who didn’t understand why her 99 cent cheeseburger cost $1.08.

                  So add that to the list. ;)

              2. EventPlannerGal*

                +100, particularly to your last paragraph. Of all the things in the world you could choose to be an asshole about, you’re going to pick a 10-second delay in getting your Big Mac and fries?

            3. Rishi*

              Hello there I am the OP for question #2. Just to clarify, it is not a gender thing but a cultural issue, until you have spent some time in Miami, FL you might not understand. It was no problem the cashier made me wait to fulfill a drive through order the problem I had was when we were rudely interrupted by her coworker, as if I didn’t even exist she didn’t acknowledge me and I could sense she “thought I was less than her for some reason” (maybe because I don’t speak her language) [but understand it]. I agree however that the gossip comment was rude and hostile and that I could have phrased it better. I normally stay quiet and don’t say much, I am just learning these things and I will do my best to make sure my responses are effective and reflect my character.

              1. Agent J*

                Thanks for the additional context, Rishi.

                You were reacting to being ignored and treated differently than other customers (whether real or perceived). It might help for you to have some canned phrases in situations like this so you react from practice and not impulse or emotion. Other commenters have offered great scripts. The best thing you can do now is learn from this situation and make better choices moving forward.

              2. Princess PIP*

                How is this a cultural issue? I’m getting a very uncomfortable feeling from your referencing that, regardless of how carefully you’ve worded it. Are you implying something about a group of people?

                1. Princess PIP*

                  Not buying that. The OP is trying to foist some of the blame for their behavior onto the workers due to one asking “what time are you off?” in another language? Spanish speakers are rude and interruptive? What’s being implied here by invoking ‘culture’ in Miami? No.

                2. ChimericalOne*

                  Rishi’s suggestion that she is “just learning these things” suggests to me that perhaps she is learning to navigate U.S. culture herself. It’s not clear what race, ethnicity, or national origin she has, so it’s a bit of a leap to immediately dismiss out of hand her sense that there are cultural issues at play.

              3. Emily K*

                One insight that might be helpful to you is that when people work these kinds of jobs, they are part of a team. The team members cover for each other, help each other out, blow off steam together, etc. When they’re at work, their focus is on “running the restaurant” in a big-picture sense, as opposed to focusing on optimizing every individual transaction. Such a high volume of customers come through and each customer is only there for a minute or two, while they’re working side-by-side with each other keeping the store running for hours on end.

                What that means is, I know that when I was in food service, I absolutely saw myself as owing more to my coworkers than I did to any random customer at the register. I might never see the customer again, but I’m not only going to see my coworker again, it’s only a matter of time before I need help or a favor from one of my coworkers. I wouldn’t have ignored a coworker for purely social chit-chat, but work-related questions from a coworker I definitely would have considered more important to answer quickly than taking an order, out of loyalty to the only allies I had in what was always, always a crappy, low-wage work environment.

              4. Tired of Anti-Hispanic Sentiment*

                Dude, what??? You need to back this way up. I get what you’re trying to say between the lines about Miami and your “cultural issue” – you don’t like them speaking Spanish to each other in front of you because it makes you feel some kind of way. You have remorse because you snapped, but clearly not remorse for the underlying reasons because you still feel justified with this “thought I was less than her” junk, which you can’t possibly know. People are rude everywhere, but your follow-on comment here really helps put the situation in context. Examine why this bothers you so much, then maybe consider leaving the Miami area if it’s not something you can get over, because we aren’t going anywhere.

              5. Dankar*

                I think your idea of this being a “cultural issue” makes your response worse, honestly. I lived in Florida for most of my life. People speak Spanish not because they don’t want to be understood or think you’re lesser, but because it’s faster and easier.

                So now your snippy response reads to me as racially coded (a Miami thing) and gendered (gossip). I’m glad to hear that you’re open to re-evaluating your response, but I think you should also dig into the preconceptions you brought into that interaction.

                1. Rishi*

                  I’ve no problem with them speaking Spanish in front of me. The problem is their mannerisms and cultural upbringing. Like for example how they gossip just as much as they work or how anyone with dark skin is black and it’s completely okay to disregard them, avoid eye contact (in a culture where everyone says hello how are you) and deny them opportunities (racism) because black is black and white is white right? Only if you’re uneducated.

                2. Agent J*

                  Rishi, I would encourage you to take a step back from this situation. I’m sure other commenters will chime in but you’re applying a generalist, loaded line of thinking into one small interaction with a stranger. You can’t ascribe motivations and character to some you’ve interacted with for a few minutes. It might feel like a big picture issue to you but really this is about treating others with respect and patience, even if you don’t feel like you receive it in return. This incident might seem like evidence of a pattern to you but is really not about you.

                3. oy vey*

                  This is so gross: “The problem is their mannerisms and cultural upbringing… they gossip just as much as they work.” You say this and you’re calling other people uneducated?

                  And then, this is also so gross: “…how anyone with dark skin is black and it’s completely okay to disregard them, avoid eye contact … and deny them opportunities…” So, what you’re saying is, it’s okay to treat black people (whatever that means) that way but it becomes unacceptable when someone reads YOU as black?

                4. LapisLazuli*

                  “The problem is their mannerisms and cultural upbringing.”

                  … wow. Alison’s right. This sounds more and more racially coded. Rishi, I’m going to echo others in that the perceived slight was not about you until you made it about you. Having worked in food retail and customer service for years, I can tell you that in my experience, 99% of the time it’s not about you and you’re just a person that they are helping. The interruption was a legitimate work-based question and you were extremely rude. To say this is a Miami thing or because the people serving you have bias against you… no. Customers always have the upper hand in this power dynamic. ALWAYS. And it sounds to me like you used that (whether consciously or unconsciously) when you snapped at this service worker.

                5. Fortitude Jones*

                  @Rishi You got all of that from a two minute interaction, if that, at McDonald’s? Girllll..

                6. Fortitude Jones*

                  So, what you’re saying is, it’s okay to treat black people (whatever that means) that way but it becomes unacceptable when someone reads YOU as black?

                  I peeped this too, oy vey. This whole thread just went left.

                7. Dankar*

                  Rishi, that is a very, very gross way to approach interactions with an entire culture. Latin/Hispanic people do not “gossip as much as they work;” there is no single racial or cultural group that you can apply such a general statement to.

                  And as I said, my partner and I lived in Florida for many years. He is also ethnically ambiguous enough that assumptions were made about his race/culture/language. That casual racism didn’t manifest as quick snippets of conversation when he was trying to order a burger. More often than not, it happened when customers expected him to snap to as soon as they stepped up to order, when they refused to give him their orders and wanted a white server instead, etc.

                  I am going to have to step away from this before I get too heated, but you are not the one in this situation who was discriminated against. You were momentarily inconvenienced by a busy service worker and you’re using that experience to power some frankly horrifying perceptions of a minority community. Whatever your background or lived experiences are, that’s troubling.

                8. Tired of Anti-Hispanic Sentiment*

                  Rishi. For one: just because someone is viewed as a “white” Hispanic person by Black people does not mean they are viewed that way by “other white people”, or that they don’t deal with prejudice. It is completely untrue that “black is black and white is white”; if you think that then you must be very new to Florida or have never actually interacted with anyone outside that artificial racial binary.

                  Read up on intersectionality; it goes all ways because that it its nature. It’s very, very obvious that they do deal with prejudice, because that’s exactly what you’re doing to them. How many minutes, how many seconds were you actually in that McDonalds, to where you think you can decide that someone is gossiping as much as they are working? How in the hell do you think that lets you generalize to all Hispanic people, and how do you somehow think that’s not exactly what people have done to you??

                  I’m not going to pretend that there aren’t Hispanic people who are racist; that is real in the same way that there are racists from other cultures too (probably *all* of them, by the way!). That doesn’t make it somehow okay to just flip that back on people you don’t even know. Racism never cancels out racism. Don’t talk about uneducated until you stop digging your heels in being ignorant.

                9. oy vey*

                  Also, what is this “in a culture where everyone says hello how are you?” nonsense? I’m latina and this is news to me about my culture. You know… I don’t think this is really about your anxiety that the fast food workers thought they were better than you… it was about them somehow challenging your assumption that you’re better than they are.

                10. EmKay*

                  “The problem is their mannerisms and cultural upbringing.”

                  Nah, the problem is you.

                11. Ethyl*

                  @Rishi — oh……no. Put the shovel down, listen to these commenters, and go forth and be less racist.

                12. Nancie*

                  And people sometimes speak Spanish in front of you because they’re bilingual to the extent that they don’t always speak the language they meant to. (It’s happened to me a time or two on the receiving end, and kind of amazes me as someone who’s mostly monolingual.)

                13. Observer*

                  @Rishi, you’ve GOT to be kidding.

                  The problem is their mannerisms and cultural upbringing. Like for example how they gossip just as much as they work

                  The other worker asked ONE short question and that’s “gossip”? And you know that “they gossip more than they work”? Because OF COURSE they do that because they speak Spanish and everyone who speaks Spanish does that. You’re not in a good place to complain about people who stereotype people.

                  or how anyone with dark skin is black
                  Why is that such a major problem to you? Do you have a problem with Blacks as well as Spanish speakers? What faults do they have that you don’t want to be associated with?

                14. Dahlia*

                  @Nancie: That is so true! My best friend is bilingual and they forget sometimes that I can’t speak their native language and will ask me something in it or send me something written in it.

              6. Jenny Craig*

                I’m not understanding the “thought I was less than her for some reason.” Is there something you left out of the story? Or are you just saying that because the cashiers speak another language than you? I lived in Texas, I’ve heard employees have side conversations in Spanish; never once did I assume this meant they thought they were better than me. I am absolutely not seeing the correlation. If you think that you two employees speaking their (presumably) native language around you means they think some kind of way about you, you might want to examine what leads you to think that.

              7. Rainy*

                You acted like an ass, and your justifications aren’t helping.

                In food service, people ask each other all the time when they’re off, because you need to arrange coverage, figure out what the window is for your break, figure out if you need to be on register or in drive-through immediately or have time to go do a side job quickly, etc.

                Maybe she was “gossiping” (dude/tte, you are doing yourself no favours here), but she was significantly more likely to be figuring out if she has time to fill all the fry baskets or change a syrup tank, and the fact that you used the fact that they were speaking a different language (Spanish?) to slam them is…yeah, you just aren’t looking awesome.

                1. Rishi*

                  I never once used the fact that they were speaking another language to “slam” them. I said maybe that’s the reason she didn’t even acknowledge me.
                  The “thought I was less than her for some reason” has to do with the treatment I have received after moving out of coral gables into a predominantly Latin area, they assume all dark skin individuals are “black” and they were taught by their elders in their households (by example or by other means) of how they they should be treated.
                  When I walk into any place here I get stares from people they think to themselves look at the way this guy dresses, the shoes he wears, it isn’t in line with what we perceive him to be. Sometimes I’ll get a mean look if they are with young children. I just look back and wink at them.

                  The definition of racism is: prejudice or discrimination directed against someone of a different race with a belief that their own race is superior. I’ve read that racism is also defined as denying one opportunities based on the belief that ones own race is superior (discrimination and prejudice). In a predominantly Latin area where the majority have had this belief since they were young that people with dark skin are less than them.. who is the real racist?

                2. oy vey*

                  It’s cool that you can read the minds of every Latinx person you encounter, as well as know all the beliefs they grew up with.

                3. Lance*

                  And so it’s okay to be ‘against’ them? Because that’s what you seem to be suggesting here; that there’s two ‘sides’ in your area, so you’re going to sit yourself securely on one while they sit on the other. Thinking every single one of them is looking down on you, winking at them (what is that supposed to do? I’m really lost on this one), getting up in arms as soon as a tiny little thing doesn’t go your way.

                  This line of thinking is not helpful.

                4. Tired of Anti-Hispanic Sentiment*

                  Rishi: Nope. If you mentioned their language there was a reason, and it sure as hell isn’t going to be a positive one. Implying that someone either doesn’t understand you or immediately dislikes you because they speak a certain language is very firmly in the realm of “slamming”, or whatever veneer you’d like to try to put on that.

                  It’s hard to empathize when you’re snapping at fast food workers because you feel like people in general have been rude to you after you moved out of a toney upscale suburb (yes, I have been there). Like I said before, it’s not that Hispanic people can’t be prejudiced, but 1. you’re also being egregiously prejudiced, as you keep digging yourself deeper in this hold, 2. there really isn’t anything pointing to the cashier(s) actually being prejudiced, and 3. BOTH groups you’re talking about (Hispanic and Black) are groups that are systemically oppressed. Imagine how you’d feel about a white person complaining of this kind of treatment in a majority Black area – that is exactly how you’re coming off.

                5. Mike C.*

                  Removed. You told someone to fuck off and leave the site. That’s not okay here; the commenting rules don’t change just because something offensive has happened. I am addressing the racism directly and if I decide someone needs to leave the site, I’m the person who will tell them that. – Alison

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

                  “who is the real racist?”

                  That would be you.

                7. Pomona Sprout*

                  Rishi, oh honey, you are just digging yourself in deeper with every word, Best quit while you’re ahead.

                  On second thought, I’m sure Alison is going to be shutting this down any time, so feel free to ignore me lolol.

                8. Pomona Sprout*

                  “I could sense she “thought I was less than her for some reason” (maybe because I don’t speak her language”

                  This is where my already raised eyebrows started threatening o diseappear into my hairline.

                  “The problem is their mannerisms and cultural upbringing.”

                  Right about here is where my jaw hit the floor so hard it hurt.

                  “Who here is the real racist?”

                  …And I am done. Backing away from this before I get myself in trouble.

                9. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

                  Rishi, it sounds like you may be making the mistake where you use your individual experiences to draw generalizations about an entire group. You’re making some keen observations about colorism, but you’ve cut off the analysis too early. Colorism exists across all communities. But it’s a major jump to assume you’re being treated poorly because colorism is a hard-wired norm in Latinx communities. I think it’s important to reevaluate your beliefs and assumptions about Latinx folks, because drawing the kinds of conclusions you’ve drawn feeds into racial discrimination and hostility. I get the impression that you’re not a person who wants to behave in a racist manner, and you feel mistreated on the basis of your color/race. So it’s important not to respond to what we perceive as racial discrimination by reproducing that racism and projecting it onto others.

                  FWIW, I’m a non-Black woman of color who is relatively dark skinned. I suspect we have shared experiences with colorism. I think you’ll feel less upset and may be able to take the high road, going forward, if you start with the assumption that people have good intentions and are are not being racist toward you. That lets you behave kindly, and it gives you time to observe and determine if there really is a problem. Let folks disprove your (positive) assumption. And treat Latinx folks as individuals, not as a monolithic group with collective beliefs or behaviors.

                10. Michaela Westen*

                  @Rishi, I understand what you’re doing here. You’ve had a few experiences, or been taught this by friends and family, that gave you the impression Latinos have this bad opinion of you, and now you’re expecting this treatment from all Latinos.
                  Not all Latinos are going to think this or treat you this way. All groups have some jerks, but most are not.
                  Work on letting go of this expectation and treat everyone as an individual. Interact with no expectation of how they see you or what they think of you. Form your impressions by the way they treat you as an individual. Your impression will be of only the person you interacted with, not the group they happen to be part of.
                  You will be much happier when you have no expectations of good or bad treatment from others and wait to see what happens. :)

                11. Zennish*

                  Not to go all zen, Rishi, but your perception of the various “looks” people give you or what they are thinking is only that: your perception. You’re making yourself miserable with a story you’re telling yourself, rather than honestly assessing what’s going on in the actual moment. Everything past “I was waiting to order, and a coworker asked the cashier a question” isn’t reality, but a narrative you’re creating in your own mind.

                12. Thursday Next*

                  PCBH, Michaela Weston, and Zennish have good, actionable advice that OP should take on board, if he’s still reading.

              8. oy vey*

                Huh. So you’re worried that the people making minimum wage in a thankless job think they’re better than you? It’s bizarre to feel threatened by people speaking in different languages, ESPECIALLY in one which you understand. You KNEW they weren’t “gossiping” you understood the question.

                1. Rishi*

                  Ferguson, stealer of pens .. your opinion is yours I don’t think I’m better than anyone I just don’t like people who do.

                2. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

                  Rishi, that is not how systemic and structural racial inequality work. I think you may be limiting yourself by drawing so heavily on your personal deductions about others’ motives and about the cultural characteristics or values of other racial/ethnic groups.

                  It’s totally possible that the coworker was rude in interrupting you or the woman assisting you. But you were also independently rude in your response, and you shared that part of why you were rude is because of your assumptions about the race and “culture” of the women assisting you.

                  Folks are advising you that you may be able to avoid snapping at people rudely if you take a step back and refrain from making assumptions about people’s motivations. That’s doubly true when your assumptions rely on racially problematic logic.

                3. Emily K*

                  I have become pretty good at reading minds

                  No you haven’t. Studying psychology does not give you ESP. What you’ve become good at is assuming you know what people are thinking.

                4. oy vey*

                  There is something pretty amusing about calling people “triggered” after having a public meltdown because you overheard someone speaking Spanish at a McDonald’s

              9. Lobsterman*

                McDonald’s is bad food and you shouldn’t eat there, but if you do, you shouldn’t be hostile to the workers for being POC.

                1. Jadelyn*

                  …I have to ask, was the drive-by on The Evils Of Fast Food really necessary here? Or helpful in any way, at all?

              10. Calm down?*

                Why did you even write in asking if you were rude then? It’s pretty obvious you think you did nothing wrong.

              11. JSPA*

                Again, I’m stumped. Why should the coworker acknowledge the customer? There are two entirely separate interactions that can co-occur just fine.

                1. a fairly simple transaction is between a casher and a customer.

                2. a very simple work-related question between the two coworkers.

                Turning the situation into a three way conversation would be awkward, less polite, and generally weirder (regardless of language). The coworker is not part of the ordering conversation, the customer is not part of the “who works when” conversation, and nobody owes anybody the sort of laser-focus (certainly not for minimum wage pay) that “how dare you speak to anyone else while speaking to me” requires. Heck, even surgeons have side conversations during surgery (where concentration actually IS essential).

              12. Jennifer*

                I suspected racial bias from the hostile way you responded to the cashier. There was really no other explanation. But I knew anyone who suggested it before any proof was provided would get piled on. Thank you for confirming my suspicions.

              13. RUKiddingMe*

                You understand their language..were they in fact “gossiping?” I do think you could have phrased it better, but having been in situations where people don’t seem to understand what a customer is, I get being annoyed, particularly if it seems like SOP in your corner of the world.

                1. Observer*

                  According to the actual letter, they were NOT in fact gossiping. The CW asked a SINGLE question that relates to the store schedule and the OP accused them of gossiping based on that one question and the *”fact” that “they all gossip more than they work”.

                  *As in something that “everyone knows” even though it’s a fantasy.

              14. Oaktree*

                So you got huffy because someone made you wait for .25 seconds longer than you think you should have, and had the temerity to speak Spanish to a third party in front of you.

                I think your behaviour is very representative of your character, but I don’t think that’s a good thing.

            4. Calm down?*

              This is awfully anecdotal. Try not taking things so personally and realize that working retail is a hellish job, often made worse by people who think that just because a person is behind the counter, they can bark whatever they want at them.

              “While the gossip comment was totally wrong, it was also wrong to keep the OP waiting – twice!”
              It sounds like the cashier was gone for a maximum of like, 45 seconds. We all need to RELAX.

              1. Engineer Girl*

                FYI – My first job was working as a cashier at McDonalds. I know the corporate expectations toward customer service. Also the bad working conditions. My manager was fired due to a DOL violation. He used to clock us out during closing if he thought we weren’t cleaning fast enough. Wage theft and all that.

        2. oy vey*

          Working behind the counter is so fast-paced and stressful. People aren’t blowing you off because of your gender, and I say that as a woman who has worked in fast food. This comment reminds me of the man who threw up his hands and shouted that we were terrible at our jobs because every time he came into Starbucks we were out of the blonde roast. Trust me, we brew the blonde roast as quickly as we can and it’s just your bad luck that you’ve had to wait for it a few times.
          As for your idea about people dissing you by intentionally doing chores when it’s your turn to order… there is a ton of stuff to do behind the counter. You move as quickly as you can. Sometimes you may recognize a particularly difficult customer and make a point to be extra subservient so as not to give them a reason to lob their milkshake at you… but mostly it’s just a mad dash.

          1. JeanB in NC*

            Sounds like I’m not the only one who had a milkshake thrown on them at McDonald’s!

            1. Rainy*

              I only got that when I was working drive-through! People at the counter were usually pretty nice.

              1. JeanB in NC*

                Well, I upended her tray of food on her and kept my job while she was asked to leave, so I came out okay!

            2. Midwest writer*

              I was working at the counter once and a drive-thru customer came inside and threw his bag at me. “I said NO PICKLES!” Mind you, I had never touched his food because I was on the register. I lasted one month (it was a second summer job during college).

              1. Rainy*

                I had a dude pitch his bag of food back in through the window and then fling his drink in after it. I dodged the food but the drink exploded like a sticky grenade. Someday someone will explain to me why it’s never diet that people fling back through the window. (Diet doesn’t get sticky like regular soda.)

                1. Already been there*

                  Maybe all the sugar in the regular sodas makes them hyper and therefore more prone to flinging beverages? ;-)

              2. Deborah*

                Even if you work one of those places (like Cane’s) that has the register/window person recheck every order, they still don’t peel open a burger to check for pickles.

            3. Lynn*

              No milkshake-but (and this, I am sure, dates me) I did get a McDLT tossed at me because someone assumed it was just a fancy Big Mac. No-I still don’t get it, and it has been 30+ years.

              1. RUKiddingMe*

                So they threw it at you because it wasn’t a fancy Big Mac? On a side note, I liked the McDLT. I miss it. It was my only reason (ever!) to go to Mc Donald’s.

                1. Lynn*

                  That was the gist of it (with a lot more profanity and screaming in the margins). I didn’t understand it at 16 and, unlike a lot of things that confused me back then, this one has not become more clear with time. :>

            4. Anonymeece*

              Ooh, fish sandwich here! I ducked in time, but it hit the wall behind me with a squelch.

        3. Anoon*

          I’d step up for same treatment, if I was feeling it. Make the other employees explain or apologize THEIR interruption of getting the order in. Emphasize the process. Excuse me for being in a hurry, and the cashier is behind the counter, ready for your order.

        4. Shoes On My Cat*

          Oh man! That is not cool! We have a gas station we frequent because our business truck & trailer can easily maneuver their setup and use it for our passenger fleet since it’s convenient and familiar. I (female) went in to buy some foods a few years ago and noticed the owner/manager (male) hovering behind the cashier while she rang up the two men in front of me. It got to my turn, I put my things on the counter and that’s when he stepped in and interrupted her, pulling her away. (Mind you, I didn’t know her so it wasn’t like we chatted on the regular, wasting time) The conversation went on for longer than ten deep breaths so I made eye contact with the manager, then turned and walked out. Now, I only expected this to matter to me, but…even with all the thousands of people they see daily, I guess I registered as a regular since when I finally resumed using their gas/store (limited options due to our rig), he’s waited till after I’m done/line is empty to talk to his cashier. Didn’t expect that, but yay!! (And yes, we frequent that station a lot now)

          1. Michaela Westen*

            You are much more patient than me. I would have said something. Probably a lot of things.

            1. RUKiddingMe*

              So they threw it at you because it wasn’t a fancy Big Mac? On a side note, I liked the McDLT. I miss it. It was my only reason (ever!) to go to Mc Donald’s.

              1. RUKiddingMe*

                Ok nesting fail on the Mc Donald’s comment… Likely operator error. ::facepalm::

                Re your comment…I would have said a few things as well.

      3. Swampy*

        Some people just seem to be oddly hostile to retail and hospitality workers. I think it’s a power/misunderstanding/elitism thing – they feel like they can scold them as they seem to forget that they are the customer, not the boss and that these are two different things. I was once scolded because I didn’t say “I’ll be with you in moment” to a woman in line – which I didn’t because I was, you know, serving the person in front of her. I think OP doesn’t seem to be on a power trip or elitist, but did seem to misunderstand from lack of experience with these kinds of jobs that the question isn’t idle gossip and the answer would have taken the server less than 2 seconds to answer and wouldn’t have distracted her or delayed her taking the order.

        1. Jasnah*

          I agree. I encourage OP to read a few pages of and experience a few moments through the eyes of the cashier, then rethink whether their response was rude.

          OP, imagine if you were in a meeting with a client (or whatever parallels to your job) and a colleague interrupted briefly to confirm the end time of the meeting, because they wanted to see if they should push back your next bigwig meeting. But then your client says “Excuse me, you’re with me now, you can gossip later.” How would you feel? You might have felt a bit embarrassed by how your colleague interrupted the meeting, and planned to speak to them later about how to do that discreetly. But instead of being gracious and giving you the benefit of the doubt, the client has reprimanded you and demanded your attention. Do you feel warmly towards the client now? Do you feel respected and trusted and inclined to give them the best service you can? Or has your tone shifted to neutral/cool, and now your goal is to get them out of the office as soon as possible? If they ask for a favor would you give it to them?

          OP, I encourage you to treat humans working where you are a client, how you want to be treated when you are serving clients.

          1. sunshyne84*

            Thank you! When I worked retail I had plenty of rude customers that assume you are some dumb teenager as if they don’t deserve respect and I was actually a whole adult.

        2. ThisColumnMakesMeGratefulForMyBoss*

          This 100% . I’ll give the OP the benefit of the doubt that they were having a bad day and snapped at someone who didn’t deserve it, but there are way too many people who treat cashiers, servers, etc. as if they are their personal servant. They’re human and shit happens – I’m one of the most impatient people in the world, but I won’t say anything unless it’s clear that the person helping me is not doing their job or treating me unfairly. And not having experience in the service industry doesn’t excuse this behavior. It’s about basic human decency.

        3. NothingIsLittle*

          Yeah, OP seems like they know they went a bit overboard. People have bad days, and while you shouldn’t take it out on your cashier, it happens. Hopefully, OP has learned their lesson, but doesn’t feel too bad. It was rude and they shouldn’t have said that, but the best thing to do is to learn to bite your tongue.

          1. SunnyD*

            She didn’t, she was hoping to get validation of her racism after somebody else told her off.

            1. NothingIsLittle*

              Haha, I’ve since read OP’s comments (Rishi if anyone is curious) and I was clearly being a bit too generous in my assumptions.

        4. Tired of Anti-Hispanic Sentiment*

          Based on this OP’s follow-on comment, I’d guess that there wouldn’t have been a problem if the whole communication had been conducted in flawless unaccented English. I can’t roll my eyes hard enough.

            1. Tired of Anti-Hispanic Sentiment*

              You’re not making yourself sound any better by saying that, dude.

            2. quagmire*

              Friend, the only preconceived notions in this interaction (as you told it!) are coming from you.

            3. NomdePlumage*

              You have some preconceived notions about their conceptions. Please stop assuming you know what people are thinking; you are being extremely prejudiced and hypocritical.

            4. daisychain*

              …Are you a sock? I honestly can’t comprehend someone genuinely being this obtuse.

        5. Civilian Linetti*

          Yeeeeeees. So much this.

          People who feel they lack power in other areas of their life suddenly feel powerful when they’re the customer and the ‘customer is always right’, and it goes straight to their heads. Retail and fast food are such thankless jobs in that regard.

      4. JJ Bittenbinder*

        I’d also be extremely surprised if it was actually 30 seconds. That sounds like a small amount of time, until you actually look at a stopwatch. 10 seconds, maybe.

        1. Ethyl*

          Yep. I feel like I read a thing recently about how people are actually super bad at estimating small amounts of time like that, especially when they are frustrated. So people will say they waited for like two minutes at a 30 second stop light, or five minutes to be waited on when it was actually one. If anyone has the link I’m thinking of that would be great — I’m 80% sure it was someone here who shared it.

          1. quagmire*

            I’ll never forget the table when I was a server who complained to the manager that they had been waiting 20 minutes for bread and drinks.

            We’d only been open for 7 at the time of complaint, and they were not the first table to walk in, so they had been seated absolutely max 4 minutes prior. (I had taken the order, just hadn’t arrived back with it yet) He very dramatically “scolded” me for unlocking the restaurant doors so early, and assured them I would be properly disciplined.

            (Proper discipline for such an infraction was him rolling his eyes and telling me, “man, hopefully those jerks aren’t a preview of what’s to come tonight.”)

          2. many bells down*

            Back in the early 90’s, the 101 Freeway running through Santa Barbara, CA actually had stoplights on it. There was a sign at the cross street that read “Stoplight may exceed 5 minutes in length. Please turn off engine.” I remember that sign whenever I think something is taking a really long time. If a 5-8 minute stoplight was long enough to warrant a sign, then this one can’t possibly be taking as long as I imagine.

      5. boop the first*

        Yikes, yes saying “you can gossip later” really struck me as sexist, if only because I’ve only ever heard people use “gossip” around young women. And that word is super belittling. If they were young men, it would have been “you can chat later”. Chats are lighthearted conversations, “gossip” is straight into meanspirited harm territory. And just for asking when their shift was ending? Wow!

        As someone who worked in a restaurant kitchen for almost a decade, I am really skeptical that people taint food in restaurants with any regularity. Not intentionally, anyway.

        1. Copier Company Admin Girl*

          Same about the gossip comment. OP’s further comments refer to himself with male pronouns, so I do think sexism is one of the undertones here. That makes the situation seem to be based both in racism AND sexism, which is just not good on any level.

      6. VictorianCowgirl*

        Yes and “gossip” feels somewhat gendered sometimes and I can’t help but wonder if it was aimed at female employees. However I’m glad the OP wrote in to get perspective.

      7. MM*

        That stuck out to me too–that OP didn’t even give the cashier a chance to prioritize OP, which she may well have done, since she was clearly aware that walking away from the register like that might have looked bad if unaddressed, and that OP was waiting. There was really nothing going on to suggest that the cashier was planning to make OP stand around so she could chat.

    2. Antilles*

      Nah, the food was almost certainly fine. For how common the jokes about “wow, someone might have spit in your food” are, it’s actually quite rare in real life. I worked in fast food and restaurants for several years to put myself through college and not only did I never see it happen, I don’t remember even hearing any credible *stories* of it happening – a few “well, my friend told me this story that someone at his store” legends, but consistently at least two levels removed from the actual storyteller.
      Not because I never had customers who deserved it, but because there’s always people around in the kitchen and screwing with a customer’s food is a fire-on-sight, no questions asked level offense if caught. Random Jerk #859 is just not worth it.
      Especially given that OP’s comment is sadly common. Rude and awful, yes. But a comment like “excuse me, it’s my turn to order, do your job” often wouldn’t even be the worst thing I heard in a week. I mean, I’d definitely roll my eyes at you and think you’re rude, but a comment like that wouldn’t remotely be at a level where someone would think “this is worth risking my job over”.

      1. Booksalot*

        I only once saw this sort of thing when I was a server. A cook’s very recent ex (like she’d dumped him within the previous 24 hours) came in with a new guy and was being intentionally difficult with her order, asking for everything customized and sending things back multiple times.

        Cook got fed up, threw her burger on the tiles, mashed it with his sneaker, and then put it on a plate for the server. The server took the plate as proof, went directly to the FOH manager, and the cook was fired within half an hour. The plate never made it out on the floor, which doesn’t surprise me. Decent servers would never allow that nonsense.

        1. Fortitude Jones*

          That’s the kind of thing you think about doing, but don’t actually do, lol.

        2. Michaela Westen*

          Well, that woman was obviously trying to cause trouble. IMHO she should have been asked to leave.

      2. JJ Bittenbinder*

        Yeah, every cook/chef I have ever known has a lot of pride in their work and would never do that to a person’s food. Then, by the time it reaches the cashier/window person, it’s wrapped and wouldn’t be messed with. I definitely feel like Spit Burgers are an urban legend.

        1. Marmaduke*

          I worked in a run-down sub shop where apparently some particularly obnoxious teens had been running the back with little to no oversight for months before I was hired. I was a 19-year-old line cook and was told I needed to keep the younger teens in line. Apparently there had been several spitburgers coming out of that kitchen before I was hired.

          The best I was able to do is get them to move from contaminating the food to using the ordered sauces to write profanity on the inside of frustrating customers’ bread. Still not professional by a long shot, but it wasn’t going to make anyone sick and the customers couldn’t even see it.

          1. CMart*

            The closest I ever got to exacting my revenge on terrible customers was writing “U R ASS” in chocolate syrup underneath their scoops of ice cream for birthday sundaes. Very cathartic.

            I worked for 15 years in restaurants, from a sketchy Dairy Queen where my coworkers sold drugs from the back to an upscale winery, and never once did I ever hear lore that anyone had ever done anything more egregious than deliberately overcooking a burger or giving the more wilted looking sides to problem “guests”.

      3. Bunny Girl*

        Yeah I worked in the service industry for a while and no one screws with your food if you’re a jerk – they just make fun of you when you leave. If you’re really bad – you become a joke that we tell to other coworkers. So if you’re having a hard time being nice to customer service people and don’t want to do better just to be a nicer person, think “Do I want to be a joke for the next 3 weeks?”

        1. CMart*

          It’s been 10 years and I still sometimes joke with a former coworker about “Salt Lady” – the woman who screamed at me that ice melt salt was being tracked into the restaurant and “contaminating” everything. In Chicago. In January.

          1. Bunny Girl*

            Yeah I haven’t worked in food in years but some of my coworkers and I still talk about some of our psycho customers. Like we had this lady who called our food delivery place late one night and asked if we could deliver to her. She lived in the next town over and we had a small delivery area that she was way outside of so I said No I’m really sorry but we can’t. So she proceeded to ask if anyone from our store lived over by her and if they did could they just come drop her food off when they got off that night? Um no. We mocked that call for weeks.

        2. PJs of Steven Tyler*

          OMG Hot Tea Guy! He once asked me if he could come into the dry storage area in the back to choose his own banana! (17 years ago and still clear as day in my mind.)

          Also Bacon Cheeseburger Lady, who asked if she could substitute a BACON CHEESEBURGER for the toast in her breakfast platter.

      4. alphabet soup*

        Yeah, when I worked food service, the worst thing I could do to a rude customer was give them extra ice in their soda, or “forget” to include napkins and cutlery for a takeout order. Messing with someone’s actual food would get you fired.

    3. BiNs*

      OP#1 works for the security department. Affairs by its personnel may carry risks of being blackmailed. To me, this can be grounds for reporting to HR.

      1. Observer*

        Of come on! Living life makes one subject to blackmail. Having children, having a spouse, not having a spouse, etc.

        Unless there is a policy on the matter at this employer, the idea that there is such a high blackmail risk is nonsense.

        1. Works in IT*

          Ah…. I wouldn’t say blackmail is the issue here, but the fact that someone in the SECURITY department is having an affair would make me take a long, hard look at their sense of ethics. Unless their partner is completely, 100% aware of and okay with the affair, the fact that this person who works in security is being deceptive is…. kind of a big deal in and of itself because if they’re willing to be dishonest in this case what else are they willing to be unethical about? Security tends to have the keys to the kingdom, and if the keys to the kingdom are in unethical hands…….

          I would not be comfortable working with a coworker who was concealing an affair from their partner. We’re supposed to identify potentially dishonest employees, and yet someone in our department is being dishonest? Not good.

          Again, note that it’s not the affair itself that is making me potentially wary about someone in security having an affair. It’s the probable deception the person in security is engaging in (unless they and their partner are in a completely open relationship).

          1. Jadelyn*

            Eh…I mean, first of all, there’s no way to know what the other partner in the relationship knows or doesn’t know, or is cool with or not cool with. Most people in poly relationships tend not to advertise it much, because monogamous people get Weird about it and it’s usually not worth the hassle. So you’re starting from an entirely unproven assumption based purely on monogamous cultural norms that are not remotely universal in questioning the person’s ethics.

            Then there’s the implication that if someone is unethical in their personal relationships, they’re automatically more likely to be unethical in their work. Which…has not been true, in my experience. If you’re assessing that person’s trustworthiness for a personal relationship, sure, take the affair as a potential data point (though subject to the above caveats re monogamy and cultural norms). But I’ve known too many people who were great in one area and shady as hell in another or vice versa to assume that it automatically translates.

          2. SunnyD*

            5% of the American population are in open relationships, and 20% have tried it, according to Rolling Stone. So you definitely have had coworkers in that category, and it’s not your business.

            Security guards at a hospital don’t have security clearances. Heck even cops cheat like crazy. That’s a ridiculous argument.

            In this case, the mom is trying to get her daughter and her direct report (but really just her daughter) fired out of control issues. So, no, she’s not worried her daughter may get blackmailed, out of love, she wants obedience and punishment.

      2. Helena*

        Hospital security guards. Not the secret service. They have no access to patient records, or finance. What exactly would you blackmail them for, turning a blind eye when you punch a nurse?

        Most people’s jobs are not worth blackmailing. I can’t think of anyone in a hospital who it would be worth it.

    4. Also Anon Here*

      I worked at a country club, and one of our more difficult members pinned a bev cart girl to her cart and gave her a hickey. His friends had to pull him off. Nothing happened to him. I never messed with any of his orders, but he is the only person I have ever encountered who would have truly deserved it.

        1. Anon for this*

          May have been in the time before people cared about what men do to women :/

          It’s also still pretty pervasive in the private/country club sphere (my spit incident was at a yacht club)

  3. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

    OP#1, I think it’s important to evaluate what the end game is. Is your motivation trying to force your daughter to end the relationship (a major overstep and certainly not in your or her employer’s purview), to avoid gossip and embarrassment at work, or to render your daughter unemployed and economically insecure?

    It sounds like she’s not making great choices in this specific respect (assuming her relationship doesn’t fall within the rules of her partner’s marriage, which could be open/poly), and the resulting gossip makes you uncomfortable. That sucks, but it’s really not anyone’s business, especially not your employer.

    I think this is a situation where you tell people not to ask you about or mention the relationship to you, and you do your best to ignore it. I’m sorry her decisions are causing you distress, but ultimately they’re her decisions (or mistakes) to make.

    1. JSPA*

      “why am I doing this” may be psychologically useful to the OP, but not relevant to “what should I do.”

      The parent of an adult child, the distant coworkers of said child, supervisors of random other people–exactly none of these roles give OP standing to manage someone’s love life.

      As for awkwardness, “don’t gossip about coworkers, at work, especially to their boss” is a useful and healthy standard for everyone.

      The only exceptions:

      1. if there’s a draconian rule about dating within the workplace–in which case, OP should remind the report and could remind the daughter about the consequences. Only if OP would also be held liable for knowing and not reporting, does OP have a valid reason to act. (And even then, it seems like a huge layer of plausible deniability.)

      2. if they’re canoodling (to the point of being found in the supply cabinet in flagrante) on company time.

      OP may want the daughter’s marriage to be monogamous, honest, good, and “forever”–but not all marriages are good, many marriages end, and many others last despite (or even because of) non-monogamy.

      1. Perpal*

        Well, OP is a supervisor of at least one of the parties, so if they are behaving unprofessionally at work, that might be OP’s business. But the focus needs to be “end my employee’s unprofessional behavior” not “stop my daughter’s embarrassing extramarital affair”

        1. Susana*

          Having an affair in and of itself is not unprofessional behavior – as long as they are not behaving unprofessionally in any way at work.
          I think the real issue here has nothing to do with professionalism or the workplace. The mother doesn’t like that her daughter is involved with a married man (and I don’t see where her having children has anything to do with it) and is trying to use *her* status in the workplace to punish her adult daughter. Daughter may be displaying bad judgment, but it’s her bad judgment to make, so stay out of it.

          1. SunnyD*

            Exactly. “Dear AAM, I’m really moral. My daughter isn’t. I can’t browbeat her into obeying me anymore, so I want to get her fired and make sure her two young daughters experience hunger and disruption, to punish her immorality and to shame her. Did I mention what a good person I am? So… This is an awesome plan, right?
            What Would Jesus’ Evil Twin Do”

        2. iglwif*

          Yes, if there is unprofessional behavior by the OP’s direct report–making out in supply closets, using work email to arrange dates, that kind of thing–that is certainly something OP has standing to address … not by going to HR but by addressing it directly, and specifically, with the report one on one. As you say, less “You need to stop shtupping my daughter” and more “Making out in the supply closet during your shift is not appropriate and you need to take that somewhere else”.

          But it’s not clear that anything like this is actually happening. If it’s true that co-workers are gossiping about it, that maaaaybe suggests there are visible relationship signals happening at work, but it could just as easily be something that the co-workers found out during a pub night or something.

          1. wb*

            Yeah, but even visible relationship signals are not unprofessional behavior. In fact, barring an explicit policy about romantic relationships at work, zero unprofessional behavior has occurred (to OP’s telling anyway). Except the gossiping, but that’s not really Daughter/Report’s problem so long as they’re showing reasonable discretion (which in no way involves absolute secrecy). And punishing the subjects of gossip for the gossip is sortof like sending girls home from school for wearing tanktops because ‘boys cant concentrate if they can see shoulders,’ or whatever schools are doing these days.

            Your daughter’s a grown up and not your report. You’ve said your bit and she’s decided to go her own way. Respect that. Leave her alone.
            Your report is either A. breaking an anachronistic sex-shaming ‘fraternization’ policy, or B. doing absolutely nothing wrong as far as your bailiwick is concerned. If the former, discipline away. I hear scarlet letters are hot this season.

      2. Lynca*

        Actually the OP doesn’t state the daughter is married. Just that she has 2 children. The person the daughter is dating is the only one stated to be married.

      3. MicroManagered*

        many marriages end

        I began dating a coworker (totally separate department, no reporting lines) before my divorce was final. My ex was dating at the time as well. It was all above-board and we were open about it with each other. However, my supervisor had no idea I was getting divorced, so she likely would’ve thought I was “having an affair” if she had known.

        OP1 you may not know the whole story. If it’s not interfering with either of their work, I think you should butt out.

        1. Rainy*

          Also, what are the odds LW1 knows everything about the daughter’s life? I’d say slim.

          1. Hills to Die on*

            Especially with the mom feeling the need to involve herself to this extent. Yikes! I hope yoo or your daughter find another job soon. This is not healthy.

      4. hbc*

        “Why am I doing this?” often informs what to do, and even when it doesn’t, helps us get comfortable with the situation because it’s appropriately understood (rather than a big ball of “this is wrong and I hate it.”)

        For example, if OP is embarrassed to be associated with her daughter at work, she might want to look for another job where no relatives work. If she’s mad that they’re spending too much company time being friendly, she should assess whether it would be too much time if they were both single and/or just discussing their fantasy baseball league and, if so, address her employee’s time-wasting. But if it comes down to “I’m disappointed in my daughter,” then that’s something to deal with as part of her personal relationship and grit through it at work.

        1. Dr. Pepper*

          I agree. When I’ve got big ball of icky feelings about something, it helps a lot to determine WHY. Once I know exactly what pieces of the situation are bothering me and why, I can decide on the best course of action.

          From the limited info presented, it really sounds like a parent who is very disappointed in their child’s choices/actions and wants very badly to correct said child. But because the “child” is actually an adult woman and the parent no longer has direct control over her life, the parent is casting around for a way to invoke negative consequences for the perceived poor behavior.

          1. Jadelyn*

            This x1000. That’s exactly the vibe I got. The OP doesn’t like that her daughter is doing a thing on a personal moral level, but since the daughter is an adult and can’t be grounded or have her cell phone taken away, the OP is trying to justify using what leverage she does have as the manager of her daughter’s partner to try to force her daughter to stop doing the thing in the only way she can.

        2. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

          Yup, this was my rationale. I find that you can figure out what to do if you figure out your goals/objectives and purpose ahead of time. Too often folks focus on how to react without thinking about why they’re reacting in a specific way or what they want to achieve from the interaction.

      5. HRPam*

        I would recommend the supervisor go to HR. Not to get the daughter or boyfriend in trouble, but to protect themselves. Depending on the workplace policies maybe they shouldn’t be supervising their daughter’s significant other. The boyfriend may have cause later (if they break up) to say they were mistreated because of the relationship or other employees may think the boyfriend is getting special treatment because he’s dating the boss’ daughter. But the LW needs to do it for the right reasons and not with the hope that he gets someone in trouble. Just saying one of my subordinate employees is dating my daughter (I would leave the word affair completely out of it) how should I proceed. It may get the boyfriend reassigned to a different supervisor.

    2. Falling Diphthong*

      People in open relationships need to either be sufficiently open that “I saw your wife and her boyfriend at Chuck’s last night” isn’t a big thing, or keep dating within their friend/work/family group sufficiently on the down low that no one notices or comments.

      1. ExcitedAndTerrified*

        This doesn’t really work though, because the people in the relationship can’t control how everyone else reacts. As an openly polyamorous bi-sexual, I still get subjected to a lot of pearl clutching from my coworkers when they find out I’m seeing someone new.

        1. Traffic_Spiral*

          But is it more pearl-clutching than you’d get if they thought you were participating in adultery?

          1. Book Badger, Attorney-at-Claw*

            Not Traffic_Spiral, but I find that for many people, there is no difference: even if it’s perfectly clear that everyone is consenting, there’s the “but HOW can you be UNFAITHFUL to your SPOUSE?” anxiety underlying every interaction. At best, you might be seen as “slutty” in the same way a single person with many partners might be.

            1. Jadelyn*

              Agreed. I mean I’ve literally been in social situations (years ago, but still) with my fiance where one of us mentioned my girlfriend and had people get all pearl-clutchy about my being UNFAITHFUL to my FIANCE literally while he was standing right there. Like he clearly knew, if he had a problem with it he could easily have said something, and yet there were people so fully stuck in MONOGAMY ONLY mode that his clear consent made absolutely zero difference in their level of horror at my wild, depraved lifestyle.

              Look, when you’re poly, people just get Like That about it regardless of how open you are or aren’t. You’re either a filthy adulteress, or a slutty slut who doesn’t *really* love your spouse because if you did you wouldn’t be interested in other people. There’s not much to choose between the two. You’re gonna get judged either way, so I can very much understand making the choice to let yourself be seen as adulterous since that’s just plain old normal judgment, vs being known to be poly and getting a whole other weird kind of judgment plus probably some weird and intrusive questions.

          2. Susana*

            The point is, someone’s openly polyamorous behavior OR adultery in not the business of anyone not directly involved. Why do people think it’s their place to police other people’s marriages or relationships?

            1. Michaela Westen*

              One reason coworkers might be concerned is, the possibility of drama in the workplace. I think most of us want to head that off before it blows up and splatters everyone. :p

              1. Ask a Manager* Post author

                There’s the possibility of drama with friendships, family relationships, non-affair dating, etc. If there’s drama, you address that. But you can’t preemptively cut off every situation that could possibly result in drama but hasn’t yet.

              2. Agatha31*

                The pearl clutching IS creating drama. Honestly, every time I run across relationship drama in the workplace it’s the pearl clutchers fanning the flames while covering their own asses with bullshit words & phrases like “I’m just so CONCERNED about so-and-so!” and “I’m not one to gossip/judge/cause drama, but (gossip/judgement/drama)!”

            2. Michaela Westen*

              Even with openly poly amorous relationships/open marriages, there’s the possibility that one of the girlfriends/boyfriends will get emotionally involved to an unhealthy degree with the coworker and cause drama.
              I’ve never worked with poly amorous people that I know of, but if I knew of such a situation I would be cautious around it because these possibilities make me anxious.

              1. Ask a Manager* Post author

                Someone can get involved to an unhealthy degree in a monogamous relationship too. Being anxious around someone who’s in a consensual relationship that’s different from your own is … not a great way to go through life, for you or the people around you. I’d encourage you to rethink it if you can!

              2. Tinker*

                To be clear — in polyamorous relationships just as in monogamous relationships, being emotionally involved with the person one is dating is expected. Actually is pretty much the point, mostly. It’s a relatively common misconception, particularly when one of the relationships involved is a married one, that other partners have more of a… mechanical… role, but that is not necessarily accurate.

                If you’re talking about the general risk of a person dating someone who becomes obsessive etc, that is a risk associated with anyone who is actively dating — and, so far as I know, it is still the case that most such people intend to be monogamous.

              3. Oaktree*

                You might feel better about it if you realized that other people’s relationships have nothing to do with you.

                In my experience, no one is “splattered” by someone else’s relationship fallout unless they have chosen to involve themselves. So I’d encourage you to avoid doing that.

              4. SunnyD*

                What the heck, Michaela. I’m sorry, but that’s YOUR issue, 100%.

                If your co-workers dating makes you pathologically anxious like that, you need to sell professional help to manage that phobia.

                But if – as frankly it sounds – you’re using your having Big Feelings as a shield for covert disapproval for how others run their personal lives… Well, then you need professional help to learn about boundaries and respect and letting go of your illusions of control (and the right to control). Because it’s not kind or appropriate in the workplace.

                1. Michaela Westen*

                  No, it’s not disapproval. I’m not that interested in other people’s relationships.
                  It’s anxiety brought about by news media and such. Like I remember one time, this would be years ago, a man who had gone through a breakup took a gun to work and started shooting people. And just last year a man who’s fiance had broken up with him did the same thing in my city, killing his fiance and a few others. He took the gun to her work, and she was a doctor at a hospital.
                  Infidelity is already kind of a setup for strong violent feelings, and poly amorous seems like it could be too. That’s why I’m anxious.

                2. bonkerballs*

                  So…because people who were NOT in a poly relationship got super violent, you’re now wary of poly relationships? How odd.

                3. Cherries on top*

                  Because guns don’t kill people, hypothetical jealous polyamouros people do?

            3. Traffic_Spiral*

              Why do people think it’s their place to police other people’s marriages or relationships? Well, that’s a long and complicated question with many variables. But I’m not asking about the ‘why’ I’m asking about the ‘what.’ What situation leads to less trouble among your professional life: being known as a cheater, or being known as poly?

              Personally, depending on the environment, I can see it going either way. Some professions (doctors and cops, for instance) are pretty famous for having an “anything goes” attitude at work, but placing a high value on a veneer of respectability. In those situations, a “yeah, s/he’s cheating or banging someone who is” situation might be considered ok (provided you weren’t banging the wrong person’s spouse) but being openly poly would be too “Liberal.” Other places would obviously see it the other way. I was just curious which one ExcitedAndTerrified’s workplace fell into.

              1. ExcitedAndTerrified*

                That’s an interesting question Traffic_spiral. Thinking about it, I’d have to say more… when I once pointed out that no library in our entire state had a single nonfiction resource for polyamory, and maybe we should add some to support my community, a coworker reported to my boss that the conversation and my identifying with the community had made her uncomfortable, and so she wanted me written up for sexual harassment. To the best of my knowledge, no one has ever complained about any of the staff members who’ve had affairs advocating for the inclusion of material that supported their choices (which there are more than a few of).

                1. Kendra*

                  *Immediately starts searching for books on polyamory to add to her library’s collection*

                2. Polyanna*

                  The Ethical Sl*t (Dossie Easton and Janet Hardy)

                  More Than Two (Eve Rickert and Franklin Veaux)

      2. Colin*

        The fact that I’m polyamorous and would have no problem if somebody saw me with my other partner, or my wife with her other partner, doesn’t mean that everybody who might see us has been fully briefed in advance. Telling parents about this sort of thing can be particularly difficult for some people, especially if they’re inclined to be judgmental.

        I have no idea if this is what’s going on with OP#1, but the choice in the comment I’m replying to is unnecessarily binary.

        1. Detective Amy Santiago*

          Mom is already judging though for the affair. If it was truly a poly/open situation, I would think daughter would share that.

          1. Jadelyn*

            Not necessarily. There’s a…qualitative difference? I guess I’d call it? Between the *way* people judge you for cheating vs judging you for being poly.

            Someone judging me for what they think is an illicit affair is judging me for, in their minds, making a bad choice, which may well be situational or a one-off of some kind. Someone judging me for being openly poly is judging me for choosing a whole “weird lifestyle”.

          2. Database Developer Dude*

            Don’t be so sure, Amy. Mom may not approve of poly/open situations, and daughter may just be tired of hearing it.

            1. pamela voorhees*

              Yeah, there’s a not-zero chance Mom may have been told outright that it was a poly situation and only heard “I’m cheating/having an affair.”

          3. iglwif*

            I think if I thought my mom was the kind of person who would report me to HR for a consensual relationship with another adult, I would not tell her any more about my persona life than I absolutely had to.

          4. AKchic*

            And she may have, and the parent is choosing to ignore it.

            My entire family knows I am bi/poly. They have purposely ignored it and still consider me hetero and monogamous. They refuse to see me in any other way because of their religious beliefs. All of them are very “head in the sand” “hands covering the ears” when it comes to anything outside of their prudish little bubbles.
            We’ve had girlfriends living with us and actively participating in our lives and my family has openly downgraded them to “roommate” and “close friend”, refusing to see them as anything else.

            Some people will do anything to avoid seeing the truth if it doesn’t fit within their morals.

      3. Anonymouse*

        Poly, queer professional lady here in a very VERY conservative field: No. No one with an alternative lifestyle is required to be sufficiently “Out” about anything or in the closet enough for the comfort of strangers. It can be financially and even physically dangerous to be out to certain groups, and really it is unfair to ask someone to adapt to your own level of comfort if they are not any of your business. Best advice is to not mix love and work, however love, like life ….”uhh…finds a way.” Poly and LGBTQ issues aside, honestly this whole situation needs to be shut down by the daughter, along the lines of ” I am an adult, you are not entitled to an opinion on this, and I will be reporting YOU (the parent) to HR for harassment if you cannot keep your personal opinions out of my work space.” Parent or daughter need to leave and look for another job. This dynamic is all kinds of toxic.

        1. Jadelyn*

          I want to shower this comment with likes and upvotes. From another poly queer professional, thank you.

        2. AKchic*

          All of this. I’ve had to take my own mother to task for various things over the years because we’ve worked together for the last three years. She swore up and down that we could handle working together. I’ve upheld my end of the bargain just fine. She still has problems with seeing me as a coworker and not just her daughter. It’s nearly come to official grievances multiple times because she continuously undermines me and tries to use her position to make me conform to her personal style and she hates that I know that she can’t.

    3. Traffic_Spiral*

      Yup. This isn’t something you have authority on as an employer. If you want to report it to someone, tell his wife – but do it in your personal capacity and on your ‘off’ time.

      1. LarsTheRealGirl*

        Definitely don’t tell the wife! This is 100% mind your own business territory. Even if it’s the OPs daughter.

        1. JJ Bittenbinder*

          Agree! OP has zero idea what the situation between the man and his wife is. Are they separated? Are they in an open relationship? Is there some other circumstance that OP does not know and, most importantly, has no business knowing?

          Alison mentioned the strain it would put on OP’s relationship with their daughter if they told HR, but I really think it would strain OP’s credibility and relationships at work as well. As a former Employee Relations specialist, this would fall squarely into the category of Things I Don’t Need to Know and I would have some private thoughts about OP’s motivation for telling me.

          1. Traffic_Spiral*

            If any of your “are they separated? Are they in an open relationship? Is there some other circumstance” theories are true, there’s no harm done by telling the wife, is there?

            1. Susana*

              Of course there is, Traffic. It is NO one’s business. Seriously, it’s not like reporting a crime to the police. If you think a relationship is immoral, that’s your right, and you may be right. But you don’t get to go interfering with it, and “informing” the person you think is the aggrieved party. Stay out of it.

            2. Le Sigh*

              Many people are trying to point out that OP should stay out of it, because it’s not her business and not helping. Telling the wife would be throwing a grenade on things — both for work relationships and the relationship with her daughter. It’s the opposite of MYOB.

              What if they’re separated, but it’s acrimonious and someone wants to use it as ammo in a divorce? If they’re in an open relationship, they could have a don’t ask don’t tell policy, which OP would be violating by involving themselves. Those are all theories, but that’s the point–it’s not OP’s place to do something like that here.

              Also, we don’t actually know that OP’s employee is married to a woman.

            3. Peter*

              It doesn’t matter at all. It’s not OP business. Period. And especially not HR’s.

              The rule should be don’t shit on your coworker private life (as long as it’s not illegal). They are all adults and they should be the sole responsible of their behavior in their personal life.

              On a moral point-of-view, you can tell the wife, but only if you have a close relationship with her. And be ready for the aftermath it will have on your relationship with all 3 person involved (hint: probably the end of the relationship).

              1. JSPA*

                There’s plenty that’s illegal (at a given time or place) that also has essentially zero job implications. I’m thinking of the vast span of time (up to the present day, in many countries) where same-sex relationships were / are illegal, for example. Ditto smoking weed on the weekend, or pouring someone a drink in a “dry” county, skinydipping–all legal in some places, illegal in others.

                Sure, it’s remotely possible that this means the person could be blackmailed or arrested for something you happen to know about. But in the context of knowing, in the abstract, that many of your coworkers might at some point have done something they would not want made public, it’s not really defensible to make every illegality a work issue, either.

            4. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

              Naw, dude, you can’t tell the wife. That’s introducing a level of Jerry Springer crazy into an already uncomfortable situation, and it solves nothing. If anything, it entrenches OP further in drama that is not their doing and that they need to disengage from.

              1. SunnyD*

                Not to mention that LW will never again see her granddaughters again. And rightly so.

      2. NothingIsLittle*

        Wow, that’s way overstepping if she doesn’t know the wife! If you’re not involved in the affair and you’re not personally acquainted with the partner, it’s not your place.

    4. Super Anon For This*

      The only things that give me pause is that this sets up an inappropriate dynamic between this parent and what sounds like one of their reports — and the fact that security (depending on the culture of the workplace) may have more influence than someone working in a different, lateral department (I would have similar concerns if the affair partner worked in HR). This also does reflect on OP professionally and I don’t know if it’s appropriate for him to mention it to one of his higher ups, especially if he has to manage or evaluate the affair partner.

      What their daughter is doing, whatever moral or ethical concerns the OP has, is not a workplace issue. And, I might be cautious because, regardless of how the relationship began, the affair partner may some day be OP’s son-in-law.

      I would be less morally concerned, myself, and more concerned about my child’s home life, her state of mind, her safety and well-being. OP sounds like they value being an upright kind of person and I assume they raised their daughter in the same way. I speak as a parent who had to deal with their own child’s infidelity, and who was asked by their child and child-in-law to provide some support and meditation. My child didn’t just forget everything she was raised to believe, OP, she was struggling with an issue I didn’t know about and which her (equally young) spouse wasn’t equipped to navigate at the time. So, my advice as a parent is to tread lightly and try to love your child and accept where she is at this point in her journey.

      1. valentine*

        So, my advice as a parent is to tread lightly and try to love your child and accept where she is at this point in her journey.
        This is really sweet and touching.

    5. Cattiebee*

      OP I think you need to take that evaluation one step further and ask if would you care so much, and would you consider taking the same actions, if your daughter were not involved? Would you care so strongly if people were gossiping about your report and someone else? This sounds really personal to you, which of course it is because it’s your daughter and you presumably care about her. But if you’re acting differently than you otherwise would as a manager because she’s involved, it’s time to seriously evaluate whether you can work in the same workplace as her.

  4. Fortitude Jones*

    OP #3: Since it’s just you and your boss in that office, I wouldn’t tell the truth about why I was leaving, especially if you later need the reference. Unless she and the company get on board with hiring more people, it’s highly unlikely the issues you had with her will change. She’s not going to be able to provide your successor with the kind of support and oversight you guys need in this position to succeed. You know what? Maybe you should tell her, or rather suggest, that they need to hire more people for whatever job you’re in. You could broach it as concern for her and the company as a whole. Tell her that you struggled with not having the resources necessary to do your job effectively, and you understand that as the most senior person, she had to deal with all of the higher-level tasks that were required of the position; however, you needed a lot more structure that she just wasn’t able to provide. That way your feedback isn’t about her failures, but about the company’s shortcomings. That also dovetails nicely with your feedback about the insufficient benefits.

    1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

      This may be a case where it would be helpful for the Board to conduct the exit interview. Or if OP’s feedback could help her boss convince the board to allow her to hire more people or obtain support. But otherwise, I agree that it doesn’t make sense to be candid with someone who can’t change what’s on their plate.

      1. EPLawyer*

        It’s a small non-profit. I am betting the board is the boss, the boss’s husband and a couple of friends of boss. This is most likely an org that boss saw a need in her community and decided to start a non-profit to address it. Now boss is finding out that running a non-profit is a business like any other. She just doesn’t have the time to do all the office things properly while still doing good.

        Unfortunately raising this with her won’t change it, if my surmise is right. I would stick with something generic like the benefits and maaaaybe mention that hiring more people might help the organization carry out its mission better.

    2. ThisColumnMakesMeGratefulForMyBoss*

      I would stick to the highlights. OP’s boss shouldn’t be conducting the exit interview if they want honest feedback. That’s super awkward.

      1. MsChanandlerBong*

        It was awkward enough when my boss asked me to post a review on Glassdoor…on my first day of work. Now, I had been freelancing for this company for a while before I started working there full-time, but it was just really weird to me to be asked to post a Glassdoor review on my first day as a FT employee. (I did not post the review–I would not be able to give any more than 3 stars, and I do not want to have to explain that to my boss while I am still employed).

    3. Agent J*

      I understand OP’s urge to tell the truth, either to genuinely help OP’s boss or just get it off your chest before you leave for the next opportunity and close out this chapter of your life. Even as children, we’re told that telling the truth is better than lying (in this case, it might feel like you’re lying by omission).

      In this case, the truth isn’t required to leave professionally with a good reference.

    4. Smithy*

      Like others – I agree with not being completely honest. A two person nonprofit is inevitably going to be a small affair without the structure and resources of a larger organization. And for the benefit of the OP’s career – do what is needed to preserve the reference.

      That being said – without knowing what the OP or nonprofit does, I wonder if this is a case where instead of the org paying $X for a full time staff member earlier in their career – if it might not be more effective to pay $X for a part-time more experienced professional? Someone who wouldn’t need quite as much management/coaching?

      If there truly is plenty of work for a full time employee but it’s a limited position with limited room for growth – I do think that insight into who a good replacement would be is valuable – i.e. first/second job out of college or someone with really strong data entry or customer service skills. But again, be mindful of how to preserve the relationship and what can honestly change. Because as small orgs go, making larger structural changes is very much so easier said than done.

    5. Artemesia*

      What is in it for the OP to be honest? I see only possibly negative consequences for her and no positive ones. She is not obligated to ‘fix’ the boss or the company she is leaving. I’d mention the benefits and move on; no longer your problem.

      1. Fortitude Jones*

        I understand she’s not obligated to fix anything – hell, I normally don’t say much in exit interviews myself unless there’s something really problematic going on that I feel needs to be addressed and I don’t care about a future reference. I offered this as a suggestion if OP feels so inclined to speak up because her boss doesn’t sound like a bad one, just an overextended one. The soon to be ex boss may appreciate hearing that the OP’s leaving for more structure because then she may be able to ask whoever actually owns the place for more staffing.

  5. Really very*

    #2 Yes, that was rude – and I wonder if you realise that your letter is coming across as more of the same? There are more options available than either being rude or putting your tail between your legs, as you put it – which is quite a strange way to perceive being polite and showing respect for other people.

    When you go to MacDonalds, you’re paying to order food – but you’re not paying enough to demand your own personal concierge to wait on you hand and foot.

    The employees are at work, and might need to talk about things like this to arrange who’s doing what. There’s almost always going to be another customer waiting, so sometimes they can’t wait until there’s no queue – they have to go ahead and ask. It’s always someone else’s time!

    You will probably have a nicer time in life if you don’t go around taking things like this as a personal slight.

    1. Fortitude Jones*

      All of this. The tail between the legs bit was very weird to me and I couldn’t quite figure out why, but you nailed it – the reaction was overblown as if the workers were doing something personally to the OP, and they weren’t.

      1. Archaeopteryx*

        Yeah, a lot of chronic jerks like to construct a narrative where their rudeness is just assertiveness, and the only alternative is unreasonable submission. There’s a whole spectrum of ways to react to situations between those extremes though.

        It’s like that saying, ‘If your only tool is a hammer, every problem starts to look like a nail’. Except in this case, the hammer is rudeness.

        1. valentine*

          OP2 seems to have started being annoyed the second they had to wait, if not earlier, so the coworker’s question was the last straw. The workers have time limits and the clock was running down on the other customer, whereas it had just started on OP2. It’s possible the cashier had to log in, close out the other ticket, or something else she could’ve done while answering the coworker. Either way, OP2 self-sabotaged by disrupting the routine.

        2. Ms. Ann Thropy*

          “a lot of chronic jerks like to construct a narrative where their rudeness is just assertiveness, and the only alternative is unreasonable submission.“
          THIS, times a thousand.

      2. Jeff*

        My guess on the phrasing (and admittedly, this -is- reading a -lot- into their mindset from such a small snippet here) – Someone they know who either witnessed the event, or was told about it after the fact (Perhaps in a “You’ll never -believe- what happened to me today, but I sure put them in their place!” type of conversation), and called them out on their rudeness.

        And OP#2 still strongly disagrees with them that their phrasing was rude. So, now they have come to Alison seeking validation for their side of the disagreement, and are so strongly convinced of their correctness that they are framing that the only possibilities that exist are that:

        1. They were completely right to have called out the cashiers in the specific manner in which they did.


        2. Still that, but society has reached such a point that nobody is allowed to call anyone out for anything and “we” must just accept all abuses meekly with “our tails between our legs”, lest “we” be called rude and boorish. How DARE we have expectations that servers serve us in a timely manner!? *descends into argle-bargle about kids these days and so on*

        While completely ignoring that the third possibility that Alison and other commenters put forth, which has always existed – Yes, it was a little inconsiderate of the cashiers to have their quick work-related back-and-forth with each other with somebody right at the front of the line, but it didn’t require escalating from zero-to-snippiness before the cashier who was asked the question had -any- opportunity to respond one way or another – to a question that would have likely taken all of one or two words to answer, if that. And may have been dismissed by the cashier momentarily to take OP’s order anyway.

        1. NEWBIEMD19*

          Just wanted to say that I am officially entering “argle-bargle” into my repatoire!

            1. Loose Seal*

              I thought it was a Scots term meaning “argument.” But I read a lot of fiction (much of it concerning kilt-wearing lads) and the authors are probably not the best alternative to the OED so I could be wrong.

              1. only acting normal*

                Argy-bargy is definitely British slang for an argument with a little bit of physical confrontation (but nothing too serious). Argle-bargle might be a variant?

              2. Gumby*

                It is from the Scottish term though has taken on a slightly different definition (meaningless talk vs. argument). But is was *also* recently re-popularized by Scalia. Multiple articles were written about his use of the word. Also jiggery-pokery.

        2. The Original K.*

          Someone they know who either witnessed the event, or was told about it after the fact (Perhaps in a “You’ll never -believe- what happened to me today, but I sure put them in their place!” type of conversation), and called them out on their rudeness.

          This was my assumption too – OP relayed this story to someone, didn’t get the reaction she expected, wrote to Alison to confirm that she was in the right … and still didn’t get the reaction she expected. The letter has a distinct tone that leads me to believe she doesn’t think she was rude in the first place. It’s not “yikes, I think I messed up, what do you think?” it’s “I was totally right to call them on their BS, right?”

          1. SunnyD*


            I once heard someone say that one’s true character is shown by how you interact with cleaners and waiters. That stuck with me.

            LW, the character you showed was pretty lacking. Do better if you want to be better.

          2. bearing*

            Maybe she was in too much of a hurry to Let Me Speak To The Manager, so she did the next best thing and wrote in to Ask A Manager.

        3. Dana B.S.*

          Good point!!

          I just want to chime in that OP may just want to stick to the McDonald’s that have kiosks for ordering.

      3. JSPA*

        Yeah, unless there’s some other social power dynamic in play–which could well be, but it’s way out of line for us to create a story around facts not presented!–I didn’t get why this would be construed as a personal affront in the first place.

        1. Tired of Anti-Hispanic Sentiment*

          Read up-thread for the OP’s follow-on comment – there is indeed something else.

      4. Bagpuss*

        Yes – especially as it isn’t clear from the letter that the cashier actually made her wait at all.
        She says ‘I walked in..the cashier ran out to deliver ” which suggests that she was completing a previous order before taking LW’s – not that she made LW wait – (any more that taking the order of a person ahead of you in the queue is the cashier making you wait.)
        Smilarly when she came back, LW saysthat she “waited a couple of seconds …I was *about* to order” So she wasn’t interrupted and hadn’t actually started to give her order. from the cahiser’s perspective it may well have looked as thoug hshe was still making a decision, since she didn’t give her order straightaway when she was told they were ready to take it.

    2. Copier Company Admin Girl*

      I wish someone had drilled that last part into me. You truly truly truly will be happier if you don’t take everything so personally.

      1. The Other Dawn*

        I’m trying to drill this into someone now and it’s not going well. It takes way too much energy to take everything personally.

      2. Gloucesterina*

        A real question – how do folks suggest drilling this type of posture towards social interactions? What types of verbiage/activities/readings/roleplays/other are useful?

        1. LCL*

          Sometimes, people that take everything personally are driven by the feeling and attitude that time is money, that all they want is a simple transaction and this should be obvious to every one they interact with, and the people they interact with should feel the same way. Therefore (in this brand of logic) if something doesn’t go exactly as they think it should, the cashier must be doing something wrong deliberately. The best cure for this, of course, is for everyone to work a few months of a customer service job. For this kind of efficiency enforcer, work on them with numbers. “say that cashier works 5 hours a day. Say they serve a customer every three minutes. That’s 20 customers per hour, times 5 is 100 customers per shift. Out of all those interactions, do you believe they would have time to single you out for mistreatment? You are just one of a hundred, their big motivation is to move on to the next transaction.”

          You can also point out, in those businesses that pay attention to labor laws, sometimes their is a financial penalty if workers don’t get their breaks, so management tracks breaks and shift times in detail and people can be fired for not taking their break when their manager tells them. And, some states not only require breaks but require them to be taken within X hours of being on shift.

          1. SunnyD*

            Honestly though… at the root of this belief is that they believe they are more important than little people, and feel anger at not being served like a feudal lord. That’s the real reason behind the time value of money patter.

        2. Rosaline Montague*

          I try to tell myself a story that makes me feel sympathetic or at least compassionate to the other person—I have certainly done rude things accidentally when I was upset or in a hurry, so I tell myself that’s what’s going on with the person I’m perceiving as being rude. It doesn’t change, say, whether I got the parking spot or the last muffin, but I can choose to tell myself the best case scenario story.

          I also use a compassion exercise (I keep this taped inside my drawer at work for when I have difficult human interactions) where I remind myself:

          “Just like me, this person is seeking some happiness for their life.”
          “Just like me, this person is trying to avoid suffering in their life.”
          “Just like me, this person has known sadness, loneliness, and despair.”
          “Just like me, this person is seeking to fulfill their needs.”
          “Just like me, this person is learning about life.”

          It sounds a bit cheesy, but I’d rather be cheesy and compassionate than judgy and ragy all the time…

          1. Librarianne*

            This is a great technique, Rosaline. I’ve started doing something similar and have noticed that my anger dissipates a lot faster now!

          2. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

            This is my approach, too. It really helps me behave like a better person and helps reset my baseline behavior (for the better, I think).

          3. Copier Company Admin Girl*

            I appreciate this wording and I try to use similar phrasing. I had an interaction today that left me feeling pretty down so I’m glad to have seen this. Thanks friend. <3

          4. Jeff*

            Absolutely this!

            I remember reading the post that floats around Tumblr every once in a while that collects some of the favourite definitions from a blog called The Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows, which has words for intangible feelings and complex ideas/concepts that really ought to have succinct terms for them. One that’s really stuck with me is “sonder”:


            n. the realization that each random passerby is living a life as vivid and complex as your own—populated with their own ambitions, friends, routines, worries and inherited craziness—an epic story that continues invisibly around you like an anthill sprawling deep underground, with elaborate passageways to thousands of other lives that you’ll never know existed, in which you might appear only once, as an extra sipping coffee in the background, as a blur of traffic passing on the highway, as a lighted window at dusk.

            Basically, just as you’re the main character of your own story, every person that might be a side character, extra, or even just set-dressing in yours is fully the protagonist of their own whole story too, and it’s worthwhile as a person to try to keep that in your mind and extend the same level of compassion and forgiveness that you would to yourself to everyone else. As much as you would rationalize or excuse a misstep or shortcut on your part, you should be willing to do the same for anyone else.

            I can’t say that I’m always 100% perfect in doing that and never thinking grumpy thoughts (Who is, really?), but there’s a lot of times I catch myself starting to get frustrated and remind myself to cut other people slack, especially those who are stuck in the lowest rung of the service industry, because they’re often caught between a rock and a hard place. I remember those miserable days of food service and retail hell and have sworn to myself to never be the awful customers who made those sorts of jobs even more stressful. Even if I have a problem, there’s no reason I can’t go about getting it corrected while staying calm, polite, and dignified.

      3. Ella Vader*

        I know that “drilled it in” is just an expression, but it seems to me that stuff like detaching from little slights might be better taught by consistent example and by encouraging the protegee to self-examination and improved self-esteem, than by the kind of repeated correction that is connoted by “drill sergeant”.

        1. Copier Company Admin Girl*

          Different things work for everyone. I would not have caught onto someone’s example. I need the repeated correction. There are ways to be gentle and encouraging while correcting. Thank you!

        2. Not So NewReader*

          If “drilled in” means repeated examples, some people might actually need and appreciate that.

          I grew up with the message “everyone has an ulterior motive and it will have a negative effect on us”.

          So my repetition/exercise/drill is to tell myself to hold things in the best possible light. I am motivated as I don’t want to look like the Negative Neds and Nancys I knew growing up.

          Interestingly, I said to someone how helpful it is to try to hold things in the best possible light and her response was to tell me I am condescending.
          I guess in her world I am. I do understand her because I grew up with that. Only fools let their guard down and try to trust others, I have seen this type of thinking and I am well acquainted with it. For me to tell her to let go like that meant I believed she was a foolish person. Silly people let their guard down, savvy and sophisticated people are prepared for a verbal assault at any moment.

          The truth is it’s the sad people who believe the world is out to get them. There is no one on the planet who is so important that absolutely everyone wants to get even with that person. That is reality.

          1. SunnyD*

            I think if you choose to be positive about your trials, that’s awesome. If you tell others to be positive about THEIR trials, it’s pretty crappy – it is silencing, invalidating, and yes condescending.

    3. WoodswomanWrites*

      I have never worked as a cashier or in a setting like that with lines of people waiting to buy something, because it has always struck me as a difficult job. As a customer, it seems to me that cashiers have no down time at all when they’re at the register, and whatever work conversations need to happen have to take place publicly while still serving customers who are typically eager to buy what they’re buying and leave as soon as possible, especially in a fast food place.

      OP#2, I hope you can see that food service workers sometimes need to talk to each other as part of their jobs, and they don’t have any choice but to talk when they’re at the counter. This doesn’t make them inconsiderate of their customers. It makes them impressively skilled at multi-tasking. Personally, I’m in awe that they can pull all that off at such a hectic pace for a pretty low wage, and make a point of adding something to their tip jar.

      1. Librarianne*

        Exactly this, WoodswomanWrites. Being a cashier was one of the most stressful jobs I’ve ever had. Any “side tasks” I had to do, like changing the receipt paper or opening a roll of coins to make change, was seen as wasting the customer’s time–even though I literally couldn’t finish their transaction without completing these tasks. I will say that it’s made me a lot more patient when I have to wait in lines now!

      2. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

        You’re bang on, and this is such a compassionate and thoughtful approach to viewing others’ experiences.

        Being a cashier can be really hectic, and it often comes with side duties (e.g., gift wrapping, running food to people parked after drive-through, organizing all the pick-up orders, merchandising, (re)organizing displays, fielding customer service requests including things like a bathroom that’s been blown up). There’s a lot of multitasking and practice that goes into being able to move through a line of customers with accuracy, warmth/politeness, and speed. And you’re also usually the person who gets the brunt of all customer complaints because, unlike other folks, you are trapped behind an identifiable location that needs to be staffed at all times.

      3. Oaktree*

        You’re correct- I’ve worked as a cashier and it’s an extremely high-stress, fast-paced job. The clientele feel they have absolute total licence to abuse you, your managers usually do too, and you’re paid minimum wage for the privilege (and in fast food, usually you’re not allowed to accept tips).

        All my sympathy is with the McDonald’s employees, in this one.

    4. Trouble*

      There’s always another customer waiting, but also, once she took this person’s order she would have to turn around and pour the soda, grab the fries and grab the burger. So what should have happened is question asker should have waited until order taker took the order and turned away from the customer to collect the items. Then they can ask all the questions of each other they want. The customer already waited for another task to be done before their order in a quick service restaurant so asking them to wait again while a staff to staff convo happened isn’t on.

      However, the customer should have gone with something like Alison’s wording. Sorry I’ve been waiting a while and I don’t have a lot of time today. Or waited to see if the order taker launched into a full on convo before she interupted. But she’s not totally wrong to be annoyed that after being asked to wait already they decided to have a convo BEFORE her order was taken. After, there would have been a few mins while the order was filled.

      (I managed a Mcdees for 5 years so good service in fast food is something I’m pretty clued up on!)

      1. Colette*

        But then the other employee might have been in the middle of an order, or otherwise unavailable. There’s unlikely to be a perfect time, especially when you are dealing with someone unreasonable.

        1. Trouble*

          two employees in McDonald’s don’t need to talk about shift timings for any business reason. There will be a swing mananger, shift manager (or 3) and a store manager (possibly) there to worry about cover and who is going to break etc. The odds of them being able to go to the kitchen area for 30 seconds when they’ve both taken an order are also high. There is no real need to have this convo in front of customers.

          1. Colette*

            I doubt the OP can tell the difference between a swing manager, shift manager, store manager, and another employee.

            1. Trouble*

              Pretty good clue in the letter – the person on the next terminal over. As a manager we would back people up and tell them to keep taking orders while we collected the food and drinks for them but we didn’t often man the tills. Also, managers have a printed schedule daily so they don’t need to ask people when they finish, they can go to the manager’s station and check. Also managers wear different uniforms. Staff tend to wear golf/polo type tops with black ‘jeans’ and managers wear shirts with ties or neckerchiefs.

          2. Jenny Craig*

            I managed a Wendy’s for 5 years and an Arby’s for 2. So while I don’t have specific McDonalds experience, I have quite a bit of fast food experience. Employees at my restaurants would often have to talk about shift timings so they could get their tasks done. If they are both working the cash registers and lobbies, they need to coordinate when to complete side work. For example, if the other cashier gets off in 30 minutes, then you know you have 30 minutes to get the condiment stand restocked and the trash taken out after lunch. Yes, the employee can probably walk to the back and look at the schedule, but a lot of managers insist that the cashiers stay up front, so they have no choice but to ask their coworkers. And some managers leave it to the employees to coordinate their breaks: “You get a 15 minute break, you can take it anytime between 1:30 and 3. Just make sure someone’s covering you.” Maybe McDonalds has a strict policy against employees coordinating their own breaks, I don’t know, but I can’t imagine that the side work timing conversations never happen. To say that two employees “don’t need to talk about shift timings for any business reason” is disingenuous and untrue.

            1. NerdyLibraryClerk*

              All of this. Also, some managers are better than others, and one thing the not-so-good ones do is dump a lot of their responsibilities onto their staff.
              It seems like a whole lot of drama over a question and answer that would’ve taken a few seconds.

      2. Rusty Shackelford*

        I agree with all of this. The other employee should have waited until after the customer had ordered, especially since the customer had already been waiting longer than they typically would. And the customer was unnecessarily rude. (And yes, I’ve been both a customer and a cashier.)

      3. LITJess*

        I’m also in customer service and I agree with you.

        I think this can be a case of both OP being rude AND the other cashier practicing bad customer service. We have no idea what OP’s cashier might have done if she was given a second to respond to her co-worker, and since she provided pretty good service to the previous person (running out with something they forgot), I’m more willing to give her the benefit of the doubt than anyone else in this story.

      4. Blunt Bunny*

        It would have taken no more than 5 seconds
        Coworker: what time does your shift finish
        Me: 5
        As someone who worked in catering for 5 years at 3 different places I can tell you that the employee was doing well. She RAN out to the customer acknowledging you before doing this and came back right away. When she said I’m ready to take your order that means now, as in start speaking.
        Bitchy comments won’t get OP better service. In fact they are more likely to go slower. I found the public talk down as they think they are better than you but most the people that are working there are uni students.

    5. EPLawyer*

      Sorry but I am going to disagree here. OP had already been made to wait, now was being made to wait just to order her food some more. That is not demanding to be waited on hand and foot. That is expecting the service she was there for.

      Unless it was close to the end of the shift, there was no reason that question had to be asked right that second. It could have waited until the person who had already waited to order was helped.

      Now could OP have worded it better? Sure. That’s why she was writing in. But to assume she expected concierge service when there was absolutely nothing in the letter to imply that is really just piling on someone who already realized they could have handled the situation better.

      1. Arctic*

        OP was not being made to wait a second time. It’s a question that would take 3 seconds to answer. OP is the only one wasting everyone’s time by prolonging it and making it more than it was.

        And how do you know it wasn’t the end of the shift for some of them? It’s usually staggered. How do you know the question didn’t need to be answered?

        1. Trouble*

          The question likely didn’t need to be answered right that second to the detriment of a customer experience.

          Op was wildly out of line in what she said, no question. But the cashiers at McDonald’s don’t need to worry about these things. A manager has a list which will say who is in and out when, what breaks they get and when the system thinks they should go on them. The manager is responsible to send people on break and worry about all that stuff. So any chats about plans after work or just general making convo when are you off stuff can wait until away from the public eye. You might need to go change the coke or co2 canister or go to dry storage for more ketchup, there are lots of ways to take the order, go oops need some lids, and get out of the customer’s sight for a minute to do this.

          I worked my way up from counter staff through drive through, crew trainer, lead, grill trained and finally management. Making a customer wait while you take food out to a table when you were waiting on their grill order or hot fries and told them to take a seat? Absolutely fine. Making them wait longer while you confer with a colleague who doesn’t need to know when you get off right that second? not ok.

          The OP lost the moral high ground in being so rude to the counter staff who might yet have said oh just one sec I need to help this lady first if given a chance but if they’d started to talk about shift times and then she’d interrupted politely to stress she was pressed for time? She’d have every right to feel aggrieved. People on the front line with customers shouldn’t be chatting to each other when they’re with customers. Even a busy McDonalds will have a lull after lunch where you stock stuff up, have fun with your friends on shift and clean up a bit getting ready for supper.

          People are acting like customers and their food isn’t the reason McDonald’s is open and like McDonald’s has a three course menu to pick from. You’re getting beef, chicken or fish and some fries with a coke or a milk shake. It’s not like it has a 3 page wine list…

          1. Arctic*

            “The question likely didn’t need to be answered right that second to the detriment of a customer experience.”

            Absolutely nothing in the letter suggests the cashier answered the question. In fact, it was the OP who waited before giving her order. We have no idea what the cashier would have said. The OP bit her head off before she could answer.

            1. Trouble*

              She waited for the order taker to come back out of the lobby, around the side of the counter and walk up to her terminal so she could enter the order. To me that says the staff said oh hey I can help you now as she walked around the side of the counter and the OP waited for her to be at her keyboard before she started to speak, which is the one polite thing she did here rather than start saying I want a big mac with no lettuce, extra sauce, half the onions and extra pickles while the server wasn’t at her keyboard and wasn’t in the place to start recording all that. No where does it imply that she waited seconds with the server just looking at her from the till before she started to speak.

              I think people are so affronted by the rudeness, which was wildly out of line, I don’t disagree, that they’re not seeing that being forced to wait longer while two employees talk about finish times could be annoying. It wasn’t this server who was rude, it was the colleague who turned to ask this while OPs server was clearly busy, and we’ll never know if OP’s server would have said let me help this lady and I’ll let you know but yeah, customers and staff who chat amongst themselves when someone is waiting for their interaction or customers who are on the phone when someone is trying to serve them are also rude.

              1. Ask a Manager* Post author

                It takes literally one second to answer with “4:00” (or whatever time she got off). One second.

                The OP is the one who made the interaction take longer by deciding to scold them.

                1. Rusty Shackelford*

                  You talk a lot about optics. To me, this is an issue of optics. Yes, the entire conversation might have taken 15 seconds. But that’s 15 seconds of unnecessary (at least in the customer’s eyes) conversation, after the customer has already waited 1 or 2 minutes for the previous order to be taken outside. I’m not one of those strident “the customer is always right!” ninnies. I give front-line people a TON of slack. But I think spending 15 seconds on non-customer-service, especially when a customer has already had a longer wait, is just as rude as the person who takes “only 15 seconds” to talk on their cell phone when the cashier is waiting for them.

                2. LITJess*

                  I agree with Rusty and Trouble. I work a customer service desk and it is a CONSTANT struggle to remind my staff that our conversations take a back seat to the person we are serving. Doesn’t matter, unless it’s an emergency, wait until the patron has been helped, don’t ignore the person in front of you.

                  Again, we don’t know if OP’s cashier would have followed that rule and OP was certainly over the top her response, but it wasn’t best practices of her coworker to initiate a conversation when the cashier had someone waiting at her terminal.

                3. Myrin*

                  @Rusty, I’m not sure which “15 seconds” or which “conversation” you mean – it was another employee who asked the cashier a question; as far as we know, the cashier had no intention of answering it, or if she did, it might indeed have been the one second thing Alison describes. Where in that scenario does the 15 second conversation take place? Am I missing something?

                4. Ethyl*


                  “after the customer has already waited 1 or 2 minutes for the previous order to be taken outside”

                  There is no way it took that long. Open up the stopwatch app on your phone and stare at it for two minutes. It’s much longer than you think.

                5. Rusty Shackelford*

                  @Myrin, I meant the entire conversation – asking the question, getting an answer – might have taken 15 seconds. And yes, I’m aware it might have also taken three seconds. But again, I’m talking about optics. And the optics of this situation are that when you’ve already been waiting for an objectively reasonable activity to end, tacking an activity onto that wait that feels unnecessary to the customer? It’s going to feel longer.

                6. Rusty Shackelford*

                  @Ethyl: I don’t go to McDonald’s for lunch any more, but back in the day, I could watch the person leaving the counter with my order, and it absolutely could take one or two minutes for them to get to my car and then get back to a spot behind the counter.

                7. Rockin Takin*

                  If my life gets so busy that I am impatient for waiting 15 seconds, I think there’s bigger issues than customer service in my life.
                  I guess it’s cultural in the US, but we are so demanding and being made to wait at all for any reason seems to cause upset.
                  I get that fast food is supposed to be fast, but I don’t really understand why we expect the full attention of every customer service person at all times, or why we cannot simply wait 1 minute.

                8. Ethyl*

                  I don’t want to harp on this too much but Rusty — did you actually time it, or did you only think or estimate the time? Humans are super bad at estimating stuff like that when they haven’t learned how.

                9. Rusty Shackelford*

                  @Ethyl, I agree, it’s often very hard for people to estimate time correctly, and they’ll say something took “two minutes” when it literally took 30 seconds. I’d say I’m more in tune than average, maybe because I often have a need to remind myself “this feels like it’s taking forever, but it’s really only 60 seconds, so chill.”

          2. Michelle*

            You are assuming all managers are good managers, and from my previous experience in fast food and retail, that is not an absolute. I have worked with managers who do not know who is in, coming in or leaving and don’t make sure their staff gets their breaks. OP was rude in assuming there was going to be a gossipy conversation. As you noted, if given the chance, the cashier may have said “I need to take this customer’s order” but OP did not even allow the cashier that opportunity.

            As many other commenter’s have noted, there are a lot of people who seem to think being rude to fast food & retail workers is perfectly fine. If those workers where not there, you would have to cook at home or learn how to sew your own clothes. They are human beings and deserve to be respected.

          3. The Customer Service Life*

            As someone who has worked customer service jobs in multiple environments including food service, let me assure you that nothing is ever perfect, especially in management.

            Should there be a schedule easily to see for all employees? Should there be a manager on duty at that moment to help out and answer questions? Should there be trust that the manager will be willing to answer questions and not locked in his office for his whole shift? Yes, yes, and yes, but the number of times the answer is ‘no’ and that you need to rely on other people for simple information happens more often than you’d think.

            This level rudeness is pretty normal in this type of work. It’s mostly brushed off unless you’re either a regular or add onto it a super duper level of rudeness/abrasiveness. If you or anyone you know happens to behave in this way, acknowledge it, learn from it, and move on. If you realize it in the moment, just apologize right then.

          4. NothingIsLittle*

            Look, my first job was as a cashier at a high-volume McDonald’s for two years. There are a number of reasons that question may have been necessary and urgent depending on the level of the employee on the counter at that point. The most likely seeming scenario for me is that they may have been needed for a switch to “the hole” if they were a location with a drive-thru (time sensitive because the drawer needs to be changed and their coworker could be clocking out, and necessary to question the cashier’s time off because you usually wouldn’t put someone back there for less than 2hrs).

            Sure, most orders can be taken quickly enough to make it a non-issue, but enough orders are longer or unwieldy that it’s not worth risking a wait in those cases. In my location, that would have been grounds to interrupt the order before it was started, especially since customer satisfaction is measured in wait times (that don’t start until the first food is input). If she really didn’t need to know that moment, sure it’s rude to delay the order, but OP doesn’t have the necessary information to make that call and there are enough situations in which it would have been necessary that there’s no need to be uncharitable.

            (PS. A lull does not necessarily mean there’s time to talk to anyone else on shift. My location was by a theme park and over the summer there was no break for drive-thru between 11:30 and 3:30, it was a minimum of a car every 2 minutes.)

          5. jamberoo*

            You seem to have experience but you fail to address that people can multitask. See also: my multiple years working my way up from dining room cleaner to store manager, too.

            The customer could have been giving their order to the cashier at the same time as the cashier listening to a question that probably took mere seconds to ask. We don’t see any evidence from the letter that the cashier moved their body away from the customer, responded to the question, or anything else to suggest the customer was being roundly ignored or de-prioritized.

            If you have so much experience in this industry you must understand how imperfect situations may occur. You cannot speak for the reasoning behind this worker asking this question, regardless of your expertise. Workers are still human beings, not automatons.

            1. Pescadero*

              “You seem to have experience but you fail to address that people can multitask.”

              Mostly because science has largely shown that people cannot multitask.

              Some people can serially task, and context switch quickly enough it appears as multitasking.

        2. ChimericalOne*

          I think OP was unnecessarily rude, but I also think she may have interpreted this question as a conversation opener rather than as a quickly-answered, business-related question. It’s possible that she interpreted it thusly because she was already inclined to think of the workers as “lazy” or “disrespectful” (see her comments above about feeling looked down upon and the vague reference to “cultural” issues), but I can see why she might’ve seen this as something other than a 3-second delay if that’s what she thought.

          It’s on the OP now to examine her feelings about the cashiers and food service workers and be honest with herself about her expectations and assumptions. It’s also on her to try to practice kindness and patience. We can understand where her feelings were coming from without calling them justified or excusing them.

          1. Courageous cat*

            Yeah. I feel like many times I have been in line at a place like Target or whatever, and a coworker will ask my cashier “when do you get off” with a social inflection (not hurried or pointed or anything), and my cashier will stop scanning what I’m buying and turn her head to answer and you can just tell there’s going to be slightly more of a conversation because it doesn’t look like the person is going to walk off anytime soon, and there’s the “oh you’re lucky I got here at 10 so I’ll be here for a few more hours” “oh well I closed last night so I’m leaving early today” type stuff that follows. It drives me insane, I don’t care if people talk, but I don’t love when people can’t work and talk at the same time. It’s not the end of the world and I certainly don’t say anything, but like… get it together.

      2. AnotherAlison*

        I guess if I was the OP, my takeaway would be to be a little more forgiving, and if I was the cashier, I would try to work on providing better customer service. I try to be nice to those in service jobs where people are frequently rude to them. I’m an impatient person without much tolerance, and I know that about myself, so I really do try.

        However, sometimes you’ll land in a situation that pushes you to the limit. Two fast food trips ago, I had 4-32 oz drinks in a drive thru order. Had to request a carrier, but had to repeat myself multiple times to get him to stop trying to hand me the drinks and put them in a carrier. One lid was not on tight. Dumped Coke in my car seat. Had to ask for napkins 3 times before I could get him to hear me again. He was busy making a 5th drink for me, which was not part of my order. I tried to explain that I only had 4 drinks, and just let him hand me the 5th drink because it was easier. (And it turned out I had an extra soda in the original 4, and that was my tea that I needed anyway.) I’m sure I was rude by the time I finished the transaction. Like the OP, I can suck it up for one error and say well, it’s McD’s, that’s normal, but by the time the 3rd thing has gone wrong and I have to shout through the noise at a drive thru, it’s hard to use my friendly voice. OP’s allowed an off day, as are the cashier’s.

      3. Cantwaitfortherecession*

        I agree. It’s the constant bad service, self-centered, entitled employees that leads to this level of frustration. Thanks to super low unemployment there are many individuals who normally would be unemployed working in customer facing jobs. I wouldn’t have been snarky, but would have left as soon as the conversation started.

        1. ack ack*

          Wow. For the sake of all service workers you come in contact with, I hope you don’t go out much. Your post is so unkind and entitled that I’m sure you are an extremely difficult customer.

        2. Scarlet*

          I, too can’t wait for the recession. Bring back people losing their houses and going bankrupt! That will teach those entitled employees not to revere the customer and cater to their every whim. They should

          Like really, dude? No one’s entitled we as a society are just making advances towards better working conditions and pay. Maybe people are tired of being treated and worked like slaves for minimum wage.

          1. Fortitude Jones*

            And a lot of those workers have bad attitudes because of attitudes like Cantwaitfortherecession’s. If I had to serve people like that all day, I too would be pissed.

            1. Le Sigh*

              I’d love to see people keep a smile on their face after having a box of shoes thrown at them by one customer (over a faulty coupon) and then another customer yelling at them because their check didn’t clear.

              Yes, so entitled, was I, a cashier just trying to get people through the line on a double shift.

              1. Librarianne*

                Oh my goodness, some of my WORST customer interactions were over faulty coupons. Seriously people, it is not worth risking a heart attack to save 50 cents.

        3. Le Sigh*

          Here here! Never in all my years of being a cashier did I see customers fly off the handle or bite my head off for no darn reason, despite being polite and efficient. That’s right, take it out on me, the cashier making $8/hr before taxes to pay for school and all of my bills, because you’re mad you can’t return shoes you already wore to a discount store. It’s true, the return policy is all my fault.

          On second thought…maybe large corporations have created a system that is more efficient for the store to maximize their profits while undercutting customer service, understaffing (so that employees have to be cashier, food runner, food prep, and everything else), and underpaying employees who are subject to ever-changing schedules that keep them from getting second jobs while struggling to pay bills on a laughably low minimum wage. And then makes their poorly paid employees target for customer ire.

          No, that can’t be right. Why would companies do that?

        4. alphabet soup*

          Don’t blame individual workers for what you perceive as “bad service.” A lot of times, “bad service” is the result of workers having too much work because the company doesn’t want to hire more people so there’s not enough coverage. Especially now that online ordering has taken off. Management schedules the same amount of people even though orders have gone up due to Grubhub and Doordash and Ubereats. If you’re a customer in the shop, you don’t necessarily realize how many orders someone may have to deal with, because the store doesn’t *look* busy.

          1. alphabet soup*

            Oh, and even though orders have gone up and there isn’t enough coverage, workers are still being held to impossible management metrics, usually focused on speed. When I worked at Target, we got timed on how long it took to ring up a customer. If your average checkout time was too slow, you’d get a warning. So sometimes we would get really frustrated by customers who would hold up the line, because we knew we’d get reprimanded for it later, even though it wasn’t our fault.

            If you’re going to be frustrated with someone, be frustrated with the companies who put their employees in no-win situations by not giving them the support they need to deliver great customer service consistently.

          2. Pescadero*

            I never blame workers, or raise any sort of a fuss when there is bad service.

            I just walk out and take my money elsewhere.

            It ain’t my circus, it ain’t my monkeys, and it won’t be my money.

        5. Missy*

          I’m constantly amazed by what people expect from customer facing service workers vs. professionals. I’ve been in both, and people would get very mad when I would be at my minimum wage retail job and they felt I didn’t smile enough, or I didn’t seem excited enough to take their orders, or that I was taking too long because I had to answer a co-worker’s question. Plenty of people would have used the language that I was rude and giving bad service because they felt like I didn’t snap to attention fast enough or because I wasn’t hiding how exhausted I was (boy, a lot of customers hate it if you are leaning on the counter!)

          I’m an attorney now and nobody tells me to smile, or that I need to have better posture, or that I can’t put a client on hold (the way I was never allowed to put a customer on hold in retail). It’s so weird that in a job where you’d think that people would expect MORE of these things from me (because they certainly pay me more than they did when I was working at the mall) they don’t care as much about these formalities. I mean, it isn’t weird at all, it’s that when I worked retail people felt like they were better than me and could command my emotional labor and attention with threats to talk to the manager if I didn’t comply. Now the same people who would yell at me during those retail years see me as a peer and treat me accordingly. If only they could realize that I was always a peer and that a lot of the “good customer service” stuff is just BS posturing we force poor people to do.

          1. Former Hotel Worker*

            *wild applause from this customer service lackey*

            It’s true. People see the job as worthless and treat us accordingly. I had one lady reduce me to tears on my first day and then gloat over it. My crime? I couldn’t reach her by phone and “should have known” she was in her sister’s room. Yes, deeply terrible of me, despicable behaviour.

            1. Scarlet*

              Oh my goodness I’m so sorry. What a sad, horrible life that woman must lead that her only pleasure is making someone feel lesser than her.

          2. Not So NewReader*

            Yes, yes, yes.
            “So tell me sir/ma’am would you say this to your mayor, your doctor, your lawyer, the engineer designing your home? Would you imply that if they are not working every single second then they are not doing the job? And tell me something, do you work in an office? Do you stop for a drink of water? Do you call a sick family member to see how their day is going? If someone spoke to you the way you are speaking to me now, would that be okay with you?”

            We (society) have a huge problem because we expect the most out of those we pay the least. I always say if every minimum or low paid worker refused to go to work one day our entire country would come to a screeching halt.

            People are who they are and eventually the true personality bubbles to the surface. I worked with one woman who went on a 45 minute rank with every other word being F this or F that. This was a retail setting. Yep, 45 minutes of f-bombs in the middle of the store. I happened to be friends with her office mate at her other job. I mentioned the rant. “Oh she would never do that, she’s not like that.” hmmm. Yeah, this cohort was a hot mess and she was able to control it in the office. At least for now.

        6. NotAnotherManager!*

          Yeah, it’s absolutely terrible that employees have leverage in the employment game and that the unemployed have jobs. They probably expect to be paid more than minimum wage and get an occasional break, too. /sarcasm

          For every crappy service worker, there are at least two self-centered, entitled customers. I have supervisors who hire former food service and retail workers specifically because none of the insane people they will work with here will compare with ones they dealt with from the general public.

    6. Sylvan*


      And when you feel an urge to put people in their place, don’t do it. You get nothing out of it and you just feel bad later.

      1. MommyMD*

        Yes! And not treating people with hostility has nothing to do with “putting your tail between your legs”. That mindset right there is the underlying problem.

    7. OhGee*

      Agreed. It’s fast food. Chill out. Be kind! Fast food, grocery stores, and other lower wage retail jobs are hard, especially because you’re dealing with the public and their often horrible attitudes. I don’t know what kind of job the OP currently has, but I was working retail gigs just a few years ago (I’m in my late 30s) and now I have a comfy office job. I make the effort to be kind to people working behind counters, even if they’re indifferent back. I remember what it was like and how much I remembered people who treated me well.

        1. Autumnheart*

          Amen. I worked plenty of years in customer service jobs, and it taught me how to be a great customer myself. And you know what, I almost always get great service everywhere! Be the customer you want to see in the world. A little understanding of store policy and a reasonable expectation will make 99% of your transactions go smoothly.

    8. Zennish*

      “You will probably have a nicer time in life if you don’t go around taking things like this as a personal slight.”

      This. I’m amazed at the number of people who go through life in a constant state of annoyed and irritated, or take everything as a personal insult, then are baffled because it seems like everything is so difficult, and no one ever cuts them a break.

      1. Dankar*

        It’s a corollary to the statement: “No one is thinking about you as much as you are.”

        In situations like this, the person isn’t interrupting because they have some major issue with YOU. They’re simply interjecting because they think they need the answer more than you need to put your order in 0.2 seconds faster. It’s not personal, and people who insist on taking it that way are usually the self-centered ones.

      2. Scarlet*

        When I was in college and took my psych 101 class, I learned about the frustration aggression hypothesis. Let’s say you work a horrible job and are berated by your boss constantly. You can’t quit for whatever reason. You can’t take out your frustration on your boss/coworkers or your work. You get stuck in gridlock traffic on the way in and out – you’re completely burnt out.

        Lots of us have been there, and some of us are emotionally healthy or have a good support system. But what if you don’t? Well, then maybe you get home and kick your dog instead. Or yell at your kids. Or exhibit crazy-irrational road rage. Or go to McDonalds and be an ass to the employees.

        Sometimes when I hear about things like OP’s letter, I kind of think maybe there’s some sort of bad situation going on in their life and this is the only outlet they have. Maybe they feel trapped, maybe they’re stressed to the max and just trying to get through it. Doesn’t make their actions Ok, but makes it more understandable. They’re just trying to cope. Isn’t everyone fighting their own battle?

        1. EventPlannerGal*

          You are being very compassionate, but as it turns out this OP is in fact just really racist.

            1. EventPlannerGal*

              They did – Ctrl+F “Rishi”. Some of their replies have been deleted by now.

              1. NomdePlumage*

                All of Rishi’s replies were deleted due to racism. And then he would say the people to whom he was being racist are the real racists, because (I kid you not) he could tell what was going on in their minds.

                Sadly, all logic and reasoning went over his head.

        2. Jennifer*

          I know what you’re trying to do, but sometimes people don’t deserve the benefit of the doubt and are just rude. Sometimes I think people go too far in making excuses here for people.

        3. Rhoda*

          What if you’re not emotionally healthy but never take it out on others? Just carry around grudges and stomp around alone stressing, or wake at 5am overthinking things?

          1. Scarlet*

            I’m not sure. Everyone has their own coping mechanisms like punching pillows or stress-cleaning. A lot of people utilize therapy, but unfortunately that’s financially out of reach for many.

  6. Rollergirl09*

    OP#1 What could you possibly gain by going to HR? Taking away your daughter’s and grandaughters’ livelihoods as a means of punishment for behavior of which you disapprove? I’m sorry, your grounding days are over. You’ve said what you have to say, she’s going to have to make this decision for herself.

    OP#2 Yeesh. Sounds like you took a bad day out on that cashier. There is a lot between aggression and “putting your tail between your legs.” Waiting 90 seconds or whatever to order doesn’t seem unreasonable.

  7. Be Positive*

    #2 – you were rude and you were talking down to them. Alison’s wording is the same request but much more pilot. If you were in a rush, you call the manager so s/he can coach them

    1. Really very*

      No, you do not “call the manager so s/he can coach them” because YOU are in a rush and can’t wait 10 seconds to order.

    2. Mike C.*

      Yeah, totally call the person making a dollar over the minimum salary required to be exempt and working 60 hour weeks and suggest that they coach their employees because they made you wait a few moments.

      That really sounds like a reasonable plan of action.

    3. Swampy*

      Uh huh, you know most managers would nod and say “oh yes, of course” to you and then as soon as you are gone say “what a nightmare, forget about them they are just being ridiculous” to the staff. People forget that the managers don’t know you from a bar of soap but work everyday with their staff – generally they like their staff more than they like random rude customers.

      And its not a customer’s place to tell the manager how to coach their staff – being a customer isn’t the same thing as being the boss or the owner. They were paying for a hamburger, not the souls of the people who serve it to them.

      1. Staxman*

        I experienced some extreme rudeness from a Starbucks barista some years ago, much worse than what OP2 experienced. It was solidly in “how does he think such behavior is remotely acceptable?” territory. I spoke to the manager, who was totally decent about it and got the point immediately. I assume she coached the barista later. If she hadn’t gotten it, then it would have been my place to tell her how to coach the barista. I wasn’t paying for the barista’s soul, but I was paying for simple courtesy.

        1. Lindsay Gee*

          But you’re still assuming the employee got coaching, which may or may not be true. You could have just gotten a manager telling you what you wanted to hear to make you feel heard and understood and to get you out of the store.

        2. LarsTheRealGirl*

          It would still not be your place to tell a manager for a store you do not work for how to “coach” their employee…what?

          You don’t do that job. It’s not your expertise to manage baristas.

          If you’re unhappy with the service or with the response you receive from the manager, your choices are to 1) stop patronizing that business or 2) decide you’ll get over it.

          1. Manon*

            Yeah I’m really baffled by the idea of advising the manager on how to coach their employees. Buying a McMuffin and some coffee doesn’t give you leave to tell everyone in the store how to do their jobs. I could understand calling corporate in the event of egregious mismanagement (cleanliness/health concerns, extreme problems with service) but in this case? Nah.

            1. Dankar*

              Because the customer is always right! And that includes being right about the appropriate ways to discipline and train staff, because obviously the person who’s always right is also the one who knows the most. /s

          2. limevodka*

            Well no you don’t just have to either leave a business forever or else say nothing, you absolutely also have the choice to complain to management if you’re unhappy with service. If a barista was rude, as per Staxman’s story, letting the manager know is completely appropriate. There has to be a middle ground and in Staxman’s case, letting a manager know about actual poor service is a normal response, boycotting the business forever or just letting someone be rude to you are both, imo, a little bit extreme.

            Staxman never mentioned telling a manager *how* to coach their staff and you don’t need to have ‘expertise in managing baristas’ to know if someone is being rude to you.

            1. LarsTheRealGirl*

              That’s exactly what Staxman said:

              “If she hadn’t gotten it, then it would have been my place to tell her how to coach the barista. ”

              Talking to the manager IS the middle ground. If you’re not happy with the manager’s response, “tell them how to do their jobs” is not the next step.

        3. OG Karyn*

          Yeah, but see… if you think it’s your place to tell a manager how to coach their employees, you’re assuming that you know all company policies and procedures. Sometimes there’s a darn good reason for an employee handling a situation in a certain way, and there’s nothing they can do about it because it’s company policy. You demanding that someone be coached on something that is literally not something that can be changed… is not helpful, nor is it your place.

          For example, I got yelled at once by a customer who was asked one too many times by multiple employees if they needed help finding anything. The customer called my manager over and complained to her that I was being “pushy” and “rude” and that she had already been asked “four thousand times” if she needed help and we were treating her like she was stealing. Nothing could have been further from the truth; we are told to ask EVERY customer in our zone if they need help finding anything, and we don’t always know who has been approached already and who hasn’t. I was following procedure, and this customer demanding I be disciplined for doing so had no idea what the business rules were – hence why it’s not the customer’s place to tell managers how to handle employees. You don’t have all the information all of the time.

          1. LunaLena*

            Agreed, something like that happened to me once. I used to work at a busy print shop/mail box/shipping store, but I was hired for the print shop portion (which was in a back room) and I was specifically instructed not to serve customers at the counter unless they asked for me. Our paper supplies and my in-box for work orders were behind the front counter, though, so occasionally I would pop out to grab stuff. One day, while I was doing this, a customer in line yelled at me “Excuse me, EXCUSE ME, I just need my mail!” I stopped what I was doing, got her mail, then went back what I was doing. The owner of the store later told me that the customer waited around until she was available to tell her “I don’t like that Asian girl, she never helps me!” to which the owner responded “that’s because she’s not supposed to; I told her not to work the front counter.”

      2. Thursday Next*

        It’s not the customer’s place to tell a manager to coach their staff, but it is a manager’s place to shield their employees from unreasonable customers. If a customer like this were asking for the manager, I’d say the cashier should just get the manager, and let the manager deal with the rudeness.

        Sometimes people calm down if they feel their complaints are being heard, so it might even defuse the situation.

    4. Willis*

      Uh, if OP was in such a rush she should’ve left earlier. Neither of these things (delivering someone’s food or a quick, work-related question) require a manager’s attention. They’re normal parts of working at a fast food restaurant. OP might want to think about how often they have overboard responses like this, cause it seems like the type of thing that would be part of a pattern. And maybe the McDonald’s employees just rolled their eyes after OP left, but there may be other times where unnecessarily angry or rude responses have more of an impact on their reputation.

    5. Mookie*

      The problem with this advice is that even if the service is slow because they’re understaffed, bringing this to the attention of a “manager” on-site and during a transaction is not going to change anything institutionally and, more to the point, the employees involved in said transaction are going to be punished, almost invariably, and for something they have no control of nor power to change. You don’t enable management to fob off their own failures onto their underlings unless you’re clueless or a sadist. Nothing bad happened to the LW and she would have had nothing reasonable to complain about.

    6. Trouble*

      If youre in a rush, just say ‘excuse me but I’m pressed for time today. Could I order?’

      The replies here are weirdly harsh. Yes, letter writer was rude, no question. But when you have a customer in front of you that you’ve already asked to wait for you once is not the time to discuss cover for the afternoon shift or going to the mall if you finish at the same time.

      This is McDonald’s. They’re going to take the order, take the money and then turn around to pour the coke, walk to the fries, put the fries in the packet, go to the bin and get the burger, then walk back. They can even walk into the kitchen under the premise of checking on the build of the burger – there is a lot of time once the staff have walked away from the customer to have this convo. It’s not asking to own their souls to expect decent service when you pay for a meal. Calling the manager is overboard but I did manage a McDees for 5 years and if I saw this happen I would coach the person to have the convo once they’ve walked away to grab the food, not right before the customer was going to open their mouth to order when they’d already had a wait. If people had longer to eat they’d likely be somewhere nicer than McDonalds.

      1. swimmyfish*

        “But when you have a customer in front of you that you’ve already asked to wait for you once is not the time to discuss cover for the afternoon shift or going to the mall if you finish at the same time. ”

        This is a lot of assuming here, since you have no idea why the other person was asking the cashier what time they were getting off the shift.

        It’s also worth remembering that the cashier did not initiate that conversation – one of her coworkers did – and she was not given a chance to respond in any fashion before LW stepped in to chastise the both of them.

        1. Trouble*

          I know that another cashier has no business reason to know when their colleagues finish at McDonalds. A computer literally tells the managers who is on when, and what breaks they get and when it suggests they get them. McDonald’s has if anything too many managers. There isn’t going to be any need for staff to discuss this with each other. Which, they’re free to do to make conversation, but not when a customer is standing there waiting to order. They’ll be stocking things and cleaning things over the course of the shift and they’ll have more appropriate times to talk about whatever they want.

          1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

            What? That’s not true. There are all sorts of business reasons for why one employee may want to know another’s schedule that day. Should they have asked before OP ordered? Probably not, but there are contexts in which it would make sense, the delay it created was not unreasonable, and OP’s response was disproportionately rude under the circumstances.

            I’m worried that you’re making assumptions about operations that may not be correct because of the distinct rules and goals at fast food joints. The rules are slightly different there than they are in other food businesses.

            1. pleaset*

              Trouble says she managed actually McDonalds for 5 years. I’d trust her judgement on this one.

              1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

                And several other fast food managers have disagreed. Trouble is making a bunch of assumptions about operations at this specific location, asserting them as fact, and drawing conclusions from there. I usually defer to folks with expertise in their field, but it’s a bit extreme to say there’s “no business reason, ever” when common sense and prevailing practice dictate otherwise.

              2. NothingIsLittle*

                The locations vary wildly because they’re franchised and privately owned. At my location, where I worked for 2 years, breaks were not set by computer and schedules changed often enough that the paper schedule we kept was inadequate for monitoring coverage.

                Also, Trouble is responding under the assumption that the coworker was a cashier. There is no indication that that was the case and a manager may very well have had several good reasons to urgently inquire into the cashier’s schedule, as many commenters point out. There’s a difference between an expert in a field making an educated guess based on full knowledge of the facts and an expert in a specific sector of a field making judgment calls based on incomplete and biased (see @Rishi throughout) data when different experts in other sectors of the same field actively disagree with those calls.

      2. Mike C.*

        It’s just a damn burger, you can wait a few seconds. The entitlement here is really amazing.

        1. Fortitude Jones*

          Right. If wait times at fast food restaurants really bothers people this much, they should probably eat at home.

          1. pleaset*

            I eat at fast food places because I’m in a hurry and not at home. Literally – that’s why.

            I assume you’re being sarcastic.

            1. Fortitude Jones*

              I was, but the point still stands – shit happens. Having to wait an extra minute isn’t going to kill you, and if it is a problem, leave home earlier or pack a sandwich. Unless a cashier is being nasty or flat out rude to you, you (general you) have no reason to bite their heads off over slight delays.

            2. EventPlannerGal*

              But we are talking about a delay of what sounds like, at most, a couple of minutes when you include the run out with the previous customer’s order. “Fast food” does not mean it materialises instantly – sometimes there are long queues or only one till is open or a fryer is broken, and that’s life. Literally the only possible way for you to *guarantee* that you will have food instantly available to you the second you want it is to bring it from home. If you are in such a rush that you can’t tolerate a two-minute wait without snapping at the cashier, maybe you should not be stopping for a Big Mac at all.

            3. Dahlia*

              If a fifteen-second delay throws your entire day off, what would have happened if there’d been someone in front of you?

        2. Turquoisecow*

          Seriously. How long would it have taken the cashier to answer the question? “Eleven-thirty,” for example, takes not quite two seconds. OP REALLY couldn’t wait two seconds? She’d still have to wait for the food to come out (unless she was only ordering a drink), so this “OMG DELAYS!!!11!!!” response is kind of overblown.

        3. Louise*

          Seriously! It’s exceedingly clear who here had not worked in a service industry job or ever known anyone who has worked in a service industry job.

          1. Not So NewReader*

            Annnd if OP was in such a hurry she could have chosen not to stop at all, rather she could have continued on to her destination.
            The thought strikes me that OP could have chosen not to stop, but the employee could NOT have chosen not to serve her after such arrogance. The balance of power is tipped toward OP.
            It’s not the employee’s fault if OP does not know how to budget time well. If ten seconds is a matter of life and death then OP should have known better than to stop on her journey.

    7. Middle School Teacher*

      I don’t understand why you would call the manager in this situation? Especially if you’re rushed, as OP2 says they were.

    8. MommyMD*

      No. The employee did nothing to warrant calling the manager. The question asked took five seconds to answer. The entitlement attitude in society is just getting worse and worse. Nothing happened to the OP which warrants such an outburst. I wouldn’t even eat there again. I’d be embarrassed.

    9. Zennish*

      …Because getting their manager involved is way less consequential than just making an offhand rude comment?

      1. kc89*

        that’s what I was thinking, an offhand rude comment sucks for the employee but it doesn’t have any real impact on their job, whereas getting a manager can get someone fired

        depends on the location of course, but some managers will side with the customer no matter what

        1. Gazebo Slayer*

          Yes. In my customer-facing work I’d MUCH rather have a customer say something snotty to me than complain to my manager!

    10. Rusty Shackelford*

      The other day, a store manager of my acquaintance got a call from an angry customer, who wanted to complain about the service she’d received… from that store manager. You never know.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        Love it.
        One day a customer reamed me. I was following policy and I tried to explain. The customer was cussing a blue streak and informed me that she would report me to my boss. I said, “My boss and my boss’ boss are standing over there. You can go right over and talk to them now.” (They were watching her cuss and cuss…)

        She left the store cussing away. I got congratulated for grace under fire.

    1. Archaeopteryx*

      That’s a bit harsh; caring about her daughter not making bad choices is just as important as caring about her in other respects. The problem is, the time to help your kids make good choices is while you’re raising them. Now that OP’s daughter is an adult, OP can still voice opinions, but it’s not appropriate to intervene like this anymore.

      1. RUKiddingMe*

        OP can voice an opinion once. The daughter is an adult and her mother/father doesn’t have free reign to harangue her just because she /he is the mother/father.

        1. Falling Diphthong*

          While I agree with this as an abstract principle, it’s an excellent reason NOT to have affairs with your mom’s employees.

          1. Traffic_Spiral*

            Especially if you work at the same company! I mean, talk about pooping where you eat. At least have the decency to bang your mom’s tennis coach or pool boy.

      2. Ms Cappuccino*

        Asking if OP cares for her daughter is a valid question, since daughter could be left without an income.

        1. Villanelle*

          The daughter could be left without a home if the partner finds out, or OP might need to take care of the kids more or the daughter could.lose her job for many reasons.

          Caring comes in many different forms.

          1. DerJungerLudendorff*

            True, but getting her fired isn’t likely to actually solve anything. She didn’t forcefully end the relationship, just stopped them from seeing each other during the workday.

            It does come across as more focused on punishing the daughter than helping them to make good decisions.

            1. valentine*

              The daughter could be left without a home if the partner finds out
              stopped them from seeing each other during the workday.
              Where are these details?

              1. Ethyl*

                I think these statements are meant to be hypothetical:

                — The daughter *could* have a housing crisis if they are married and their partner found out and wanted a divorce and the daughter wasn’t on the deed to the house or whatever.

                — If LW gets involved or goes to HR, there’s every chance all that will happen is they get better at not being flirty at work, and keep the relationship going elsewhere.

                1. Chinookwind*

                  But these consequences would be because of the daughter’s actions. not the LW’s. The LW reporting her might make it more probable, but wouldn’t be the cause.

                  I will say that the daughter and her partner are showing poor professional judgement by getting involved not only at work but at the workplace of a parent. They have placed her in this position by their choices and now she is stuck trying to figure out how to react. They have made her a part of the affair against her will from two different perspectives (family member and employer) by letting her find out about it.

                  As for advice for OP, how would you react if you weren’t related to one of the parties and you found out? Would it normally be considered a security concern? What are company policies on workplace relationships? Are there policies in place if the cheated on spouse shows up angry at the workplace?

          2. Justme, The OG*

            There’s no mention of a spouse or partner in the letter. The other party is married, hence the affair.

        2. MommyMD*

          Totally valid. Go ahead and say something. Be prepared to have daughter never speak to you again after she has lost her job.

          Tell daughter personally you disagree but don’t undermine her life stability.

      3. Mike C.*

        How is this harsh? The OP is looking to get her daughter fired from her job for the evil sin of sleeping with someone. I have the exact same question for the OP.

        1. NothingIsLittle*

          OP probably isn’t looking for their daughter to get fired, I’m relatively certain they think HR can force her to terminate the relationship. It’s misplaced and it sounds like OP is more concerned about the gossip the relationship generates than how their daughter would be impacted, but I don’t think the goal is for her to be fired. (To be clear, OP is way out of line, but I’m pretty sure more concerned with forcing the relationship to end than punishing the daughter. I could be wrong, but it’s uncharitable to assume they don’t care for their daughter.)

          1. AKchic*

            the OP isn’t thinking anything through rationally or clearly.

            If HR gets involved and has any kind of policy in place, it may not be “you two need to stop dating”, it would possibly be “one of you is getting fired”. If they are a religiously-based hospital, one or both could lose their job. The married man for stepping out on his wife, and the daughter for interfering with a married man (and doubly so if she is in a married situation herself).
            Plus the issue of “gossip”. If the OP is a supervisor with security department and is hearing “gossip”, that could mean two things: either security isn’t that tight and everyone is gossiping to the point that a relationship is getting back to security personnel, or security is gossipy themselves. Both are bad looks, and could come down on the company for allowing such a toxic environment to happen (and maybe needs new security oversight to clean some of that up).

            All of this because a parent wants to police who and how their daughter conducts her personal life. It has ripple effects. And really, is this because they don’t want the gossip to reflect badly on THEM, or are they trying to control the daughter (“I raised you better than that!”) or what? OP needs to dig really deep and figure out just what is bothering them so much, and still keep their nose out of it. This is two employees, not their daughter.

        2. Close Bracket*

          I think the OP is looking to get her daughter to stop seeing a married man, and she is asking whether she can use the HR department to put a stop to it. I think OP *does* care about her daughter, and trying to get her to end the relationship comes from that place of caring. Try looking at the situation through that lens, and see how it changes your responses.

          1. Autumnheart*

            My response to that is still, “Parent, your kid is not 12, and putting their job at risk because you want to ground them for misbehaving is a terrible thing to do, an abuse of your position, and bound to make your kid think you’re a huge a-hole who needs to mind their own business. And they’d be right.”

    2. Jasnah*

      I think you can care deeply about someone and disapprove of their choices.

      I don’t agree with the route OP is trying to take (going to HR about the workplace relationship) but I can understand why her mother disapproves of the daughter’s decision. And I’m not sure the emotionally loaded framing of “don’t you care about her” is helpful for OP. What if we responded to other letter writers with “don’t you care about your coworkers? don’t you care about your job?” Guilt trips are not actionable advice.

    3. MommyMD*

      Exactly. I saw it this way as well. Unless OPs job is in danger, it seems very hostile.

    4. Close Bracket*

      She does care about her daughter, and that’s why she wants her daughter to stop seeing a married man.

    5. Not So NewReader*

      Watching managers manage their own adult children in a work place can be quite interesting.

      So a boss of mine hired her son to work with us. And that is when the weirdnesses started. Some how Boss made up all these bizarre rules that she felt she had to follow in order to manage her son. A typical example, she decided not to speak to her son while they were at work. This left the son with not much clue as to what he should be doing. If he needed something he had to ask people on unrelated tasks to get it for him, when the norm would be to just ask the boss.

      Granted OP is not managing her kid. But I know through watching my boss that a boss can end up questioning every decision they make. It could be that OP thought, “If this wasn’t my daughter, I would not think twice , I would just go talk to HR because the relationship is disrupting my department. But it involves my daughter. So now what do I do?”

  8. AnotherLibrarian*

    So, I’m curious about when you might go to HR in a situation like Letter #1. Many years ago, I worked in a place where two coworkers (neither supervised each other) were having a passionate affair. It made everyone deeply uncomfortable, because one of them was married to someone else who worked in a different department. (Awkward.) Eventually, someone walked in on them making out in the back (doubly awkward) and both were transferred to different departments. Last I heard, they were married.

    Anyway, I guess what I’m wondering is when do you go to HR? Clearly, walking in on someone making out at work is problematic and inappropriate, but do you call HR? What about just the fact that they were clearly having an affair and that made people feel weird, especially because we worked with one of their spouses? How does one parse, this exactly? I don’t know the answer, I’m just curious what others think when something like this crosses the line between “personal” and “professional”?

    1. OG Karyn*

      I think you treat office affairs with married people like any other office relationship. If it’s inappropriate it’s inappropriate – the “affair” part shouldn’t have a bearing on it, IMO.

      1. Mary*

        I think it’s impossible to treat it like “any other office relationship” if one of the parties’ partners actually works at the same organisation, or you all know them. It’s outrageous to put all your colleagues in the position of having to decide whether to lie or cover for you or to tell their partner what you’re doing.

        1. Chinookwind*

          Exactly. By having an affair where you spouse works, you are making your coworkers take sides when they find out. There is no way to stay neutral in the eyes of the cheated on who is the victim of betrayal.

    2. Mike C.*

      This doesn’t enter the workplace at all. Until they’re having sex on the conference room table it literally has nothing to do with work at all.

      1. Nursey Nurse*

        I agree that generally people’s sex lives shouldn’t matter in the workplace, but I think this framing is too absolute. There can be situations in which a sexual relationship between coworkers could cause problems in the workplace. Ugly breakups, jealousy over new partners, affair-related revenge plots… there have been letters here about all of those situations. It’s easy to say that people should just mind their business, but drama can suck in unwitting bystanders, and it’s not fair to expect them to have to deal with the negative impacts of that drama at work. Sometimes it might be necessary to loop in HR or a supervisor to handle these situations, and I don’t think that’s inappropriate.

        I guess what I’m saying is that I’m not sure where the line is either, but I do think that we have to recognize that it will sometimes be necessary to draw one.

        1. Jasnah*

          Agreed, I think like any other interpersonal situation, if something is causing people to act coldly, awkwardly, rudely, or even too friendly at work, sometimes a manager or HR needs to step in to tell everyone to knock it off and be professional. That’s why this blog is called “Ask A Manager”, not “Figure It Out, People.”

        2. JSPA*

          You draw the line at professionalism. The WORK problem isn’t “having an affair” or “having a painful breakup” or “feeling the feeling of jealousy.”

          If all of that is manifesting in the workplace as snippiness, tears, overt anger, personal discussions and drama–that’s a problem. If people smile too long or avert their eyes and stick to “only the facts” when it all blows up, that’s not a problem. The WORK problem is “drama at work.”

          1. AnotherLibrarian*

            That’s a good point. I do agree that “drama at work” is probably the line. Though I can’t imagine having to have that conversation with my subordinates.

        3. Mike C.*

          It’s easy to say that people should mind their own business because people should do just that. If the members of the affair aren’t bringing in any drama then there’s literally no work issue to speak of.

          1. Nursey Nurse*

            I don’t think I said otherwise. You made an absolute statement that nobody should ever complain about an affair in the workplace unless people are having sex on the conference room table (and, one must assume, scaring the horses). I was pointing out that if the affair was causing drama that negatively impacted coworkers and interfered with their ability to do their jobs, it would be fair for those coworkers to seek assistance from management or HR. Do you disagree with that?

        4. hbc*

          Yeah, and there are cases where rooting for two different football teams causes problems at work, or developing a non-romantic friendship between coworkers that goes south, or going through a divorce makes them not function well, or getting injured working out in the company gym. The point is not to ban everything that can cause problems at work, but to deal with what is actually within the company’s purview.

          Coworkers getting scandalized over private behavior? Too bad, get over it. Work not getting done because they’re taking two hour lunches to go park and make out? Address the two hour lunches, not whether they’re getting it on. Someone is getting all their requests done first? Address the queue fairness problem and not what they’re supposedly doing to get moved to the front of the line.

          1. Nursey Nurse*

            Again, I don’t think I said otherwise. I’m a little taken aback by the hostile tone in people’s responses. “Too bad, get over it?”
            I’ve been reading this blog for a long time and posted rarely, and I think with the way the comment section is trending I’d be very hesitant to post again. Alison, you should know that some of the stridency and snappishness among other posters is driving people away. Back to lurking now — I hope you all have a lovely day.

            1. Anon for this*

              A little late here, but after today’s first post, it reminded me of this comment you made and I wanted to let you know you aren’t alone. I was slightly active for awhile, but I’m turned off by the way some commenters speak to LWs and others on here, almost like they aren’t real people on the other side of the screen, and make accusations based on nothing but their own assumptions or personal experiences. A lot of it seems to tread the line between bluntness and outright rudeness that just isn’t necessary.

              Anyway, hope you’re still sticking around!

      2. David*

        Anecdote: This one time (A LONG LONG time ago), a work colleague (in another office from mine) got fired for having sex on the boardroom table with their partner. They were in doing some IT work over the weekend in the office and their partner was there with them. They got busted because their partner wrote about it in their blog. The partner had not named the company but the description of what, where, how, when etc meant that anybody familiar with the boardroom would be able to identify the room. One of their work colleagues read the blog and….. All hell broke loose. The CEO, HR, their Manager etc flew over to the other office. and that colleague quickly became an ex colleague, Although they were around for a day or two during “the investigation” during which I was speaking to them for work reasons and they didn’t deny the rumors.

          1. David*

            I know, Right! Even now, many years later when we have a work place reunion we sometimes say “you remember that person who……….” :)

        1. Falling Diphthong*

          The busting oneself aspect always leaves me head shaking. “How did you find out?” “Well, you posted all the details online, in a public forum, possibly with illustrative photographs.”

          1. Deejay*

            That reminds me of the scene in one of the Adrian Mole books where Adrian is told off by the headmaster for writing graffiti.
            “How did you know it was me?”
            “You signed it, idiot boy”

        2. WellRed*

          One wonders if the sex was all that good if they had time to notice all the detail in the boardroom.

      3. Reality.Bites*

        And even then not if they booked the meeting room in accordance with their company’s policy. ;)

        1. virago*

          Coffee all over phone screen.

          I work with people who wouldn’t care *what* their co-workers were doing in the meeting room as long as they’d booked it correctly.

      4. DaffyDuck*

        Well, I don’t want to see Affair1 getting her rear end groped when Affair2 walks buy as I’m asking her for the daily llama report (or the delay while they giggle about it). I sure as shooting don’t want to wait for the llama clipping stats because they are busy playing kissyface and hide-the-pen instead of pulling the report. If I notice it they are doing something *other* than getting work done.

    3. nnn*

      I feel like if OP did go to HR with this, they might find that OP is in a conflict of interest in supervising her daughter’s lover.

      I’m not sure what would happen next – I’d imagine that would depend on the particulars of how their security team is set up.

      1. AcademiaNut*

        That’s what occurred to me. Trying to interfere in the affair is certainly inappropriate, but so is supervising your daughter’s boyfriend, whether or not you approve of the relationship. Depending on the employer’s rules, the OP might be required to disclose the relationship, and transfer the management responsibilities to someone else – I’m not sure what level of relationship would be considered a conflict of interest.

        1. valentine*

          OP might be required to disclose the relationship, and transfer the management responsibilities to someone else
          OP1 should be doing the latter of their own accord.

      2. Jasnah*

        This is what I thought too. The daughter in another department is one thing, but OP is in the icky situation of supervising this guy. It would be awkward even if he weren’t having an affair. As it stands I don’t see how OP could give him a fair evaluation.

        1. kt*

          To me this is the crux of things, and everything else discussed is essentially irrelevant to the workplace. How can the guy be evaluated fairly? This is why the OP wrote in.

      3. WS*

        Yeah, that’s what I thought too. Supervising family members (however tenuously in this case) is usually not acceptable except in the smallest of workplaces where it may be unavoidable.

      4. Bagpuss*

        Yes, that was my thought. OP probably shouldn’t be supervising their daughter’s boyfriend, and even if policy doesn’t explicitly forbid it, at the very least, HR ought to know about the connection in case it were to become relevant at any stage.

        However, I think that OP needs to record with HR as “[name of Report] is currentlt in a relationship with my daughter, so I wanted to check whether that means that [report] should have a different supervisor , or for you to be aware of the connection in case it were to become relvant” not “Report is having an illicit affair with my daighter and it’s WRONG”
        If the situation is she she doesn’t want to / can’t wprk with her report then again, htat would potntially be something she needs to address and possibly speak to HR about but at that point, would ned to recognise that the issue isn’t with report, but with her own inability to untangle her personal feelings from her professional responsibilities.

    4. Now Older and Wiser*

      One of my co-workers had what she thought was a cute “how we met at work” story. The man who was interested in her said he needed to talk with her about the XYZ project – and they had an hour long meeting on the subject. Sounds okay, but when you think about it, he basically misscharged his time and in our case it was probably on a government contract. It is a big no-no to mischarge time, especially to the government and is grounds for dismissal or more. And he caused her to misscharge her time, too. Didn’t go well when he dumped her, either. And before that we had to hear the drama about the relationship which hindered the work process.

      If you’re going to date co-workers, you both need to be mature enough to handle it. I’ve dated those in my same company, but although others might have seen there was an attraction, they would say that we ought to go out without a clue that we already were (but maybe they were playing around with me, but I don’t think so ;)

      1. Close Bracket*

        If he booked a meeting to talk about XYZ, and they then talked about XYZ ( they had an hour long meeting on the subject, then they didn’t mischarge their time.

    5. Mmm . . .*

      If your company has a prohibition against co-workers dating, you as a manager have to go to HR regardless of family ties. If there is no rule you have to manage the any adverse impact it is causing – if it is disrupting work, you have to manage that. Otherwise, nobodies business.

        1. What's with Today, today?*

          She CAN’T manage her daughter’s boyfriend. She can’t fairly evaluate this guy. What about that are you missing? It is affecting work. His BOSS is upset about it, and it is very clearly tainting her thoughts about him; therefore, it is affecting work.

    6. No Names Today*

      Wait, was that my high school? There was this swim coach, and the girls gym teacher, and……….

    7. Cattiebee*

      I think you have to be really careful about assuming people are having affairs, especially when taking action that could hurt someone’s reputation or put their job on the line. Obviously when you walk in on two people making out it’s safe to assume they’re having an affair (though I wouldn’t bring it to HR unless there were a really good reason for it, like it was with a direct report or health & safety or something). But when I was young and new to the workforce, I can’t tell you how many people thought I was having an affair with older men who were mentoring me (a woman). And in almost every place I’ve worked, upper management was almost all men so if I wanted mentoring, it pretty much had to come from a dude.

      Now, young men who were being mentored in *exactly* the same ways were treated with approval. They were go-getters who were eager to learn from the experienced professionals and receptive to feedback and had bright futures ahead of them. But should a manager invite me to attend an all-day event with him because I could learn something from it, or should I laugh or otherwise look like I was enjoying a conversation too much, should I spend a day working at a table in a manager’s office because I was doing something brand new and it made sense to have someone nearby for questions, or should I close someone’s office door because maybe I don’t want the entire office to hear a conversation in which I’m brutally honest about where I’m struggling at work and asking for advice, I can tell you that more than a few people thought I was a go-getter, but in an entirely different, derogatory way.

      I understand that what I described is nowhere near as overt and awkward as the actual affair you witnessed, but in a general conversation about when to go to HR when two people are having an affair, I just want to urge people to check their assumptions first.

    8. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      If someone is engaged in public displays of affection, that’s inappropriate and reportable.

      Rumors, not so much.

      Unless there’s a power dynamic. If it’s a supervisor and a report. That’s reportable.

      Because those two things, power and public displays can be seen as hostile work environments. Power dynamics mean that there could be some leverage being used and when it ends, that’s a lawsuit if the person is then let go or demoted or transferred etc. If someone is full on making out, that’s gross and inappropriate and can be deemed sexual harassment when you, another coworker, feels uncomfortable by it. It doesn’t have to be “Done” to you, it just has to be done around you and you don’t like it.

      Otherwise, if they’re just knowingly dating and keeping it professional, even if they have spouses or whatever in the mix, it’s nobodies business and HR shouldn’t be involved.

      1. AnotherLibrarian*

        Yes, it was deemed sexual harassment after the person walked in on them making out. That was sort of the final straw and I agree that’s a factor people don’t often think about.

    9. boop the first*

      omg A love triangle like that all in the SAME WORKPLACE???

      If I was a coworker there, I’m not sure I would have been willing to keep that secret.
      “Where’s Joe?”
      “With your wife in the closet… not sure what they’re doing in there! You should go check!”

      That’s the only reason I can think of why it would be “awkward” – if people were trying to help make it work. Maybe the married half already had a system, who would know?

  9. nnn*

    #1: Your first loyalty is to your daughter and granddaughters. Not to your report, not to your report’s wife, not to some abstract notion of fidelity.

    And your daughter and granddaughters would not be well served by jeopardizing your daughter’s employment or workplace reputation, which would also jeopardize your daughter’s ability to support your grandchildren.

    1. DerJungerLudendorff*

      Well, I don’t know about that. I personally never liked the idea that you MUST give your loyalty/love/time to people just because you happen to be born in the same family, regardless of whether you like each other or want to spend your time and energy on them.

      But that goes the other way too. If OP is trying to help, she’s just making things worse by punishing the daughter through her employer.
      If OP is just trying to punish the daughter, she should keep her nose out of other people’s relationships.

      1. valentine*

        I personally never liked the idea that you MUST give your loyalty/love/time to people just because you happen to be born in the same family
        Sure, but OP1 as the parent is obliged not to tank her daughter’s job, whereas the coworker whose son steals from her isn’t obliged to tolerate that.

        1. Tyche*

          Why OP is obliged not to tank her daughter job?
          Only because she’s her daughter?

            1. RandomU...*

              Eh… the daughter is a grown up and needs to be responsible for her own actions. I mean it’s a very plausible scenario that somebody else goes to HR with the same complaint. Playing the what if game for a second… what if the daughter had been caught stealing, drinking, or any other generally accepted ‘bad thing’ at work. Should they still be shielded? I mean, our hypothetical daughter still has hypothetical kids, right?

              Do I think the LW should do it, no. But mostly because I don’t think it’s an HR thing and I truly think people need to remember that HR isn’t like the playground monitor who’s there to solve all interpersonal issues.

              1. valentine*

                OP1 doesn’t need to shield the daughter, just not report her for the fact she’s carrying on an affair. If she witnessed her doing it at work, that changes things.

          1. Phoenix Programmer*

            This reminds me of the liberal meme making its way around the net. “I don’t know how to explain to you that you should care about other people”.

            I’ll add to that, and not do harm in situations just to get your way.

            1. Traffic_Spiral*

              Well, you’ve got a pretty limited view of “other people” there. The daughter is someone she should care about, but not the other hospital employees or the man’s wife? If having this affair would tank her job, then it’s because having this affair negatively affects her job performance and causes trouble for everyone around her.

              I mean, think of another letter: “I’m constantly having to cover for my colleagues who are running off to bang (including make excuses to their spouses and other overseers) but one of them is the daughter of a higher-up in the company, so she won’t face any consequences.”

              Now, provided that the affair doesn’t affect the work, HR will just tell LW “ain’t my problem” and daughter’s job is fine (which would probably be the outcome here, IMO). But the premise that you have to let your child do whatever they want in a job while you shield them from all consequences because they’re your kid? Think about if you’d like to work with those people.

                1. valentine*

                  “I’m constantly having to cover for my colleagues who are running off to bang (including make excuses to their spouses and other overseers) but one of them is the daughter of a higher-up in the company, so she won’t face any consequences.”
                  If that’s really an expected job duty, it’s a task on your job or you quit. You could also sue.

                  But the premise that you have to let your child do whatever they want in a job while you shield them from all consequences because they’re your kid?
                  Who suggested this? Is she banging the dude at work, in view of the security cameras?

          2. Mike C.*

            You generally don’t tank the job of literally anyone without a legitimate reason, how does that work for you?

            1. Tyche*

              I’m not saying it’s the right or wrong reason, simply I’m very put off by the idea that you should *never* tank your children’s job, that your are *obliged* to never tank their job only because they are your children.
              I don’t think OP should “tank” their daughter job, and if they judge their daughter relationship negatively they should talk to her privately as a parent.
              On the other hand, I don’t know the details of the working situation, but I can understand why OP could think this relationship could be problematic in many ways.

              1. valentine*

                I’m very put off by the idea that you should *never* tank your children’s job, that your are *obliged* to never tank their job only because they are your children.
                I specified OP1 and their daughter. I don’t get all the extrapolation.

          3. Dankar*

            I mean, I don’t think you should tank anybody’s job over a relationship, extra-marital or otherwise. Affairs of the heart are the perfect circumstances in which to stay in your lane.

    2. Bagpuss*

      I don’t entirely agree. I think in a proessional context, your responsibility is to your employer, so if there are professional reapsns to notify HR (for instnac, ue to a bar on coworkers dating) thn I think you have an obligation to notify HR even if loyalty to your family might suggest keeping quiet. (Loyalty to family might mean that you tell your daughter first, and give her the opportunity to notiify HR herself, first, to minimise and [roblem your report might create.

      On a wider scale, I don’t buy into the idea that ‘family’ always trumps other considerations, (or indeed to the concept of ‘my country right or wrong’) Moral and ethical issues are not normally as clear cut as that .

      I would agree that in this case, it would be reasonable t say nothing if the only considerations are whether to speak out because you disapproce and thik that the other spouse should know, rather than because there is a requirement to disclose under your employers policies or some other positive duty.

    3. ThisColumnMakesMeGratefulForMyBoss*

      Actually, I don’t think this has anything to do with it. OP needs to think of it this way…if this were not her daughter, but another person having an affair with one of her employees would she get involved? If it doesn’t violate any work policies, then it’s none of her business. She’s told her daughter how she feels about the situation. Her daughter is an adult and she needs to butt out and choose whether to be there to support her when things go in the crapper. Loyalty is not a given just because it’s family.

      1. Traffic_Spiral*

        I agree with this. LW shouldn’t go to HR unless there’s actually a professional problem, and this isn’t currently a professional problem. If it *was* a professional problem, she shouldn’t be covering for her daughter just because she’s the boss’s kid.

        1. LKW*

          Well as someone noted upstream, I do think the OP should consider asking HR if there is any way to transfer the bf from her oversight. I know I’d be pissed if I was giving appropriate feedback and was accused of being unfair because of personal issues.

          While the OP can’t ask HR to stop the affair – she can at a minimum, ask to be protected from any fall out.

          1. RandomU...*

            I didn’t see the upstream post… but this is a good point. I’m now a little curious if some tangential sexual harassment claim could be leveled against the LW from another person in the group who thinks the married boyfriend is getting preferential treatment because of the relationship with the LW’s daughter.

              1. RandomU...*

                How is it silly? You’re in a team where one of your coworkers is banging your boss’s daughter, you feel like that guy is getting all of the choice assignments or other preferential treatment. What are you going to think?

                Sexual harassment manifests in different ways. One of those ways is a worker not involved in the relationship having their career or job affected by the relationship. While the scenario I described is a stretch.. it’s not that much of a stretch.

                1. (Former) HR Expat*

                  Yeah, but that’s not sexual harassment, per se. It’s preferential treatment, but not based on gender or gender stereotypes. I mean, it’s abhorrent that someone would be getting preferential or detrimental treatment because they’re “banging” the boss’ daughter, but I wouldn’t jump to sexual harassment.

                  If this were brought to me, I’d look to any Code of Conduct or internal policies that discuss preferential/detrimental treatment of employees.

    4. Delphine*

      No, this is an overreaction. She is not duty-bound to serve her daughter’s best interests at all costs. That’s not the reason she shouldn’t go to HR.

  10. Observer*

    #1 – What exactly are you trying to accomplish by going to HR?

    What you need to realize is that you are NOT going to be able to force them to end their relationship, but you will certainly do irreparable damage to YOUR relationship with your daughter. You will also probably do some significant damage to your reputation, because the last thing most HR departments need is someone trying to get them involved in their family drama. It’s part of the reason why some companies won’t hire multiple members of the same family.

    1. Scarlet2*

      Yeah, I’m really wondering too. I’m getting a whiff of trying to “punish” her daughter that is fairly disturbing. What does LW think? That her daughter will get “a talking to” and she’ll come to her senses? Not only will this definitely damage her relationship with her daughter (and granddaughters) but it will also damage her daughter’s professional reputation and possibly jeopardize her employment.

      1. Jasnah*

        I think OP wants to stop their daughter before it’s too late, by any means necessary. Alas, I think OP has to focus on what they can do as a parent, what they can do as a manager of the married man, and what they can do as a worker in that hospital.

        They can step in as a colleague to stop the gossip if they hear it. They can speak to their report as his manager about workplace professionalism, if he’s being inappropriate. They can speak to their daughter as her parent about her choices. But they can’t speak to HR as a parent about their daughter’s choices).

          1. Jasnah*

            I still have work to do–had to rewrite my comment but agree it’s an important point to remember.

      2. Falling Diphthong*

        That her daughter will get “a talking to” and she’ll come to her senses?
        I suspect that’s roughly it–when you watch someone close to you studiously plot out how to blow up their life, trying to find the right button to push so that they see reason and put down the dynamite is a pretty common instinct.

    2. Rose*

      wouldn’t HR want to know that someone has a reason to be biased against of their employee? I mean, if anything that’s the HR angle. The guy is her direct report and it sounds like she has every reason to think he’s a POS.

      1. valentine*

        OP1 would be reporting herself for bias, though. You’re meant to work well with people no matter what they’re like.

        1. Yorick*

          She’d be reporting a conflict of interest, not that she’s biased. If the man weren’t married and she were thrilled about their new relationship, it’d still be a conflict of interest.

          1. valentine*

            She’d be reporting a conflict of interest, not that she’s biased.
            She only cares that he’s married. She wants someone to end the affair, not the reporting structure.

      2. Observer*

        Well, true. But that’s just another reason why this report would seriously hurt the OP’s reputation.

  11. Copier Company Admin Girl*

    OP 2, not to be cliche, but try to remember that golden rule: treat others how you wish to be treated.

    On a more personal note, I used to be quite aggressive. For me it was because I really was unhappy with myself. I had, and still have to, work very hard and make very conscious choices to be kind. It sounds childish but it’s true. You have to choose, over and over and over again, to be kind. As my dad says, “so many people are unhappy with their lives because they cannot commit to kindness.”

    Keep choosing well, friend. Wish you luck. <3

    1. Jerk Store*

      I used to get extremely frustrated with being kept waiting before I was diagnosed with anxiety. I didn’t realize it at the time, but I believed that the routine wait was interfering with getting to or returning to work on time or otherwise interfering with my routine and plans.

      1. Copier Company Admin Girl*

        That’s part of it for me! Lifelong anxiety sufferer. If I’m not 20-30 minutes early I feel the tightness in my chest. I’m trying to let go and find more flexibility in my day to day life. Cheers to us for making progress. :)

      1. Copier Company Admin Girl*

        The full quote, which I wanted to write but forgot the second half, was this: “So many people are unhappy with their lives because they cannot commit to kindness. Kindness is the quality that transforms our lives from mundane to extraordinary.”

  12. Observer*

    #2 – Your framing is rather odd to me. Why is staying quiet “putting your tail between your legs”? Why do you frame your only choices as either accusing them of gossiping or staying quiet?

    Given how strongly you seem to feel about the need to push back on this, I wonder what happened that made you question of you possibly over-reacted?

    1. Foreign Octopus*

      That bothered me too.

      It sounded like there wasn’t a queue and maybe they were a little understaffed. She could not have been waiting longer than one or two minutes (plenty of time to have a browse of the menu). And it’s not like it’s impossible for the cashier to ring up the order and multitask at the same time. These conversations take all of ten seconds.

      The entitlement that is coming off of OP2 is a little strong.

      Seriously, it should be required that everyone work customer service at least once and at least for a year. I feel this would solve a lot of these micro-aggressions.

      1. Trouble*

        I managed a McDonalds for 5 years. The OP was undoubtedly rude. However, so was the cashier. Take the order, walk away to fill it, talk to colleague while you’re doing that, return with food. It’s not hard. You’re being paid to look after customers, so do that without chatting over them with your colleagues. You’ll get time to chat around all the other tasks you’ll get to do without customers over the course of the day. If the OP had said ‘hey sorry I’m really rushed today, could I order?’ that would not have been out of line. It was the whole abrupt tone and accusation of gossip that made it rude, not being a bit frustrated about being asked to wait while they had a convo around her after she’d already been asked to wait. A few minutes is a long time in fast food, the menu isn’t that elaborate and you’re not having a three course meal.

        1. WellRed*

          We’ll never know if it would have been a lengthy conversation or a “5pm, can I take your order?” Because the OP automatically assumed the worst. But yeah, drives me crazy when workers chatter away ignoring customers.

        2. Lance*

          It was, from the sound of things, a quick question. Yes, it wasn’t the greatest timing for it, and yes, there’s also the factor that OP was waiting previously for the employee to get an order taken care of, but I don’t think it’s that rude especially when OP otherwise hadn’t spoken yet (and, I imagine, was probably looking at the menu).

        3. Arctic*

          The cashier wasn’t even chatting with her colleague. Someone else asked them a question. She didn’t even get the chance to respond.

          I have to wonder if you had your team’s back when you were in management.

          1. Trouble*

            Yep, long as they had the customer’s every time. We had fun, we did actually have time to lean sometimes and then we cracked on, cleaned and stocked the place, and did it again.

            I once had a guy order like a machine gun in the drive thru and call the 15 year old member of my staff all manner of names when she asked him very nicely to repeat himself. So I came on the speaker and told him to leave, that we would not be serving him there because of how he spoke to my staff. He banged on the locked window and cursed and swore at me and I just pointed at the exit until he sped off. So yes, I was a great manager and very well liked.

            If my staff were having a quick conversation in the grill or the storage area, no problem. If I needed to ask them to go on break I’d have grabbed them as they walked away to grab a drink or fries and asked them to go after that customer. Breaks don’t get run when the place is busy and when you’re grabbing sauce, fries, sandwiches, pouring drinks, grabbing the lids you ran out of, you get plenty of time for these quick questions where you’re not expecting a customer to wait longer for you to do it.

            That said, should OP have let it go or interrupted if they started a full blown convo about seeing a movie after shift in a polite way like Alison’s suggestion? Totally.

            1. Countess Boochie Flagrante*

              Trouble, you’ve been all over this thread insisting that employees have no reason to ask each other’s schedules, and if you say you’ve got five years’ management experience in that scenario, I’m very curious how that works for you. When I worked retail (which was about the same length of time), I had plenty of occasion to ask my coworkers their schedules — typically trying to determine things like when I had time to get some cleaning done, or if I could grab a break that hadn’t been able to go off on time, or similar things that we absolutely were not expected to pester management about. Did you expect your workers to run all those things by you instead of taking small amounts of initiative on their own to determine that it’s better to do the cleaning before their coworker leaves?

              1. Not So NewReader*

                Bingo. I never worked a retail place where this conversation did NOT happen. It’s pretty common in retail. I am wondering how Trouble’s place functioned.

            2. Jaybeetee*

              Given that the cashier didn’t even answer before OP interjected, I wonder how you could call her own behaviour “rude”? Like, what could the cashier had possibly done differently there – “talk about it later” doesn’t work because she didn’t actually talk. I suppose one could say the *other* colleague was being clueless/rude by asking right then – but seriously, what could the cashier had done?

        4. JB (not in Houston)*

          How was the *cashier* rude? The cashier didn’t do anything wrong here.

          There was no “convo around her,” one person (NOT the cashier) asked one question, and the OP interrupted before the cashier had a chance to respond–and for all you know, the cashier would have ignored her coworker. The OP she assumed she was about to be made to wait and then overreacted to her own assumption. In several comments, you have made the same assumption, that the cashier was about to or did ignore the OP and have a conversation with the coworker. If that had happened, then sure, we could say that the cashier had been rude as well. But it didn’t.

    2. Tired of Anti-Hispanic Sentiment*

      Go up-thread and read their follow-on comment; you’ll figure out where they’re coming from. My guess is that they accidentally crowed about it to the wrong person and got told they were being a jerk, and are looking for absolutions from The Internet.

      1. Observer*

        The responses have been removed – The OP was digging in on some really racist comments.

  13. Sneezy Engineer*

    OP#5! See if you can find an allergist that administers allergy DROPS. I’m a long time sufferer of allergies, and tried shots, but the time commitment is no joke. Allergy drops are taken everyday at home! They’re a godsend!

    1. Sleve McDichael*

      I took the drops in 2010-2011 and I can honestly say they completely changed my quality of life. My allergies were at disability levels and suddenly I could function in society again! My only warning is that they don’t last as long as the injections and I suspect I’m going to have to do another round soon as my allergies have started to come back again, although nothing like the way they used to be. Just something to be aware of!
      Good luck OP#5! I’m super happy for you!

      1. Engineer Girl*

        This sounds more like maintenance than true immunotherapy. My Dr gave me high doses of my allergens to build immunity.

        Prior to immunotherapy I had a regular allergist that gave my lower doses of the allergens. It made things better but didn’t make the allergies go away.

        1. Sleve McDichael*

          That sounds like it was possibly a lower-dose version of what my immunotherapist gave me. But I was told that whether I went with drops or injections, neither was guaranteed to be permanent. My immunotherapist said the injections would last 10-15 years and the drops 7-10. So I lasted about the expected length of time. I don’t live in the USA though, so perhaps you just can’t get the permanent version in my country, if it exists.
          Either way, the drops definitely cleared up 100% of my symptoms for 8 years, and they’ve barely returned since.

          1. Engineer Girl*

            You can’t get a permanent version because allergies in people’s bodies come and go with time. Your body is different than ten years ago. It will respond differently than it did then. Some allergies come back, you get some new ones, you lose a few.
            Hence the need for follow up.

    2. WhoKnows*

      Wait, please tell me more about these drops?! I fell off the shots train years ago, but I should really be getting them. Starting them back up again though, is, like you said, “no joke,” and unless I want to get up at 6am every Saturday, my work schedule doesn’t allow for me to get shots every week for a year.

      Tell me about these life-changing drops!

    3. Liv Jong*

      Drops and saline nasal rinses like Neti Pots and Navage were a life changer for my grandma.

  14. Kella*

    OP#5- Is your allergy is pollen? I’m assuming it is based on the context. I also have severe pollen allergies but they’re more in the anti-immune category than sneezing etc so it’s really really important that I avoid exposure. I try to never give unsolicited medical advice, but if you want suggestions for tools to cope with pollen exposure if you don’t get approved to work from home or not as much as you need to, or even just during your day to day life until you hopefully find a treatment that works well for you, let me know and I’m happy to offer ideas.

  15. Gir*

    OP #2…

    Maybe the person asking should have waited to ask, but it was a 15 second conversation. I’ve asked the same thing in front of a customer before, but it was because it was going to make a direct impact on whatever decision I was about to make.

    When I was an assistant manager in retail, it was really common to ask someone when their shift ended if you didn’t have the coverage sheet in front of you. If you are finishing your shift in the next 30 minutes, it might make sense to switch someone off registers to a different area, so when the person coming in to take over for them came in, it made for a smoother transition. Or so I knew that you’re not going to have time to refold that table over there after finishing with the line, so I should find someone else to do it. Or so I could let Susie know to take her break now while we had more staff. Or whatever.

    And I never had a customer react the way you did. At most the employee would get a comment of either “Lucky you! It’s so nice outside, you get to enjoy the rest of the day” or “Have a great rest of your shift” or whatever.

    1. Mookie*

      Some customers appear to believe a fine-tuned service machine runs on magic, rather than by way of collaboration and cooperation by underpaid, overworked, conscientious humans. It is in every customer’s best interest that co-workers know one another’s schedules. This takes no brainpower to comprehend nor much self-centeredness to appreciate (for it indirectly affects them, too, and is therefore important to their own happiness) but, unfortunately for some, a degree of empathy not all of us are well-versed in accessing and applying with precision and common sense.

      1. valentine*

        Some customers appear to believe a fine-tuned service machine runs on magic, rather than by way of collaboration and cooperation by underpaid, overworked, conscientious humans.
        The worst ones know and are abusive because it’s the one place they can be.

        1. Tinybutfierce*

          Yup. I used to manage a retail store that was one of 3 brick-and-mortar locations of a largely web-order/catalog business. The corporate headquarters was about two hours away from my location, and a lot of my customers (supposedly) knew the owner and his family. In my decade+ of customer service, I’ve never had such consistently AWFUL customers, because so many of them expected special treatment because they had a ~long-standing relationship~ with the owner, or because the VP had such a habit of taking “the customer is always right” beyond what was reasonable (because god forbid we get anything less than a five star review on Facebook). Every time someone from corporate came to visit, I just watched them reinforce and reward awful customer behavior that I knew my staff and I would be reaping the repercussions of long after the head honchos went back to HQ.

          That job was what finally burned me the hell out on customer service, because I was beyond done with customers seemingly interpreting it as “customer servitude”.

          1. Former Young Lady*

            Starting in high school, I worked five years front-of-house in a professional theatre. Nine out of ten customers were delightful people who loved the arts, and I learned a lot from them about how to behave in the grown-up world. They had grace, manners, wit, funny stories, style, and they treated us lowly wage-earners with compassion and dignity. In short, they were truly classy people!

            The other 10% bought their season subscriptions entirely so they could go out one night a month and act out their fantasies of grandeur by bullying front-line staffers. It was a total power trip. “Countess Vivienne treats all her servants like dirt on ‘The Rich and the Ruthless,’ so that’s how I’ll treat the ushers/box office/concession staff. Then they’ll know I’m a VIP!”

      2. Former Hotel Worker*


        I’m starting to see this attitude bleeding into customer service here in the UK too where any hint of genuine humanity, personality and transparency is being strangled out of the practice. The fake smile, the phony “customer service voice”, the grovelling scripted responses. It’s less pervasive here as our culture is less suited to it (American customer service makes me very uncomfortable, I had a hard time dealing with hotel staff in the US because I didn’t know what to say in response to their attentiveness) but it is being pushed on us by big multinational corporations. I had a friend who was sacked from a major chain hotel for being chattier with the customers who wanted to chat. I call that being customer focussed and tailoring interactions to suit the client – they called it “inconsistent service” and said she had to make the same level of conversation with everybody, no initiative permitted.

        It seems that OP2 here is feeling slighted because they caught a glimpse “behind the curtain”: a peek of the reality that the customer is NOT the most important person in the room at any given moment and there are a great many other things to be done and discussed in order for the business to run (or even, shuddergasp! for the employees to be able to feel like normal human beings for thirty seconds!). So yes occasionally the customer has to wait a few seconds and fit in around them.

      3. Pescadero*

        “Some customers appear to believe a fine-tuned service machine runs on magic, rather than by way of collaboration and cooperation by underpaid, overworked, conscientious humans. ”

        In my experience neither magic nor collaboration and cooperation by underpaid, overworked, conscientious humans end in a fine tuned service machine.

        Only collaboration and cooperation by reasonably paid, reasonably worked, conscientious humans end in a fine tuned service machine.

    2. Trouble*

      Unless McDonald’s has changed a lot in the years since I left, each shift a print out of all staff on shift comes out and tells you start and end times, what breaks each one gets and when the system suggests they should go to maintain coverage. There is some tweeking with breaks and to account for no shows but it’s not like the manager has no idea who’s around for when.

      The fast food process gives a lot time for walking away from customers to fill the order so there are more appropriate times to figure these 15 second convos in.

      It’s a serious pet peeve of mine when you’re dealing with any kind of customer service and they keep breaking off to talk to everyone around. I feel the same way about people who continue their mobile phone convo when they reach the cashier or someone is serving them. That 30 seconds the customer and service agent are together should be giving each other the attention, having a chat and then moving on. The customer is the reason you’re there, giving them decent service isn’t them asking to own your soul or being unreasonable.

      Being rude like this person was is not ok but neither is saying i’ve already been waiting please help me now and figure this work convo out once you go to grab my fries and coke.

      1. MommyMD*

        People who can’t put down their cell while interacting with other people are some of the rudest people on earth.

      2. Michelle*

        You keep assuming the cashier was going to have a conversation with the coworker but OP did not give them the chance to say “I need to take this customer’s order”. I’m glad you were a good manager, well-liked and had your worker’s backs, BUT not all managers are like that. This really isn’t about managers or shift sheets. It’s about OP second guessing their comment and asking if it was rude. Most of the replies think it was rude.

      3. Yorick*

        But that print-out isn’t in front of you in the very moment when you’re trying to decide whether something can wait or you should do it now because you’re about to be understaffed.

        And cashiers don’t always walk away from the register to fill orders, giving them an excuse to talk without interrupting customers. Sometimes there is someone else doing that and the cashier will just keep taking the next customer’s order. I was at a fast food restaurant yesterday and someone else handed me my food before I was even done paying. The cashier wouldn’t have had a minute to answer a question between me and the next person without making the next person wait.

      4. DJ*

        To be fair, it doesn’t sound like the cashier had a chance to respond. I worked in retail and food service for many years and there were multiple times a coworker or even a manager would butt in while I was trying to help a customer. It happens. If it was a manager you just have to answer. If it’s a coworker, I would either tell them to wait a second or answer the question if it was quicker (and sometimes if we were busy enough, it couldn’t wait).

        You can’t control other people and nothing here suggests the cashier was definitely being rude; if anything it seems like the cashier’s coworker was the rude one. Not to mention, even if the cashier was rude, it doesn’t make the OP’s condescension come across any better.

      5. bonkerballs*

        Dude, you’ve been all over the board with this same comment. I think we’re all well aware of where you stand.

    3. RandomU...*

      I get what you are saying and agree to a point. But did you ask these questions when the worker was about to interact with the customer? Seems to me that the questions wait until the worker is doing something that doesn’t impact that interaction.

      I’m could care less if workers recite soliloquies of 13th century poetry to each other as they are working as long as I’m not waiting to interact with them. I mean in this case the average order takes what 15-30 seconds to be given and entered?

      Like a lot of people, I’ve worked retail, service, and other customer facing front line roles. It’s pretty standard training that the customer comes first in the order of precedence. Is that not the same anymore?

      Adding to the comments at large, I feel like everyone’s getting caught up with the original cashier being the target of the OPs comments. I read it as the OP was addressing the other cashier/worker. In that case I do think the that cashier was being rude and showing poor customer service. Did it warrant the actual words spoken by the customer… probably not. I think they were a little harsh. But I can empathize with the annoyance.

      1. Former Hotel Worker*

        I would argue that the customer comes first only to a certain extent. Truth be told, if many of us maintained that attitude, we would never get the chance to get half of our other work done. Maybe there would have been a more opportune moment to ask that question, but is it really a better use of that colleague’s time to stand aside and wait for a suitable moment to sneak a simple question in out of earshot of the customer in order to uphold the illusion of undivided attention? Personally I’m all for transparency, but that doesn’t necessarily suit the more slick, up-market corporations.

        One trend I have noticed is that businesses (particularly those in the customer service sector) are getting leaner and leaner, and so employees and low level management are getting more and more pressed for time. But then corporate refuse to put more staff on because hey, the business is functioning and turning a profit! One place I worked trimmed down the staff to one third of its original quota in order to get through the recession… and then KEPT it that way! The whole thing was a fine balancing act with many workers doing 3 jobs at once within the building. I often found myself hurriedly serving customers while painfully aware that I had a dozen other things I had to go and get done, but couldn’t be seen to be dashing away when there was a queue out of the door. And heaven forbid you be seen sending a cashier on a (legally mandated) break when there is a rush on! “But it’s busy! I need my [insert whatever here]!” And we need to honour our legal obligations to provide a safe working environment to our perpetually harassed staff.

        Sadly this is becoming all the more common in my experience. Just as factories used to urge everyone to speed up by setting the production rate of the highest performer as the new minimum (or else dismissal) the modern day equivalent is to prune your staff down to skeleton crew and then leave them to take the abuse from customers when they don’t have enough time or hands to complete all their duties while maintaining their customer service facade. I have become very jaded to the whole thing, in case you can’t tell.

  16. sum of two normal distributions*

    #1 – Are you concerned about your daughter and grandkids or just embarrassed about how your daughter’s actions reflect on you?

    At the end of the day, Alison is right – your daughter is an adult and you can talk to her till the cows come home about all the ways this can go wrong but you can’t force her to do anything. I don’t know what you want accomplished by involving HR. You are just jeopardizing her employment and reputation, and getting yourself involved in the gossip.

    #2 – Objectively rude. It was a 15 sec exchange about their work and you called it ‘gossip.’ Even the phrase “butts in” and “tails between your legs” phrasing in your question is a bit much to me – why are you taking this rather common and innocuous occurrence as a show of disrespect or power play? In addition, “I waited a couple seconds…” – could it be possible the other employee thought you were looking at the menu or weren’t ready to order? Honestly, it sounds like you are having a bad day and were short. It happens to everyone – if you frequent this place, it might be worth speaking up next time but you did go overboard.

    1. Kesnit*

      It wasn’t even the cashier who asked. It was someone else. Someone who likely has not been standing next to the register and observing everything. The co-worker who asked possibly did not even know that the cashier had just taken an order outside, and probably did not know the OP had been standing there.

  17. Rez123*

    #1 I can understand this urge to do something. As a manager it is akward to hear gossip about your report. As a father it is even more akward to hear gossip about your daughter. Usually gossip about people having an affair tend to be very unkind. I doubt anyone would want to hear that about someone they care about. In this instance they work in different departments and based on my experience in several hospitals, a lot of poeple are dating and married to each other. An affair is same as any other relationship when it comes to office romance and should be treated as such.

    I’ve been to enough online forums to know that the general advice is to stay out of things and once the kids are adults you are not suppose to say anything about their life choises, but I don’t necessarily agree. If you haven’t already, I might have a chat with the daughter as a parent and tell her about the gossip and howit might effect her later on. I also don’t think it would be out of line to talk to the direct report about the gossip. Not to tell him to end it or take an opinion on the affair, but encourage them to be more discreet for their career.

      1. Rez123*

        Hah, you are right. I should have used parent since the letter doesn’t say and gender is irrelevant in this context and comment would be the same. I just happened to call my dad before I wrote this and it was in my mind :D

        1. MommyMD*

          I can see it. The majority of Security Supervisors at hospitals are men. Not saying it’s right. Just saying it is.

    1. Jasnah*

      This is a good point, maybe OP is in a position to shut down the gossip, rather than just focusing on making them break up.

  18. Ruth (UK)*

    2. I worked full time at McDonald’s for just short of two years after graduating in 2012. Alongside working 10 hours (or longer) on my feet without being allowed to sit down, not being allowed to drink water on shift even when it was over 40 (c) in the kitchen, seeing multiple people collapse on shift (including me once, cause they skipped my break and I hadn’t eaten in 9 hours), limited bathroom access, not getting adequate breaks, being sworn at by managers, not getting 11 hours between the end of one shift and the start of another (they just fudged the clock in times to avoid getting in legal trouble), not being allowed to call in sick and silly rules around that (“if you’re not actively throwing up, you’re not sick”), being told to ‘get a real job’ and working night shifts again without adequate gaps between shifts, causing me to accidentally fall asleep whenever I sat down, I dealt with customers who were muuuch ruder than OP 2 on a regular basis so… Yeah OP, you were rude but don’t worry – they won’t remember you specifically or anything. If you want to compete with the others, try throwing your drink at the person who serves you because they changed the packaging on the ketchup and you don’t like it.

        1. Linguist*

          I hope it was clear that I wasn’t laughing about the situation, just Ruth formulating it as ‘advice’ on how to really push the boat out.

    1. PretzelGirl*

      I worked retail for a long time. Yes OP was rude, and should have apologized/change their behavior for the future. However I guarantee you it was not the worse that cashier has seen. I had people threaten to kill me, screamed at, had stuff thrown in my face. I even saw a co-worker get knocked out by a customer.

      1. Watry*

        Someone once threw the heavy, old-style credit card pinpad at my head. A coworker got pushed in the chest with a small pallet and injured her back. A man old enough to be my father tried to get me to come to his house and hit on me. The same coworker from before was being stalked by a customer. And of course the old “I will personally sue you if “.

        These are just the four worst, and I was only at that job a little under two years.

        1. Angus McDonald, Boy Detective*

          I love that old chestnut of they will personally sue ME! I always wanted to say “ok sir, you call a solicitor and tell them you want to sue NAME from Sky and see what they say.” If they even remembered my name at all!

    2. Environmental Compliance*

      Shout out to the guy who screamed at and threw a large banana split Blizzard at the new girl her first day on her own (and not followed around by a trainer) when I worked at DQ….because he wanted to order a banana split, not a banana split Blizzard. Even though she confirmed it with him *twice* when he ordered and the prices are no where near the same. I will never forget that guy’s face and he wasn’t even yelling at *me*.

      (And a shout out to the best manager I ever had in fast food, who was in the Marine Corp Reserve, banned the guy for life, and then when the guy tried to get in the poor girl’s face again, came over the counter and threw the guy out.)